Review + swatches – Dior Summer 2018 Cool Wave collection

Dior Summer 2018 makeup collection review and swatches

I was super lucky to receive a few products from the Dior Summer 2018 Cool Wave collection to share with you. Dior’s summer collections usually tend to be similar to fashion’s resort collections, featuring bright colours and beautifully tanned skin.

The first two products I want to share are the Dior 5-Couleur Eye Shadows (C$73) in shades 367 Cool Down and 597 Heat Up. Cool Down is, of course, the blue-toned palette, featuring all shimmery shades of blue. Heat Up is a beautifully warm-toned palette featuring shimmery corals, gold, and warm browns.

For a blue-based eyeshadow palette, Cool Down is actually surprisingly beautiful. I used to be drawn to blue shadoww palettes way more when I was younger, but I’ve fallen out of love in the last few years. I’ve also owned a number of Dior blue shadow palettes and this one is probably the best quality I’ve seen in a few years. Normally Dior blues tend to be chalky, sheer, and not very blendable, whereas Cool Down applied and blended beautifully.

Heat Up is my absolute favourite though out of the entire collection. I was gawking at how beautiful the shades were, and how smooth and buttery it all applied. The burnt red-orange in the middle of the palette had a bit of gold flash as well, which worked very well to tie all the colours together. The one shade that was a low-performer was the highlight shade on the top right – Cool Down also had a similar highlight shade and it was also not the greatest.

Next, we have two new products, the Diorshow Cooling Sticks (C$41). These are creamy eyeshadow sticks that feel cooling upon application. The two shades I have are 001 Bronze Wave and 003 Fresh Pink. Bronze Wave is a pretty neutral-toned bronze, and Fresh Pink is a metallic cool-toned light pink. I love Bronze Wave as I can wear this on its own as a quick eye look – it blended so seamlessly to create an easy neutral eye. Fresh Pink is a bit too cool-toned and a bit too light for me so I don’t really use this as much on its own, but it does look nice as an inner corner highlight.

There are a few lip products to pick from to complement the eye look. The three formulas available this season are the Dior Lip Maximizer in a limited edition 011 Pool Blue shade, as well as the Dior Addict Lip Tattoo in four different shades, and the Dior Addict Lipstick in two shades. The Lip Maximizer (C$42) in the limited edition Blue Pool is really cool. Its a super sheer baby blue gloss with subtle shimmers, and it also has lip plumper properties. A few years ago, blue gloss was super popular and several brands released blue glosses, and I remember really wanting one to try. The blue tint helps your teeth look brighter, which is pretty cool. This gloss isn’t too sticky either, which is good for someone like me who isn’t too into gloss.

The Dior Addict Lip Tattoo (C$37) shade I have is 571 Cranberry, which is a really nice mauve-y dark pink. The other shades are 341 Litchi, 551 Watermelon, and 641 Orange. I love the Lip Tattoo formula – it is an incredible lip stain that feels cooling on the lips and leaves a stain that lasts all day, through meals. The Dior Addict Lipstick (C$44) comes in two shades – 040 White Splash and 411 Nude Chill. White Splash is the one I have and it’s a clear lipstick with mint extract and subtle blue shimmers, which again helps to plump the lips and brighten teeth.

For the nails, there are also three Dior Vernis (C$34) shades available 404 Splash, 541 Wizz and 894 Blop, in blue, orange-coral, and pink tones, respectively. Lastly, for your face, you can also upgrade your bronzer to the Diorskin Mineral Nude Bronze (C$58), available in four shades to suit most skin tones.

My top picks are the 5-Couleur Eye Shadow in 597 Heat Up, Diorshow Cooling Stick in Bronze Wave, and Dior Addict Lip Tattoo in 571 Cranberry. I would skip the Dior Addict Lipstick in White Splash since it’s basically just clear.

The Dior 2018 summer Cool Wave collection is available after April 13 in Canada, at Holt Renfrew, The Bay, Nordstrom, Shopper’s Drug Mart, and other places where Dior Beauty is sold.

