FASHION | My experience buying vintage Chanel, featuring my medium Diana bag in beige lambskin

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I recently picked up my very first piece of vintage Chanel and I wanted to share my experience with you in case anyone was interested in getting one too.

Research

I went into this process knowing the specific model of bag I wanted – the Diana. The Diana comes in two sizes; what I didn’t know was if I wanted the small or medium Diana, so I did a lot of research on the dimensions, weight, what can fit into each size, and how each size would look proportionate to my frame. Since the Diana is a vintage bag (they stopped production of it in the 90s, and while it was reissued in 2015, significant design changes were made for the reissue), I wouldn’t be able to go into a store to try it on and had to rely on internet reviews and photos to decide this. Since you are still spending a good amount of money on a bag that was likely going to be shipped to you from overseas, it was important to do a lot of research to make sure that the bag you are getting suits your needs.

Some amazing resources I found to research the bag itself included My Grandfather’s Things, a specialist in Diana bags who owns multiples of each size so she often does comparison photos and also videos; Facebook, specifically the Chanel Reetzy Groups; Instagram, using the hashtag #ChanelDiana; as well as Youtube. I also found this blog post which I thought was very helpful in pushing me towards one of the sizes.

The price of vintage bags has also changed a lot in the last 6-12 months, primarily driven by the multiple price increases, as well as overall consumer awareness to be more sustainable, so it was important to also understand the price trends so you aren’t overpaying for something. The best resources I found for pricing references are Vestiaire Collective; Tradesy; and Instagram. I found them to be the most helpful because the sold listings continued to be published, so you can see what were the historical prices for the style you wanted, as well as the purchase date so you know at what point in time those prices existed.

Based on my research, the Diana small was sized in between a rectangular mini and a small classic flap, and the Diana medium was sized similar to a medium classic flap. The primary difference in capacity being that the Diana is a single flap bag. Since I’m 5’6 and a US size 8 / UK size 12, and I have one Chanel Jumbo and two Chanel minis, I thought that the Diana medium would be a better fit for my body size and my needs.

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Buying

Because the bag has been discontinued for almost two decades, the next challenge was trying to find the bag at the right condition for the right price. I had wanted the beige Diana, which is harder to find than the black, and usually came in worse conditions than the black because light-coloured lambskin is harder to maintain than black. Another challenge was making sure that the bag is authentic, since there are a lot of fakes on the market, some of them looking very similar to the real thing.

I had around 10 websites bookmarked which I refreshed every day to see if there were new stock that came in. Some of them included Hedy; Amore Japan; and eBay. I also looked at Vestiaire Collective; Fashionphile; The Real Real; Tradesy; and 1st Dibs.

Since I was new to buying vintage, I wanted to make sure that the transaction would be low risk, so I decided that I would buy from a Japanese seller. Japanese vintage sellers are some of the most reliable and trusted on the market, particularly because Japan has very strict laws when it comes to counterfeits, and from what I hear, Japanese bag owners also tend to take better care of their bags, so the condition of the item will be better when it hits the resale market. I also wanted to make sure that if for whatever reason, the bag was counterfeit, I needed an authenticity guarantee which would allow me to get my money back.

For those reasons, I ended up getting my Diana bag from a popular Japanese reseller of vintage bags from eBay, and paid using Paypal. The reseller had over 30,000 positive reviews on eBay, and eBay and Paypal also have authenticity guarantees, so I felt like I was protected in case the transaction didn’t go well.

One thing that came up in my research that I didn’t anticipate to be so common was that a lot of vintage bags are re-dyed or re-coloured. I had asked the seller if the bag had been repainted or redyed, and they did not know. They just said they didn’t do anything to the bag while it was in their possession, but the previous owner(s) could have. This is something to be aware of if you are looking for a vintage bag, particularly if its light coloured. It’s hard to tell via photos if the bag had been repainted; one thing to look out for is if the leather looks wrinkled, if the stitches and the corners and nooks of the bag look like there is paint on it. It should be fairly obvious once you receive the bag, as it significantly affects the feel of the leather.

Receiving the bag

Shipping from Japan was lightning fast via DHL. I paid on Tuesday night, it shipped Wednesday night, DHL got it on Thursday morning, and it arrived in Vancouver at around 1PM on Friday. If you’re buying from a Japanese seller, they have the option of shipping via DHL or EMS, which is similar to Canada Post Xpresspost. If you have the option, you should ask if the seller can ship via DHL. I knew of someone else in the Chanel Facebook group who purchased a bag from Japan and their package was shipped using EMS, and it sat in Japan’s export customs for over two weeks before it even left Japan.

There is always risk of buying something sight unseen. The eBay listing didn’t mention the inclusion of a dust bag or authenticity card, so I thought the listing was for just the bag, but when I received it, I saw that the authenticity card and the original dustbag had also been included. This was a good thing, yes, but it shows that eBay listings can be inaccurate.

The primary thing that made me a little bit disappointed about this bag is that the bag looks to have been repainted. The leather is a bit dry, stiff and wrinkled in the back. It is a 2 series bag from 1991-1994, so I’m not surprised it was repainted since I imagine beige bags are hard to keep in immaculate condition over nearly 30 years. The flap of the bag, though, looks perfectly smooth.

I did pay duty on this when it arrived in Canada, but it was very immaterial compared to the value of the bag. DHL didn’t include a detailed invoice breakdown of the duty and taxes owed though, just said that I owed an amount in duty, taxes and brokerage fees. I paid this over the internet using a link they had sent me, so by the time the bag arrived, the courier just dropped it off with no additional paperwork.

After receiving the bag, I did get it authenticated just for peace of mind, and confirmed that the bag was indeed authentic.

Overall

I’m very happy with the bag I received. I’m super happy with the condition and the price that I paid. Even though it was repainted, the leather still feels very soft. I’m also pleasantly surprised that I was able to receive the authenticity card and the dust bag, which I didn’t expect at all since those are things that can be easily lost. I’ve just started using a leather conditioner to enhance the leather and also ensure its longevity, so I hope that this bag will last me for the rest of my lifetime.

The TL;DR of this is that you should do a lot of research to make sure that you know what you are buying, and in the end, it might not turn out 100% perfect and what you expected, but overall it’ll still be a good experience.

Here’s a photo of me modelling the medium Diana. You can see the proportionally, it looks pretty good for my frame. I’ll provide a more thorough review once I’ve had more opportunities to wear this out.

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WEDDING | Review of our Four-Panel Invitations from Minted

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I googled to find reviews on the Minted Four-Panel Invitations but I didn’t see anything, so I wanted to make sure I document my thoughts properly such that other brides can find this useful. This review is not sponsored, none of my links are affiliate links, and Minted has nothing to do with this post.

Note: As with most 2020 brides, our original “big” wedding celebration was postponed to next year. We still mailed our invitations out earlier this year, before COVID happened, so we were able to get good use out of them. Sadly, a lot of other couples basically had their invitations go to waste. I heard from other couples that if your wedding was postponed, Minted will give you a discount code to re-order new invitations. That’s something to keep in mind if you decide to order from them.

One of things I cared about least in my wedding planning process, apart from flowers and decor, was our invitations. I always thought that invitations were a bit of a waste of money, since most people will just throw them away once they read the information on them. This is especially true of entire invitation “suites,” where in addition to an invitation card, you also get the reception information card, details card, accommodations card, etc etc. Yes apparently sending your guests a stack of papers with everything on a separate card is a thing. These “suites” can also cost upwards of several hundred to even a THOUSAND dollars. Nope, I wasn’t going to spend that much money on cards when I can put it towards booze or an oyster shucker bar instead.

