Swatches + sneak peek! Guerlain Holiday 2016 Guerlain Exceptionnel collection

Guerlain Holiday 2016 swatches and review
I was really lucky to be invited to the Guerlain lunch last week where I previewed the Holiday 2016 Exceptionnel Guerlain collection with Guerlain’s International Beauty Artist, Maxime Poulin. The Guerlain holiday collections are usually my favourite of all the holiday collections each year, and every year they outdo themselves by creating something more and more beautiful.

This year, the holiday collection was created in collaboration with Natalia Vodianova, who is also the muse and spokesmodel for Guerlain. The inspiration was the Shalimar fragrance. The collection will be out in November, but I have some preliminary sneak peek swatches for you. My apologies in advance for the less than stellar quality of the photos, I took these swatch photos at the event so they were taken with my phone.

Guerlain Holiday 2016 swatches and review

Soufflé d’Or de Shalimar (C$105) is the star product of the collection, a beautiful iridescent body powder spray housed in a gorgeous atomizer. It smells AMAZING, by the way, and the shimmer isn’t glittery at all, rather a very fine, luxurious shimmer that makes your whole body glow. P.S. The weird patch on the back of my hand is actually Guerlain’s new Multi Perfection Concealer, which I will review separately in another post.

Guerlain Holiday 2016 swatches and review

Terracotta Terra India (C$64) is my favourite product in the whole collection, which is weird because I don’t normally wear bronzer. It is a seriously beautiful bronzey gold highlight with lots of shimmer, to create a winter-friendly bronzed look that isn’t too much like a fake tan. I don’t generally wear bronzer but I think I might need to get this. The texture is so smooth, creamy, and it also smells amazingly like the Shalimar perfume.

Guerlain Holiday 2016 swatches and review

Guerlain Holiday 2016 swatches and review

Guerlain Météorites Perles de Legende (C$79) is the annual limited edition Meteorites release for Guerlain. This variation includes shades of gold, violet, and blue to brighten, create glow, and even out the skin tone. I didn’t find it glittery at all, rather it was more of a healthy glow (which is Guerlain’s signature).

Guerlain Holiday 2016 swatches and review

Guerlain Holiday 2016 swatches and review

Shalimar Duo Eyeshadows in Gold and Sapphire (C$51) contains a shimmery, duo-chrome violet shade and a glittery gold. I wasn’t super impressed with the colour payoff for this one. I would safely say skip, especially if you have your eye on something else.

Guerlain Holiday 2016 swatches and review

Guerlain L’Or Eyeliner in Sparkling Gold (C$42) is a gorgeous metallic gold liquid liner. The gold colour is a total standout, and it looks like liquid metal on the skin. It was funny at the event because Maxime was saying he wasn’t too convinced that a woman can use this product often enough, but he kept playing with it and at the end of the lunch, he fell in love. I would have to agree that it’s not something I would use often, especially due to that high price point. The packaging is gorgeous though.

Guerlain Holiday 2016 swatches and review

Rouge G lipstick in 821 Rouge Saphir (C$61) is a beautiful pinky red. It’s not a true red, and when you wear it sheerly, it looks more pink. Guerlain’s Rouge G lipsticks are some of my favourite lipstick formulas, and this one is the same – the texture is just so incredibly smooth, creamy, and pigmented. You can’t go wrong with a Rouge G!

Guerlain Holiday 2016 swatches and review

Guerlain Holiday 2016 swatches and review

It’s still far from November, but I hope that this will give you a good idea of what’s to come in for holiday with Guerlain. I’m likely going to pick up the Terracotta Terra India, it’s just too beautiful to pass up!

Guerlain Holiday 2016 collection will be available November 1 at Beauty Court, Holt Renfrew, Murale, and anywhere else that sells Guerlain.

What do you have your eye on?

Honey, my skin looks awesome! A roundup of honey-based products from Farmacy, Tata Harper, LUSH, and The Body Shop

Ever since I discovered May Lindstrom’s The Honey Mud, my skin has been aching for more honey-based products. Today I am sharing with you some newly discovered products that contain honey as a key ingredient.

Farmacy Honey Potion Mask and Honey Savior Repair Salve review

Farmacy Honey Potion Hydration Mask and Honey Savior Repair Salve

Farmacy’s NEW Honey products were introduced this past summer. Farmcy’s patented ingredient is a variant of Echinacea Purpurea, the Echinacea GreenEnvy™.  The honey used in these products are harvested from bees that live on the Farmacy farm and pollinate the Echinacea GreenEnvy™ flowers.

The Honey Potion Hydration Mask is one of the coolest masks I’ve ever used – it is a thick, jelly-like texture, similar to honey, but when you massage it in your skin, it turns opaque and creamy, and it also heats up.  This mask contains honey (a natural humectant used since ancient times), propolis (a healing antiseptic found in beehives) and amino acid-rich royal jelly. These ingredients work together to create a hydrated, glowing complexion.

Farmacy Honey Potion Mask review

The Honey Savior Salve is a true saviour for dry skin. The boyfriend has eczema around his eyes and nose, and we keep this next to our bed for when he needs relief from dryness. The thick texture helps create a barrier over the skin, and the honey helps to hydrate and treat his eczema. This multi-purpose salve is also great for treating dry cuticles, cuts and scraps (due to honey’s antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties), and anywhere else where you need a boost of moisture and protection.

Farmacy Honey Savior Repair Salve review

You can purchase Farmacy products from Sephora.

Honey Potion ingredients: Glycerin, Diglycerin, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Honey Extract, Propolis Extract, Royal Jelly Extract, Panthenol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Allantoin, Phenoxyethanol, Echinacea Purpurea Root Extract, Honey, Water, Flavor, Vanillyl Butyl Ether.

