Masking with Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial and Even Better Brightening Moisture Mask

Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial and Even Better Brightening Moisture Mask review

Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial

Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial review

The ultimate facial and exfoliator in one, the Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial is an amazing all-in-one pick-me-up to prepare for a special night out. It works fast to remove dead skin on the skin surface to create an instantly illuminated appearance. There are micro crystal exfoliants in the mask to also provide some physical scrubbing action. The micro crystals are very fine in texture and delivers even exfoliation all over my face. I have relatively sensitive cheeks and I find that the mask base, combined with the crystal scrub, are still gentle enough on my skin without creating irritation.

The main downside is that I feel the micro crystals leave shimmer or glitter on my skin even after washing off the mask, therefore I usually have to wash my face again with my usual face wash to get off all the shimmer.

The recommended “dosage” of this mask is twice a week, and I find that to definitely be enough to keep my skin looking bright and smooth. Definitely love!

Clinique Even Better Brightening Moisture Mask

Clinique Even Better Brightening Moisture Mask review

The Even Better Brightening Moisture Mask is a cream mask that you apply on your cleansed skin, leave on for 10-15 minutes, and then tissue off. I usually prefer to wash off because I like to use my normal night cream, but you can just tissue off, or tissue off and lightly wipe off with a moist towel. If I don’t wash off, it feels a bit sticky and heavy on my face, never really absorbing completely into my skin and then leaving a slight film on the surface. I’ve used this mask a few times I find that it doesn’t really deliver in terms of its brightening effect – at most it’s lightly hydrating, but not really groundbreaking in anyway.

Overall, I’d recommend checking out the Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial but skipping the Even Better Brightening Moisture Mask. You can find much better alternatives for brightening and/or moisturizing masks, but the Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial is an all-in-one cleansing, brightening, smoothing, and exfoliating mask that’s great for those short on time and in need of a quick pick-me-up.

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

Tata Harper Top 8

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One of my all time favourite skincare products definitely hit me like a bus… I discovered this brand in 2016 and now I incorporate this in my daily routine. If you haven’t yet figured this out, I’m talking about Tata Harper. I’m very lucky that the brand sent me some products for review, but most of my Tata products I purchased with my own money. I’ve tried a large number of the collection, so now I’m here sharing with you my top eight favourite Tata Harper products. Why eight? Because I couldn’t narrow it down to five.

If you click through this link, you get a code for $25 off your $100 purchase! I don’t earn commission, but I can also get $25 off my next purchase (I don’t get anything  unless I purchase anything, and most of their stuff is over $25!).

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser review

1. Regenerating Cleanser

I previously reviewed this here, and my thoughts are still the same. This is one of my favourite physical exfoliators. I have the 50mL version and because I only use this about once a week, it’s lasted me forever.

2. Honey Blossom Mask

I didn’t like the original Resurfacing Mask because I felt like it didn’t do much on my skin (except when paired with the Regenerating Cleanser for some deeper enzyme power), but the Honey Blossom version is seriously true love. It has everything in the Resurfacing Mask, with the addition of raw honey. For some reason, the honey makes all the difference, and this mask leaves my skin feeling so much smoother, firmer, brighter, and hydrated after every use. It is crazy expensive, priced at US$65 for just a measly 30mL jar, but I couldn’t help but get a back-up because it’s just so lovely, plus it’s limited edition!

3. Purifying Cleanser

My second favourite cleanser by Tata Harper is more of a daily cleanser. The Purifying Cleanser works to deep cleanse your pores and flush out any toxins, pollutants, and anything else nasty that resides in your pores. It’s ultra creamy, and despite it having a clay base, it’s gentle and leaves my skin feeling soft and cleansed, without being stripped.

4. Repairative Moisturizer

I love this deeply moisturizing creamy lotion from Tata Harper. It’s her one moisturizer designed for dry/mature skin, and my skin just soaks it up. I love using this in the winter – it doesn’t absorb immediately so I can do a nice facial massage with it. It contains honey, mango seed butter, and lots of other seriously nourishing ingredients to help soothe winter-dried skin. I only use this at night though because it does take a while to absorb. Reviewed here.

5. Replenishing Nutrient Complex

I brought a small 3mL rollerball bottle of this to Asia with me last fall, and I can say that this cult favourite Tata Harper facial oil is seriously the bomb. I have very dry and dehydrated skin, which is worsened on travels because of the dry airplane air and stress. I rolled this all over my face and neck and then massaged it in. Not only does it smell so heavenly, it completely rid my skin of flakes, dryness, and any other signs of dehydration, while adding glow and a healthy look to my face. While it is expensive (a 10mL rollerball bottle is US$48, while the full size 30mL is US$125), a little goes a long way. I’ve you can also use this as a spot treatment over acne, or a general spot treatment over dry spots. I haven’t tried it as an acne treatment, but it works wonders if you have any dry spots during the day, just dab and go! Also did I mention it smells so incredibly, I just want a little bottle to carry around with me so I can take a whiff anytime I want…

Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Essence and Concentrated Brightening Serum review

6 + 7. Concentrated Brightening Essence and Concentrated Brightening Serum

I’ve reviewed this combo here. I can only recommend this as a combo because I didn’t use this separately. It gave me truly radiant skin… go read the full review for details!