I had originally planned on getting my invitations from Costco. They have some beautifully pre-designed template cards for very affordable prices, but it wasn’t customizable and if you wanted to add additional information, you needed to add another set of detail cards. While it was still much more affordable than buying it elsewhere, I still didn’t like the idea of sending a bunch of loose cards to my guests. This is when I discovered the Minted “Bride on a Budget” section and the Four-Panel Invitations.

Invitations on a budget

Minted offers two types of invitations on a budget. The All-in-One Invitations are great if you are doing your RSVPs traditionally by mail, and if most of the details of your wedding will be provided elsewhere, like on your wedding website. The other option, which is what we opted for, was the Four-Panel Invitations. These are essentially folded cards that have the main invitation with the primary details on the front of the card, and then the inside folded part is completely customizable. You can include photos of yourself, or fill the inside with details, which is what we did. We wanted to give our guests as much information upfront as possible in the most straightforward way, so we put the schedule of events, venue address, RSVP link (we are collecting RSVPs electronically), wedding website link, and more all inside the card.

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Designing our invitations

Designing this card was super simple and straightforward. Minted offers a ton of invitation designs on their website, and most of them come adapted for the Four-Panel style. We were able to narrow down the list to a few designs we liked, and then we played around with putting in our details to see which one looked best with our details in them. The design we ended up with is called Heartbeat – Barrie really liked how simple it looked, but I didn’t like the font styles or the heart in the middle. Thankfully, all of that was customizable – we were able to change the fonts from a wide selection of font styles readily available through minted, and we were also able to request that the heart be removed and replaced with a simple ampersand.

I didn’t particularly enjoy using the online editor; it was a bit tedious to use and the lines didn’t line up straight, which was a bit annoying. That being said, after you input your information and submit your order, Minted has in-house graphic designers who will take your invitation and edit it for any special requests, straighten out the lines and spacing, and adjust it so that it looks good from a professional point of view. We had a few small items we wanted them to edit (including removing that heart), and also straighten out the spacing a bit, which they were able to do perfectly. They also made a few small adjustments that we didn’t request, such as edited the font sizing so everything looked more even and balanced. While it wasn’t something we asked for, we’re super happy that they did that because we’re way happier with the end result (designed by a professional!) than the one we put together.

We reviewed two versions of proofs created by Minted graphic designers, which took a bit under 48 hours to do once our order was placed. Once the final proof was approved, our invitations went into production straight away, and was shipped out shortly after that. The total time between me submitting my order to receiving our invitations in the mail was just a week, which was incredible since they were personalized for us. Keep in mind that we’re in Vancouver and our order shipped from Seattle so it came in under two days via Fedex. If you’re anywhere else in Canada or the US, it might take a bit longer.

This is what the Heartbeat template looked like originally:

Minted four panel invitation review

This is what our final invitation design looks like (with certain details blurred out), after it was edited by the graphic designers:

Minted four panel invitation review

Quality of invitations

I’m super impressed with the quality of these invitations. Despite being the “budget” option, the paper quality was just beautiful and thick. Because my cards were bifold, Minted also included vellum paper to put in between the two folds on the inside of the card so that the ink doesn’t transfer from one side of the page to the other. The quality of the envelopes were also very nice, and I think Minted also included some extra envelopes in case we mess up some of the hand-written addressing. Overall we’re very happy with the quality of the invitations and we’re thrilled that we took the leap and ordered from Minted.

We did order some samples (free!) just to see what the invitations would look like, but for some reason they didn’t make it to me until almost a month after we placed our final order. Overall it was a risk that we were happy we took.

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Why Minted

Okay so here’s the important part. Apart from the ease of design and the card-shaped invitations, we picked Minted because they provide free guest addressing. Yes you read that right – instead of spending hours handwriting your guests’ names and addresses on envelopes, resulting in cramped hands, or paying someone to write them for you, resulting in a reduced wallet size, you can use Minted’s address collection form to get everyone’s addresses and then Minted will print them for you FOR FREE. Similar to the invitation designs, you can also choose from a variety of envelope print designs. We picked something really simple with just a nice classic cursive for the guests’ names, and then a clean printed font for the addresses.

The Minted invitations are slightly pricier than the Costco ones, but I think it is totally worth it because you save hours and hours writing out names and addresses.

The other convenient thing is that once the guests’ addresses have been acquired, you can also automatically feed them into your website for RSVP collection purposes.

The cost

We ordered 65 of these Four-Panel Invitations for US$122, but HERE’S A TIP! If you sign up for the Minted FREE wedding website, you automatically get a US$50 credit in your account that you can use towards anything. These credits can’t be stacked with a promo code, but they can be stacked with the refer-a-friend credit of $25. We ended up paying US$72 for 65 invitations, including the envelopes.

We paid $15 for shipping and then another C$16 for tax and duty, which came in a separate Fedex bill afterwards.

Minted wedding website

As a side mini review, I really love the Minted website. My type A-ness basically meant I made 4 wedding websites using different platforms (WithJoy, theKnot, Zola, and Minted), and I finally decided on Minted because it was the cleanest of all of the available designs, the website interface was very easy to use, load times were fast and efficient (the WithJoy website took forever to load), and there were very little reported glitches in the guest list / RSVP process (theKnot was really bad for this). The only downside is there is less flexibility in terms of adding pages or uploading photos (apart from the main one on the front page) unless you upgrade to their premium website, which costs US$20.

The basic website includes pages for the wedding details, RSVP, wedding party information, registry info and travel, but it does not include photo uploads or adding your own custom pages. The premium website includes everything a regular website does, in addition to unlimited photo uploads, a custom URL so you can be nameandname.com, instead of nameandname.minted.us, and adding custom pages (we added a FAQ and “things to do around the city” pages). ANOTHER TIP! If you sign up for Minted, you will often get custom codes in your inbox. I was sent a code for a free upgrade to a premium website so I was able to upgrade without paying the $20.

This post was not sponsored or affiliated in any way by Minted. I paid for our invitations out of pocket.

MAKEUP | The makeup I did for myself for our backyard ceremony

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Hello! Due to COVID, our original wedding plans were postponed and instead, Barrie and I got married in an intimate backyard ceremony with just our immediate family present and our closest friends watching on Zoom. I did my own hair and makeup for the day, and I wanted to share the details of my makeup look.

Face:

  • Guerlain L’Or Primer*
  • Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter*
  • Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation*
  • Guerlain Multi-Perfecting Concealer*
  • Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Filter Setting Powder

Eyes:

  • Paul & Joe Beaute Eye Primer
  • Charlotte Tilbury Dolce Vita Palette (now called the Bella Sofia)*
  • Fenty Beauty Flyliner Longwear Liquid Liner
  • Dior Diorshow Pump n Volume Mascara*
  • Esqido Oh So Sweet Lashes*
  • Burberry Effortless Eyebrow Definer*

Cheeks:

  • Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow (for contour and highlight)
  • Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic Blusher in Sex on Fire*

Lips:

  • Lisa Eldridge Velvet Muse lipstick

Other:

  • Finishing spray was Urban Decay All Nighter*

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I used some of my tried and true makeup products for this makeup look. Even though there were newer products in my collection that were more exciting, these were the ones that I was sure would get me through this day and make me look amazing. My absolute must-have makeup items have been highlighted using italic text in the list above. While I loved most of the products I used, the ones in italics are my ride or die products.

