SKINCARE | AHA/BHA products featuring Neostrata, Drunk Elephant and Omorovicza

Happy New Year! I mentioned earlier that I looove using active ingredients in my skincare during the fall/winter months. Today I’m going to talk about some of the AHA/BHA products that I’ve been using. I generally love using retinol at night, and I prefer not to use retinol and acids during the same routine at night, so I tend to use my acids more as weekly / bi-weekly treatments.

The first one is the product that I cannot stop talking about. The Neostrata Enlighten Dual Acid Brightening Peel is one of my most used products lately, and something that I’ve been recommending to everyone who will listen to me. There are three formulas within the Dual Acid Peel, Brightening is just one of them. The other two are Anti-Aging, which contains peptides, and then Clarifying, which is great for acne-prone skin. This peel does such a great job at gently exfoliating my skin; my skin looks and feels brighter and softer immediately and for the next few days. This product is also incredibly easy to use – I drop 2 full pipettes of liquid onto a cotton pad, swipe all over my face and neck (avoiding the eye area because it does sting a bit), wait 20 minutes and then wash off. It is very easy to wash off too, not like another product that I will talk about in a bit. I use this 2x a week, and it’s pretty much the only exfoliation I do.

The next product was a mask that I was obsessed with before I discovered the Neostrata peel – the Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial (US$80). This mask contains 25% AHAs and 2% BHA, in the form of Glycolic, Tartaric, Lactic, Citric and Salicylic acids. This mask is so potent and the acid levels so high that it can’t even be sold in Canada. It comes in a gooey paste-like texture that you spread on your face and then wash off after 20 minutes. This mask is super effective and definitely does a fantastic job at making my skin looking clear and bright, but I don’t love the texture that much. The texture is sticky and feels a bit messy, but to apply and to wash off. While equally good in terms of efficacy compared to the Neostrata, it’s just not as convenient to use.

Omorovicza was kind to send me two of their newest acid products, the Acid Fix and the Silver Skin Savior. Acid Fix (C$140 for 30mL) is glycolic / salicylic / lactic acid peel is a product that’s layered underneath moisturizer, applied 2-3x a week at night. Of the three products reviewed, this is probably the easiest for anyone to integrate into their existing skincare routine (given that routine doesn’t already have an acid component). I actually find this super gentle on the skin. It’s a great, gentle acid exfoliator that leaves my skin soft and bright, but there isn’t such a wow factor because it’s not a peel. If you have more sensitive skin, this one would be a better match for your skin because it’s not so abrasive.

Silver Skin Savior (C$150 for 50mL) is a salicylic / glycolic acid treatment. Advertised as a treatment for acne-prone skin due to the inclusion of colloidial silver, which is a fantastic anti-bacterial ingredient, I actually use this as an acid peel. The third and fourth ingredients are glycolic acid and niacinamide, which means I am pretty much guaranteed to have a good time. The first time I used this, it stung pretty bad and my skin was a bit red and sensitive after, but the next morning I woke up to the smoothest, most glowy skin. My foundation went on easily and it also wore very well all day. The next few times, my skin reacted less to it, and I haven’t had my skin go red on me again.

My top choice in terms of ease of use, product efficacy, and value is the Neostrata peel. It works so well and is priced just right. While I love Omorovicza Silver Skin Savior, it is on the pricey side and isn’t as easy to use as the Neostrata. I also really enjoy using Acid Fix as it’s very easy to integrate into an existing routine. If I had to choose one as a must-buy, the Neostrata for sure, but if you can afford Silver Skin Savior, definitely look into that one too. I was really in love with Sukari Babyfacial when I first tried it, but I definitely don’t like the texture. Out of all of these, I’d probably say skip the Drunk Elephant.

Neostrata and Omorovicza were sent by PR for review consideration, I purchased the Drunk Elephant myself. All opinions are my own.

 

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SKINCARE | La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream Sheer

La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream Sheer review

Recently, La Prairie reformulated their Skin Caviar Luxe Cream and Luxe Cream Sheer (C$630 for 50mL) to contain Caviar Premier, their most concentrated and potent form of anti-aging ingredient which includes a blend of seven active ingredients plus Caviar Extract. Not only that, but it also contains AHAs to help gently exfoliate and smooth the skin. This is so important because a lot of anti-aging products on the market only have that anti-aging ingredient or extract, but AHAs are some of the best partners to anti-aging ingredients because it can help slough away the dead skin to help the anti-aging ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin.