8. Restorative Eye Creme

My first foray into natural eye cream was thanks to a few small Restorative Eye Cream sample sachets. The tiny 1mL sachet lasted me WEEKS, no joke. I have very dry undereyes, and this eye cream really helped to alleviate any dryness and fine lines that were caused by dryness. It does smell very strongly of florals, which isn’t perfume but just Tata’s proprietary blend of essential oils, so if you are sensitive to smells, I wouldn’t recommend this, but otherwise it’s great for anyone with dry skin around their eyes.

If you order directly from the Tata Harper website, you can get $25 off your order just by using this link here. Also you can get a deluxe sample of some of her products with your first purchase if you sign up to her newsletter. I’m signed up and she doesn’t send many e-mails, only to notify you of special deals and sales, which don’t even happen often!

Home tour & design – my bedroom, as well as décor ideas and tips

I’m back with another home tour, this time featuring my bedroom! Of my entire home, my bedroom was probably one that I poured the most thought into. Since living at home on my childhood furniture, then upgrading to a hand-me-down bed, I’ve always dreamt about how I would decorate my bedroom. I wanted my bedroom to be a sanctuary, somewhere I can escape to for relaxation and intimate conversations.

Find your dream bed

I moved into my apartment with my 20+ year old bed and mattress set that my family has owned for longer than my brother has been alive. It worked for the time being, but I couldn’t wait too replace this. Home ownership is expensive so I unfortunately had to replace one thing at a time, but I made it my priority to buy a new bed frame. I figured it’s better to get a nice frame first so that when I do buy the mattress, it wouldn’t be on the floor for any extended period of time. I was so in love with the Dream Bed by the Cross Design, but I really couldn’t afford the $3,000+ price tag (really, how many people out there could?).

I ended up finding this lady who works with her 75 year old father in law to custom make any kind of upholstered bed you want. She said she’s gotten several requests to make something similar to the Dream Bed and would be happy to make one for me… for just $1,200, which is just 40% of the cost of the Cross Design version. She even delivered it to my apartment and we assembled it together. Everything from the height of the headboard to the height of the mattress off the ground was customized, and my customized bed was made and delivered to me within a week.

In addition to it being an amazing place to fall asleep, it also creates a central look to your decor. My dream bed is comfortable, modern and luxurious looking, all together. It’s not too feminine that my boyfriend refuses to be seen sleeping in it, but it’s not too industrial or cold looking either.

Spice up your curtains

In addition to the bed, my biggest decor item were my curtains. Curtains are a great way to change up the look of a room without investing too much into a permanent look. I live on the 11th floor of a high-rise building, facing east, so I get a lot of sunlight in the mornings (it’s really HOT!). I’m also a night owl so I really like to sleep in on weekends. When I first moved in, the previous owners had left these set of really ugly, maroony-brown curtains. It just darkened the entire room, but thankfully they blocked out the sun. One of my first “reno” projects was to change up my curtains. I got these curtains custom made for me – they are double layered with the back layer a light-coloured, satin-like fabric so it reflects more of the light. While they aren’t 100% light blocking, I like that the colours really do brighten up my room and adds a bit more of a feminine flair.

Mix up original and sentimental artwork

I love Dana Mooney‘s artwork, and my apartment is filled with them. In my bedroom, I have a pink ikat piece by Dana right next to my bed, which I absolutely adore. On the wall that is right next to the door (and mostly hidden from visitors) are framed art and other things that are sentimental to me and my significant other. Things like cards that he made me, or photos that we took together that I love are posted here. The bed directly faces this wall, so I look at it every night before bed. There are only a few things on there, but I love that this is a cleaner way to put up personal photos without using photo frames that take up room on your side table.

As you can probably tell, our apartment is mostly decorated by me. Don’t worry, my boyfriend gets his own mancave to decorate as well (including his own light-up Pylon), so he’s well taken care of in terms of his need to hang up nerdy things.

Review: Teeez To Die For Eyeshadow Palette in Equinox, Material Girl Lipstick in Bronzed Opium and Spectrum of Stars Eyeshadow in Vanilla Sunbeam

Teeez cosmetics review

TEEEZ is a European brand of makeup that launched last year at The Bay. I received a few products from the line to play with, including an eyeshadow palette, a lipstick, and a single shadow.

To be honest, I wasn’t super impressed with this brand, which is why it took me so long to review it. If you know my esthetic at all, you know that I prefer classic designs, so the whimsical packaging of these TEEEZ products already kind of put me off. I can look past the packaging if the product quality is amazing, but even that too fell a bit short of my expectations.