Honey Savior ingredients:

Tata Harper Repairative Moisturizer

I had a small sample sachet of this moisturizer, which I loved, and when I re-experienced this again at my Brightening Facial session with Collective Skincare, I had to purchase the full size. The Tata Harper Repairative Moisturizer (C$140), designed for dry or mature skin types, contains mango seed butter, jojoba seed oil, and raw honey sourced from a neighbouring farm in Vermont, to provide the most hydration and also keep the skin looking smooth and supple. It also contains rice extract to balance the complexion; willow bark extract, which is nature’s salicylic acid for exfoliation, and a slew of other natural and organic plant extracts.

Despite it containing so many heavily moisturizing ingredients, it’s actually very fluid and feels lightweight on the skin, while still packing a punch in terms of moisture levels. I’ve been using this mostly at night (two pumps is enough to cover my face and neck), but it is appropriate for being a daytime moisturizer as well. It just leaves my skin feeling balanced and happy, without any heaviness or greasiness. When I wake up in the morning, my skin is comfortable – not greasy or tight, which is the best I can ask for in any moisturizer. In addition, the smell is incredibly captivating. Tata Harper products don’t contain any fragrance, and rather relies on a blend of essential oils to create an experience similar to aromatherapy.

You can purchase Tata Harper from Sephora, Murale stores, and Beautymark in Yaletown (Vancouver).

Ingredients: Aloe barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Carthamus tinctorius (safflower) Oleosomes*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Olea europea (Olive) Oil*, Glycerin,  Oryza sativa (Rice) Extract*, Rosa damascena Flower Water*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Cetearyl Olivate, Leuconostoc ferment filtrate, Mel (Honey), Sodium hyaluronate, Theobroma Cacao*, Menyanthes trifoliata (Buckbean) Flower Extract, Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract, Salix alba (Willow) Bark Extract*, Medicago sativa (Alfalfa) Extract*, Borago officinalis (Borage) Leaf Extract, Calendula officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract*, Spiraea Ulmaria (Meadowsweet) flower Extract*, Tilia europaea (Linden) Leaf & Flower Extract*, Lavandula stoechas (Spanish Lavender) Extract, Arnica montana (Arnica) Extract*, Galactoarabinan, Sclerotium gum, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetyl Palmitate, Sorbitan Palmitate, Soybean Peroxidase, Superoxide Dismutase, Sodium Phytate, Aroma**, Citral, Citronellol, Linalool, Eugenol

*Ingredients from Organic farming

** Clinical grade essential oils blend

Lush It's Raining Men, Fairly Traded Honey, and Ultrabland review

LUSH It’s Raining Men, Fairly Traded Honey, and Ultrabland

I love LUSH when it comes to integrating raw ingredients into the most awesome beauty products, so of course when I was in search of more honey products, I headed straight to LUSH. It didn’t disappoint!

LUSH’s It’s Raining Men has quickly become one of my favourite shower products – it is highly moisturizing, foams up very nicely, and just smells incredible. Inspired by the Honey, I Washed the Kids soap, It’s Raining Men makes my entire shower routine feel like a spa experience.

Fairly Traded Honey is made of 50% honey, and again is ultra moisturizing for my dry, overprocessed hair. It foams up lightly, and washes out well without leaving any residue. Lastly, it leaves my hair looking so shiny. Over time, I feel like my hair has definitely strengthened. The downside is that because of its highly moisturizing nature, it can weigh hair down a bit, but it also reduces frizz, so I love using this mostly during the winter months.

Lush Ultrabland review

LUSH Ultrabland is a beeswax-based cream cleanser that is great for removing makeup and cleansing the skin of a day’s worth of oil, dirt, and pollution. It also leaves my skin feeling very soft, supple, and nicely moisturized. The downside is that I find this slightly too heavy, as it leaves a bit of hydrating oils on my skin. I do generally like to do a second cleanse though, so after that my skin feels pretty comfortable. I also enjoy using this to do facial massage, drawing out impurities from deep within my pores.

LUSH products are available for purchase at LUSH retail stores and online.

It’s Raining Men ingredients: Honey (Mel) , Rosehip , Lotus Flower and Tiger Lily Infusion (Rosa canina, Nelumbo nucifera and Lilium tigrinum) , Sodium Laureth Sulfate , Sodium Cocoamphoacetate , Water (Aqua) , Fragrance , Propylene Glycol , Brazilian Oil (Citrus Sinensis) , Bergamot Oil (Citrus Aurantium bergamia) , Titanium Dioxide , *Limonene , *Citronellol , *Linalool , Amyl Cinnamal , Lilial , Methylparaben . *Occurs naturally in essential oils

Fairly Traded Honey ingredients: Fairly Traded Honey , Linseed Mucilage (Linum usitatissimum) , Sodium Laureth Sulfate , Sunflower Lecithin (Lecithin) , Lauryl Betaine , Geranium Oil (Pelargonium graveolens) , Beeswax Absolute (Apis Mellifera) , Neroli Oil (Citrus Aurantium amara) , Rose Absolute (Rosa damascena) , Bergamot Oil (Citrus Aurantium bergamia) , *Citral , Geraniol , Lilial , Citronellol , *Limonene , *Linalool , *Benzyl Salicylate , *Eugenol , Benzyl Benzoate , *Farnesol , Hydroxycitronellal , Fragrance . *Occurs naturally in essential oils

Ultrabland ingredients: Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis) , Rose Water (Rosa centifolia) , Beeswax (Cera alba) , Honey (Mel) , Fresh Iris Extract (Iris florentina) , Glycerine , Rose Absolute (Rosa damascena) , Tincture of Benzoin (Styrax benzoin) , Methylparaben , Propylparaben . *Occurs naturally in essential oils

The Body Shop Ethiopian Honey Deep Nourishing Mask

I was the most excited about The Body Shop Expert Facial masks – I purchased the Ethiopian Honey and the British Rose formulas on the day they launched in Canada, and then I tried it immediately that night. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed in this. Despite being a gentle honey mask, it stung like crazy on my skin, and then I got these red bumps on my cheeks. Thankfully, the red bumps went away after using May Lindstrom’s The Youth Dew, but it was still annoying.

