Review of pre-serums, featuring Vichy Mineral 89, Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum Ex and Dior One Essential

Review of pre-serums Vichy Mineral 89, Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum Ex and Dior One Essential

Ever since I wrote about Shiseido Ultimune more than three years ago, the original pre-serum serum, the market has been flooded with other brands introducing similar products. I’m still skeptical of the benefits of using a pre-serum, but I love layering skincare and any excuse to add more products to my regime is a good one. Today I have three pre-serums to share with you, ranging from affordable to the ultra expensive.

Priced at C$40 for 50mL, the Vichy Mineral 89 is the most affordable and most easily accessible of all pre-serums. It contains 89% Vichy thermal water, powered by 11 different minerals, and only 10 other ingredients. It is ultra light, very watery, and fast absorbing. This is also the simplest of all of the pre-serums, in that it claims to hydrate, plump, and fortify the skin. I think it does a fantastic job at hydrating my skin, and I can even use this alone as a hydrating serum during the day. It does help the absorption of other products, which I am loving, but whether or not it helps to boost the other products’ efficacy is hard to tell. Based on its superior hydrating properties and its reasonable price, I’d re-purchase this.

Priced at US$84 for 60mL, the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum Ex contains the most plant extracts, harnessing the power of traditional herbal medicine to create a product that’s good for you on both the inside and outside. The texture is a super lightweight gel. As with most Asian skincare, it does contain alcohol. It’s not as fast absorbing as the Vichy Mineral 89, but it feels significantly more nourishing, like a step above simple hydration. Despite its higher price tag, you do get a good decent amount. I use one pump for my face and one pump for my neck, and the bottle has lasted me a long time. I can see myself wearing this as a serum on its own as well in the summer as on its own it performs decently. Sulwhasoo is a high end luxury brand, and this product seems to be priced on the lower end. It’s a great entry level product if you are interested in trying more from the brand.

The Dior One Essential is the most expensive product talked about today. Its priced at C$162 for 50mL, or you can also purchase a smaller size of 30mL for C$130. The Dior One Essential has the most claims of all of these products, as it claims to “detoxify, regenerates and boost skin for a revitalized complexion,” and also targets UV rays, stress, and pollution, as well as indoor toxins such as carpet, glue, varnishes, and electronic devices. I generally have pretty good skin so I didn’t see many major changes. I do feel like my skin is a tad brighter and less dull after incorporating this in my routine for a few weeks, likely because pollution is one of the major causes to skin sallowness. In that sense, it worked pretty well!

But let’s not end it here. I’ve previously talked about the La Prairie Anti-Aging Rapid Response Booster (C$405 for 50mL), which is probably the most lux pre-serum on the market. I only had a small sample of it so I wasn’t able to test it over a long period of time, I have heard that some people consider this a favourite and game changer. If you have some cash to spare, consider looking into the La Prairie as well. Another brand that released a pre-serum around the time that Ultimune was released was Elizabeth Arden, called the Superstart Skin Renewal Booster (C$119 for 50mL). I’ve never tried theirs but it’s another option to look at.

If I had to pick in terms of price and value for the benefits, my top choice would be the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX. It’s not the most expensive, but comes in the biggest bottle, and also has the most nourishing herbal ingredients. If you are looking for a simple, straight-to-the-point hydrating pre-serum, the Vichy Mineral 89 is a fantastic choice. If you are looking for a do-it-all and aren’t worried about price, then the Dior One Essential can be your friend. With so many pre-serums on the market, you’re bound to find one that fits your needs.

Sulwhasoo, Dior, and La Prairie are available at Holt Renfrew. Vichy and Elizabeth Arden are available at London Drugs.

Products were provided from companies for review consideration; all opinions are my own.

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Four must-have household products for busy pet parents

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I adopted a kitten about a year ago. She’s the cutest, most cuddly, and most mischievous kitten of them all. After getting a pet, we’ve had to make a few lifestyle changes because of the responsibilities of looking after another living being and also all of the fur that she sheds. I’ve included some of my must-have products below if you have, or are thinking about, getting a pet.