The To Die for Eyeshadow palette in Equinox (C$48) is a cool-toned palette featuring variations of grey. It has mostly matte shades, with one shimmery shade to highlight. The formula really reminded me of MAC eyeshadows, where the matte shades apply pretty patchy with lots of fallout and problems blending.

The one good thing I liked about this palette, and all other palettes in the To Die For Eyeshadow line is that each colour in the palette is coordinated to help create a cohesive look without needing to reach for other shadows. This reminds me of Charlotte Tilbury’s eyeshadow palettes, without the (too) hefty price.

The Material Girl Lipstick in Bronzed Opium (C$29) is a beautiful vampy. Most dark colours are finicky and unless you have the formula right, it doesn’t wear well. This too was a bit of a letdown – while the creamy formula felt lightweight, moisturizing, and the colour is beautiful, it just didn’t apply well on my lips. It was slightly patchy, and I needed to blend it out more with a lip brush to get even coverage.

Teeez cosmetics review

Lastly, the Spectrum of Stars Eyeshadow in Vanilla Sunbeam (C$24) is my favourite out of all the ones I tried. It swatches and applies so creamy, and even though it is sheer, you get that iridescent glow. I love applying this as an all over subtle wash of colour on the lid, or to top an existing eye look. The champagne peachy shade can also be used as a highlighter in a pinch. If you were to get anything from TEEEZ, I’d recommend the Spectrum of Stars shadow in Vanilla Sunbeam.

You can purchase TEEEZ products at The Bay in stores and online.

Teeez cosmetics review

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

Experience: Max+ Light Customized Facial at Skinceuticals by Project Skin

Skinceuticals by Project Skin MD opening review

A few months ago, I wrote about how I attended the opening of the Skinceuticals by Project Skin, the first freestanding Skinceuticals boutique in Canada, as well as a Project Skin MD treatment centre, located at Richmond Centre in the Greater Vancouver Area in B.C., Canada. After finishing my work busy season, I finally had a chance to check out a treatment at this location, and I was definitely impressed.

The treatment I received was the Max+ Light Customized Facial (C$255 for , which combines “the Customized Glow Facial with the skin balancing rewards of MAX+ LED therapeutic light. This unique treatment helps rebalance, calm, brighten and care for any skin types. Our custom light protocols boost our facial effects for acneic, rosacea-prone, aging, dehydrated, pigmented or dull skin.” The person who provided my treatment was Michelle, who has the sweetest, most calming voice, and the most incredibly beautiful skin.

My treatment started with a customized facial using Skinceuticals products. Michelle started by double cleansing with a bi-phase oil remove, then a milky cleanser. After toning, she inspected my skin, and designed a treatment based on this. Then she used a physical exfoliant, followed by a 20% glycolic acid + 10% lactic acid peel. The peel was very strong, and made my skin itch and tingle, but she blew a fan on my skin to help relieve this itch. Afterwards, she applied the Clarifying Clay Mask (reviewed here) to draw out the impurities, which was followed by extractions. The extractions that she did on me were the most pain-free extractions I’ve ever had – normally extractions make me tear up but the use of the Clarifying Clay Mask really helped the blackheads surface, which made it easier for her to squeeze out.

Michelle selected three serums for me. The first was the legendary C E Ferulic, which combines 15% L-Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C), 1% Alpha Tocopherol (vitamin E), and 0.5% Ferulic Acid. This is an anti-oxidant serum that Michelle recommends to use every morning right after toning and before sunscreen. Michelle says that sunscreen only blocks out 50% of the sun’s damage to the skin, and the other 50% is free radicals that are blocked by an anti-oxidant like C E Ferulic. The next serum was the Phyto Corrective Gel, which is a green gel that helps to neutralize the redness and sensitivity on my cheeks. I’ve used the Phyto Corrective Mask previously (reviewed here) and it was a fantastic hydrating mask. In place of moisturizer, Michelle used the Hydrating B5 Gel (previously reviewed here), which is a hyaluronic acid serum. She said that moisturizers don’t necessarily work the best to help your skin in the long run, whereas a hyaluronic acid serum will help to plump your skin up and maintain hydration in the long run.

After the three serums were layered, Michelle started me on the Max+ Light therapy. This is a combination of blue, red, green, and yellow lights to help balance and brighten the skin. The total light therapy time was 15 minutes, and I didn’t feel any sensitivity on my skin. It was pretty soothing actually. After 15 minutes, Michelle let me look at my skin in a mirror and it was glowing! The serums definitely helped to neutralize and balance my skin, and the light therapy also helped the products penetrate into the deeper levels of my skin. Since it was during the day, Michelle finished off by applying a healthy amount of SPF 50, which will help protect my skin against the sun. I left the treatment with my skin feeling super glowy and healthy.