P.S. My apologies for the quality of today’s photos. I could not find my SD card so I had to use my phone to take photos instead…

The swatches

5-Couleur Eye Shadow in 597 Heat Up

Dior Summer 2018 makeup collection review and swatches

5-Couleur Eye Shadow in 367 Cool Down

Dior Summer 2018 makeup collection review and swatches

Diorshow Cooling Stick in Bronze Wave and Fresh Pink, Lip Maximizer in Blue Pool, Dior Addict Lipstick in White Splash , and Dior Addict Lip Tattoo in 571 Cranberry

Dior Summer 2018 makeup collection review and swatches

Product provided for review consideration; opinions are my own.

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Holy mother of serums – La Prairie Platinum Rare Cellular Night Elixir

Honestly, if you had told me that I would be sitting at an exclusive banquet dinner to launch the new La Prairie Platinum Rare Cellular Night Elixir, I would have said that you must be dreaming. But alas, this did come true and in February, 2018, I attended a launch event for this serum of serums – a C$1,555 night elixir that promises to encourage skin detox, improve skin respiration, provide life-infusing skin nutrients, and boost the skin’s self-defense capabilities as you sleep.

The Platinum Cellular Night Elixir is probably one of the most expensive skincare products on the market, containing the highest concentration of La Prairie’s exclusive Cellular Complex, combined with the Advanced Platinum Complex that is exclusive to La Prairie’s platinum line. Each bottle contains only 20mL, but a tiny bit goes a very very long way (thank goodness because this stuff is $78 per mL!!!). It comes in the most beautiful bottle – designed to look like a purple diamond, with a platinum-hued dropper.

I was sent home from the event with a 3mL sample bottle, which, to be honest, I haven’t opened. If this stuff is unicorn tears, then I will be saving it for a special occasion, like for my wedding or the month after I have my first child (and need my skin to bounce back despite lack of sleep).

If you have $1,750 to spare (after tax), then get yourself to a La Prairie counter. La Prairie also offers complimentary mini-facials where you can experience this magical elixir applied on your skin first before you make the investment. I’ve had amazing results with pretty much every La Prairie product I’ve used in the past, so I’m expecting that my socks will be blown off by this one as well.

The La Prairie Platinum Rare Cellular Night Elixir is available now at Holt Renfrew Vancouver, as well as other La Prairie counters across Canada.

Thanks to the La Prairie team for inviting me to the dinner, and for gifting me with the product.

NEW at The Body Shop, featuring Roots of Strength, Drops of Youth, and Spa of the World!

A few years ago, The Body Shop released their Oils of Life collection and everything changed for them. The Intensely Revitalizing Cream was one of my go-to moisturizers for a while, and it was comparable to a lot of the high end moisturizers that I’ve used. At the time, I was really excited to see what The Body Shop will come out with in the years to come, and I haven’t been disappointed. I was recently invited to The Body Shop to check out some of their new collections in person, and I really have to say that a lot of these products are excellent.

The collection that I was most excited to see was Roots of Strength. This multi-step range of firming and lifting products that contains your core products – an Essence Lotion (C$22), a Shaping Serum (C$42), and a Day Cream (C$34). It harnesses the power of traditional Chinese medicinal concepts using ginger root and ginseng root to strengthen and lift your skin. This range is 100% vegan, is free of mineral oil, paraffins, and petrolatum, and the serum also contains 99% ingredients of natural origins. I really like the Essence Lotion; it’s lightweight and non-sticky, and really gives my skin a good dose of hydration.

Next we have Drops of Youth, which is not a new range but is introducing some new products. Namely, a Youth Bouncy Eye Mask (C$32) and a Youth Gentle Foaming Wash (C$20) to round out the collection. The cooling Bouncy Eye Mask contains cucumber extract which is refreshing and depuffing. It’s super light and silky, so you can apply this lightly during the day, or as an overnight night mask. The light texture actually feels okay over makeup too. The Gentle Foaming Wash isn’t something I’m super into as I don’t really like self-foaming cleansers anymore, but this would be a good product for someone with combination or oily skin and still want a bit of that anti-aging.