  1. Dyson Animal vacuum – We have the Dyson DC66 Big Ball Animal upright (older model) that was gifted to us by my boyfriend’s parents when we first moved into the apartment. It’s huge and heavy but boy does it clean well. The current model is the DC66 which is a similar concept. It comes with multiple attachment heads, including heads for upholstery and grooming (although my cat will never let me groom her with it, the vacuum freaks her out). Most importantly, it comes with a HEPA filter that allows you to filter out allergens and fine dusts in the air and on surfaces. The Big Ball version is very heavy and not the best for manoevering around small spaces, but it also comes in the stick V7 and V8 options which are cordless and much lighter. I do love the crazy suction power of the Big Ball, you can really notice the difference in our rug when we use this versus another vacuum.
  2. iRobot Roomba – In between weekend vacuums, we also use a Roomba, which is an automatic robot vacuum that goes around cleaning your place without you having to do any work. The model we have is the 761. Honestly I’m not too sure of the difference between each Roomba model, but I know this one you can schedule cleans when you’re not there. I love this for days when I am too tired to vacuum. It doesn’t do nearly a good of a job compared to the Dyson in that it doesn’t pick up fine dust or filter allergens, and isn’t great on carpet / rugs, but it will pick up animal hair and human hair and also big dust balls. It’s a nice feeling to come home to a clean home. The only thing is it doesn’t work well if you have a lot of clutter on the ground, as the Roomba will just bounce around and not do a thorough cleaning.
  3. Petsafe Scoopfree Litter Box – Specifically for cat parents, this litter box is a godsend if you lead busy lives. It is an automatic litter box that rakes waste into a repository, and then you just have to replace the litter tray every 20-30 days (per cat). I travel a bit for work and my boyfriend is home alone with the cat, so I didn’t want to make him scoop her litter multiple times a day. This seriously saves us so much time, you basically get all of the good bits of a cat without doing a lot of the work. The initial litter box raking mechanism is pricey, around $180 but we got ours on sale for $150. Each replacement tray (comes with litter gel beads) is around $20, but you can find it on sale for as low as $15-16 each. It is pricey but it saves you SO MUCH TIME.
  4. Diptyque room spray – For getting rid of any animal smells, I highly recommend Diptyque room sprays. You only need 1 spritz in the air per room and you are good to go. This is perfect because it doesn’t add a lot of chemicals into the air but its still very potent. For extra bad smells that you want to neutralize first, spray a 50/50 vinegar/water mixture into the air first, wait a few minutes for the vinegar scent to dissipate, and then use the Diptyque.

Fight city pollution with Biotherm Skin Oxygen

Biotherm Skin Oxygen review

The new Biotherm Skin Oxygen collection is designed for city life. It claims to fight off pollution and other environmental aggressors, helping the skin breath and be more detoxified through the use of star ingredient Chlorella Algae ‘the breathing algae.’

Skin Oxygen Foaming Melting Gel (C$26 for 150mL) depolluting cleanser traps and removes impurities while not drying out the skin. It’s a foaming gel cleanser that deep cleanses but is still gentle on the skin. Biotherm makes some of my favourite high end yet still affordable. Over the years, the prices of their basic cleansers and toners haven’t gone up by much, which is great. This cleanser doesn’t remove makeup, and would work best as a second cleanse. It also works very well with a Clarisonic to remove all last traces of makeup and grime. In terms of its skin oxygenating properties, I really haven’t noticed much. It’s a good basic cleanser for anyone who is looking to try something new. I’d say this is good for all skin types.

Skin Oxygen Oxygenating Lotion (C$26 for 200mL) is a clarifying, skin-perfecting, pore minimizing toner. It contains 99% ingredients of natural origin. I haven’t used a traditional toner in a few years, so it was interesting to see with this one. It is super lightweight, and is a perfect last step to cleansing, removing every last bit of grime from my skin, and prepping it for the next steps.

Skin Oxygen Strengthening Concentrate Anti-Oxidant Serum (C$58 for 30mL) strengthens the skin and repairs damage due to environmental aggressors. It has the texture of a lightweight gel fluid, and absorbs really quickly. It feels cooling, and slightly hydrating. It smells fresh, but the smell dissipates quickly. I have very dry skin and this alone isn’t quite enough to keep my skin adequately hydrated.

Skin Oxygen Cooling Gel (C$60 for 50mL) is an oil-free hydrating moisturizer that reinforces the skin barrier, moisturises intensively stressed skin, helps to reduce sebum and prevents pollution particles from being absorbed into the skin. While I like that this is a very refreshing moisturizer, I didn’t feel like this was enough to keep my very dry skin hydrated throughout the day. That being said, I used this in the dead of winter so it might be better in the summer when it’s not so dry out.

Generally I think this collection is fantastic for young skin. If you are in your late teens or early to mid 20s, this would be a great basic skincare range to try out, particularly if you live in the big city where there is a lot of pollution. This could also work out if you have normal to oily skin types, but not super dry. Unfortunately, I feel like the serum and moisturizer, which are the most important products in a skincare range, aren’t intense and nourishing enough for my ultra dry skin type. I love the cleanser and the toner, and feel like those would be perfect for all skin types.