It was my first time trying Skinceuticals products and I was pretty impressed at how simple but effective the products were. In addition, I left feeling taken care of, but not pressured to purchase anything. Michelle did recommend that I pick up the C E Ferulic, as well as the Hydrating B5 Gel. For night-time, Michelle recommended the Retexturing Activator, a serum chemical exfoliator, because my skin is a bit uneven and bumpy at the moment (I blame the heat). I felt like I was provided with good recommendations that would be beneficial for my skin, and not pushed to buy things for the sake of it.

The one downside to being inside a busy mall was that you can actually hear most of the things that are happening outside your treatment room, as the sound-proofing wasn’t great. The relaxing music in the room helped to downplay the noise outside, so that was good. Plus Michelle’s voice, when she was explaining the products to me, was pretty soothing as well.

The treatments here are pretty pricey. I think if I were to go again, I would probably just opt for the regular Customized Glow Facial without the Max+ Light treatment. Skinceuticals by Project Skin also offers 30 minute express treatments for $85, which is a nice treat if you are looking for a quick pick-me-up.

You can find Skinceuticals by Project Skin at Richmond Centre, which now also has new hours so they are open until 9PM every day, and 7PM on Sundays and holidays:
6551 No 3 Rd
Richmond, BC
V6Y 2B6
Phone: 604.285.8115
E-mail: richmond@projectskinmd.com

Complimentary service received as part of the media opening celebration; all opinions are my own.

First thoughts – Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series

Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series review

Naruko is a Taiwanese brand created by famed Taiwanese skincare connoisseur and talk show host, Niu Er. I had a period in my youth where I was OBSESSED with Asian skincare (I still am, but less so mostly because Western skincare has really caught up to the technology of Asian skincare), so I watched his shows religiously. A lot of my skincare tips and tricks, I learned through watching his segments. That was also around the same time he launched his brand, which is what I am very happy to share with you today. Naruko is available in Canada through their website, which to be completely honest is actually not that great, but the pretty amazing prices make up for lack of website user-friendliness.

Today I’m sharing with you my thoughts on the first part of products sent to me by Naruko Canada’s PR team. The Rose & Botanic line is formulated with hyaluronic acid to boost the skin’s hydration level, increase collagen production, and prevent the first signs of aging. This line is perfect for those in their early to late 20s, or if you are just starting out in the anti-aging arena.

Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series review

Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Jelly Lotion (C$25 for 120mL) is a jelly-like softening lotion, applied using a cotton pad over cleansed skin. This is very heavily scented with rose. I actually didn’t find this to be super hydrating, sadly. It dries down to almost a matte finish, whereas I prefer something that stays tacky for a while, which helps my other products absorb better. While I was really looking forward to trying this, I was sadly a bit let down.

Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Complex EX (C$29 for 30mL) is a hydrating serum, applied after the lotion and before moisturizer. This rose hydrating serum is only slightly hydrating and not really that plumping on my dehydrated skin. I feel like this Rose and Botanic line was created for Taiwanese weather, which is significantly more humid than it is in Canada, so while I only felt a temporary relief from dryness, I much prefer my other hydrating serums that just inject my skin with so much water.

Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series review

Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Hydrating Mask (C$24 for 10 pieces) is a hydrating mask that you can use to supplement your existing skincare routine. I received two pieces of this, which I used once a week. Each mask is drenched in 25mL of hydrating serum – one of the first things I learned from Niu Er was to never waste any of that serum inside a mask sachet, and instead apply it over your body so your body can receive the same treatment. I quite like this mask, it’s lightly hydrating and also very cooling and soothing. I would take this on vacation with me to Mexico when I need to cool down my skin after spending the day in the sun.

I also received a sample of the Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Night Gelly EX (C$24 for 80mL), which is a night-time moisturizing gel. I wear this in place of my night time moisturizer and so far I’ve been pretty happy with it. It’s lightly hydrating, and perfect for those hot summer nights when you want to stay away from anything oily.

Naruko Facial SPA Massage Cotton Pads review

Lastly, I was very excited to receive a box of the Facial SPA Massage Cotton Pads (C$5.50). You might be wondering, who cares, it’s just cotton pads, but if you’ve ever tried premium cotton pads, you will know what I am talking about. Good quality cotton pads truly elevates your skincare experience, and as the fibres are more refined, it is gentler on your skin too. I really love these cotton pads, they are super soft and glide over my skin very nicely without dragging or pilling. The cotton is high quality and doesn’t leave behind fibres or lint when you’re using it. Each cotton pad is thicker, so you tend to use more toner / lotion. I’ve used this with both hydrating and exfoliating toners and both work very well.

If you have very dry skin, I’m not sure that the Rose & Botanic line will be a be-all-end-all solution for you. The products are relatively inexpensive though, so it isn’t much risk if you wanted to try it out. Naruko also sent me some products from their Jing Cheng collection, which I’ve had much better luck with (review coming soon!). I definitely recommend picking up a box of the Facial SPA Massage Cotton Pads, just to see the difference between your generic cotton pads and these ones that are a bit more of an upgrade. You can purchase Naruko on their website.