Apart from the sensitivity I got, this mask seemed just okay. My skin didn’t feel any more nourished or hydrated after using this, and I also really disliked the scent, as it was a very weird, synthetic, chemical fragrance. For the price ($28 per mask), you’d be better off getting the new Vichy masks.

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Mel/Honey/Miel, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Propanediol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Polysorbate 20, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-150 Distearate, Phenoxyethanol, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Benzyl Alcohol, Parfum/Fragrance, Sodium Hydroxide, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Sesamum Indicum Seed Oil/Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil/Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Disodium EDTA, Linalool, Citronellol, Limonene, Benzyl Benzoate, Citric Acid, Caramel.

My top picks: Tata Harper Repairative Moisturizer, LUSH It’s Raining Men, and May Lindstrom’s The Honey Mud (even though it’s not in this post, it’s still a honey product!)

The Farmacy and LUSH products in this post were provided by PR; as usual, all opinions are my own.

Customize a timeless gift with My Burberry Black

My

My Burberry Black is the latest in the line of My Burberry fragrances, which also include My Burberry EDT, My Burberry EDP, and Mr. Burberry for men. I did not like My Burberry EDT or EDP, they were both very muddled, too floral, and I couldn’t figure out what I was smelling. My Burberry Black, on the other hand, is a deliciously floral and sensual fragrance that’s sexy and sophisticated at the same time. It contains top notes of jasmine; a heart of rose and peach, and base notes of patchouli and amber.

I get a very strong rose scent from My Burberry Black, and I can’t seem to smell the jasmine and peach at all. There is also a lot of patchouli and amber, as the rose scent is definitely a dark one. A little bit goes a very long way, and you only need one spritz to get the full effect; two will be way too much.

My Burberry Black review

One of Burberry’s focuses now is on monogramming, as you can request your trench coats to be monogrammed via the Burberry web store, as well as at Burberry standalone boutiques. Since My Burberry was inspired by the iconic trench coat, you can now also request your My Burberry Black bottle to be customized with up to three initials, monogrammed onto the bottle to create the perfect gift. I received mine as a gift from PR, and I was absolutely touched by the detail in this gift. You too can share this joy with your loved one!

You can purchase My Burberry Black at Sephora, Burberry stores and online, The Bay, and other places that sells Burberry fragrances. Prices range from $82 for the 30mL, to $138 for the 90mL.

My Burberry Black review

The product featured in this post was provided by PR for review consideration; all opinions are my own.

Review + swatches – ILIA Beauty Fall 2016 featuring Lipsticks in The Brides, Madam Mina, and Lucy’s Party and NEW Translucent Loose Powder

ILIA Lipsticks in The Brides, Madam Mina, and Lucy's Party for fall 2016

ILIA Beauty has been on my radar for ages as I continue my journey into natural beauty. ILIA was founded in Vancouver in 2011 with just six Tinted Lip Conditioners, and now it has grown into a line that includes foundation, more lip products, powders, highlighters, and even brushes. Today I am sharing with you some products from their fall 2016 collection.

ILIA Lipsticks in The Brides, Madam Mina, and Lucy's Party for fall 2016

If you’re unfamiliar with ILIA’s Lipsticks (US$26), they contain a LOT of good ingredients in there to help condition, moisturize, and care for your lips. If you have dry lips and find most lipsticks too drying, you need to try these. You can see in the ingredients list below that they contain a plethora of humectants and moisturizers such as cocoa seed butter, sunflower seed oil, sesame seed oil, linseed flax seed, olive fruit oil, and rosehip seed oil. Generally, they are on the sheerer side due to the high concentration of oils, but that also makes it incredibly wearable on a day to day basis, and is great for those who work in more conservative environments where truly pigmented lipsticks can be too much of a standout.

ILIA Lipsticks in The Brides, Madam Mina, and Lucy's Party for fall 2016

There are three new lipsticks in shades The Brides, Madam Mina, and Lucy’s Party. The Brides is a beautiful warm nude; Madam Mina is a warm mauve nude; and Lucy’s Party is a gorgeous oxblood. I LOVE all of these shades, they are so wearable on all skin colours and for all seasons. Of course for fall, Lucy’s Party is my top pick, but The Brides and Madam Mina are also great for everyday wear. The Brides, very aptly named, is also a very pretty soft bridal colour. As with the rest of the ILIA Lipstick line, they are relatively sheer, but can build up to more colour.

In terms of wear, these lipsticks are also slightly heavier than what I am used to, but that’s due to the moisturizing oils in the formula, especially if you need to build up to get more colour. Wear time is so-so, around three or so hours before a touch-up is needed. These lipsticks are incredibly moisturizing though, which is great for when my lips are very dried out.

ILIA Fade Into You powder for fall 2016

In addition to the lipsticks, I also have the new Translucent Loose Powder to show you, as well as the accompanying face brush. The new powder, called Fade into You, is super finely milled, and I love the travel-friendly packaging where even though it is in a sifter format, you can close the holes so that the powder doesn’t spill everywhere when you move it around. It is also certified gluten-free.

I didn’t feel like it was super mattifying or oil controlling. It does leave my skin feeling very silky at first touch, but that quickly goes away after the first hour or two. It is entirely translucent, and I did not notice any white cast. If you have oily skin, or need something that is more mattifying, then this new powder won’t do it for you.

ILIA Fade Into You powder for fall 2016

The new face powder brush is 100% cruelty-free, made of taklon. The brush is super soft, and very dense, making it perfect for dusting on powder. I love the rounded, tapered design too, which is my preferred shape for powder brush. It makes it super easy to apply powder into every crevice, without disturbing your makeup. Even though it is taklon, I do feel like it picks up a decent amount of powder (unlike some of my other taklon brushes). I am kind of a brush snob, preferring natural-haired Japanese-made brushes to synthetic ones, but these definitely get my stamp of approval as a good powder brush.