I was a little disappointed with the Esqido lashes. I had been saving these lashes for at least five years and I always knew I wanted to wear them on wedding day. I normally don’t save lashes and only wear them for a day, but this time I tried to save them after, and they completely fell apart while I was cleaning them. I used a water-based micellar cleanser to clean the band but a lot of the lashes fell off the band, making them completely unsalvageable. For a $35 pair of lashes, it’s absolutely insane that you can only wear them once. I don’t think I would recommend these. The band was pretty uncomfortable to wear too, as it was a lot thicker than the KISS lashes I normally wear (I highly recommend those, if you haven’t yet tried them). I had two vials of Esqido lash glue and they both dried out within a year, so I had to use the KISS lash glue which was perfect.

We’re still going to have our “big” wedding next year with the reception and party for all of our family and friends. Let’s just hope this COVID thing eases up a bit so that we can have my family travelling here from China for it.

Thank you for reading!

Products annotated with an asterisk (*) were provided by PR for review consideration; all opinions are my own.

FASHION | My designer handbag collection

Recently I’ve been completely obsessed with watching handbag collection videos on Youtube. I thought about doing my own video but then I remembered the horrors of video editing and so I settled on doing a blog post instead. The title of this blog post is pretty gaudy… but hey it caught your attention so might as well read on!

Just a quick disclosure – the point of this post isn’t to brag about how many bags I have. I really enjoy seeing other people’s handbag collections and reading their reviews, so I wanted to share my collection in case anyone is contemplating buying any of these. Honestly compared to many Youtubers / fashion bloggers, my designer bag collection is a more realistic size. If handbags aren’t your thing, or if you think I’m just wasting all this money on bags, etc., please feel free to close your browser. I work full time (very long hours at a very stressful job), and don’t have a “sugar daddy” who sponsors my bags (if you know my fiance at all, you’ll be laughing at how silly this is). I am frugal in many other areas of life that I don’t necessarily always talk about, for example I don’t own a car and take public transit as my primary mode of transportation. Just some thoughts before you read on ­čÖé

I’m going go down my list of oldest to newest bags in my collection. The first one that I actually won’t be talking too much about is the Chanel Just Mademoiselle Tote in black lambskin and ruthenium hardware. This was my first ever designer bag purchase, and I remember the night that I ordered this off of HGBags’s eBay site, I was completely ecstatic – happy that I bought it and also second guessing myself because of the extraordinary amount of money I just spent on one handbag. I purchased this pre-loved at age 23, a few months after I started my full time career job. The reason why I won’t be talking too much about it is that I rarely, if ever, use this bag. The lambskin was super delicate and it made me very OCD whenever I used it. The bag was quite a large size so the lambskin also meant the bag lost a bit of shape after a while. I’m glad I did buy it though because it made me realize that I should never buy another lambskin bag. At the time, the bag retailed for C$3,600 and I bought it for C$2,400.

The second designer bag I ever bought for myself is the Prada Saffiano Lux Double Zip Tote (now called the Galleria bag) in the medium size with the shoulder strap, in the colour Fuoco (red). I had my eye on this bag for the longest time, throughout university and also after graduation. A friend of mine bought the bag in black, but I wanted it in either the red or the blue. I loved this bag, and it took a lot of effort to find it because Holt Renfrew didn’t order it in either the red or the blue. This is an amazing size for work, and it does carry a ton of stuff in its three compartments. Due to the type of leather and the hardware, this bag is quite heavy once filled with stuff. I don’t use this that often anymore, so recently I also decided to ultimately gift this to my mom. At the time, I purchased this for C$1,840 + tax, now it retails for C$2,990.

Next, I have the Louis Vuitton Alma BB in Epi leather in Rose Ballerine. This was my first mini bag, and something I bought to fill a bit of a hole in my collection. The bag is perfect to wear for both casual and dress-up occasions. The Rose Ballerine colour is GORGEOUS, a super delicate light pink colour that goes well with any light-toned outfit. The Epi leather is also very low maintenance. I’ve worn this bag to weddings, to events, to the PNE, and more. It doesn’t fit a ton, but I don’t carry much with me so it fits all of my necessities. I purchased this for C$1,770 and it now retails for C$2,160.

The Celine Mini Belt Bag in Light Taupe is one of my favourite bags in my collection but one that doesn’t get much use. The Celine aesthetic is so beautiful, the minimalist design, clean lines, and quality pebbled leather makes up an incredibly gorgeous bag. It fits a ton, and isn’t too heavy even though it is such good quality leather. It has a top handle for carrying by hand or in the crook of your arm, as well as a non-adjustable shoulder strap. I love this bag so much, but the light colour means that I can only really carry this in the spring or summer, and I don’t like carrying this in the rain so it really limits the number of days in a year that I can actually use this. I purchased this pre-loved for C$2,400. I can’t remember exactly how much it retails for in Canada (I think around C$3,000) but in the US it retails for US$2,550.

I already did a review of my Saint Laurent┬áLarge Kate bag, which is a great grab and go bag but in the last year, I haven’t worn this as much as I’ve wanted to since I tend to gravitate towards cross-body bags now.

I didn’t get my next Chanel bag until five years after I got my first, and it was the┬áChanel Classic Jumbo in Black Caviar and Gold hardware. I LOVE this bag. It is my absolute favourite bag in my entire collection, and every time I use it, I feel a complete sense of euphoria. I don’t need to say much about the design features on this bag, as there are countless reviews of it on Youtube and all over the internet. I just love that it fits everything I need without needing to downsize, and the chain design is so perfect just for to wear over the shoulder as well as cross body. Despite it being a fancier design, I wear this everywhere – to work, to the gym, to the grocery store, to dinner, to date night, basically everywhere. It does get very heavy when filled with stuff, so if you don’t like heavy bags then steer clear. This currently retails for $7,950 + tax in Canada. I did buy mine new a few years ago, and I got a bit of a discount since I went through my personal shopper, so the price I paid was substantially less than current retail. Chanel prices are going up again soon so this is probably higher in price now.

Next we have my go-to everyday bag that I use rain or shine – the Gucci Soho Disco in red. I originally did not buy into the hype of this bag at all. I didn’t like the huge Gucci logo, and it just looked like a meh design to me. But then I heard about the Gucci price increase last fall and I started looking at more reviews of this bag, and it got me wanting to buy it. I got a really good price for it – right before the price increase, I got 10% off Matches Fashion which allowed me to buy this bag for under C$1,000. After a few price increases, retail in Canada is now $1,480 + tax. This is seriously a super versatile bag. I used this when I went travelling in NYC last fall, and when I was in Toronto last winter. It fits everything I need, and it is super lightweight. The tasseled zipper is very convenient and allows me to open and close the bag with just one hand. I bought this bag for functionality, and it has served me super well.

When I bought the Gucci Soho Disco, I told myself that it would be the last bag I’d buy (HAHA), but then a month later I picked up the Dior Medium Diorama bag in grey calfskin. The one I picked up is the older model designed by Raf Simons, which has the sturdier leather and the fabric interior (the current Maria Grazia Chiuri version has a more supple, softer leather with a suede interior, which I don’t like). This was another bag that I was kinda meh about for the first few years of its release, but then the more I looked at it, the more I fell in love with it. This was after I got my Chanel Jumbo and the Saint Laurent Kate, so I knew that the flap bag + chain strap combo would work for me. Of the bags I have, this is probably the quietest in terms of design / logo. There’s only a small Dior logo engraved on the front hardware, and there’s no loud obvious sign that it’s a Dior bag. I did take this bag with me to Asia this spring and it was a fantastic bag that could be dressed up or down. This bag was recently discontinued but prior to that, it retailed for C$4,700 + tax in Canada.