Ingredients of Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Jelly Lotion and Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Complex EX

Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series review

Ingredients of Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Hydrating Mask

Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series review

Ingredients of Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Night Gelly EX

Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series review

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

Top four favourite lipstick formulas – featuring Guerlain, Givenchy, Bite Beauty and Charlotte Tilbury

Guerlain Rouge G review

It seemed like last year, we had a huge increase in the number of new lipstick lines coming out from various major brands. I LOVE lipsticks, and after trying so many different brands, ranges, formulations and finishes, I’ve narrowed my list of my favourite lipsticks down to these four. All of these I own multiple shades of, which is rare considering how many options there are on the market. They are truly the crown jewels of my makeup collection!

1. Guerlain Rouge G

My ultimate #1 lipstick formula and my go-to lipstick to create a lux, glam look is hands down the Guerlain Rouge G. I think I own 6 or 7 of these and I love every single one of them. The texture is rich and creamy, very pigmented, but still lightweight. It applies seamlessly on the lips to create a fuller lip, without the need for a lip liner. Yes they are so expensive (I think $55 or $60 per lipstick) but they are a true collector’s item. My favourite shades are 06 Garance, which is a creme nude-mauve, and 14 Gillian, a shimmery pinky brown. Gillian can be worn on the sheer side to create a natural daytime look. With all shades, you get this juicy finish that’s creamy and glossy but not heavy or sticky.

2. Givenchy Le Rouge

My first foray into matte lipsticks was courtesy of Givenchy Le Rouge. Before this, I thought I couldn’t wear matte lipsticks because my lips are so dry normally. This definitely proved me wrong – the formula is lightweight, pigmented, and moderately hydrating. It’s not a true matte lipstick as it doesn’t dry down to that super dried down, almost cracked look, and just stays almost satiny-matte. If you have trouble with matte lips, this one is a must-try. My favourite shades are Rose Plumetis, for a natural nude lip, and Framboise Velours, for a brightened lip look.

3. Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche in Pepper, Beetroot, and Jam review and swatches

A new formulation from 2016 to replace something that was already much loved by the masses (the Luminous Creme lipsticks), and ended up being even better (something that almost never happens). The Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche lipstick is definitely one of my most worn formulas of 2016. Like the Guerlain and Givenchy, you get full coverage in one swipe and a formula that lasts all day, even with the nude shade. I have four shades, and if my crazy lipstick hoarder side won over my logical stop buying so much lipstick side, I would definitely buy more. My favourite shade is Rhubarb, a beautiful mauve-pink that works so well with so many different looks.

4. Charlotte Tilbury KISSING lipstick

My favourite nude lipstick ever is Charlotte Tilbury KISSING lipstick in Bitch Perfect. Charlotte Tilbury creates incredible lipstick formulas, and the KISSING lipstick is seriously so easy to wear and applies effortlessly. I wear this either alone, or over her lip liner in Pillow Talk. I’ve generally stayed away from nude lips these years, preferring bright lips to pair with a softened eye look, but I pull out Bitch Perfect time and time again.

Some of these product were initially received as PR samples for review consideration then repurchased (then repurchased, and repurchased… by me), others were purchased by me; all opinions are my own. 

My Blend and Boost journey – a review of my custom blend!

Blend and Boost review

Blend and Boost is a Canadian company founded by Canadian pharmaceutical compounding company Medisca. Based in Montreal, Blend and Boost specializes in creating custom blend skincare for customers through a specialist skin doctor or medical skin centre. There are five base creams for sensitive skin, anti-aging, oily skin, and dehydration, as well as various boosters that get added into the base creams to create your special blend of cream which is designed to address all of your skin concerns in one convenient bottle. There are over 90 different combinations of creams that you can end up with, and all of the end creams are blended by pharmacists who ensure that the concentration of the ingredients, and the combination of ingredients can work well together without clashing.

A few months ago, I met with Dr. Nicole at Vancouver medical skin clinic Skin Method, where I had a skin consultation and she prescribed what she believed to be the best for my skin. I was also told to change up some of my current skin habits, for example not cleansing or exfoliating as much, as it strips your skin of its natural oils. Specifically, they said no to double cleansing, and no cleanser in the morning. I didn’t agree with everything they said, so as much as I tried to follow some of their tips, I incorporated my Blend and Boost cream in my routine in a way that worked best for me.

The one thing that frustrated me a bit was that because I had a fresh mango allergy (only when eating fresh mangoes), it eliminated the Rich Anti-Aging Base cream for me because it contained mango butter. While I appreciated that they were being extra diligent with avoiding anything that may cause allergic reactions, it did eliminate a lot of options for me. I was left with only three base cream options, which when blended with the boosters, only addressed some, but not all of my skin concerns. If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while, then you know that my primary skin concern is dryness and dehydration, my secondary concern is hyperpigmentation and sun spots, and my third concern is preventative anti-aging. The two ideal Blend and Boost options that I was presented with was either using the Sensitive Skin base with hydrating boosters, or using the Oily Skin base with brightening and anti-aging boosters. As summer was coming, I opted for the second option which could include more brightening and anti-aging boosters.