ILIA powder brush

For fall, ILIA also has three new shades in the Vivid Foundation range, as well as a new buffing foundation brush (it’s SO GOOD, seriously). My top pick of the entire fall line is still the three new lipsticks, they are just too beautiful to pass up!

ILIA Beauty’s fall 2016 collection will be available in September at Beautymark in Vancouver, as well as on ILIABeauty.com.

The swatches

Lipsticks in The Brides, Madam Mina, and Lucy’s Party

ILIA Lipsticks in The Brides, Madam Mina, and Lucy's Party for fall 2016

Lipstick ingredients list: Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil*, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Beeswax (Cera Alba)*, Triisostearyl Citrate, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter*, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch*, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Flax Seed*, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Seed Oil*, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf*, Tocopherol. May contain: Mica, Titanium Dioxide CI77891, Black Oxide CI77499, Yellow Oxide CI77492, Red Oxide CI77491, Red 7 CI15850, Red 28 CI45410, Yellow 5 CI19140. *Certified Organic Ingredients. Ingrédients Certifiés Biologiques.

These ILIA products were provided by PR for review consideration; as usual, all opinions are my own.

Create beautiful skin with Canadian natural skincare brand Bella Aura

Bella Aura review

I first discovered Bella Aura when I was browsing the Petal & Post website. Bella Aura started in Toronto, Canada by Yasmine. The story started when Yasmine’s mother was diagnosed with leukemia and during this time, she experienced severe skin issues and acne scarring. After travelling to Morocco, she learned of the ancient beauty secrets there, which inspired her to create Bella Aura. The key ingredients in Bella Aura products are Argan, Cactus, Neroli, and Nigella. The products are proudly made in Canada, and were designed to be used by all skin types.

Bella Aura review

I seriously love all of the products in this line, but the one that made me go WOW immediate was the Gentle Purifying Cleanser (C$45 for 100mL). This starts off like an emulsion but lightly foams upon contact with water. Even though I know foaming cleansers aren’t the best for dry or dehydrated skin types, I just love my foaming cleansers because I like that feeling of being clean without residue. That being said, it is difficult to find a foaming cleanser that doesn’t leave your skin feeling dry or stripped. Despite the Gentle Purifying Cleanser being just lightly foaming, the richness of the oils created a beautiful cushion that allowed me to massage this gently around my face, lifting off any oil and grime from the day. It leaves my skin feeling super soft, supple, and incredibly balanced.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Diethylhexyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, Cereus Grandiflorus (Cactus) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Peel Oil, Nigella Sativa Seed Oil, Hydroxyacetophenone, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, 1,2 Hexanediol

The Instant Lifting Eye Contour (C$125 for 30mL) was the first product I incorporated into my skincare routine. This eye emulsion is super lightweight, absorbs quickly and without residue, but definitely packs a punch. My eye area feels very hydrated. It also feels lightly cooling, which helps make my eye area feel fresh, which is great particularly in the mornings. The first time I used this, I was surprised at how firming it was – within minutes, my eye area was visibly firmer and lifted. I remember there was one morning when I woke up with a very swollen left eye due to water retention, and after 5 minutes of applying the Lifting Eye Contour, the swelling had gone down significantly.

The biggest qualm I have about this eye cream is that the pump is just awful. You really only need a tiny bit of product for your eye area, but the pump will give you enough product to cover your whole face. I generally just use one dot around each eye area, and then use the rest on my neck. Originally I thought the 30mL size was generous for an eye cream, which it is, but I think about 2/3 of the product each time being essentially wasted and used around my neck instead, it feels less economical. I really hope they can improve the packaging on this in the future, perhaps using a dropper applicator instead.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Melissa Officinalis (Balm Mint) Leaf Extract, Disodium Rutinyl Disulfate, Hordeum Distichon (Barley) Extract, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Jojoba Esters, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax, Cetyl Alcohol, Propanediol, Cereus Grandiflorus (Cactus) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Peel Oil, Nigella Sativa Seed Oil, Cellulose, Xanthan Gum, Gellan Gum, Hydroxyactophenone, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, 1,2 Hexanediol

The Night Cellular Renewal (C$125 for 30mL) is my next pick in the line. It’s incredibly hydrating, even though it is such a fluid, lightweight texture. The argan oil makes it smell very warm and relaxing, which is perfect for use right before bed. I layer this over top a non-hydrating brightening serum, and this just leaves my skin feeling so plump and happy during my sleep, and in the morning my face feels more balanced. I also feel like my skin’s texture is smoother with use over time. I use two pumps of this over my face and neck, which absorbs within a few seconds.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Cereus Grandiflorus (Cactus) Extract, Propanediol, Glycerin, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Joboba Esters, Polyglyceriyl-3 Beeswax, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Peel Oil, Nigella Sativa Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Cellulose, Glutamine, Decyl Glucoside, Phenethyl Alcohol, Cistus Incanus Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Gynostemma Pentaphyllum Leaf/Stem Extract, Hydroxyacetophenone, Xanthan Gum, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, 1,2-Hexanediol

Bella Aura review

The Antioxidant Booster (C$125 for 30mL) is a skin’s detox, designed to negative environmental elements that your skin comes in contact with during the day. I use this during the day only, underneath the Daily Repair Moisturizer for a boost of hydration and protection. As a serum, it has the thickest texture out of all of these products. It absorbs quickly, and has a nice refreshing scent. I was surprised that this serum isn’t that hydrating, especially because it contains argan oil, and because of the thicker texture.

It layers very nicely underneath the Daily Repair Moisturizer. I’ve also used this mixed together with the Daily Repair Moisturizer, and it has help boosted the moisturizing properties. I wouldn’t use this alone though, because I found that the oil-based texture does not layer well underneath other moisturizers. As a preventative serum, where you prevent future wrinkles and also detox your skin, I didn’t really notice any significant improvements in my skin over the time I used this, but I didn’t notice that my skin went south either, so I guess there’s that.