I’ve been playing with this Luxe Cream Sheer for a while, using it primarily as a day cream. Compared to their regular Luxe Cream, the Sheer formula is much lighter and more like whipped milk rather than a cream. As a day cream, it sits wonderfully underneath my foundation, keeping my skin feeling hydrated and supple. In the winter, this isn’t moisturizing enough for me to use as a night cream (I’m currently using Creme de la Mer which is very heavy… that’s the type of texture I enjoy at night). Comparing the Luxe Cream and the Sheer, the Sheer formula is definitely better for someone with normal, combo, or oily skin, or if you like a lighter moisturizer that isn’t a cream or a gel. Dry and normal skin types will enjoy the Luxe Cream formula better, as it is a balmy cream that is just beautiful on the skin.

In terms of efficacy after a few weeks, I don’t know if I noticed a huge difference in how my skin looks overall. My skin looks and feels fresh, and comfortable, but not necessarily reflective of the high price tag. That being said, I’ve had experiences with La Prairie products before where your skin looks good and it’s not a huge improvement from before, but once you stop using it and start something else, you notice a huge difference with and without La Prairie, so you really don’t know how good you have it until you lose it.

Another thing to note is that La Prairie Skin Caviar products are all heavily scented. I really enjoy a bit of the Skin Caviar scent, but when it lingers a bit too long, that’s when I start not loving it so much. The Skin Caviar Luxe Cream Sheer does have a bit of that fragrance but I find it dissipates pretty quickly. If you are highly sensitive to fragrances, you might want to avoid this.

I don’t know if anyone really *needs* this. I’m sure there are creams out there at a fraction of the price that is equally or almost equally as good, but if you love the La Prairie experience (scent, packaging, shopping experience, premium ingredients, etc.), you’re getting the full package with the Skin Caviar Luxe Cream Sheer. I personally do love that La Prairie experience, so I’ve saved some of this cream for my wedding skin prep.

You can pick up La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream Sheer at Holt Renfrew.

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

TRAVEL | Cruising for the first time with Celebrity Cruises


For our five year anniversary, the boyfriend and I took our very first cruise together. It was also our first time visiting Florida, leaving from Fort Lauderdale, with stops in Key West and Nassau, and returning back to Fort Lauderdale after four nights. The ship we were on was the Celebrity Infinity, which is one of their older, smaller ships.

As a first time cruiser, the four nights was long enough to get a taste of cruising. We booked a veranda (balcony) room that had gorgeous views of the Caribbean Sea. We really enjoyed our time on the ship, but we’re not sure we’ll go back anytime soon. I’ve summarized my top pros and cons for anyone who is considering taking a cruise.

Pros

1. It’s a fantastic way to see the world from the comforts of a ship

We boarded the ship from Fort Lauderdale, stopped at Key West and Nassau, and came back to Fort Lauderdale. We’ve never been to any of those cities, so for us it was a great way to see all of the cities without being too exhausted. We love the Caribbean, all of our tropical vacations have been to this area because the waters are just so beautiful and turquoise. There are also so many islands in this area that makes it hard to visit all of them without breaking the bank. A cruise ship is a fantastic and easy way to jump on one vessel that will take you to all of these islands. The cruise company basically helps plan your vacations for you via their onshore excursions as well, so everything is easy in one straightforward package.

2. The food and service are amazing

Different from an all-inclusive resort where you might only get 3 non-buffet meals per week of stay, you can actually eat all of your meals at a 3-course, sit down, a la carte restaurant on a cruise (except for the lunches that are stopped at a port). We ate most of our meals in the main dining room, and the food was downright amazing. We basically ate like kings all 4.5 days we were on the ship. Each meal was a 3-course meal with appy, main, and dessert, and each dish was similar to what I’d get if I went to a semi high end restaurant. Some of the menu options included steak, prawns, lobster, scallops, lamb chops, jerk chicken, and more. Each night, half the menu changes with a new rotation of dishes to try. If you’re a purist, there are also menu items that stay the same every night. My boyfriend had steak 3 nights in a row.

The service is also some of the best I’ve ever had. Our server in the main restaurant took such good care of us. I love lobster, and he offered to bring me an extra lobster tail on the night they served lobster. Our drink server at the main restaurant remembered my drink orders every night and would offer to bring it for me the next night. Everything was just so attentive.

There is a lot of entertainment on the ship, and we went to a few shows and club nights. All of the people hosting these events were so lively and full of energy, and seemed to genuinely want people to have a good time.

3. It can be an inexpensive all-inclusive vacation

We love all-inclusive vacations to Mexico. We both work quite a bit so we love just relaxing and lounging and doing nothing when we’re on vacation. We figured cruising is another great way to do that. For a 4 night cruise, we paid around C$700, which is not bad when taking into consideration our room level (veranda, versus inside or just oceanview), and all of the food and amenities on board.