You can purchase the Biotherm Skin Oxygen range at The Bay, Shopper’s Drug Mart, and on Biotherm.ca.

Product received as a gift from a media event; all opinions are my own.

Travel review – The Adelaide Hotel in Toronto, Canada

I received pretty positive feedback for my last travel post, so it has encouraged me to write more about travel. I was in Toronto for work early last month, and I stayed at The Adelaide Hotel, located at the corner of Bay and Adelaide. This hotel, if you are not aware, was formerly the Trump Hotel, and had changed their management, name, and branding at the end of July 2017. I was really excited about staying at this hotel because of its proximity to the office, and also because of its luxury 5 star rating.

I was honestly in awe of the hotel when I first arrived. The hotel is now run by Marriott, and my previous favourite hotel chain was the Westin, which is also run by Marriott. What I loved about the Westin was that it smelled AMAZING as soon as you walk in. The Adelaide Hotel also has a distinct scent which isn’t overpowering, although it doesn’t smell as good as the Westin. In addition, the decorations in the lobby and throughout the hotel is a dark purple theme, with accents of black and white marble and grey, which translates to rich luxury.

Check in was very fast and smooth, and they were also very accommodating of my request of a king bed room, even though my room type wasn’t guaranteed because I was travelling for work and my company had just a room block set up.

In terms of the room itself, it wasn’t too spacious (last time I came to Toronto for work, I stayed at the Fairmont Royal York, which had bigger rooms), but it was a good size for my needs. It has a generously sized and well-lit closet, as well as a very nice bar area that offered a Nespresso machine and espresso pods. The bed is probably one of the comfiest hotel beds I’ve slept on in a very long time. The mattress was very soft but not saggy, and seemed relatively new since it did not have uneven sagging anywhere. The bedsheets were also very soft and comfortable, just the way I like it.

The bathroom is huge, probably the size of my bedroom at home. It offers white granite or marble or some kind of stone all over the walls, a giant tub that is big and deep enough to fit two people comfortably, as well as a double-doored rain shower. The shower even has a little seat that helps to make exfoliating and shaving easy. The toilet was located in a separate small room with its own door, which is quite hygienic.

Service here is very good; the hotel offers turndown service which is something I haven’t experienced in a while. There is meticulous attention to detail which translates into a very clean and comfortable environment. The small touches made this a very memorable experience.

Now for some dislikes… to be honest there weren’t many. The only thing that really bothered me was the type of toilet paper they used. For a luxury hotel, the toilet paper was very thin and not that soft. The other small thing was that the desk in my room had a type of leatherette top which was very dated and scratched up, which took away from the luxury feeling of the room.

I generally had a very positive experience staying at this hotel, and would definitely come back.

Some reflections on my year, and some favourite products of 2017!

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This year was a bit odd for me because I actually took a 5 month blog hiatus where I stopped blogging regularly and instead focused on “real life” things. I’ve been life blogging since the old days of Xanga, and then I started beauty blogging in 2008, so my blogging journey has changed as I’ve grown as a person. I started this blog because I wanted to write about all the products I’ve tried, whether they were good or bad. Over the last few years, blogging has completely exploded and it’s become more methodical, where people were blogging as their full time job and PR relationships were more prominent.

While working with PR people gives me a ton of opportunity to try out different brands, some of which I never imagined that it’d ever happen, it also has some downsides in that I feel like my blog has lost a lot of authenticity. I feel more obligated to write about things I don’t necessarily care about just because I have that PR relationship. If I didn’t write about it, I’d feel bad for accepting samples. The cycle went on for probably the last few years, and it was both stressful and made me unhappy about the content I was pushing out. Another issue was that blogging became so competitive, people were getting jealous of other people for receiving things and them not getting the same things, and it became also vicious between people and fellow bloggers.

Lastly, while it has been a blessing to work with PR, it has also been a bit of a curse. Some PR people are amazing and really take the time to develop a relationship with you, others almost treat you like a beggar. It’s all too common that I’d get a press release in my email offering to work with me because of my “creativity,” or “engagement,” but then when I respond, there’s no response back from them or when I do get a response, it’s very curt like as if I was the one asking them to grace me with the blessing of working with them. I don’t think brands or PR people realize that bloggers are consumers too and that these types of actions make me think negatively of the brand they represent in a way that I would think twice about buying the products.

So this year, through my blog hiatus, I’ve decided to be more grounded in my blogging approach. I’ve stopped checking out what other bloggers are doing, and I’m also pickier about who I want to work with and what I want to cover. I write when I feel like writing, instead of when I need to get something out. I also don’t feel like I need to push myself as much when it comes to stats, or creating new PR relationships. Selling myself is stressful, and especially because I don’t depend on this for my livelihood, and I never plan on making this a full time thing. I would rather spend the energy and effort on something else that gave me fulfillment in life.