Again my biggest issue is with the pump. I need 1.5 pumps to cover my face adequately, but the pump doesn’t dispense half pumps because it is so rigid, so I usually just end up using 1 pump.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Melissa Officinalis (Balm Mint) Leaf Extract, Disodium Rutinyl Disulfate, Hordeum Distichon (Barley) Extract, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Jojoba Esters, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax, Cetyl Alcohol, Propanediol, Cereus Grandiflorus (Cactus) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Peel Oil, Nigella Sativa Seed Oil, Cellulose, Xanthan Gum, Gellan Gum, Hydroxyactophenone, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, 1,2 Hexanediol

The Daily Repair Moisturizer Emulsion (C$125 for 30mL) is the daytime moisturizer. It has a very fluid milky texture that is lightweight, with a fresh argan oil scent. The Daily Repair Moisturizer is not as hydrating as the Night Cellular Renewal, but is more hydrating as the Antioxidant Booster.

I love this moisturizer for the day. It creates a beautiful cushion for my foundation to glide onto, is hydrating and balancing, but not at all greasy or heavy despite the oil-based ingredients. I need 1 to 1.5 pumps to cover my face, and the light fluid formula allows it spread around easily before absorbing. This also layers beautifully over other serums of other textures, so you don’t need to use it over the Antioxidant Booster to get the full effect.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Tocopherol, Glycerin, Avena Strigosa Seed Extract, Lecithin, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Jojoba Esters, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax, Cetyl Alcohol, Bellis Perennis (Daisy) Flower Extract, Propanediol, Cereus Grandiflorus (Cactus) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter, Orange) Peel Oil, Nigella Sativa Seed Oil, Cellulose, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxyacetophenone, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, 1,2 Hexanediol

After a few months of using Bella Aura products, I can say that they have made a big difference in the way my skin looks and feels. Of these products, I very highly recommend that you try out the Gentle Purifying Cleanser and the Instant Lifting Eye Contour. The other products definitely have made such a big difference in my skin, so I do recommend that you get the whole set if you can afford it. Otherwise, focus your budget more on the first two products because I have noticed the most difference, in the shortest amount of time, with those two.

You can purchase Bella Aura at my favourite online organic skincare store, Petal & Post, which also offers free shipping for orders over $75.

The products in this post were provided by PR; as always, all opinions are my own.

Review + swatches – NEW Dior Rouge Dior lipsticks for fall 2016

Rouge Dior lipsticks in Actrice, Miss, Red Smile, Pretty Matte, Radiant Matte, and Ambitious Matte review for fall 2016

Dior recently revamped its Rouge Dior lipsticks for the fall, including updating the creamy, satin-finish previous generation Rouge Diors, and also introducing a new matte finish. The new collection is split into four colour families, each with a star shade that is representative of that family:

  • Natural Nudes, represented by 060 Premiere
  • Pretty Pinks, represented by 047 Miss
  • Passionate Corals, represented by 080 Red Smile
  • Legendary reds, represented by Dior’s classic red 999 in a matte finish.

Rouge Dior lipsticks in Actrice, Miss, Red Smile, Pretty Matte, Radiant Matte, and Ambitious Matte review for fall 2016

The lipsticks are housed in beautiful navy blue tubes. The new collection can be distinguished from the previous generations via the bright red underside of the cap, which is very pretty and a nice touch (similar to the sole of a Louboutin). The matte shades can be further distinguished from the satin shades via the matte top of the box packaging; the rest of the tube design is the same. The cap attaches very firmly to the rest of the tube, and you can hear it click when it fully attaches on. I prefer this type of cap because it is less likely to come off in your bag.

Rouge Dior lipsticks in Actrice Miss, Red Smile, Pretty Matte, Radiant Matte, and Ambitious Matte review for fall 2016
Rouge Dior lipsticks in Actrice, Miss, Red Smile, Pretty Matte, Radiant Matte, and Ambitious Matte review for fall 2016

There are 36 satin finish shades, 11 matte finish shades, plus four extreme matte shades in more experimental colours. I received six shades of the new Rouge Dior lipsticks to show you:

  • 028 Actrice – true coral
  • 047 Miss – fuchsia pink with violet sheen
  • 080 Red Smile – bright, red coral
  • 576 Pretty Matte – matte, blue-based pink
  • 771 Radiant Matte – matte, medium pink
  • 964 Ambitious Matte – matte berry

Rouge Dior lipsticks in Actrice, Miss, Red Smile, Pretty Matte, Radiant Matte, and Ambitious Matte review for fall 2016

I didn’t try the older formula so I can’t compare, but I love the new Rouge Dior! I kid you not, all of these shades are incredibly creamy, with medium to full pigmentation, and super lightweight on the lips. They are probably one of the best lipstick releases I’ve seen in a very long time. Even the matte shades apply very creamy, with no streakiness or tugging, and sets down to a very nice satin-ish matte that isn’t drying at all. The matte shades are especially pigmented, giving full coverage without the weight. Of the cream versus matte formulas, I definitely prefer the matte more, it is truly a very nice matte formula that will look pretty on even the driest of lips.

Rouge Dior lipsticks in Actrice, Miss, Red Smile, Pretty Matte, Radiant Matte, and Ambitious Matte review for fall 2016

The cream formulas are creamy, almost gel-like, and can be worn sheered-down if you want a more wearable day look. They have almost a muted glossy look to them, and aren’t true satin finishes. The slightly glossy finish also allows you to create the illusion of fuller, plumper lips.

Of the six shades I received, my favourites are 080 Red Smile, 771 Radiant Matte, and 964 Ambitious Matte. Sadly 047 Miss looked so pretty in the tube but is slightly too cool-toned for me, and 576 Pretty Matte is also too light for me; I prefer more medium-toned pinks, such as 771 Radiant Matte.

Even though I only sampled six shades from the line, I am very impressed with the new Rouge Diors. There have been a ton of new lipstick releases in the last few months, so it can get very overwhelming as to which formulas are buy-worthy. I have sampled several of the new formulas and I have to say that these Rouge Diors are definitely in the top three. With the large collection of more than 50 shades, you can be sure to find one that calls out to your heart.