The third of my Chanel bags is the Chanel Square Mini in Black Caviar and Light Gold hardware. This bag is so incredibly hard to find but I got super lucky because I posted an “in search of” request on a Chanel Facebook group and a salesperson at Saks actually reached out to me saying she had one! I couldn’t believe it because I know there are waitlists for this in Canada and the US. I bought this bag as something I can wear to weddings to pair with clothes that don’t go well with lighter coloured bags (i.e. my Alma BB). I was actually surprised at how tiny this was when I first got it, but it does fit all of my necessities when I change out my wallet to a cardholder. The light gold hardware is perfect – not too gold and can be worn with all metals. I’ve been wearing this casually on weekends as well and it’s just a perfect bag to use when you don’t need to bring much with you. This bag retails for $3,725 in Canada, and I purchased it in the US for US$3,200.

I picked up the Louis Vuitton Pochette Metis in black Empreinte leather when I was travelling in Europe a few summers ago. I got this bag because I love my Gucci Soho Disco as a casual cross-body bag but it was a bit too small if I wanted to carry more than just the bare essentials with me. The Pochette Metis is super comfortable to wear both as a shoulder bag and as a cross-body. I love the adjustable shoulder straps, and also the option to carry it by hand via the top handle. Since I got this, it has easily become one of my most used bags. It is uber comfortable, and can be worn both casually or more dressed up. Compared to my other bags, this one is more hip and almost boy-ish. The quality of the empreinte leather is also just beautiful. This retails for $2,990 + tax in Canada but I got mine in Europe so I was able to save almost a thousand dollars on it.

My most recent bag acquisition was the Chanel Mini Reissue in black distressed calfskin and shiny gold hardware. I can’t find the Canadian price for this model with the distressed calfskin, but the US price is $3,500. The Canadian price for the patent leather one with black hardware is $4,650. I purchased mine through my personal shopper and friend, Orchmelia. I absolutely love this bag as well because its so easy to wear, fits a lot, and still looks dressed up. While I don’t love the shiny gold hardware (it makes it look almost like a F21 or Aldo knock-off), I do love how beautifully supple yet still hard-wearing the leather is.

Out of all of these – my favourite is of course the Chanel Jumbo, the Gucci Soho Disco is my most used casual bag, and the Louis Vuitton Pochette Metis is my most used bag that isn’t casual. Hopefully this was somewhat interesting to read!

Let me know if you are interested in any in-depth reviews of any of these bags. I love reading and writing about luxury handbags in general so I am happy to oblige!

SKINCARE | Top beauty products under $50

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I hope everyone is doing well in the midst of this pandemic. I struggled with whether I should even blog about skincare and fashion since it seems so frivolous at this point, but writing is how I practice mindfulness and cope with stress. I hope that by continuing to blog, I can maintain a sense of normalcy in my life, and if you enjoy reading my reviews, your mind can also take a temporary break from the onslaught of negative news.

I know that historically I’ve generally focused on luxury beauty and luxury skincare, but today I wanted to share with you some of my more budget beauty favourites. Not everything has to be ultra luxurious to be effective, and by reviewing luxury skincare, I’m not saying that you have to break the bank if you want something good. There are a ton of budget beauty products that are equally, if not more effective than some of the luxury ones.

Vichy Mineral 89*

It’s no secret that I absolutely love the Vichy Mineral 89 ($41.95 for 50mL). I’ve used at least 5 bottles of this liquid gold and I love that it is so affordable too. It is completely non-scented, hydrating, ultra soothing, and just overall as a step 0 product for my skincare. I wrote about this more extensively here.

Vichy Mineral 89 Eyes*

Vichy released the Mineral 89 Eyes ($34.95 for 15mL) as a step 0 serum for the eye area. I don’t generally use this alone, preferring to layer it under a thicker eye cream. It helps my eye products sink in better, and it also helps to hydrate and freshen the eye area. I particularly enjoy using this during the day because it makes my eye area feel brighter and fresher. If you have younger skin, for example if you’re just starting out in the world of eye products, this is a great starter product to use alone. I wrote about this more extensively here.

Pixi Peel and Polish*

Pixi Peel and Polish (C$34 for 80mL) is one of my absolute favourite Pixi products. It’s an incredible enzyme and physical exfoliant in one. It is super tingly to eat away at your dead skin cells, but it also has the exfoliating bits for those who prefer a more physical scrub. As someone who sometimes uses relatively expensive exfoliants, this is one of my favourite and I honestly can’t say enough good things about it.

Pixi Rose Tonic*

The Pixi Rose Tonic (C$20 for 100mL) is the toner that I’m currently using. Truth be told, I’ve really enjoyed almost every single Pixi product that I’ve tried – they are fantastic value for still being super effective. I’ve also used the Glow Tonic, which is their top seller. It’s very effective as a gentle exfoliator but I generally prefer hydrating toners in combination with a serum that has actives in it, which is why I don’t enjoy using this on a daily basis.

Now back to the Rose Tonic – it is very gentle, yet still very hydrating, smells great, and my skin has been looking very supple and smooth since I started using it. For $20, you can’t go wrong with it.

Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner

As a beauty blogger and skincare addict, I love to try new products so I rarely repurchase products. I discovered the Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner (C$45 for 125mL) a year ago and I absolutely fell in love. So much so that I immediately repurchased a second bottle. This toner is seriously hydrating, and my skin feels so bouncy and supple after finishing the bottle. I could tell a significant difference between this toner and the Diorsnow one I used after (which is not good, do not recommend). I’m currently waiting to finish up the Pixi Rose Tonic before diving into my second bottle of the Coq-10 Toner.

May Coop Raw Sauce

I previously wrote about this product here. The May Coop Raw Sauce (US$29 for 150mL, but often there are $10 off promos) is one of my favourite daytime hydrating essences. I use this during the day only and using a patting / slapping motion on my face, and not with a cotton pad. It’s super thick and very very hydrating – a little bit goes a super long way. I used this for 3 months straight and only went through 30% of it, so the bottle will last you a very long time, further extending the value of this incredible essence.

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

I received two deluxe mini samples of the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask (C$26 for 20g) in the original Berry from Sephora over a year ago, and I’m currently on my second pot. The first pot took me nearly 9 months of daily use to finish, which is fantastic value for a free sample. My lips are perpetually dry, so I love using this lip mask at night before bed. Compared to the Bite Agave Lip Mask, it doesn’t last on my lips throughout the night, but I find it way less sticky and more comfortable to wear.

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L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream and Shea Butter Intensive Hand Cream*

In terms of hand and body care, my top favourite product that I’ve been using for over 10 years is the L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream (C$35 for the 150mL). I’ve been using this for so long that I was looking up the prices of this product now and I’m actually a little bit shocked. I recall the price of this hand cream to be around $25 when I was first introduced to it, but now it’s $35. Even then, I still think it’s 100% worth it because a little bit lasts you a super long way. Even before the campaign for hand washing, I was already washing my hands copiously, resulting in perpetually dry hands. This is one of the only things that help keep my hands feeling soft due to its 20% shea butter. Currently, I have the regular formula (in the limited edition blue packaging from a few years back), the rose-scented formula, and the Intensive Hand Cream.