Anyways, enough rambling. Here are some of my favourite products for 2017! I did not have a very big year in terms of product discoveries, and there wasn’t much that really stood out to me as a “must-have,” but there were quite a few classics in here.

My favourite lashes of 2017 (and basically ever since I tried them) are from Kiss Lashes! I have a whole drawer at home dedicated to false lashes and these definitely dominate that drawer. I love the invisible band, the soft hairs. They are super comfortable to wear, and also very affordable.

My favourite blush for the year is Tom Ford Sheer Cheek Duo in Bicoastal. I bought this over 2 years ago and I stopped using it for a while, favouring other blushes over this. Then I rediscovered it because I was packing a travel makeup bag and wanted something two-in-one. This gives me the most natural flush with just the right amount of glow. The downside is that it was ridiculously priced to begin with, and now it is even more ridiculously priced – I purchased it originally at $92 but I believe prices are now $100. You can pick up Tom Ford at Holt Renfrew.

My favourite serum discovery was by Cle de Peau, the Concentrated Brightening Serum. I received two small sample vials from Beauty Court, which was enough to last me around a month. I honestly saw a huge improvement in my skin’s radiance and evenness after using this for even just a few days. It’s very pricey at $230 for 40mL but it really works. It does contain a high concentration of alcohol (CdP is a Japanese brand), so a hydrating serum layered on top is recommended. You can purchase Cle de Peau from Beauty Court.

Another serum that I’ve really enjoyed using is the Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel. I was told you can actually use this as a moisturizer as well, but my skin is so dry that I need to layer more products on. I use 2 drops on my face, and another drop on my neck, and it immediately absorbs for nice, plump skin. It works wonderfully layered on top other serums and also underneath moisturizer and foundations. It’s essentially a very quick and effective drink of water for your skin. This is available at Project Skin MD.

A long-lasting favourite of mine continues to be Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser. It’s such an effective yet gentle scrub, and smells amazing! I also love the Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser for a detoxing morning cleanse, or when I am off to somewhere with more pollution than home. You can pick yours up at Beautymark in Vancouver.

I feel kinda bad for saying this because it is so unaffordable for most people, but I still love the La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation. It’s a staple on my bathroom vanity and I use it whenever I need a long-wearing, flawless-looking base. It just gives my skin the most amazing soft focus glow that isn’t really replicated by anyone else. A close second is my Guerlain Parure Gold. You can pick up both La Prairie and Guerlain at Holt Renfrew.

In terms of body care products, I have two that I have been inseparable from this year. The first is the L‘Occitane en Provence Almond Shower Oil. I go through this stuff SO MUCH because I love how it nourishes my skin and does such an effective clean at the same time. I also love that it has refillable bags, making it very eco-friendly. It’s great to take with you on beach vacations because it will remove all of your body sunscreen (yes you gotta remove sunscreen like you would makeup!). The other product is Laura Mercier Souffle Body Creme, which is the most luxurious body cream I’ve ever bought for myself. I picked up the holiday mini set that comes with six minis in different flavours, and then I fell in love so I had to pick up the full size one too with my Sephora VIB gift card discount in November. In addition to being super moisturizing, it also comes in the most delicious scents, and absorbs quickly so I can put on my PJs right away instead of standing around in the cold.

My favourite nail brand this year is CND, their Solar Oil and Rescue RX are staples in my manicure kit. Solar Oil I keep everywhere – on my desk at work and at home, on my bedside table, and in my bag when I travel for those drying flights. My favourite nail polish formula is CND Vinylux, and this year I discovered the colour Mystic Slate which is a beautiful grey with a tinge of green that I have been obsessing over.

I hope you guys had a wonderful 2017 and talk to you in 2018!

Holiday gifts for the entire family from Conair

Conair Turbo Extreme Steam and Turbo Trim review

This post isn’t sponsored, I just wanted to share some products that me and my family have been using lately and they all happen to be from Conair!

The first is a revolutionary hair product – the Meta e Meta (C$140) – which is an automatic hair curler and straightener in one! Meta e Meta means half and half in Italian, and this nifty device is great at doing both. It’s super easy to use – pick if you want straight or loose curls, put a strand of hair in, the device will neatly suck your hair up into the roller, and then depending on if you picked the straight or curl, it will come out perfect. I don’t know how to curl my hair using a straightener, and I’m also too lazy to curl my hair using a regular curling wand, so this is perfect because it’s so quick and easy. I will be going to a few destination weddings next year, so I will be taking this along with me. Also, did I mention that the device has rose gold accents?