When we booked our cruise, Celebrity was doing a promotion where you can pick two out of four “perks,” to enjoy on board. The options were free pre-paid gratuities; drink and alcohol package; internet package; and $300 on board credit for the cabin. We picked the drink and alcohol package, which means all of our drinks on board were now free (normally they are not), and also the on board credit, which means we were able to book our excursions essentially for free. Even after booking our excursions, we still had money leftover in credits to pay for the gratuities, which means that those were “free” (to us) as well. The only thing we didn’t have was the internet, which is fine because we just unplugged for a few days which was a nice change.

Cons

1. The other cruisers aren’t always the most pleasant people

I’m not sure if its just because we left from Florida, but the other guests we encountered on the cruise were some of the most unpleasant people we’ve ever met on vacation. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone was unpleasant, some of them were extremely nice, but there were enough unpleasant encounters to put us off cruising forever.

Some examples of the people we met include people who made the server (who is from Indonesia and has an accent) repeat stuff over and over again because they kept saying they couldn’t understand him. We had the same server and we understood him just fine! Another woman tapped her room card on the counter when the service was slow, and kept sighing loudly. We were in line in front of her so imagine how we felt. The elevators were pretty busy on some nights, and when we were in the elevator one time, it kept stopping at different floors to let people out, and this one lady complained loudly that the elevator was servicing people other than her.

Like I mentioned earlier, the service on the cruise was for the most part very good, way better than the all-inclusive resorts we’ve been to, but the other guests’s entitled and rude attitude really are making us think twice about cruising again.

2. While you are on the water, you’re not close to a beach

One of the things we love doing is being on the beach. While you are on the water, the beach isn’t always super accessible. We thought we would have more opportunities to go to the beach, but we really only had one day where we were at the beach. There is a pool on the ship but it is very small and very busy, so we didn’t use that and mostly opted to sit on our private balcony. We missed being at the beach, and the one day we were able to swim in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean was such a wonderful experience.

Overall

I did have a generally positive experience. I would highly recommend splurging a little bit and getting the veranda room. There is nothing compared to waking up in the morning and having breakfast in your robe, sitting on your private balcony, and overlooking the blue waters. Room service is included in your base rate, and we definitely took advantage of this pretty much every morning.

I think next time if we were to do another cruise, we might try the pacific coast, leaving from LA to go down to Mexico. While we do love the Caribbean, at certain times of the year there are no direct flights from Vancouver to Florida, so the transit there was brutal.

We had a great time cruising with Celebrity, and I would definitely cruise with them again (if we do decide to do another one).

SKINCARE | K-beauty inspired cleansers from Lise Watier

B4ADA62D-8EE4-45C8-91A6-453F388A23A5Lise Watier has released a line of cleansing and toning products inspired by Korean beauty. As a skincare fanatic, and a rose fanatic, this line is the newest thing to excite me in the world of beauty. There are four products targeted at deep cleansing and hydrating your skin. I’m also very excited to see that Lise Watier

First, we have the Lise Watier Deep Cleansing Oil (C$35 for 200mL). This cleansing oil is the first step in your skincare routine, helping to remove makeup, sunscreen, and impurities from your skin. I always do a pre-cleanse with a cleansing oil because I find that this is the best way to remove all traces of makeup from my skin. As with other cleansing oils or balms, you apply this on your dry face with dry hands, massage it in to dissolve makeup, add a bit of water and continue massaging to emulsify, then rinse off.

I really like this – it does a fantastic job at removing my makeup, with enough slip that I don’t need to apply too much and can still get a good massage in. It emulsifies completely, leaving behind almost no trace. My skin feels comfortable after, thanks to the copious amounts of good oils that it contains, such as sweet almond, macademia, green tea, avocado, and coconut. It’s not a bad price, since you get 200mL of product. It also contains trace amount of Panax Ginseng Root Extract, which is the same ingredient used in La Prairie products. It’s probably a waste though, because cleansers just get washed off. I do like this, and would recommend it.

Ingredients: Ethylhexyl Stearate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Triethylhexanoin, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Hydrogenated Poly(C6-14 Olefin), Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Benzotriazolyl Dodecyl P-Cresol, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Seed Oil, Orbignya Oleifera (Babassu) Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Betula Alba Juice, Aqua (Water/Eau), Butylene Glycol, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Parfum (Fragrance), Phenoxyethanol, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citronellol.