The Intensive Hand Cream is usually what I apply at night right before I go to sleep. It’s a balmy texture that is super rich, making it great for the driest of hands and cuticles. It contains 25% shea butter, and it’s also great for dry elbows and knees. I love both the original formula and this one.

Neostrata Resurface Glycolic Renewal Smoothing Lotion*

This Neostrata 10% glycolic acid body lotion (C$45 for 200mL) is a quick an easy way to gently exfoliate your body. I love using this all over or just on my feet for when my feet are feeling extra dry or crackly. It absorbs quickly and leaves my skin feeling ultra soft.

CND Solar Oil*

CND Solar Oil (C$9 for 7.3mL) is the only cuticle oil I use. I keep a little mini bottle everywhere – on my desk at home, on my desk at work (back when I still had my own desk), next to the couch, on my bedside table, in my travel tote for use on the plane). It is so effective at keeping my cuticles healthy and it also smells amazing.

Hope this was helpful and provided a nice distraction to all of the negativity out in the world!

Items marked with an asterisk were (or have been) provided by PR for review consideration or as gifts. I’ve repurchased with my own money several of the PR products mentioned here, but they are asterisked for transparency purposes.

HANDBAG REVIEW | Chanel Classic Square Mini vs. Chanel Reissue Mini

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I am back with another handbag / fashion post. In today’s post, I will be reviewing two of my most popular handbags, and then comparing them to each other. The two bags are my Chanel Classic Square Mini in black caviar with light gold hardware and the Chanel Reissue Mini in black distressed calfskin with shiny gold hardware.

Chanel Classic Square Mini

The Chanel Classic Square Mini in caviar is one of the hardest bags to find on the market, not just because they were discontinued in the caviar leather in the last two years, but because Chanel didn’t make very many of them to begin with. Mine was purchased from Saks from the Chanel Spring/Summer 2018 collection, which is either the last or the second to last season that they made the Square Mini in the caviar leather; now all minis are made only in fabric or in the lambskin. It comes with the leather woven chain, similar to other Classic Flaps, but unlike normal Classic Flaps, both the Square and Rectangular Minis only come with two grommets at the top, so you can’t double up your strap and wear it under your arm.

The way I got my hands on this bag was actually through pure luck. The Vancouver Chanel boutique is literally one of the worst stores EVER if you wanted to get your hands on a coveted bag. Unless you buy a ton of stuff there every season, there is little to no chance they will put any popular bag aside for you. It is so bad that despite me owning four Chanel bags, I’ve never actually bought a single bag there, only SLGs, accessories, and shoes. To get my Square Mini, I actually posted about my wishlist on a Chanel Facebook group, and a Chanel Saks salesperson saw it and said they had one Square Mini in the caviar leather left, and asked if I was interested in it. OF COURSE I WAS. While the price at the time, US$3,200, was a couple hundred dollars higher than buying it in Canada after conversion, I knew there was no way in hell I would ever get my hands on one of these locally. I was so over the moon when I received it, even though it is a lot smaller than I expected it to be. I’ve never seen one of these in real life so it was a shock when I saw it for the first time.

The caviar from SS2018 was what people called “shiny caviar,” as it appeared shinier and softer than past seasons. The grains were very shallow and large, and while you still got that grained leather look, it was very soft and supple compared to other caviars. I absolutely love the leather on my Square Mini because it is so puffy and delicious to touch.

This bag does not fit very much. I use a relatively compact wallet (LV Victorine), and while it does fit in the bag, it won’t fit much else after that. I normally put my cards in a zippy cardholder, that way I get my key case (LV 6 key holder), phone (iPhone X, substituted with a Chanel flat cardholder for the photo), and a mini hand cream into the bag. Because of the structured leather, this bag does not have as much give so you can’t just stuff your bag full of stuff – the flap won’t clasp. You probably also don’t want to stuff this bag too full because the structured shape will eventually stretch out, and then it won’t retain it’s cute, compact look.

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In addition to the very small size, another limitation is the length of the strap. This strap is short, especially in comparison to the Rectangular Mini. I’m 169cm / 5’6 and while it does fit cross-border on me, I would never wear it cross-body because it hits me high on hip, almost to my waist (see my comparison pictures below).

One other thing to note is that the sizing of the Square Mini varies depending on the season. Before I purchased mine, I looked at countless Youtube reviews, blog reviews, Instagram photos comparing the Square Mini and the Rectangular Mini and it was clear that depending on the season, the Square Mini can fit more OR less than the Rectangular Mini. I relied on Chase Amie’s Chanel mini reviews quite a bit, and her Square Mini is from a season where it was slightly bigger, so her Square Mini in the caviar leather can fit more than her Rectangular Mini, despite her Rectangular Mini being in a softer lambskin leather. Mine also comes without the edge stitching, whereas some seasons will have edge stitching on the minis (example). I believe the discrepancy is because Minis are seasonal bags, so every season they just change how they want things done.

I wouldn’t think of this, or use this, as an everyday bag. To me, it really is a special occasion bag that I can take out once in a while, or if we’re having a romantic date night / stroll around town, I might bring this bag with me if I wanted something light. I really don’t bring a lot of stuff around with me, but even then I still have to downsize my wallet to a cardholder, which is a little annoying.

Despite all of the issues with this bag, I absolutely love it. I’m so happy that I have this bag in my collection and it really does fulfill a need in my handbag collection. I don’t like holding bags with my hands, even paired with evening wear, so this bag fulfills the need of an evening / fancy clutch. I love that it allows me to keep my hands free to do other things (like hold food).

Unfortunately, Chanel discontinued both the Square and Rectangular Minis in the caviar leather. You can still get it in lambskin, which is an absolutely gorgeous leather, but can be very delicate. As someone who is paranoid about scratching my bags, I only have one lambskin bag which I literally never use.

If you want a mini Chanel bag that comes in a more durable leather, a good alternative is the Reissue Mini.

Chanel Reissue Mini

The Reissue Mini is a new-ish bag by Chanel, first released for pre-fall 2019 in June 2019. This is also when I purchased my bag. I got mine from my friend Orchmelia, who is a personal shopper in the US. She ordered it for me from Saks. I paid US$3,600 including tax and shipping

Mine comes with distressed calfskin in black, which is the most common type of leather in the Reissue line. Similar to other handbags in the Reissue line, it comes with the Bijoux chain, which is the original Chanel bag chain. The bag initially comes “collapsed,” so it looks vintage and distressed. Because it already comes collapsed, the bag is soft and not super structured, and you can fit quite a bit of stuff in here. I can fit my normal wallet in this bag, along with my phone, which is an iPhone X (substituted by a Chanel cardholder for the photo because I’m taking photos with my iPhone) and keys, as well as hand lotion and a lip balm. Despite its small size, it fits quite a bit because it is softer and less structured.

The hardware on mine is shiny gold hardware, which I like but don’t *love.* I kind of wished I waited for the more recent iterations of it, which has the brushed gold hardware, which not only is more scratch-resistant, but makes it look less like a F21 or Aldo knock-off of the Reissue bag.

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The leather is very soft but still durable. I used this bag every day for a few months, and I didn’t notice any scratches or marks on it. With calfskin, you can get that smooth leather look without the risk of damage.