Blend and Boost review

Round 1

The Oily Skin base is described as an “Ultra-lightweight purifying lotion that leaves a refreshing and matte after-feel. Infused with a unique combination of skin-balancing ingredients. Fragrance-free, paraben-free.” The three boosters that I got were:

  • CM Glucan H – Cosmetic Beta-Glucans which helps skin recover from external environmental stressors. Improves appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Ac.Net – Multifunctional cosmetic blend that helps to reduce skin shininess and improve appearance of blemishes.
  • Niacinamide PC – Vitamin B3 which helps improve appearance of pores, soothes skin, and evens skin tone.

Because there are no parabens or other preservatives in here, they recommend that you finish a bottle within three months of its preparation date.

In terms of the product itself, the texture is a very light, liquid, milky gel.  It’s ultra lightweight, and sinks in pretty much right away. It really truly dries down to a matte look, as in super mattifying primer type of matte. It doesn’t feel matte, as in it’s still a little bit tacky, so your sunscreen and foundation shouldn’t have any issues adhering. It truly does blur all of my fine lines, pores, and skin texture, and smooths everything to look as if I applied a filter on top. Because my feels nicely hydrated, it also looks brighter. Lastly, good news for sensitive nose folks, it doesn’t have a fragrance, and smells like any usual fragrance-free cream.

In terms of my experience using the Oily Skin base, it was a complete disaster. It ended up being way too drying for my skin, and it actually caused my skin to be even more dehydrated than I started with. It also made my skin extremely congested, itchy, and blotchy. Overall it was not good. BUT, I reached out to the Blend and Boost team to let them know about my experience, and within a few days, they had taken my feedback into consideration, and re-blended something for me using the Light Anti-Aging base.

Round 2

During the second time around, my blend was created using the Light Anti-Aging base, with ET-VC (vitamin C), which will target my skin lightening concerns, it will help with reducing dark spots and overall lightening of the skin, also it helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The second Booster was CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10) which is an antioxidant, it helps reduce collagen breakdown, helps improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and protects skin against oxidative stress.

The cream itself has an orange tint and is thicker than the Oily Skin base, with a slight metallic scent. It smooths easily over the skin, and absorbs within 30 seconds with some light massage. It is significantly more hydrating than the Oily Skin base, but still isn’t as hydrating as I generally prefer my moisturizers, so I usually layer a hydrating serum or oil underneath. During the day, it absorbs well enough that I can apply makeup pretty much right on top, even with an additional SPF 40+ layered in between (because of the vitamin C, but also because I do that everyday anyways). I have found that my skin is smoother, slightly more even toned, and generally healthier looking. I still go through periods of dryness, just because my skin is finnicky like that and because for the majority of the time I was using this blend, the weather and climate in Vancouver were going nuts and my skin went along with it. I was significantly happier with the Light Anti-Aging base, and I did notice that over time, my skin looked smoother and brighter.

Overall

The packaging, for a $200 product, is a bit disappointing. While I understand that they probably invest all of the cost into the quality ingredients, but I don’t think people would mind if they paid an extra $10 to get a packaging upgrade. The first time I tried using it, the vacuum seal part of the bottle (where the cream is kept) came apart from the rest of the bottle. Thankfully I could just screw it back on, but for a $200 product, this really shouldn’t be happening.

My end conclusion was that if I were a paying customer, I probably wouldn’t get the Blend and Boost, but not because the product doesn’t work, my mango allergy really eliminated most of the viable and ideal options for me in terms of which base cream I can use. I would have loved to get a cream that had the anti-aging, hydrating, and brightening properties, but sadly the formulations just didn’t hit on 100% of my concerns (for a product that is advertised to be an all-in-one solution). Obviously this isn’t going to be the case for everyone, so if you are having issues locating a moisturizer that addresses your needs, are looking to simplify your skincare routine, and don’t mind the price tag, then obviously Blend and Boost may be a good alternative to off-the-rack products for you.

I am thankful that the Blend and Boost team will work really hard to make sure your custom blend works for you. I received my product from their PR, and even then they took my first blend back and reformulated so that I got something that was more suited for my skin type. If you are a paying customer and your blend doesn’t work for you, they will 100% take it back and reformulate until you get the perfect blend. That is a true sign that they stand behind their products and its efficacy.