The Lise Watier Cooling Cream Foam Cleanser (C$26 for 150mL) is the next step in your skincare routine, after the Deep Cleansing Oil. I don’t believe that you can deeply clean your pores using just one product if you wear makeup, since you’re just massaging the dissolved makeup into your pores as you cleanse, so I always double cleanse with a cleansing foam or gel after my oil.

The cooling cream is a bit of an interesting experience – I actually prefer using this in the morning to help wake me up, but I don’t like using foaming cleansers in the morning because it can be more drying. The cooling sensation is derived from menthol, which can be irritating if it gets anywhere near the eyes. While I enjoy the foamy consistency, I don’t love this cleanser. It does clean but I find it almost a bit too strippy for me. I think it might be better for someone with normal to combo or oily skin. I have dry skin so it’s not the best for my skin type.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water/Eau), Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, PEG-400, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Lauric Acid, Lauryl Hydroxysultaine, Methylpropanediol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Menthol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Amaranthus Caudatus Seed Extract, Ulmus Davidiana (Elm) Root Extract, Butylene Glycol, Polyquaternium-51, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Beta-Glucan, Cynara Scolymus (Artichoke) Leaf Extract, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Pteris Multifida Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, Parfum (Fragrance), Phenoxyethanol, Disodium EDTA.

The Lise Watier Gentle Rose Petal Scrub (C$26 for 150mL) was one of the two products that I was most looking forward to. This rose sugar scrub has real rose petals in it. Sugar scrubs are much gentler and hydrating on the face than salt scrubs (I would never use a salt scrub on my face, ow!).

It smells amazing and does a great job at exfoliating without overdoing it. The sugar bits melt after you’ve been massaging for a bit, and my skin is left feeling super soft and silky. I don’t really use physical scrubs anymore, preferring chemical peels, but this one I still reach for in place of my glycolic peel because the rose scent is just too much of a delight not to use.

Ingredients: Glycerin, Sucrose, PEG-32, Aqua (Water/Eau), Polyglyceryl-10 Behenate/Eicosadioate, Diglycerin, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Rosa Gallica Flower Powder, Silica, Parfum (Fragrance), Ethylhexylglycerin, Potassium Hydroxide, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Phenoxyethanol.

The Lise Watier Soothing Rose Petal Gel Toner (C$26 for 150mL) was the other of the two products that I was most excited to try. This reminds me of the Fresh rose toner that has the real rose petals floating in it, but this is more of a thicker, gel consistency.

I love this. It’s very hydrating and leaves my skin feeling super plump and happy. I generally prefer to apply this type of thicker toner by patting it on my face, but I feel like the rose petals don’t really dissipate that way, so I use this primarily with a cotton pad at night after cleansing. For a winter toner, this is perfect. It smells amazing too – very fresh and rosy.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water/Eau), Methylpropanediol, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Rosa Gallica Flower Extract, Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Trehalose, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Tromethamine, Allantoin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Parfum (Fragrance), Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Citronellol.

Of the four products, I would say buy for everything except the Cooling Cream Foam Cleanser. There are other drugstore cleansers out there that is more cost effective and works about the same or even better. You can purchase these products directly from Lise Watier, or from London Drugs.

For the holidays, Lise Watier has released a limited edition set (C$69) that contains three out of four products. I’m a bit disappointed to see that the Rose Petal Scrub was not included in the set since it is my favourite product from the line, but this kit does have all the basic products in it to complete the first three basic daily steps of your skincare routine. The kit is amazing value at just $69, so you essentially save $18 or 21% off the purchase of all three products. The Rose Petal Scrub is not super pricey on its own, so it could be an add-on product to the kit.

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

SKINCARE | Vitamin C serums featuring Skinceuticals, AlumierMD, and Derma E

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Is anyone else like me and love using lots of active ingredients in skincare during the fall / winter months? I tend to go gentle with the active ingredients in the summer because most products make my skin sensitive to the sun, so I will store those products away until later in the year. One of the things I look forward to the most each year is when I break out my retinol and slather it all over my face. Retinol is hands down my favourite skincare ingredient because it makes my skin look and feel so incredible after just one use. In addition to retinol, I also use vitamin C, and AHA/BHAs in my every day skin routine.

Today I wanted to talk about some of the vitamin C serums that I’ve been using lately. Vitamin C is an incredible anti-oxidant to help prevent aging, and also combat against pollution and sun damage. I use vitamin C products during the day (with copious amounts of sunscreen… SPF 50 every day!) as a serum, layered on top of my pre-serum, essence, and underneath moisturizer and sunscreen.