You can purchase these new Rouge Dior lipsticks at Dior counters at Holt Renfrew, Nordstrom, the Bay, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Sephora, available now.

The swatches

Rouge Dior lipsticks in Actrice, Miss, Red Smile, Pretty Matte, Radiant Matte, and Ambitious Matte

Rouge Dior lipsticks in Actrice, Miss, Red Smile, Pretty Matte, Radiant Matte, and Ambitious Matte review for fall 2016
Rouge Dior lipsticks in Actrice, Miss, Red Smile, Pretty Matte, Radiant Matte, and Ambitious Matte review for fall 2016
Rouge Dior lipsticks in Actrice, Miss, Red Smile, Pretty Matte, Radiant Matte, and Ambitious Matte review for fall 2016

The products featured in this post were provided by PR, but as always, all opinions are my own!

Experience: Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie, at the Shangri-La Toronto

Spa
If you’ve been following along with me on Instagram, you’d notice that I was in Toronto a few weeks ago. I took the opportunity to visit the famed Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie, located at the beautiful Shangri-La Toronto. I received the 30 minute Hammam and Gommage treatment, which claims:

This steam & body exfoliation is part of the authentic traditions of the Middle East. De-stress between a private high intensity & low mist steam chamber, the Hammam will cleanse your body while stimulating your senses and imagination. Lay relaxed on Jerusalem gold marble as you experience an invigorating full body Gommage (exfoliation) using eucalyptus infused black Moroccan soap. This experience is considered to be the ultimate detoxification treatment. Our Spa Concierge will be happy to assist you with your personalized groups of 2 or more people. Please refer to our Voyages & Retreats.

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It was my first time getting the Hammam and Gommage treatment. The treatment itself was fantastic, the 10-15 minute steam room treatment (the Hammam) was the most relaxing part of the experience, as I got to lie back, breathe, and relax after a very hectic week of travelling and working. The steam room was very hot, humid, but not at all stuffy, which I find is the case with most other steam rooms. I was left alone in the room, and I could have completely stripped down, but I had a sarong covering me which was more comfortable. I would have loved to stay in the steam room for longer, to detox my body of the stress and pollution during my trip to Toronto, but since I was having such a good time in the steam room, it just felt really short.

The Gommage part of the treatment was also nice, but not as relaxing. I lay down pretty much completely naked (I had a disponsable thong on) on top of my sarong, while the esthetician exfoliated every inch of my body with the black Moroccan soap. My body was thoroughly exfoliated, the esthetician focused on parts of my body that I often forget to exfoliate, such as my tummy area, back of my arms, my hands, and the tops of my feet. The black Moroccan soap contained natural oils which left my body feeling smooth and hydrated.

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After being rinsed off and allowed to dry, I was led to the relaxation room where I was given some grapes, a pastry, and unlimited refills of chai tea. The relaxation room was very nice, dimly lit, and quiet. I would have liked to stay longer but there was a couple in the room who arrived later and who were talking in the room, and it ended up being less serene.

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My biggest dislike, and why this experience wasn’t as relaxing as it could have been, was that I felt like this experience was very rushed. I was rushed into the change room, rushed out, rushed into the steam room, and even the exfoliation process felt rushed. It was my first time getting this treatment, but I felt like the front staff didn’t explain what the treatment would entail. This would give me a head’s up about the different steps, and what I can expect. I feel like the Hammam and Gommage treatment would have been a great add-on to another treatment, such as a massage or facial, so it doesn’t feel like you spend so little time in the spa itself.

That being said, the Miraj Hammam Spa is extremely clean, and well stocked with all the Caudalie products you can use. I had completely removed my makeup and skincare before going into the steam room, so my skin was feeling a bit naked. I topped up my skin with Caudalie products for the face, and also smothered my body in the body lotion.

For the price, I don’t know if I would go back. It was a good treatment, I wasn’t blown away by my experience. If you know me, you know that I have no problem splurging for good experiences, but this one was just okay and didn’t show me enough value in terms of the level of service for me to return.

Hammam & Gommage – 30MINS
MondayFriday (excluding holidays)
$135
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays
$145

Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie
188 University Ave, Toronto, ON M5H 0A3
Phone: (647) 253-5770

The treatment provided was complimentary of Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie; all opinions are my own.

Review: The Body Shop Oils of Life Intensely Revitalizing Cream

The Body Shop Oils of Life Intensely Revitalizing Cream review

My apologies for the late review of this one! I actually used this last winter, but I finally got around to writing about it now. Oopies.

One of the most exciting releases of last year was The Body Shop’s Oils of Life collection, the skincare branch of The Body Shop’s new foray into high end skincare and bodycare. I previously reviewed the Spa of the World collection here. Similarly to my reaction to the Spa of the World products, I was very happy with the Oils of Life products.

My skin profile: I have very dehydrated cheeks with a t-zone that gets oily. I occasionally get break-outs, usually 1-2 around that time of the month. My main skin concerns are hyper-pigmentation and dehydration in the cheek area and fine lines in the eye area. My ideal skincare products are ones that provide good moisture to my skin, absorb quickly and leave no left-over product sitting on top of my skin.

What it claims (from thebodyshop.ca): By infusing 3 precious seed oils from around the world, known for their revitalising and repairing properties on skin – Black Cumin seed oil from Egypt, Camellia seed oil from China and Rosehip seed oil from Chile – in to a silky cream with perfecting micro-pearls, we created a daily cream that intensely revitalises skin, replenishes moisture and revives radiance. Signs of ageing appear visibly reduced. From the moment it touches the skin, this Intensely Revitalising Cream effortlessly melts onto the face, leaving a light and comfortable finish without a greasy feel.