In terms of pricing and availability, the Blend and Boost skin consultation takes place at medical skin centres, and the consultation fee is $100, which goes towards the purchase of a Blend and Boost cream. The cream itself is $200, so you end up just paying $200 for the product if you decide to purchase the product, or $100 for the consultation alone. The locations in Vancouver where this is available include:

Skin Method
#103-853 Richards St
Vancouver, BC V6B 3B4
778-379-7546
Vancouver Laser & Skin Care Centre
309-750 W Broadway
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1H2
604-708-9891
Ageless Radiance Med Spa
1196 Lansdowne Dr #307
Coquitlam, BC V3E 1J7
604-227-6764

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

Join together beauty and philanthropy with Avalon Organics

Avalon Organics review

Avalon Organics is an American NSF-certified skin, body, and haircare brand. In addition to offering products that contain natural and organic ingredients, Avalon Organics also is involved in philanthropy by working with CARE® as one of the founding partners of the Empower Her Through Education campaign, a 3-year partnership to help break down the barriers to education for girls in developing countries. The goal is to help open the door to quality education for some of the 31 million girls not in school around the globe. By learning basic skills like reading and writing, girls can gain confidence and courage to lead the way to a better world for themselves, their families, and their communities.

I received a few products from Avalon to try out. I’m pretty impressed with the ingredients list, namely aloe vera juice is the first ingredient in most products, and water is second. The products also contain a very high dose of essential oils, which make up the majority of the remaining ingredients. The surfactants used in foaming products are the coconut oil-based coco glycoside and sodium coco-sulfate, as well as sugar and lipid-based lauryl glucoside. Also let’s rejoice, because the products don’t include parfum (synthetic fragrance)!

First things first – these products are designed to treat. I found that all of them have a very strong almost herbal scent from all of the essential oils, each ingredient is designed for a specific purpose. The Clarifying Lemon Shampoo (C$13.99) is fantastic as a deep cleanse. I really enjoy using this if I had several day-old styled hair or if my hair was feeling particularly gunky.  It contains lime, orange, lemon, and grapefruit oils to help clarify the hair and scalp, as well as calendula and chamomile extract to soothe. This is probably my favourite product out of all the ones I’ve tried. The accompanying Clarifying Lemon Conditioner (C$13.99) is great as well. It contains sunflower seed oil, olive oil, shea butter, as well as the citrus oils and calendula and chamomile extracts. It works really well after using the Clarifying Shampoo to help replenish any lost moisture.

The Rejuvenating Rosemary Bath and Shower Gel (C$12.99) is almost medicinal. The rosemary essential oil, calendula, aloe and botanical cleansers to purify and rejuvenate extra dry skin, and the rosemary scent helps to stimulate the mind. This is a fantastic shower gel to use after a long tiring day, or in the morning to help wake you up. While I’m not a huge fan of the scent, I found that a little bit of this shower gel went a long way, and the scent doesn’t linger too long. Even though I love taking long, hot showers, my skin didn’t feel too dry after using this, and on warmer days I could get away with not using any body lotion, which is a win in my books. The Nourishing Lavender Hand and Body Lotion (C$14.99) smells beautifully like natural lavender (none of that synthetic stuff). It’s super lightweight and almost like a gel-cream, but still very hydrating and soothing. It’s not greasy at all, and I actually prefer it as a hand cream over body cream – my hands are super dry and this helps to treat my dryness.

Lastly, The Revitalizing Peppermint Glycerin Hand Soap (C$10.99) is sadly my least favourite product. I dislike peppermint, especially on my hands where I have pretty dry skin, so I try not to aggravate it with peppermint. It’s a decent hand wash, where it washes off any grease and dirt off my hands, but I can’t get over the tingly sensation.

I highly recommend picking up the Clarifying Lemon Shampoo & Conditioner, as well as the Nourishing Lavender Hand and Body Lotion. Both worked wonderfully on me, and I can’t wait to discover more by this brand!

You can pick up Avalon Organics products at Loblaws, Whole Foods, London Drugs, Sobeys West, and Well.ca.

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

Review: Precious Skin Elixirs Sterling Honey Polish (and comparison with May Lindstrom The Honey Mud)

Precious Skin Elixirs Sterling Honey Polish review

I first discovered Precious Skin Elixirs over Instagram where I was really intrigued by its brand philosophy. It was founded in 2014 by Marissa, a botanical alchemist, who uses the finest, sustainable ingredients, harnessing the power of these plant ingredients and the power of gemstones. All products are housed in antioxidant Miron violet glass to maintain its integrity. Marissa kindly sent over a few products from her brand for me to try out. As you know, I am obsessed with honey as a skincare ingredient, and I was really excited to discover that Precious Skin Elixirs has a honey mud mask.

Precious Skin Elixirs Sterling Honey Polish review

Precious Skin Elixirs Sterling Honey Polish (US$90 for 100mL) contains several key ingredients:

  • Raw Honey – A natural humectant, honey draws hydration into the skin while active enzymes in nourish, brighten, and providing gentle exfoliation.
  • Dead Sea Mud – Delivers micro-nutrients not commonly found in other earth clays.
  • Colloidal Silver – Triggers skin to repair itself and increases cellular turnover while discouraging irritating pathogens on skin’s surface.
  • Frankincense – Heals sun-damaged skin, encourages healthy skin function and cellular renewal, and protects against environmental stressors.