The one I’ve been most frequently reaching for is the ultra-popular, the one everyone knows about – Skinceuticals CE Ferulic (C$175 for 30mL). This is a cult classic product, and for good reason. It contains 15% pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), 1% vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), and 0.5% ferulic acid to help prevent signs of environmental (sun, air) damage. This product is primarily for prevention, so I don’t expect to see massive changes to my skin health. That being said though, I do really enjoy using it and my skin feels comfortable every day.

This product is expensive, and before I received a bottle from PR, I cheaped out and purchased a “dupe” that was just a fraction of the price. There are several dupes on the market that contain a similar blend of vitamins C and E plus ferulic acid, BUT after using both the original and the dupe, I highly recommend just splurging for the original. The original serum is super lightweight, sinks right into my skin with zero stickiness. The L-ascorbic acid grade in Skinceuticals is also much more stable than ones you would find in cheaper dupes, so it didn’t oxidize on me as quickly as the dupe did. I only managed to get 2 months of use out of the dupe before it went completely orange on me, not only in the bottle, but leaving a really ugly orange stain on my skin. The dupe was also noticeably thicker and also left my skin feeling super sticky. I didn’t enjoy the dupe, so even though it was cheaper, I wasn’t reaching for it and it also went bad on me really quickly, so it ended up being a waste of money anyways.

The one thing I don’t particular love about this product is that its in an open dropper. Vitamin C oxidizes easily so I would have preferred it to be in an airless pump.

AlumierMD EverActive C & E (C$179 for 45mL) is a product I’ve just recently been introduced to. Similar to Skinceutricals CE Ferulic, this product contains 15% L-ascorbic acid and vitamin E. It also contains Matrixyl, which is an anti-aging ingredient which targets lines and also improves elasticity in skin. While other products come already pre-blended, the EverActive C & E comes in three separate unblended vials of 15mL each. The L-ascorbic acid powder is stored in a chamber at the top of each bottle, and you need to pop it, and mix it together with the rest of the solution before applying. The purpose of this is so that you get the freshest product possible each time you use it. Each 15mL vial is supposed to last you one month, but I found that this actually lasted me longer than a month. It also makes me feel less guilty if I take my time in finishing my products, since the vials stay fresh for a long time unless you’ve mixed it.

I find the EverActive C & E to be much more moisturizing than other vitamin C serums I’ve used. This makes sense because it is targeted towards a more mature audience with the addition of Matrixyl.

Lastly, we have Derma E Vitamin C Concentrate (C$34 for 60mL). This is a hyaluronic acid serum that contains Vitamin C. It is the most natural of all these products, the most inexpensive, but also the least clinical. The texture is a very lightweight gel that is lightly moisturizing, and also smells very fresh. It doesn’t leave any residue on my face, as it sinks it completely, leaving my skin feeling smooth and plumped. I feel like this is probably a good entry-level vitamin C product, as it is relatively affordable. Over time, I do feel like my skin has gotten brighter with continuous use. You get fantastic value with this product as well, since it comes in a bottle that is double the size of most serums. I am new to Derma E, but its products are generally very natural and contains mostly plant essential oils.

Each of these vitamin C serums have their benefits and drawbacks: Skinceuticals is great for all skin types but is purely an anti-oxidant serum; AlumierMD is great for anti-oxidant and also anti-aging; and Derma E is great for younger skin who want the benefits of vitamin C serum without spending a fortune and can also provide moisturizing benefits. Of the three, my personal favourite is the Skinceuticals, but the Derma E is a close second. I could see someone my mom’s age really enjoying the Alumier, as it will help repair some of that lost collagen in their skin.

I also picked up a small size of the Drunk Elephant C Firma, but I’m waiting to use that still…

You can purchase Skinceuticals from their website, AlumierMD from your skin expert’s office, and Derma E from London Drugs.

What are some of your favourite vitamin C serums?

Products featured were provided by PR for review consideration or as media event gifts; all opinions are my own.

CELEBRATION | Beauty blogging, 10 years later… my thoughts and ramblings

I’m celebrating my 10 years of blogging, and after all these years, I have some thoughts that I’ve accumulated over the years that I want to share with you!

1. Blog for the right reasons

There are so many people who enter the blogging world forthe wrong reasons. Some people do it for the product samples, or because they’re scared to miss out (i.e., FOMO, or fear or missing out), or because they want to be famous, or want to make “easy money.” In my mind, these are not the best reasons to start or keep up blogging.

I started my blog because ever since I was 10 years old I played with my mom’s makeup. I’d always steal her GWPs and then share them with my friends. At at 13, I was considered the “beauty guru” amongst my friends. And then continuing into high school and university, I’ve always loved buying and testing new makeup and skincare. I started this blog primarily to catalogue all of the products I’ve used, and then I can point my friends to specific reviews of the products I’ve tried over the years.