The size is pretty much the same as the Chanel Reissue 224, but it does not come with the double flap so capacity is a lot larger compared to the Reissue 224. It is very similar in height and depth as my Square Mini, but slightly wider as it is more of a rectangular shape. The bijoux chain is longer than the Square Mini, but not as long as the Rectangular Mini. I can wear this both cross-border (it hits me slightly below the hip) and also single strap on the shoulders. I love love love that it comes with the four grommets, as that means I can also double up the chain and wear it under my arm.

When Chanel announced the Reissue Mini, I jumped on it despite not being completely in love with it. After almost a year of owning it, I still don’t feel super passionate about it. When I feel and see my Square Mini, I get butterflies, but with the Reissue Mini, I feel just okay about it. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of my most loved and used bags in my collection. But I love it because it is such a practical bag, and not because of how it makes me feel, if that makes sense.

The one major downside of this bag is that, like I mentioned earlier, a lot of fast fashion brands have essentially stolen the square turnlock flap bag style and made their own versions of it. I find that sometimes I wonder if people think I’m wearing an Aldo or F21 bag because it is so widely copied. While the quality of the bag is quite good, from afar it’s really hard to tell the difference. Even though I don’t wear my bags for other people to look at it, sometimes I do wonder if I could have spent that money on something else that isn’t so ambiguous in terms of Chanel branding.

Comparing the Square Mini with the Reissue Mini

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You can see in the photo above, and in the modelling shots below, that the Reissue Mini’s strap is about 1-1.5 inches longer than the Square Mini strap. This 1 inch makes a huge difference because the Reissue Mini sits comfortably on me cross-body, whereas I wouldn’t wear the Square Mini cross body.

As described earlier, the softer leather on the Reissue Mini means that I can get more stuff in the bag, compared to the Square Mini which is way more structured and requires you to pare down your belongings when you go out. As a bag for function, the Reissue Mini is way better in terms of everyday wear.

That being said, if I had to choose one of the two, I would still hands down choose the Square Mini because it just brings so much joy to me every time I use it. The CC turnlock is so quintessentially modern Chanel, and it elevates any and all outfits I wear with this. I also love how puffy and soft the quilts are. The quilting on the Reissue Mini is more distressed and flattened, so it’s not as fun to touch.

Sadly the Square Mini is no longer available in the caviar leather. You can still get it in the lambskin, which gets released pretty regularly a few times a year. The Reissue Mini has been available for a few seasons and I don’t see it going anywhere in the time being. Regardless, both styles are very Chanel and you can’t go wrong with either purchase.

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Hope this was helpful!

SKINCARE | All about Vichy hydrating serums

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I wanted to do this quick overview of some of the Vichy hydrating serums that I’m currently using in my life. Its no secret that Vichy Mineral 89 (C$41.95 for 50mL) is an absolute staple in my skincare routine. It’s the ultimate step 0 serum as it is super hydrating, very lightweight, and overall improves the health of my skin over long term use. I’ve used up at least five bottles and I don’t see myself stopping.

What’s different between Mineral 89 and the Aqualia Thermal Rehydrating Serum (C$42.95 for 30mL) is that Mineral 89 is a step 0 serum, meant to be used as the first step to your skincare routine even before toning. You apply it direct to your clean and towel-dried skin, and it was absorb immediately, leaving you with plump, very hydrated, beautiful skin that is ready for the next steps. Aqualia Thermal Rehydrating Serum is a true hydrating serum, meant to be applied after toning and before moisturizer. I use this right before moisturizer, after my active serum for the day, which can either be a Vitamic C+E combo for day, or a brightening / exfoliating serum at night. I have very dehydrated skin so I love a good hydrating serum.

Mineral 89 is a great skincare product for all skintypes. You can be literally parched and enjoy this as equally as someone who has oily skin. I have very dehydrated and dry skin so I layer this underneath many products, including the Aqualia Thermal Rehydrating Serum. If you have oily skin, you can use Mineral 89 with just your toner and moisturizer, and it can even help to rebalance your skin and reduce oiliness.

Aqualia Thermal Rehydrating Serum, while also nice, I don’t love as much as Mineral 89. I find that it does a great job at hydrating my skin and creating a moisture barrier, but it can also be sticky if I apply too much (which I have the habit of doing because I’m used to my skin being dry). There is zero stickiness or residue with Mineral 89.

Now Vichy’s newest product is the Mineral 89 Eyes (C$34.95 for 15mL), a step zero serum for the eye are. I used to be pretty terrible with taking care of my eye area, applying eye cream maybe 50% of the time at night only, but I’ve been very good about consistently applying the Mineral 89 Eyes. It is recommended that you apply this with an eye cream, but sometimes I apply it alone because I am lazy and alone is better than nothing. Similar to the Mineral 89 for the face, Mineral 89 Eyes is super lightweight but still very hydrating, and very gentle on the eyes. It doesn’t contain any fragrance or alcohol, and I’ve accidentally gotten it in my eyes with no stinging. It’s a great starter eye product for those who are just starting to venture into the world of eye care.

I absolutely love Mineral 89 and Mineral 89 Eyes. It’s definitely something I think everyone should have in their skincare routine. In the world of step 0 serums, Vichy’s are relatively affordable (see Sulwhasoo and Dior for other step 0 serums that I like and they are definitely way more expensive), but still do a fantastic job. I’ve used up more bottles of Vichy Mineral 89 than any other skincare product in my entire life, so that has to account for something.

I hope this was useful!

Products were provided by Vichy for review consideration or as gifts from media events. All opinions are my own.

HAIR CARE | Effective (and not-so-effective) products to treat dry and flaky scalp, featuring Omorovicza, La Biosthetique, Ativo, Briogeo, and Lador

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I’ve been suffering from dry and flaky scalp for as long as I can remember. Way back in high school, I used Head and Shoulders but it was way too drying for me, which just made my dry scalp worse. I’ve been experimenting with different products to treat dry scalp and I’ve found a few products that work. I’m not an expert on scalp care, by any means, but as far as I understand it, my scalp is dry, which causes flakiness, similar to dry hair. It’s hard to treat dry scalp because products that can really help nourish the scalp can potentially make the rest of your hair greasy.

Omorovicza Revitalizing Scalp Mask

I received this as a PR sample from the brand, which I am so grateful about because I’ve been really itching to try this after hearing a lot of promising things. I was not disappointed. The Omorovicza Revitalizing Scalp Mask is pretty close to amazing. I’ve only used this a handful of times but it has been pretty good to me each time. Not only does it do a great job at deep cleansing and removing all of the flakes from my scalp, it leaves my scalp flake free for several days. Normally in order for this to happen, I have to apply some sort of scalp leave-in treatment, but I wanted to test the mask out on its own so I left it untouched after washing. I’m so thankful that I’ve been lucky enough to try this because it really is worth the splurge. The bottle is HUGE too. You get 200mL of product which should last you a really long time. I was not holding back at all when I use this, and even then I’ve barely made a dent in it.

You can purchase this product at Nordstrom in Canada.

La Biosthetique Anti-Pelliculaire Shampoo and Lotion

La Biosthetique is a salon-exclusive hair and body care product. I purchased this at my local salon when I went in for a scalp treatment and hair cut. The Anti-Pelliculaire line is the line for treatment dry scalp and dandruff. You’re supposed to use the shampoo first, rinse, then followed with the lotion on towel-dried hair. There is no conditioner. I really love this line because it smells amazing and the shampoo is actually fantastic at de-flaking my scalp. I didn’t find that the shampoo alone does anything to help improve my scalp conditions over time, but coupled with the lotion it does work at keeping my flakes at bay.