The texture of the Honey Polish is a thin, viscous gel, like a thinner version of honey. It’s actually quite hard to pick up too much on the finger because it’s so thin it just falls off. You can use this as both a cleanser and a mask. You know I love my masks, so I’ve been using this mostly as a mask, but it takes me a while to pick up enough product to cover my entire face. I’m not a huge fan of the scent though, or maybe I’m just so spoiled with some of my other more yummy smelling masks. It smells quite herbal, like a blend of different grasses and herbs.

To be honest, it took me a few uses and a few tries before I fell in love with the Sterling Honey Polish. It wasn’t love at first sight as it was with my May Lindstrom products; I found that May’s products are truly an experience that fulfills sight and smell. The Sterling Honey Polish, while it doesn’t smell amazing and was a bit hard to use at first, it is so great at treating  my skin. It’s fantastic at drawing out any impurities in my skin, due to the high dead sea mud content. My skin feels super clean but nourished at the same time, from the honey.

Precious Skin Elixirs Sterling Honey Polish review

One of the products that spurred my love for honey was the May Lindstrom The Honey Mud. I did a whole post about it here, so you can check it out if you want my full review. For those who have tried The Honey Mud, or are interested in any honey-mud blend product, I wanted to do a quick comparison. The Honey Mud is significantly thicker, and May describes it as being pudding-like (which I would not disagree). It can be hard to spread on the skin as a mask so I tend to use up more, compared to the Precious Skin Elixirs Sterling Honey Polish, which is more fluid. I also have issues using Honey Mud as a cleanser because it is so rich and thick, whereas Sterling Honey Polish is a great consistency to use as a cleanser as it just spreads a lot easier over the skin. I have to say that The Honey Mud smells AMAZING though, because it has cocoa in it, it smells like a dessert, whereas Sterling Honey Polish is definitely more of a skincare product with a more herbal scent.

In terms of product efficacy, I can feel the Sterling Honey Polish on my skin, detoxifying my skin and clearing out the pores, while also moisturizing at the same time due to the high honey content. The Honey Mud just kind of sits on my skin, and I can notice an effect after I rinse it off, but not during. If you want something that is more of an aromatherapy product, I’d go with the May Lindstrom The Honey Mud. If you want something that truly works to rejuvenate your skin, try the Precious Skin Elixirs Sterling Honey Polish.

Precious Skin Elixirs Tourmaline Radiance Serum, Rose Quartz Botanical Mist, Sea Pearl Exfoliating Clay, Onyx Purity Mask review

In addition, Marissa sent me some samples of her products. I’ve already covered the 24K Luxe Rejuvenating Balm here.

The Tourmaline Radiance Serum (US$120 for 30mL) is a facial oil that contains prickly pear seed and rosehip oil to boost skin radiance. It smells pretty damn good, like black tea. I really like that it’s hydrating without being heavy, and a little goes a long way, particularly if you emulsify it with a bit of the Rose Quartz Botanical Mist (or any hydrating mist). The price is pretty standard for a high end hydrating oil.

The Rose Quartz Botanical Mist (US$60 for 100mL) is a hydrating mist that contains rose, lemon and neroli hydrosols, among other ingredients. It’s one of the less hydrating facial mists I’ve tried. For $60, it’s not worth it.

The Onyx Purity Mask (US$80 for 200mL) is a deep cleansing clay mask that also contains cacao and activated charcoal. For a clay mask, I found this to be quite gentle on my skin and not overly drying. I love to combine this with the Honey Sterling Mask for some added hydration.

The Sea Pearl Exfoliating Clay (US$70 for 200mL) is a powder clay exfoliator containing chamomile, calendula, and rosehip for calming and hydrating properties. I like that it’s a gentle exfoliator that also deep cleanses. It helps to decongest and normalize my skin. The value is pretty good; it comes in a 200mL bottle and a little bit goes quite a long way.

Precious Skin Elixirs 24K Luxe Rejuvenating Balm review

Precious Skin Elixirs Sterling Honey Polish ingredients: Dead Sea mud, **Raw honey, Kaolin clay, **Argania spinosa (argan) oil, *Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) hydrosol, Argentum metallicum (colloidal silver), Salix alba (white willow bark), **Boswellia carteri (frankincense), *Litsea cubeba (may-chang), Jasminum sambac (jasmine), *Cymbopogon martini (palmarosa). *certified organic / **wildcrafted

May Lindstrom Honey Mud ingredients: ***Raw Honey With Bee Pollen And Propolis, White Halloysite Clay, *Macadamia Integrifolia (Macadamia Nut Oil), *Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa Absolute) Oil, *Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Oil, *Cananga Odorata (Ylang-ylang) Oil, *Vanilla Planifolia (Vanilla) Co2 Total Essential Oil, *Juniperus Virginiana (Cedarwood) Oil, **Boswellia Carteri (Frankincense) Oil, **Commiphora Myrrha (Myrrh) Oil, Argentum Metallicum (Silver).

Precious Skin Elixirs products received as PR samples for review consideration; all opinions are my own.