Price: C$34.00 for 50mL

Texture/Scent: Thick gel-cream with a spicy, exotic scent

The good: My first impression is that I love the heavy glass jar that it comes in – it looks and feels so much more luxurious than it really is. Despite being a deeply nourishing cream, the Oils of Life Intensely Revitalizing Cream has a relatively light, whipped texture that absorbs quickly and completely into my skin without feeling sticky or heavy. I use this at night because it’s a bit heavier than what I need during the day, and each morning I wake up to very hydrated, smooth, and radiant skin.

  • Skin looks and feels more nourished
  • Non-greasy
  • Absorbs completely
  • Beautiful glass packaging that is hefty and looks luxurious

The bad: My skin isn’t super sensitive but I find that for the first 5 seconds after applying the cream, it stings a little bit. This feeling quickly goes away, and my skin doesn’t look or feel irritated after. I’m not sure what ingredient is causing this, but since I didn’t see any long term arm, I continued to use this. The spicy scent is a bit too strong, and doesn’t dissipate immediately which can also irritate those with sensitive noses, but after I while I got used to this. If I had a choice, though, I’d prefer it to be scent-free.

  • Stings for the first 5 seconds after application
  • Spicy scent sticks around

Overall: This C$34 cream is a winner from The Body Shop. It makes my skin feel super nourished and deeply hydrated, without the heavy greasy feeling. After a few weeks of using this, I can say this is comparable to my Tatcha Ageless Enriching Renewal Cream (which is more than six times the cost in C$) because it makes my skin feel so good. The Tatcha version is gentler for those with sensitive skins though, because The Body Shop cream caused some mild sensitivity. There is also a Gel Cream version of this cream, which is much more lightweight and more suitable for those with combination skin, or daytime use. Personally, I’d still stick to the Cream version because I prefer that thicker, creamier texture.

Product: 17/20
Packaging: 4.5/5
Value: 5/5
Overall: 26.5/30 | A
Repurchase? Yes

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau (Solvent), Hydrogenated Polyisobutene (Emollient), Dimethicone (Skin Conditioning Agent), Glycerin (Humectant), Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate (Absorbent/Anticaking Agent), Cetyl Alcohol (Emulsifying Agent), PEG-40 Stearate (Emulsifying Agent), Glyceryl Stearate (Emulsifying Agent), Octyldodecanol (Emollient), Olea Europaea Fruit Oil/Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil (Emollient), Butyrospermum Parkii Butter/Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter (Skin Conditioning Agent – Emollient), Fagus Sylvatica Bud Extract (Skin Conditioning Agent), Phenoxyethanol (Preservative), Polyacrylamide (Film Former), Sorbitan Tristearate (Emulsifying Agent), Rosa Canina Fruit Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent), Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent – Emollient), Caprylyl Glycol (Skin Conditioning Agent), C13-14 Isoparaffin (Solvent), Glycine Soja Protein/Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein (Skin Conditioning Agent), Mica (Opacifying Agent), Parfum/Fragrance (Fragrance Ingredient), Tocopherol (Antioxidant), Adenosine (Skin Conditioning Agent), Nigella Sativa Seed Oil (Emollient), Laureth-7 (Emulsifying Agent), Linalool (Fragrance Ingredient), Myristyl Alcohol (Emulsifying Agent), Stearyl Alcohol (Emollient), Disodium EDTA (Chelating Agent), Citric Acid (pH Adjuster), Limonene (Fragrance Ingredient), Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate (Surfactant), Geraniol (Fragrance Ingredient), Citronellol (Fragrance Ingredient), Ethylhexylglycerin (Skin Conditioning Agent), Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Benzoic Acid (Preservative), Tin Oxide (Opacifying Agent), Sorbic Acid (Preservative), CI 77891/Titanium Dioxide (Colorant), CI 19140/Yellow 5 (Colorant), CI 14700/Red 4 (Colorant).

The Body Shop Oils of Life Intensely Revitalizing Cream review

Combining the power of crystals with organic body care – Crystal Hills Organic Skincare

Crystal Hills Organic Skincare review

Crystal Hills Organic Skincare is a local Kelowna-based luxury body care company that combines the active constituents of botanicals as well as the healing energetic traits of crystals. The ingredients that go into products are organic, with a lot of them grown and harvested on their own farm. The products themselves are non-animal tested, and the certain ingredients not grown on the farm are sourced from suppliers who share the same philosophy. Most of the products are also vegan, with a select few that contain honey or other bee products (i.e., Crystal Love and Crystal Dreams sugar scrubs).

I received a few of their products to try out for myself. While the use of crystals is a bit gimmicky to me, I do like how these products perform in terms of pure product efficacy.

Crystal Hills Organic Skincare review

Crystal Love Body Serum (C$70) is an oil-based body serum in a beautiful floral scent. It contains a rose quartz crystal, organic rosehip oil, organic apricot oil and mallow extract to deeply nourish the skin. Rose quartz is used to maximize all things love and beauty. The combination of geranium rose, rose absolute, and neroli create a seductive scent with aphrodisiac properties. Crystal Love smells SO GOOD. I love all rose scented products, but Crystal Love is more complex with the addition of Neroli.

This body serum is super hydrating and feels very silky on the skin. The base of coconut oil glides on the skin very well, and absorbs quickly. This oil is multi-functional; I can even use a bit on the ends of my hair to de-frizz, or as a cuticle oil. Because of the luxury price, I don’t use this too often, and only use it on nights where my skin is in need of some additional TLC. That being said, I find that a little bit goes a very long way so you don’t need much to get the most efficacy.

Crystal Love Body Serum ingredients: Rose Quartz Crystal, Coconut Oil, Organic Rosehip Fruit Oil, Organic Apricot Kernel Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Mallow Flower/Leaf Extract, Elderberry Fruit Extract, and a proprietary blend of essential oils including Geranium Rose, Organic Neroli and Rose Absolute.

Crystal Hills Organic Skincare review

Crystal Love Sugar Scrub (C$68) is a sugar-based body scrub, which combines organic cane sugar, exquisite organic botanical extracts, honey, propolis, and rose quartz to gently exfoliate and freshen the skin. Again, this is in the Crystal Love scent which is rose and neroli, and it smells absolutely incredible. My skin feels so soft, supple, and very hydrated after using this, so much so that I don’t even necessarily need to use moisturizer afterwards on a warmer day.