Lastly, we have Spa of the World, which is one of my favourite The Body Shop lines. For a relatively inexpensive brand, The Body Shop does luxury spa so well. Celebrating exotic ingredients and beauty traditions from around the world, Spa of the World released four new shower products – Tahitian Tiaré Bath & Shower Oil-In-Gel, Brittany Coast Algae Bath & Shower Gel, Balkan Juniper Bath & Shower Gel, Adriatic Peony Bath & Shower Cream (C$14 each). These amazing shower products are so luxurious, despite the completely reasonable price tag. I have the Tahitian Tiaré Bath & Shower Oil-In-Gel, which smells fresh and floral, and is super hydrating. It contains honey as well as coconut oil and other oil extracts, to keep your skin nice and supple in and out of the shower. From the same collection, I also have the Brazilian Cupuaçu Exfoliating Scrub-in-Oil (C$32) which is the most decadent body scrub but with the most reasonable price. Every time I smell these products, it brings me to somewhere warm and sunny.

These new The Body Shop products are available in stores and online now!

 

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

Celebrating 50 years of cleansing oils with Shu Uemura

Shu Uemura cleansing oil review

I can hardly believe that it’s already been 50 years since the creation of the cleansing oil by Shu Uemura. Indeed, Shu was the first brand of cleansing oil that I’ve ever tried, over 10 years ago. At the time, there were only a few formulas available, so it’s amazing that there are so many different variations available for different skin types. I was generously sent a beautiful gift box containing the top four formulas, made for specific skin types.

Shu’s cleansing oils are made to effectively remove makeup and impurities from the skin, and prepping the skin for the follow-up steps. Shu claims that double cleansing is not necessary since it rinses completely and doesn’t leave behind any residue (although I personally still prefer to double cleanse).

The four formulas I received are:

  • Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil – the richest formula created by Shu, this is the all-rounder product that targets all skin products. Created primarily for those with dry or aging skin types, the Ultime8 is made with traditional Chinese medicine in mind. This is an amazing cleansing oil, particularly in the winter, as it is very effective at removing all makeup, including eye makeup, without getting into my eyes. It smells a bit medicinal, like something that would be good for you. It’s not stripping at all, unlike some cleansing oils, and is great for all skin types except the super oily types. Shu often makes limited edition bottles of the Ultime8 so if that’s also something to be on the lookout for.
  • Anti-Oxi Skin Refining Cleansing Oil – created for those living in highly populated big cities with pollution, this cleansing oil is anti-pollution and will remove polluting impurities from deep within your skin. It contains the potent anti-oxidant green tea extract, as well as moringa, to improve skin dullness and sallowness. I really enjoy this one, as it is not too rich and not too light. It’s a very effective makeup remover, and doesn’t strip the skin. I’m not sure how good it is at anti-pollution, but my skin usually looks pretty good when I use this (in combination with other products). The Anti-Oxi is one of my top picks in terms of a cleansing oil from Shu.
  • POREfinist2 Sakura Fresh Cleansing Oil – the lightest Shu cleansing oil, made for oily skin types. Blended with sakura and cinnamon bark extract, it helps to regulate oil production as well as shrink the appearance of pores. This is probably my least favourite cleansing oil – not surprisingly because I have dry skin. It feels too light on me and also strips my skin a little. The lightness of the oil also means that if I am removing eye makeup, the oil migrates into my eyes and then it stings. Regardless, it’s an effective cleansing oil for removing base makeup, and because of the slip, a little goes quite a long ways.
  • Nutri-nectar Cleansing Oil in Emulsion – this is a brand new formula for this year to celebrate Shu’s 50 years in the cleansing oil market. Created for sensitive skin types in mind, it blends together acai, magnolia, and reishi mushrooms. It has a thicker jelly-like texture that is really fun to use. Because of the thicker consistency, I find it a little bit harder to rinse off (you’ll need a bit more water and a bit more effort to massage the skin and emulsify the jelly). I also prefer to use this on days where I am not wearing so much eye makeup because it doesn’t have as much slip compared to one of the lighter oils. That being said, it feels really nice and gentle on the skin.

Shu Uemura cleansing oil review

My top pick is definitely the Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil.

Lastly, of course everyone knows Shu Uemura also for its lash curlers. Over the years, I’ve purchased and repurchased this lash curler a number of times, and it’s still my #1 go-to lash curler that I bring with me everywhere I go. I’m a fan of the classic silver design, as well as of their various limited edition designs such as gold, black lacquer, and more. A lash curler is such an essential part of the makeup kit, and Shu’s version is definitely a top cult classic.

You can pick up Shu Uemura cleansing oils and lash curlers, as well as other Shu Uemura products, at The Bay and Sephora.