The lotion itself also works really well with other mild shampoos and conditioners, such as the Ativo one. I wouldn’t use it with normal shampoos since normal shampoos tend to be over-drying on the scalp anyways, then the lotion becomes almost ineffective.

You can purchase La Biosthetique at select salons across Canada.

Ativo Dandruff and Dry Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner

I initially purchased this over a year ago, and since then I’ve gone through at least 2 sets of the shampoo and conditioner. Ativo is made and based in the Greater Vancouver Area, and the products are all natural with no synthetic preservatives. It primarily uses natural extracts and essential oils to help treat skin conditions. I really like both the shampoo and conditioner and over time, this set has been the one that is consistently delivering results.

I don’t use this all the time, as I like to rotate through my scalp treatment products. Each time I come back to this, I feel like it’s making a difference. The shampoo is nicely foaming and cleansing without being drying, and the conditioner is nourishing without being heavy. The conditioner also includes scalp revitalizing ingredients so I massage a little bit right into my scalp, and it never feels too rich. The two together are great at maintaining my scalp health and keeping flakes at bay. My only issue with this is that it doesn’t always work 100% of the time. If my scalp is extra flakey, then it doesn’t really work to remove or prevent flakes.

You can purchase Ativo directly on their website.

Briogeo Scalp Revival Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo and Charcoal Scalp Treatment

I purchased the Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-exfoliating Shampoo because I head some Youtubers really rave about this. While it does feel nice and deep-cleansing when I’m using it, it is very drying on my scalp and not suitable for regular use. I would reach for this if I am having a very congested scalp day and I need something to scrub and squeeze every last bit of congestion out of my hair and skin follicles.

The Charcoal Scalp Treatment is also great for days when I am feeling extra congested as it helps to keep my scalp feeling clean and refreshed. While I don’t contest that these are great at helping scalp health, they just aren’t great for those with dry scalp because the charcoal can be extra drying. If you have oily scalp, these might be useful for you.

You can purchase Briogeo at Sephora.

Lador Scalp Scaling Spa

My bestest friend Angela of Dowantmakeup.ca discovered this on a Korean skincare blog, and made a group order for us off eBay. Of all of the scalp products featured, this one is the most inexpensive at approximately $3 per tube. It comes in a small 15g tube that allows for 2-3 uses, depending on how heavy you apply it. I really like this because it does a great job at clearing my scalp of flakes, and also giving me that refreshed scalp feel.

Of everything here, minus the Omorovicza, the Lador also gives me the most consistent results. It’s not too drying and works pretty much every time I use it, whereas the other products might not perform as well if my scalp is extra flakey that day.

My top picks are the Omorovicza Revitalizing Scalp Mask and the Lador Scalp Scaling Spa. The Ativo Dandruff and Dry Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner is good but only if your flakey scalp issue is more moderate. La Biosthetique Anti-Pelliculaire Shampoo and Lotion is expensive if your issue is recurring, and Briogeo Scalp Revival Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo and Charcoal Scalp Treatment is not great for those with dry scalp.

The Omorovicza was sent to me as a press sample for review purposes, everything else was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

SKINCARE | High tech skincare with FRANZ Microcurrent Face Mask System and Everyday Essence Face Serum

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In my quest to get the best possible skin for my upcoming wedding (and just in general because good skin is always a good thing), I’ve been trying out some pretty interesting products. The most unique is the FRANZ Microcurrent Face Mask System and the accompanying Everyday Essence Face Serum. FRANZ is a Korean skincare brand which harnesses the power of microcurrent technology to help improve the efficacy of skincare and its absorption into the skin. The brand’s primary products are face masks, and it also has accompanying skincare products that you can use for maintenance on a day-to-day basis. The products are all made in Korea.

From the brand, I received a two week starter kit, which includes two boxes of Premium Microcurrent Mask Systems:

  • 4 Enriching Masks (Wet)
  • 2 Elixirs (Boosting Essence); 7ml / 0.24OZ each
  • 4 Empowering Masks (Dry)

The starter kit also included one bottle of Everyday Essence (50ml / 1.7oz). Each box of the Premium Microcurrent Mask System includes two sets of masks and retails for US$50, so each application is US$25. The Everyday Essence is US$60, so by buying the set together, you save a total of US$40.

Application is pretty complicated, and it’s not something you would just slap on randomly. The face masks come in three steps; you’d first put on the Enriching Mask, which contains the majority of the serum and helps the mask adhere to your face. Next you’d apply the Elixir to the dry Empowering Mask on a specific area marked on the mask, and then you align the dry mask on top of the wet mask. The dry mask contains the microcurrent technology, and after 25 minutes, it should deliver a thorough dose of hydration and anti-aging ingredients to your skin. The process is explained in the Youtube video below.

First, let’s start with my thoughts on the Everyday Essence. For US$60 for a standalone bottle, it’s pricier than your everyday serums. It does come in a hefty 50mL bottle compared to most serums which are only 30mL. This is a great every day serum to use either morning and night. I mostly get hydrating benefits from it, as the anti-aging benefits usually take longer to appear. I use a hydrating serum over top most of my other serums with active ingredients, and this one layers really well over other products without being greasy, heavy, or sticky. I like that it contains some great ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, retinyl palmitate, biotin, folic acid, and folic acid.

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Now for the mask itself, I really like the fit, and the texture of the mask fibre. The shape and cutouts of the mask fits my face almost perfect, with the exception of the forehead space being slightly too short (this is a common problem for me so I guess my forehead is just too big XD). Of all the masks I’ve used in the past, this one fit me the best with barely any excess mask fibre dangling about. Each wet mask contains 25mL of serum, which is a lot. The wet mask is completely soaked in the serum, and there was still a ton leftover in the bottom of the sachet. The serum itself is a very thin liquid, and dripped quite a bit when I was taking it out of the sachet and unfolding it. I saved the rest of the serum to apply the next day, although you could also use it on your body.

The dry sheet with the elixir is really gimmicky. You’re supposed to squeeze the elixir into two small sections on the dry mask, and let it absorb. I assume this is what kickstarts the microcurrents as the dry mask itself is not attached to any electricity or anything. I had a really hard time “aiming” the sachets correctly and ended up getting a lot of the elixir on the mask itself. Once the dry mask was on, it adhered really well to the wet mask, and then my 25 minute countdown started.

I’m not going to lie. I fully expected to hate this mask because of how annoying the application was. While I was using this, I even texted my friend Angela to let her know I’m using this weird microcurrent mask and it’s so annoying to use. During application, I couldn’t feel any microcurrents or anything to indicate that the microcurrent technology was working. I couldn’t wait to take it off.

Finally the 25 minutes were up and I quickly went to remove the mask, and I was absolutely gobsmacked at how lifted my face looked. My jaw looked so much more contoured, my cheeks were more lifted, and my skin looked more taut and bouncy. My skin also felt very plump and hydrated. The serum from the wet mask had more or less either absorbed into my skin, or absorbed into the dry mask. There wasn’t much serum left to massage into my skin, which I was completely fine with as I really dislike too much excess serum.

Despite my low expectations, I was really pleasantly surprised by how good this mask worked. It is very pricey though, at US$25 per application, so it’s really not for regular use. I can see this as being a fantastic pick-me-up mask for pre-special events or when your skin is feeling particularly blah. I highly recommend this if your budget allows for it.