The next one makes a fantastic housewarming or hostess gift. The Turbo Extreme Steam (C$89) is a nifty little tool that is fast and efficient at keeping your clothes smooth and wrinkle-free. I use this all the time, on both my clothes as well as the boyfriends, and each water refill is enough to steam multiple shirts. The steam is very strong and I find that I don’t have to go over each area too much in order for it to smooth it out. It also heats up very quickly, so I can finish up steaming and go spend more time with family. The only thing is this is quite heavy, so I don’t enjoy using using it for long periods of time. This is a great gift for men as well because steaming is faster and less precise than ironing.

Lastly, for the men in your household, this Turbo Trim Cordless Beard and Mustache Trimmer (C$25) is great for keeping your man’s facial hair well-groomed. It comes with two interchangeable heads, as well as a selection of combs. The sleep design is perfect for taking with you on the go (in its own travel pouch), or for use at home. It’s also super affordable, and comes with a nice box that you can easily gift wrap.

You can purchase all of these products at London Drugs!

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

Review + swatches – Christian Louboutin Beaute Silky Satin Lip Colour, Lip Definer, and Lash Amplifying Lacquer Mascara

Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Beaute Silky Satin Lip Colour in Belly Bloom, Lip Definer in Nats, and Lash Amplifying Lacquer Mascara in Kohl

I am always reviewing luxury brands and high end makeup on my blog, but today I have something I never thought I would ever get to try out just because the price tag is so astronomical for a makeup product. Yes I am talking about Christian Louboutin Beaute, a brand that has lipsticks that are double the price of Tom Ford, another ultra high end luxury brand.

I’ve always admired Christian Louboutin shoes, having his Simple pumps on my wishlist for the last 5 years. When the brand first came out with beauty product, I didn’t even bother looking because the price tag was just so out of reach and I didn’t want to fall in love with anything in fear of starting a new addiction. Well when I was invited to the Louboutin fragrance event a few weeks ago, I got to try out some of the makeup and yes, I fell hard for the products. At the event, I had the Sheer Voile Lip Colour applied on me over a Lip Definer, and for a sheer glossy lipstick, it lasted over 8 hours on me with no touchups required. It was incredible. I was lucky to be sent home from the event with the Lash Amplifying Lacquer Mascara, and then later sent the Silky Satin Lip Colour and Lip Definer for review purposes. Honestly if you are on a budget, or have any kind of makeup budget, you should just stop reading. If you love to splurge on makeup and love to treat yourself, then keep reading.

Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Beaute Silky Satin Lip Colour in Belly Bloom, Lip Definer in Nats, and Lash Amplifying Lacquer Mascara in Kohl
Let’s first talk about the packaging. The lipsticks, mascaras, glosses, and liquid eye liners come in this incredibly beautiful and super luxurious box that can be used to display the product. I do not see myself throwing these boxes away because they are like jewelry boxes. The boxes themselves are very well made, and definitely reflect the designer nature of the brand.

Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Beaute Silky Satin Lip Colour in Belly Bloom, Lip Definer in Nats, and Lash Amplifying Lacquer Mascara in Kohl

The product themselves also come in very hefty packaging, specifically the lipstick and mascara tubes are metal and feel very substantial. The lipstick comes in a solid black metal body, like a precious elixir vial, which twists up to reveal the lipstick. Everything is like a work of art that can be displayed after application.

Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Beaute Silky Satin Lip Colour in Belly Bloom, Lip Definer in Nats, and Lash Amplifying Lacquer Mascara in Kohl

The Silky Satin Lip Colour (C$120) is Louboutin’s classic satin finish lipstick. The shade I have is Belly Bloom, a beautiful nude rose pink. The formula is super creamy, and feels lightweight and comfortable on the lips. It’s also lightly hydrating, which is fantastic for people like me who have perpetually dry lips. It gives me medium to full coverage in 1-2 swipes, and wears for over 8 hours on me when layered over the Lip Definer. Alone, wear time is still around 6-8 hours with drinking and light eating, which is pretty impressive for a creamy lipstick. I’m scared to say it but I really think this ranks in one of my top 5 favourite lipstick formulas. What I don’t love is the price tag… it’s $120 which is really out there, even for me. But I do love to spoil myself, and having one or two of these in my collection doesn’t seem too terrible, right?

Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Beaute Silky Satin Lip Colour in Belly Bloom, Lip Definer in Nats, and Lash Amplifying Lacquer Mascara in Kohl
Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Beaute Silky Satin Lip Colour in Belly Bloom, Lip Definer in Nats, and Lash Amplifying Lacquer Mascara in Kohl

Louboutin’s Lip Definers (C$55) are created to match the natural shade of your lips, so that you can use the one lip liner with any lipstick. The shade I have is Nats, which is a matte rosewood that is a tinge more brown than my natural lip colour but works well to create a neutral base for lipstick. I love how long wearing the Lip Definers are, and it also makes any colour apply smoother and more vibrantly. I also love the self-sharpening twist-up tip. I am super lazy and hate sharpening pencil products so this is perfect for me. What I don’t love is that it is a little bit dry to apply and it’s also slightly drying on the lips; it’s not waxy so it doesn’t glide on as easily as other waxy lip pencils. That being said, it not being waxy means that it doesn’t slide off as quickly, giving it its long-wearing properties. I definitely need to use a lip balm before applying this because it does accentuate my dry lip lines.

Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Beaute Silky Satin Lip Colour in Belly Bloom, Lip Definer in Nats, and Lash Amplifying Lacquer Mascara in Kohl
Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Beaute Silky Satin Lip Colour in Belly Bloom, Lip Definer in Nats, and Lash Amplifying Lacquer Mascara in Kohl

Lastly, the only thing I like but don’t love is the Lash Amplifying Lacquer Mascara (C$90). For a volumizing mascara, the applicator isn’t huge. It also has little short plastic spikes that help to coat every lash. I like this because it is insanely black, one of the blackest mascaras I’ve ever used. It also dries soft, and doesn’t leave my lashes feeling crunchy. It lengthens and volumizes, and doesn’t become cakey as you build up. I don’t like it because it does not hold a curl very well, and it also smudges on the undereye after a few hours. Those are my two must-have attributes in a mascara, and this one doesn’t live up to those requirements. I can prevent smudging and transfer by using the Clarins Double Double Fix mascara topper, but it doesn’t help the curl situation. If you have naturally super curly lashes, you will LOVE this mascara, but if you have stick straight Asian lashes like mine, you might want to look elsewhere.

Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Beaute Silky Satin Lip Colour in Belly Bloom, Lip Definer in Nats, and Lash Amplifying Lacquer Mascara in Kohl

Do you need any of this? Truthfully, no. But like I said earlier, if you have some money to spare and want to treat yourself (the holidays are a time of giving, including giving to yourself!), this would make a great treat. If you had to pick up one thing, definitely go for a lipstick. The formula is beautiful and there are also so many colours to choose from. You can’t go wrong with it!

The swatches

Lip Definer in Nats on the right, Silky Satin Lip Colour in Belly Bloom on the right.

Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Beaute Silky Satin Lip Colour in Belly Bloom, Lip Definer in Nats, and Lash Amplifying Lacquer Mascara in Kohl

Christian Louboutin Beaute is available at Holt Renfrew, as well as on holtrenfrew.ca.

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

Review – LUSH Holiday 2017 collection review, featuring naked shower gels!

Lush Naked Shower Gel review

This holiday, Lush is furthering their commitment to the environment by introducing products that don’t come with ANY packaging. As part of the naked body care series, you can get shower gels, body conditioners, body lotions, lip scrubs, lip tints, and hair masks.

Today I have three products from the Naked Shower Gel series as well as their regular packaged counterparts to share and compare with you. The three scents I have are:

  • Santa’s Christmas (C$14.95 for 200g or C$21.95 for 250mL) – A cola-scented shower cream that features a coffee infusion for a skin pick-me-up. It also includes cinnamon, black pepper, fresh lime juice, to invigorate the skin, as well as cocoa butter and almond oil so often and hydrate.
  • Berry Berry Christmas (C$17.95 for 200g or C$23.95 for 250mL) – A cranberry and blueberry juice based shower gem that also includes bergamot oil and wild orange oil for the juiciest shower ever.
  • Rose Jam (C$14.95 for 200g or C$21.95 for 250mL) – My Christmas favourite every year, Rose Jam is a lemony rose shower gel that smells amazing. It also contains vanilla pod infusion, goji berry juice, and argan oil. I stock up on this every Christmas and it’s my absolute favourite shower gel.

Lush Naked Shower Gel review

When I first heard about these naked shower gels, I was thinking wow they invented soap. The difference though, is that these naked shower gels are creamier and have a smoother, richer, lather that don’t leave your skin feeling stripped. Also soap is generally fat based, which is kinda nasty, whereas these shower gels are not! I received these in the mail completed naked, they were not covered in any paper, or plastic, making them very environmentally friendly. Compared to the shower gels, these only one in one size – 200g, which is similar to the 250mL bottles of bottled shower gel.