There are so many people now who enter the blogging world because they see all of the samples that bloggers get. Ten years ago, there were no PR contacts or samples for bloggers, especially in a smaller market like Vancouver or even Canada in general. If you didn’t get PR samples anymore, would you still blog? If your answer is no, then you’re probably in it for the wrong reasons.

Now, I blog because I simply love writing. It’s my way of relaxing – letting my mind flow and writing freely. That’s also why my blog now includes much more than just beauty writing. I feel like writing about bags, or luxury products, or travel, or food, so I do. It really should be this easy.

2. Respect each other, and respect the blogger-PR relationship

Over the years, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to meet and become close with several bloggers. Some of my first ever blogger friends that I got to know in 2008-2010, I’m still super close with to this day, even though not all of them blog anymore. The blogger community can be an amazingly close-knit and supportive community.

Unfortunately with everything that has an incredibly positive side, there’s also a negative side. The blogger community has blown up exponentially over the last 10 years, and because of the limited number of PR relationships, people have become very competitive and sometimes malicious. Bloggers are aggressively pursuing PR relationships, to the point of harassment, or they also chase their fellow bloggers to give them contacts. People are also looking at other bloggers and feeling sense of FOMO or inadequacy over not getting certain things, which then creates anxiety or some other negative feelings. Some “popular” bloggers / influencers also disrespect that blogger-PR relationship and are openly selling PR samples, while other bloggers wonder why PR still send those individuals products just for them to sell it.

In addition, while it pains me to say this, I have noticed that whenever you do get a group of women together, drama quickly arises. In theory, you’d think that a group of women together should hold each other up and support each other, but this is far from the truth. In reality, what you do get is women tearing each other apart, tearing other women’s work apart, forcing their (unwelcome) views on others. Feminism should be about supporting the choices that we as women are allowed to make. It’s not about women forcing their views on other women. This is one of the most toxic things that keeps coming up and makes me think about quitting blogging.

3. Prioritize your time

Blogging is a huge investment, both in time, energy, and money. As we get older, time is a luxury, and we can’t waste time doing stuff we don’t really care about. At the peak of my blogging life, I spent probably 10+ hours a week blogging, which included taking photographs, writing, editing, and posting. That was at least one whole weekend day, on top of a full 40-50 hour work week.

Well now that I’m working full time, in a relationship, and want to have a social life, I can’t afford to spend that much time on it anymore. To me, that’s totally okay. I blog because I love it, and I’m actually able to find more time on weeknights to blog now whenever I feel a pang of inspiration. Once I let go of the expectations of how much / often I should blog, it’s become a lot easier to actually do it too.

Why do you still blog? If you don’t blog anymore, what made you stop?

CELEBRATION | 10 years of Maddy Loves


On this day 10 years ago, I published my first ever blog post. My little corner of the internet was called Mademoiselle Loves Beauty at the time, and was hosted on Blogger. In 2010, I migrated myself over to WordPress, and shortened the blog’s name to Maddy Loves.

Since 2008, I’ve published over 1,350 blog posts, written on average 1,000 words per blog post, and tried and sampled thousands of products. I’ve worked with with hundreds of brands, some of whom supported me from since the time brands started collaborating with bloggers, to now. I’ve also expanded my relationship to retailers, small businesses, salons and spas, and more.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has landed on my page in the last 10 years, all of the brands I’ve worked with, and the PR and brand people I’ve met and corresponded with. Thank you to everyone who has trusted my reviews and bought something because of my recommendation, and all of the companies who have trusted me to send me products to test out. It’s been a super fun 10 years, and even though I’m not as active as I used to be, this blog continues to be my little sanctuary away from the busy-ness of everyday life.

Hope to see you around for another few years 🙂

BATH & BODY | Pamper yourself in this cold weather with ME! Bath, Calgon, and Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts

Me! Bath bath bomb review

Even though I’m not a fan of the cold and rain, I do love my cosy sweaters and baths in the fall. It’s usually around this time that I start taking regular baths to help relax and warm up my body. I’m completely obsessed with LUSH Bath Bombs, but they can be incredibly expensive so I’m always on the lookout for similar products that don’t break the bank. I was sent a sampling of bath products to try out and share with you guys. These are great because they are incredibly affordable, and are super nice to use.

ME! Bath (C$10.99 for a bag of six) comes in five different scents – Lavender Lullaby, Birthday Cake, Cucumber Melon, Pomegranate, and Love, ME!, the last one being a blend of berries, coconut milk and vanilla. The products are made in the US, and are 100% cruelty-free and vegan. It has the same base ingredients of Sodium Bicarbonate, as well as skin nourishing ingredients of jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, sesame oil, and macademia nut oil. They also contain seat salt and epsom salts to help relax the muscles, which is something not typically blended with a bath bomb.