The Everyday Essence is good, but not amazing. I don’t think it outperforms some of my other hydrating serums, and it’s also harder to acquire so I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble. If you are going to get the masks though, do get the 2-week starter kit as you get a full size serum for just an extra $20, which is a great deal.

You can purchase FRANZ products on their website. I received my package directly from Korea, and folks in the US get free shipping with orders over US$50.

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

SKINCARE | Seven days of masking featuring Biotherm, Laneige, Sulwhasoo, Omorovicza, Vichy, Valmont, and La Prairie

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One of my goals this year is to use more face masks. When I was in Bermuda visiting my good friend Suz, I noticed that she masked every day, sometimes using two masks consecutively, and her skin is just glowing. She had a routine – get home from work, take off makeup, mask. A few years ago, I was masking way more often too but ever since I moved out of my condo, I’ve just been super lazy and less creative with my skincare. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy and hoard masks, and I have a super full mask drawer, so I really need to just use them.

Anyways, I wanted to write up some quick reviews on the face masks that I’ve been using lately. Despite the title of this post, I didn’t actually use these consecutively over seven days. I don’t actually advocate for using a different face mask every day, multiple days in a row, because you are subjecting your skin to different ingredients every night. My skin can get sensitive, so doing that just increases the sensitivity.

I’ve included a combination of sheet masks, wash off masks, and even overnight masks. Sheet masks can get really tedious to use sometimes (see lazy above), so I prefer to do a wash off mask just because it can be easier to use, especially in the mornings when I really just need a quick pick-me-up.

Biotherm Life Plankton Essence-in-Mask*

Serum texture: I believe the serum is the Biotherm Life Plankton Essence dumped into a mask pack. It’s very hydrating and lightweight, but too much of it and it becomes really sticky and doesn’t absorb. I had to wipe off quick a bit and my skin still felt a bit sticky climbing into bed.

Mask fibre and fit: It has a traditional cotton fibre mask, which I actually don’t like. It feels very heavy and weighed down, especially if the fit of the mask isn’t great. The good thing is that it does absorb a ton of serum, so it won’t dry out even if you leave it on for a long time. The fit of this mask is not bad. The forehead part was a bit short so I had to make up for the lack of coverage by constantly massaging serum into that area.

Overall: This mask costs $72 for a pack of 6. For a $12 mask, it’s not terrible, but it’s not great. My skin felt hydrated after but I didn’t feel like it was long-lasting hydrating. The next morning, my skin felt just okay. It has a very spa-like scent, which doesn’t bother me. I do like that it’s a quick and easy face mask, as they only ask you to leave it on for 8 minutes, which is a very short yet specific period of time.

Laneige Water Bank Soothing Gel Mask*

Serum texture: Such a lightweight texture that absorbs quickly into the skin with almost no stickiness. It’s super hydrating, and my skin feels plump and refreshed the next morning. The only downside is that it does contain quite a bit of alcohol, so if your skin is sensitive to alcohol then you might want to skip.

Mask fibre and fit: LOVE the fibre of this mask. It’s a gel mask so it’s super lightweight, adheres very well, and doesn’t fall off. I don’t love how it comes in two pieces, I find that the lower piece tends to slowly slide off my face, and I need to constantly readjust it. The downside of a gel mask that it doesn’t actually absorb that much serum so I tend to scoop a bunch from the bag, apply it to my face, then stick on the mask. Fit was okay, I felt like it was a bit wide (a common problem with me and sheet masks), so the sides kept falling off.

Overall: This mask is $31 for a pack of 5, which is a pretty good steal for the quality. The instructions say to leave it on for 30 minutes, so it’s not a mask you could use if you wanted a quick skin pick-me-up. I would definitely buy this again as they would make great masks to use on a sunny beach vacation.

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Mask

Serum texture: This mask contains the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum soaked into a mask. The FCAS is one of my all-time favourite step zero serums. I’ve gone through at least 3-4 bottles of this stuff, and I still have two in my backup. It’s such a great base layer skin serum that allows all of the other products applied after it to be more effective. Each mask pack includes, I believe, 10mL of serum.

Mask fibre and fit: The fibre is a super light, thin cotton. It does a better job at soaking in the serum than a gel mask, but isn’t as heavy as the traditional cotton mask. It adheres really well to my skin, and I can leave this on for up to 30 minutes (instructions say 10-20 minutes).

Overall: This mask is $79 for a pack of five. I would highly, highly recommend getting this if your budget allows for it. This is one of my favourite masks to use when I really want to seriously pamper my skin. My skin always feel incredible after using it – super plump and glowy.

Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask*

Texture: Lightweight mud mask that dries down completely but doesn’t feel tight.

Overall: I don’t use mud masks that often because my skin is relatively dry, although it does get congested sometimes which is when I bring out the big guns. I recently discovered this product and I really like it. For a mud mask, and for something that is called a “Deep Cleansing Mask,” it’s not drying at all. It does a great job at decongesting my skin but still maintaining it’s balance. I don’t need to use a hydrating mask after this, which can be case with other mud masks. It’s a bit pricey at $160 for 50mL, but a little bit goes a long way with this because it is thinner than most mud masks in my mask drawer. I would probably rate this as one of the top 3 mud masks I’ve ever used.

Vichy Soothing Aloe Vera Mask*

Texture: A gel-ish cream texture that contains aloe vera and Vichy’s mineralizing thermal water.

Overall: I’m not a fan of this mask, sadly. I was really looking forward to it because my skin can get really sensitive under extreme climates (either too much sun or too much wind / cold), but I actually find that this mask makes my skin even more sensitive after just one use. It is pretty affordable at $34 for 75mL. It does do a good job at minimizing redness, probably because of its green hue that is a bit hard to wash off. I much prefer the Quenching Mineral Mask from Vichy, which is also $34 and does an amazing job at helping reduce sensitivity while deeply hydrating my skin.

Valmont Prime Renewing Pack*

Texture: Very rich, white cream that is a bit harder to spread. Feels like a primer and a traditional cold cream had a baby.

Overall: I understand that this mask has a cult following in Asia, which I completely cannot understand. Of all the masks I reviewed today, this one is the worst. It’s supposed to be a prime renewing, and stress and fatigue relieving mask, but I feel like it doesn’t do much to my skin at all. I use this in the morning because of its “priming” properties, and I keep hearing about how it helps to completely renew your tired skin, but honestly I didn’t see a difference before or after. The second ingredient on this list, after water, is mineral oil, and it feels very rich like mineral oil. It does contain a ton of different extracts starting from the 4th item on the ingredients list, but maybe my skin just isn’t in that bad of a condition to fully appreciate it. It’s also very pricey at $280 for 50mL. I definitely think you should try a sample of this before you buy it.

La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Sleep Mask*

Texture: Lightweight cream with the signature Skin Caviar scent

Overall: I received this from the La Prairie team as an engagement gift last spring. This is such an amazingly luxurious cream mask that I’ve been savouring for the nights where my skin really needs a lot of help. With this mask, I can instantly tell a difference in skin texture, bounce, and lift the next morning. My jaw is nicely contoured and my skin is visibly lifted and firmer. This product was revamped a year or two ago with the new caviar premier, which is even more effective at anti-aging, and I can really see the difference. It also comes with a beautiful brush that you can apply the mask with, which makes for such a lovely treatment. It is very pricey, at $500 for 50mL. It’s not going to be in everyone’s budget, but if you have the budget and want something effective, this definitely is something you want to add to your skincare collection.

Products with an asterisk (*) were received as PR samples for review consideration or as gifts from the brand. All opinions are my own.