The naked shower gels are actually so cool because they are completely translucent when you use them in the shower, they look kind of like solid jello! I love how the colours match the colour of their packaged counterpart, and they also come in the same great scent. Lush bottled shower gels need no introduction, they are super juicy and succulent, foam up very well, and leave my skin feeling super soft and silky. Lush has said that there is virtually no difference in the two products, basically just one is packaged and the other is not.

I’ve been using the naked shower gels for the last little while, and comparing it to the regular packaged shower gels, and I feel a little conflicted. I haven’t used solid cleansing bars for face or body in years, as I’m generally not a fan of the format. I also find that leaving it unpackaged in my shower is a bit unhygienic, since I’m not the only one who uses my shower. I like using a loofah so the convenience of just pouring some shower gel onto the loofah and then using it on my body is really nice. The solid shower gel also works with a loofah but it’s a bit more work because you gotta rub the solid bar in the loofah for 5-10 seconds before it will get sudsy enough. The naked version has more refined, silkier bubbles compared to the packaged version, when used on a loofah.

That being said, I really can’t tell a difference in terms of skin benefits between using the naked shower gel and using the bottled shower gel. They are both super sudsy without being drying, very silky on this skin, smell AMAZING, and generally I love using both. The good thing with the naked shower gel is that they are fantastic for travel, since it is solid and won’t take up any of your liquids limit, and also the price is pretty good since you are paying only 70% of the packaged equivalent. Leaving it out on a soap rack leaves my bathroom smelling absolutely delicious (my whole bathroom smells like Rose Jam all the time!).

If I had to pick one, I’d probably still go with the bottled shower gel just because I wash my body with a loofah and a liquid version is easier to use than a bar. Lush bottled shower gels are pretty pricey though, so if you want to be a bit more economical, then the naked shower gels are a great alternative where you save a bit of money but get all of the benefits of the bottled version.

Lastly, the naked shower gels make fantastic gifts for men who are low maintenance and want something quick and easy like a bar of soap, but isn’t as skin- stripping as soap.

You can find Lush products in store and online at lush.ca

Lush Naked Shower Gel review

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

Gifting made easy with L’Occitane en Provence

L'Occitane en Provence almond shower oil, almond milk concentrate, almond hand cream, supply skin oil review

There’s no shortage of coverage of L’Occitane en Provence on my blog. It’s not surprising, but the brand is one of my favourite skin and body care brands. The products are incredibly luxurious without the ultra high price tag. Every holiday season, L’Occitane has a plethora of decadent sets for gifting and keeping for yourself. This holiday season, I was sent the beautiful Almond Collection (C$79) gift set. This set contains five of their top Almond products, with total value of $100:

  • Almond Shower Oil (500ml, value of $42)
  • Almond Milk Concentrate (100ml, value of $32)
  • Delicious Hand Cream (30ml, value of $12)
  • Almond Delicious Soap (50g, value of $6)
  • Supple Skin Oil (15ml, value of $8)

The Almond Shower Oil has been a longtime favourite in my shower. It is fantastic for both showering and bathing, as it is literally a thick, beautiful oil that you apply on your skin (wet or dry), emulsifies, and rinses off milky. It’s fantastic for dry skin types because it leaves your skin feeling really soft and hydrated after. I don’t always use a body lotion after this! My biggest tip is to take this with you on beach vacations – I actually use this kind of like a body cleansing oil. It removes every bit of sunscreen off your body, which is great for when you don’t want that sticky after-feel of waterproof sunscreens even after you’ve washed it off. Best of all, in keeping with L’Occitane’s commitment to the environment, this generous bottle of shower oil is actually refillable. You can save $8 off your purchase of the next 500mL by purchasing the refill pouch.

The Almond Milk Concentrate is a smoothing and firming body moisturizer. It’s very rich and moisturizing, but not greasy. The 100mL size in the kit is perfect for taking on trips with you. The Almond Delicious Hand Cream is a lightweight moisturizer for your hands. It comes in a convenient 30mL size that fits in any handbag. I’ve never tried the Delicious Soap before and was pleasantly surprised with it. It contains almond bits to lightly exfoliate your skin. It’s also lightly hydrating, which was a pleasant surprise for me. Lastly, I did a quick review of the Supple Skin Oil, which contains over 50% almond oil. It’s super decadent and very nice on the skin. I love using it as a full body massage oil as well.

The gift set also includes a coupon for $10 off $40 on Shea Butter products for purchases made in the month of January.