The two ME! Bath scents are Lavender Lullaby, which is AMAZING for a pre-sleep bath. The lavender smells so soft and soothing for my mind, and does a fantastic job at relaxing me at the end of the day. The Love, ME! smells really yummy. I love the coconut milk and vanilla, and the touch of berry reminds me of dessert.

I was sent the Calgon Bath Fizzies  (C$7.99 for eight) in Hawaiian Ginger, which smells like a tropical beach vacation. I actually didn’t love this one as much as the ME! Bath, it just felt a bit too strongly fragranced. Each bath fizzy contains vitamin E, which helps to moisturize the skin.

One downside of LUSH bath bombs is that I find the sizes can be too big and the scents too overwhelming (especially if you use the entire thing). Sometimes it just feels like a waste. With ME! Bath and Calgon, each bath bomb is smaller in size, so it is perfect to get the benefits of using a bath bomb without the extra waste. If you love an extra strong bath, you can throw 2-3 bath bombs in the water, and even then it’s still more affordable than a LUSH bath bomb.

Between ME! Bath and Calgon, I love ME! Bath a bit more because the scents are more me and the formula feels better on my skin after a bath.

Dr. Teal's Epsom Salts review

The other cult favourite bath product is the Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts (C$8.99). I’ve been working out less regularly lately so if I work out intensely one day, my body gets pretty sore the next day. It’s the perfect time to use the Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts as I’ve never tried it before. Epsom salts contain Magnesium Sulfate to soothe tired muscles, as well as, depending on the specific scent, a blend of different essential oils to help revitalize and hydrate the skin. The scent I have is Soothe & Sleep with Lavender, which is great for a pre-sleep soak.

My favourite way to bath is to combine one ME! Bath bath bomb with the Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts to get pure mind and body relaxation. They are all so affordable that I can be happy bathing regularly without worrying about going through my bath products so quickly.

You can pick up ME! Bath at Shopper’s Drug Mart, and Calgon and Dr. Teal’s at London Drugs, Shopper’s Drug Mart, and Walmart.

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

NEW IN SKINCARE | Elizabeth Arden Retinol Capsules, StriVectin Retinol Oil, NeoStrata Brightening Peel, Vichy Aqualia, Clinique Hydrating Jelly, Clarins Pore Control Serum, Bioderma Atoderm Spray

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If you were following along on my Instagram Stories a while back, I joined London Drugs at their annual LD Beauty media event in Whistler. This is my sixth or seventh year attending, ever since the inaugural one. I’ve cherished my relationship working with the London Drugs team, and I always look forward to seeing what’s new at London Drugs every year. You know me, I absolutely love skincare, so when we were at the event, there were several skincare items that really caught my eye.

First, the Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Night Serum (C$106 for 60 capsules) is something I’ve been dying to get my hands on. This is an upgraded version of their Ceramide Capsules, and they’ve included retinol in it for maximum anti-aging. The delivery system is still the same as the original version – you use one capsule per application. I love retinol so I was super excited to get to try this. I’m not a huge fan of the texture, it’s quite silicone-y, but I have confidence that over time, the retinol will help smooth my skin.

If you’re not a fan of the silicone-y texture, StriVectin has a new STAR Light Retinol Night Oil that is launching soon in Canada. You can use this as the last step of your night time skincare routine, either mixing it in with your moisturizer or on its own. I haven’t used this yet because I’m still in the process of finishing up another retinol product. I love Sunday Riley Luna, which is a retinoate night oil. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this product will improve my skin texture. Honestly, retinol is one of my favourite ingredients right now to use on my skin because I am trying to prevent aging – I do believe that prevention is key when it comes to lines and wrinkles.

NeoStrata recently revamped their entire line, categorizing their products neatly into different skin concerns, and repackaging everything in colour-coded packaging. I received a bottle of the Enlighten Dual Acid Brightening Peel (C$80 for 50mL) to try out. This product is super easy to use, just use the dropper to apply some product on a cotton pad, swipe over skin, wait 5-20 minutes (depending on how tolerant your skin is to acids) and then rinse off. I literally ripped this one out of its packaging when I first got home, and I have to say it is super easy to use. My skin likes acids (I love the Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial mask that is 25% glycolic), and it loves the 20% AHA/PHA formula of this one. If you’re not used to strong acids, your skin might tingle a bit, but mine was fine. I started only by leaving this on for 5 minutes, and then increased it to 20 minutes after a few uses. Honestly, I love it. Since we don’t have the Drunk Elephant glycolic mask here, this is a perfectly fine substitute, and is actually easier to apply and rinse off compared to the DE one. My skin feels softer and smoother the next morning. I haven’t noticed any brightening benefits yet, but I’m addicted even just for the line-smoothing benefits. It also comes in a Clarifying formula, for pore and oil reduction; as well as Anti-aging, for pure anti-aging benefits.