Shu Uemura cleansing oil review

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

Brighten up your spring nails with CND Chic Shock

It’s no secret that CND Vinylux quickly made it as my favourite nail polish formula. This is the only formula I wear regularly now, and I’m loving the variety of shades that get introduced every season. For Spring 2018, CND releases Chic Shock, an Easter candy and K-beauty inspired collection that contains four beautiful pastel shades.

The four shades are :

  • Candied – a cool-toned baby pink creme
  • Taffy – a light turquoise mint creme
  • Jellied – a muted yellow creme
  • Gummi – a light violet creme

In the photo above, I’m wearing the Shellac equivalents of Candied, Taffy, and Jellied, dotted to look like a cute French manicure. It reminds me of candy, marshmallows, balloons, and Tsum Tsums at the same time! Thanks to Onyx Aesthetics Studio for the amazing manicure, as always.

In addition to the new shades, CND also revamped its bottle design, which correlates with its reformulation of the Vinylux formula. Vinylux now contains more conditioning oils to keep your nails healthy while still looking chic. The brush is also redesigned, featuring a wider and flatter brush that makes application super easy.

Vinylux polishes are super long lasting – I literally wear mine for 7-10 days and the only reason I need to remove and reapply is because of growth. I rarely get chipping, and the colour stays shiny throughout the entire time. You can now find CND Vinylux at Shoppers Drug Mart too, which is super convenient.

Chic Shock is now available wherever CND products are sold!

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

You are invited to the La Prairie Pop-Up Lounge at Holt Renfrew Vancouver!

I wanted to share with everyone an exciting event that’s happening right now at Holt Renfrew Vancouver – a pop-up La Prairie Lounge to celebrate the launch of the White Caviar Crème Extraordinaire, the newest addition to the La Prairie White Caviar range. This amazing cream launched yesterday across Canada (I was sent a bottle of this amazing White Caviar Creme so I will be reviewing it in detail in a separate post).

This lounge is open to everyone, and will include interactive and social media-able moments, as well as an “Art of Illumination” service. In addition, the event will offer:

  • Refreshments and light bites on opening day and Saturdays & Sundays
  • mySkin dermograph appointments (you can read about my experience doing the demograph
  • Black & white portrait photography
  • Various complimentary skin and hand treatments using the White Caviar products, including a by-appointment 45 minute White Caviar facial.

I visited the lounge to check out the space and also to get the White Caviar Facial Treatment. The lounge is such a cool pop-up space where you can sit and chat with your friends, and learn about La Prairie’s White Caviar products. All of the products are on display, and it’s an informal way of experiencing La Prairie, especially if you’ve never tried the products before or if you feel a bit more intimidated to visit the actual counter. It’s located next to the elevators on the beauty floor at Holt Renfrew, behind the Christian Louboutin counter and across the the Diptyque / luxury fragrances spaces.

The White Caviar Facial Treatment was such a treat! It came at the perfect time because I will be travelling next week and my skin has also been super out of wack from the change in weather. Even though it is a complimentary facial, you actually get to experience a real La Prairie facial inside their facial room. The products used are all White Caviar products, which help promote brightness and skin luminosity, as well as instant lifting and smoothing. The two main products used were the 3-minute peel, as well as the Swiss Cellular White Intensive Illuminating Mask.

If you want to try out a La Prairie experience but don’t have 45 minutes to spare, you can also walk-in for a quick 5-10 minute treatment as well. Check out the treatment options below.

The La Prairie Lounge is a pop-up only and is available at Holt Renfrew Vancouver (737 Dunsmuir St, Vancouver) from today until March 31, daily from noon to 6PM. You can also call Holt Renfrew at (604) 681-3121 to book one of the complimentary treatments.

Thanks to La Prairie for inviting me to check out the Lounge!

Top 4 favourite foundation formulas of ALL TIME, featuring La Prairie, Guerlain, Dior, and Too Faced

IMG_7129

As a beauty blogger, I go through so many products. One of the things I love testing out the most is foundation. In addition to great skin, it’s also important to start your makeup with a beautiful and smooth complexion, with the help of a good foundation. Today, after nearly 10 years of blogging and foundation testing, I want to share with you my top four formulas.