Despite how awesome this is, I think $68 to spend on a body scrub is kind of ridiculous. Sugar scrubs melt faster than salt scrubs, so I generally end up using more than I should.

Crystal Love Sugar Scrub ingredients: Rose Quartz Powder combined with Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Mango Butter, Peach Kernel Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Vegan Emulsifying Wax, Cupuacu Butter, Organic Rosehip Oil, Mallow Extract, Mild Preservative, Honey, Vitamin E, Organic Rose Extract, Organic Rooibos Extract, Organic Fireweed Extract, Organic Hibiscus Extract, Propolis, Olive Oil Wax, Pink Mica, and a proprietary blend of essential oils including Geranium Rose, Organic Neroli and Rose Absolute.

Crystal Hills Organic Skincare review

Crystal Harmony Bath Salts (C$54) is a salt-based bath soak that contains green quartz. Green quartz will help to adjust your vibrational field and transform negative energies into positive ones, which is a great formulation for night-time bath soaks. Compared to the other two products, the scent is a lot more subtle. Compared to other bath salts, you get a very nice, potent combination of different herbs and leaves which will leave your bath feeling luxuriously scented, like you’re sitting in a tub of potions. My skin does get pretty dried out while sitting in a bath, so I didn’t find this particularly moisturizing in any way, but it wasn’t as drying as other bath salts I’ve used. For an especially pampering night, I will follow the bath salts with the Body Serum to leave my skin feeling supple.

Each bottle of bath salt only lasts for 3-4 uses though, so it can be pretty expensive. I do find that the high price is justified because you get more than just salts in your bath; the herb to salt ratio is almost 50/50, which is very generous compared to other bath salts where it’s just salts. I don’t take baths often, so it wouldn’t be something I use on a regular basis, which is why I can personally justify the price. If you are someone who takes baths every night and uses bath salts, this probably isn’t the most economical of bath products, but it would be great for those special occasions where you really want to treat yourself.

Crystal Harmony Bath Salts ingredients: Green Quartz combined with Solar Dried Sea Salt, Epsom Salt, MSM, Dendritic Salt, Organic Plantain Leaves, Organic Comfrey Leaves, Organic Dandelion Leaves, Sea Buckthorn Leaves, Organic Calendula Petals, Organic Green Tea Leaves, and a proprietary blend of essential oils including Pink Grapefruit, Organic Sweet Orange and Vanilla.

Out of these products, the only one that I would say is a must have is the Crystal Love Body Serum – it just feels so beautiful on the skin. The Crystal Harmony Bath Salts is a nice to have, but not must have, whereas the Sugar Scrub is a skip. You can purchase all of these products from the Crystal Hills Organic Skincare website.

My life changing barre experience at The Bar Method in Vancouver!

View More: http://melissagidneyphoto.pass.us/bar-method

So if you know me, I’m not the most athletic person in the world. Actually I’m not athletic at all. My longest stint of regular exercise was when Jo and I were doing our interval exercises twice a week for a few months, but that was about it. In the past I’ve done spin class, which I am quite fond of, but I never returned on a regular basis, as I feel like you really need the right atmosphere in order to get me pumped up enough for exercise, ya know? So anyways, I was recently introduced to The Bar Method when they were celebrating their 15th anniversary. I was offered the opportunity for a one-month unlimited pass to try out their classes and studio, and I was completely blown away by my experience.

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It was my first time doing barre, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. After signing up for my first class, I was asked to arrive 15 minutes in advance of the class for a studio tour and also to fill out a client card. After trying out several different exercise studios when I was still on Classpass, I could easily say that I’ve never been to a friendlier studio than The Bar Method.

When I went to other studios, I would awkwardly show up and not know where to go, so I’d need to figure everything out myself, and maybe I would step on a few toes. By contrast, the ladies at The Bar Method were SO NICE!!! I can’t emphasize that enough. I showed up and was greeted by name – I guess they could tell it was my first time. They immediately asked me to fill out a client card, and then Kristel, one of the instructors, gave me a tour of the studio, introducing me to all of the amenities of the studio. Of course I didn’t do much research and I showed up in running shorts, but the studio had spare tights that they were able to lend me for the class, otherwise it would have been really awkward since there’s a lot of leg lifting and bending.

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Going into the class, I was also showed where I can get my weights, and a quick overview of how the class is going to go. Kristel gave me a head’s up that the instructor will be calling my name out often to help adjust my position so that I can get the most out of the class and also to prevent injury.

Corinne was my instructor for my first class, and she was seriously the sweetest person ever. Even though she called me out by name, I didn’t feel singled out at all or embarrassed, which can happen depending on the tone of the instructor (this happened to me in another class by another instructor, which was really awkward for me and I made a mental note not to go back to that instructor’s class). Each comment Corinne made helped improve my form, which is what I was looking for. I was blown away by my first experience, that I went back several more times. In addition to Corinne’s class, I also had class with Kristel, who was equally friendly and just an overall awesome instructor.

I’m hoping that this will become a habit, as I’m thoroughly enjoying the classes. I’m not too fond of cardio exercises as my heart beats too fast and my breathing can’t catch up fast enough, but these types of interval exercises I can work with. Since going to barre regularly twice a week, I’ve noticed that my core is noticeably stronger, and I also feel like I have better endurance.

Lastly, as a nice bonus, the bathrooms and changing areas are seriously so friggin clean. It’s a small detail, but something I really appreciate.

After my month of unlimited classes end, I will likely be returning. If you’re new to The Bar Method, you can get your first month of unlimited classes for just $80, which is a complete steal!

The Bar Method Vancouver (between Stadium and Yaletown skytrain stations)
837 Beatty St.
Vancouver, BC V6B 2M1
604.681.6188

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The one-month pass provided was complimentary of The Bar Method; all opinions are my own.