Vichy Aqualia (C$40 for 50mL) was one of the first moisturizers I purchased for myself in university. They recently reformulated the entire line such that it contains more natural ingredients. They also repackaged so it looks more streamlined and sleek. Almost 10 years later, I still love Aqualia. It is honestly the perfect moisturizer for young, or moisture-lacking skin. The Aqualia Thermal moisturizer comes in light cream, gel cream, and rich cream formulas, so you can choose the one that works the best for your skin. In the winter and at night, I love the rich cream formula. During the day and in the warmer months, I prefer the light cream. Both give me amazing hydration that lasts all day. I also love using this with my Vichy Mineral 89, which is my #1 favourite product from Vichy as it is fantastic at keeping my skin nicely balanced and hydrated, as well as acting as a good base for other skincare products to layer on top.

Similarly, Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel was something that I used in university. I loved this lighter version over the original Lotion. Earlier this year, Clinique launched the Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly (C$36 for 125mL), a 100% transparent clear gel that can be used as a moisturizer for oily / combination skin, or as a serum for those with more dehydrated or dry skin types. This has a very similar texture to Vichy Mineral 89, where it feels almost like a water gel applied on your skin. When I played with this on my hand, it felt pretty hydrating and very light. I personally will use this as a hydrating serum; it layers pretty well over / under other products. Not to mention this is such incredible value – you get 125mL of product for just $36.

Clarins makes one of my favourite face serums – the Clarins Double Serum (reviewed here). Recently they reformulated their Pore Control Serum (C$58 for 30mL), a skin-perfecting serum designed to reduce the look of pores. I understand that the newly reformulated product is good on all skin types, and isn’t particularly mattifying. They wanted to recreate this so that all skin types can use this because not just those with oily skin have concerns with the appearance of pores, so this product was created to be gentler for even the driest or most sensitive skins. My pores aren’t a huge concern of mine, so I haven’t personally tried this product on me. But I did play with it a bit and I like the texture – its very light and isn’t super mattifying, so if I do decide one day that pores are a concern, I could use this.

Lastly, Bioderma is launching a new Atoderm SOS Spray later this year. This product is so interesting because it is an Anti-Itch spray that can be used on dry spots, eczema, insect bites, basically anything that will cause itchiness. I tried this on my boyfriend’s eczema and he is already liking it. If you’re going on a tropical vacation, this is a must have because it will prevent insect bites as well as hydrate the skin.

Which of these products would you want to try?

Everything with the exception of the Clarins Pore Control Serum were provided as gifts from a London Drugs media event. The Clarins Pore Control Serum was provided by their PR for review consideration. all opinions are my own.

PERSONAL CARE | LELO IDA personal toy for couples

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I previously wrote about the LELO SONA, a personal toy for women, and today I want to share a couple’s toy, the LELO IDA with you. The LELO IDA (C$199) is a toy that is designed to be worn by the woman during intercourse. It is primarily designed to stimulate the G-spot. It has the same smooth silicone exterior as the SONA, and the silicone allows it to be flexible such that it can be comfortable when used. It also comes with an external remote control that can be used to control the IDA, or as another toy as it also vibrates. The IDA itself is rechargeable, full waterproof, and comes with eight different settings, including rotation settings.

I’ve never used anything like the IDA so I was a bit unsure about how it would work. For first-timers like myself, LELO includes a packet of lube that you can use with the toy. I’m a bit of a vanilla so I wasn’t really into it at first. It requires a lot of trial and error, which might ruin the mood for some couples. I know I definitely was more tense when I was trying this out, and it didn’t make for the best experience for the both of us.

To be honest, even after trying this for a few times, I’m not sure if I really enjoy it that much. Even though the silicone is flexible, it didn’t feel very comfortable when worn, and then it was a bit distracting for me. I’ve only had this for about a month so maybe it’ll get better over time, but I didn’t find myself reaching for it too often, only doing so for the sake of the review and trying to give it the benefit of the doubt.

It’s all good though, because personal toys are really personal preference, and while I do enjoy venturing outside my comfort zone once in a while, I mostly know what I like. While the IDA didn’t work out, just a quick browse of the LELO website showed me a few other options that might work better for couples like us, or for solo play.

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