La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation

If money was no issue and I could have an unlimited supply of any foundation, it would be this one. My go-to foundation for when I need my skin to look flawless for endless hours, the La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation never ceases to amaze me with how amazing it can make my skin look and feel. It does an incredible job at smoothing out my fine lines and pores, and also hides any dryness really well. Every time I use this, I am basically guaranteed to have good skin. It’s so expensive though, so I really only use this when my skin needs it, otherwise I’m so scared to run out because the high price means I am likely to pick up another one. I did a full review here. I wear the shade Warm Linen, which is the perfect match for me.

Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation

My second favourite foundation, and something I am actually very likely to repurchase is the Parure Gold Foundation by Guerlain. Again, this is something I use when I need good skin, whether its for an event or wedding, or maybe I have something after work and I need my makeup to look good all day. This doesn’t have as good staying power as the La Prairie, but it does make my skin look lit from within. This is my go-to foundation to take with me when I travel, because flying wrecks havoc on my skin so I need a good foundation to balance out the dryness and also give back some of that glow. You can check out my full review here. I wear the shade 02, which is a 95% good match to my skin.

Diorskin Air Nude

My go-to foundation for when I need to cover a bit of redness, or on a good skin day, the Diorskin Air Nude is a “serum foundation,” super lightweight, easy to apply, and generally foolproof. It doesn’t have very good coverage, so I only really wear this when I have nowhere fancy to go, and it’s also great in the summer when I want something lighter. The only thing is because the foundation is so light, I tend to go through this very quickly. That being said, it’s not too too expensive that I can definitely repurchase this when the time comes! I wear the shade 020.

Too Faced Born This Way Foundation

I was so in love with this foundation when it first released that I wore it nonstop for months. I was later introduced to a few other foundations and then forgot about this in the back of my foundation drawer. I recently took it back out because I remembered how much I loved it, and alas, it was like falling in love all over again. The Born This Way foundation is the most high coverage of all the ones here, and in addition to being a high coverage foundation, it also soft focuses my skin and blurs out all of my imperfections. I can layer this over itself and it never looks or feels heavy or cakey. It is also extremely long wearing – after a full day’s work without touchups, it is still mostly intact on my face. I wear the shade Warm Nude, which is a great match for me. You can see my previous review here.

You can purchase La Prairie, Guerlain, and Dior at Holt Renfrew, and Too Faced at Sephora.

What are some of your favourite foundations?

Products provided by PR for review consideration; all opinions are my own. My original Diorskin Air Nude was purchased by me, but then the Dior PR graciously sent me another one.

How I afford designer and luxury products

Today’s post is a bit unconventional from my usual. If you follow along on my Instagram, you’ll notice that I post a lot of designer stuff. I have a somewhat high maintenance life in that I love designer products, whether it is Valentino shoes, or YSL handbags. I wanted to talk a bit about how I generally afford these things, because I know a lot of women out there love designer products as well. I do have some tips and tricks up my sleeve that help me save money. They don’t call me the deal fairy for nothing!

1. Create a wishlist

In my mind, I have a set wishlist of the shoes and bags I want to buy, and I slowly check them off my wishlist over the years. With designer stuff, it’s very easy to get sucked into the current “it” style without thinking about longevity. I consider a number of factors before even putting it on my mental wishlist, including but not limited to:

  • Will it stand the test of time
  • Is it practical, for example can I wear this to different events, can I wear this to work, is it comfortable to wear, will it go with a lot of outfits
  • Does it fulfill a hole in my collection, for example a Chanel mini is on my list because I don’t have any evening bags

Once I have it on my wishlist, I generally stick to the wishlist. I’ve never bought a bag on impulse, and I always mull over it for at least a few weeks. During this time, I go back to the store to look at it, try it on, read online reviews and watch review videos. I want to make sure that whatever I’m buying is exactly what I want with no issues.

2. Follow the sales

I only buy my designer stuff on sale. I’ve only bought one bag at retail – my Louis Vuitton Alma BB, and that was only because I had a few gift cards for Holt Renfrew. I’ve purchased only one pair of shoes at retail – my first pair of Ferragamo Varas – and then later I bought two more pairs at pretty good discounts. Every other bag, shoe, clothes I bought on sale. My best buy was a Roland Mouret dress for 85% off; I paid under $500 for a runway dress that retailed for $3,000. Even my Chanel bags, I bought from my personal shopper and friend who gets a discount from the salesperson.