L'Occitane en Provence almond shower oil, almond milk concentrate, almond hand cream, supply skin oil review

I wanted to share a few other gift options from L’Occitane that I picked up myself for gifting my friends and family, and to keep for myself. I love this time of year because you can actually pick up a lot of great staple products for fantastic prices (such as the Almond Collection featured above).

I picked up this Luxury Advent Calendar (C$134) for myself. I love to get myself an advent calendar every year (even if I don’t open it day by day), because it’s nice to have a little surprise for yourself. Most beauty advent calendars also include really great deluxe size products that are convenient for travel (which is what I use mine for). I picked up the normal advent calendar a few years ago from L’Occitane, but this is the first year they’ve had the Luxury version which include bigger sized products as well as products from more expensive ranges. The box is also better construction as they come with reusable drawers instead of cardboard that you rip off. If you are considering either the regular Advent Calendar or the Luxury version, I’d recommend the luxury version for sure!

 

The other kit that I highly recommend is the Shea Butter Collection (C$79), which contains their top shea butter sellers: Shea Butter Hand Cream (75ml), Foot Cream (75ml), Ultra-Rich Body Cream (200ml), and Extra Gentle Milk Soap (100g). I love their shea butter products and this one has full sizes of the hand cream, foot cream, and body cream, all of which are great for the dry winter climate. You also get a $10 off $40 shea butter purchase with this set as well.

L’Occitane also has a few little baubles and stocking stuffers, with prices starting at C$14. You can check out all of their gift sets here.

You can pick up these gifts at all L’Occitane locations across Canada, and on the L’Occitane website.

The Almond Collection and Festive Crackers Trio were gifted from L’Occitane; all opinions are my own.

Review – Dior Holiday 2017 Precious Rocks collection

Dior Holiday 2017 Precious Rocks collection review

Today I have to share with you the holiday collection from Dior, called Precious Rocks. I have a few products from the collection to share, namely a few lip products and nail polish. Every year, Dior’s holiday collection is presented in vintage gold packaging that look gorgeous on the vanity.

Dior Holiday 2017 Precious Rocks collection review

First we have the brand new Diorific Khol Powder Lipstick (C$46), which is a bold new invention by Dior that is super innovative and causing a lot of head-turning this season. It’s a lipstick powder in a bullet that is super pigmented and ultra longwearing. The shade I have is 991 Bold Amethyst, which is a very vampy plum. While the design and concept is innovative, in practice it is actually a bit awkward. The pointy bullet is challenging to use, and the dark colour also made the formula patchy. For the hefty price of $46, I’d recommend skipping this and picking up something else (like the Pat McGrath matte lipsticks!).

Dior Holiday 2017 Precious Rocks collection review

Diorific Matte Fluid Lip and Cheek Color (C$47) is a re-release of last year’s matte liquid lipstick. The bottle is super beautiful and will draw a lot of attention when you are doing touchups.  The two shades I have are 007 Desire and 008 Intensify, which is a true red and vampy plum, respectively. I’m a little surprised they decided to release that vampy plum shade, which are almost exact dupes of each other but in different formulas, in one collection. It’s not really a colour that most people reach for, so they definitely took a risk there. Intensity definitely wears a lot better than the Kohl Powder Lipstick in Bold Amethyst, and it is also easier to apply and more comfortable on the lips. Desire is a beautiful classic red lip. I honestly have so many red lipsticks already and this didn’t exactly wow me in terms of wear or application, so I don’t know if I could recommend spending $47 on these.

Dior Holiday 2017 Precious Rocks collection review

Lastly, the Dior Vernis (C$34) is one of my favourite nail polish formulas. Their holiday releases are always beautiful and in-demand, as they come in a variety of festive shades. The two shades I have are 673 Ruby and 745 Grenat, which a pink-red with metallic shimmer, and a true deep red. I’m in love with Ruby because it is a great alternative to the classic red nail. I really wish they released something other than Grenat this year because they always do a red nail colour for Christmas for as long as I can remember, and it would be nice for them to switch it up. The brush and formula is flawless though, and it lends itself to impressive wear time and shine.

I have to say I’m a little bit disappointed by this collection. I saw some photos of the eyeshadow palettes and they were gorgeous, so if you were to get anything from the collection, it would be those. It’s a bit unfortunate that every holiday season, Dior seems to recycle the same colours / formulas without truly innovating. The new Kohl Powder Lipstick was a nice concept but it didn’t quite pull off the implementation right. I’m also surprised by the price of these products, it seems like the price of Dior products have gone up substantially. The price increases, coupled with the lack of original shades year-to-year, make me want to say that this collection is kind of a dud. I love Dior, but just not this collection.

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