This goes with step 1, because if you have a mental wishlist and are sure of what you want, you know exactly what to look out for. My favourite “retailer” or discount designer goods is Erica at HGBags. She has some amazing prices on classic items. I purchased my Valentino Rockstud flats from her for half off the Canadian retail price at the time, and same with my Christian Louboutin Simple pumps. Both styles are classics that pretty much never go on sale at a department store, yet you can find them through her for fantastic prices. She also sells Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, and once in a while she’ll get in some Dior and Chanel bags as well.

My other amazing sale resource is my personal shopper and friend Claire (Orchmelia on Instagram). I purchased my Chanel Jumbo from her, brand new with stickers and full set, and saved myself over $1,200 the Canadian post-tax retail price. You can go buy a Chanel wallet with that money you saved (#shoppingmath).

3. Buy pre-loved

My first designer bag, I bought pre-loved off eBay. It was a Chanel Just Mademoiselle Tote in Lambskin with ruthenium hardware, and I saved $1,200 off retail. Out of my designer bags, I bought 1/3 of them pre-loved. The rest of them I didn’t buy pre-loved only because the style was so new, or the second hand price was too similar to retail to justify it. Buying pre-loved doesn’t mean it’s used. You’d be surprised at how many people buy designer things, take them home, never take them out of the box, and then resell them at pretty much brand new condition. The Chanel tote was one like that, it still had all the stickers on the hardware, yet I saved a lot of money by going that way.

The only thing I don’t like buying pre-loved is shoes. I feel like feet are a weird thing, and I don’t really like the idea of putting my feet in shoes that other people have worn around all day.

4. If you can afford it, aren’t in debt, are in good financial standing, buy it NOW

Take this piece of advice with a grain of salt. I’m not telling you to go out and hoard all of your wishlist items right now. But if you’ve had your eye on something for a few years, and you can afford it, and know that eventually you will very likely buy it, you should just buy it now. Designer goods go up in price at insane speeds, so if you don’t buy it now, it will go up in price at a rate that is much faster than your wealth will accumulate. A good example is the Chanel classic medium flap. In 2010, the price was hovering around $2,000. Now it’s over $6,000 in Canada. In the meantime, did your wealth triple? Unlikely.

5. Save money in other areas of life

I work full time and earn a full time salary. I don’t really make any money off my blog, maybe a few sponsored posts here and there, but nothing that I can really call income (i.e. less than $1000 a year). I don’t have investment income either, as all of my investments are for retirement savings purposes only (and yes I do save quite a bit there).

Aside from buying designer bags and shoes, I generally live pretty frugally. My biggest expenses are my mortgage payments every two weeks, and then I also have The Bar Method membership that is monthly. We generally cook dinner at home, and we try to limit eating out to once a week, where we also budget our eating out to be around $30-40 max for two people. I bring a home-cooked lunch to work pretty much every day and I rarely buy Starbucks or coffee out, and just drink the coffee in my office. I don’t own a car, and take public transit to and from work. I also have automatic debits set up every month to withdraw money from my paycheque into separate RRSP and pension accounts.

Basically, I figured out that being frugal every day but buying designer products once in a while is happier than if I lived fancy every day but didn’t have money left for designer products. It’s all about deciding where your priorities lie, and then executing on it. Unless you make a ton of money at your job, have very wealthy parents who are happy to support you, or don’t care about savings at all, then you can have it both ways. Otherwise, it’s really hard to live a life of luxury on a day-to-day basis and also be able to buy a ton of luxury products too.

Anyways, most of this blog post was general rambling, so I apologize if it was too long. I hope it was helpful in that you can see how I can afford to buy designer stuff. I’m not wealthy, by all means. I have a good job, and my parents are self sufficient so I don’t have to worry about supporting them, so I’m in a good place in my life right now. I do work hard, so I can justify rewarding myself with nice things. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Morning and evening skincare routine, featuring Tatcha, Bioderma, Reversa, Sekkisei, Eve Lom and Acure

Morning skin care routine featuring Tatcha The Essence

I haven’t done one of these skincare routine updates in a while, but lately I’ve been really happy with the state of my skin, so I wanted to share all of the amazing products that I’ve been using. For a while last year, I’ve been experimenting with new skincare products, and including switching up my routine pretty much every night depending on what I was feeling like using. I was way over complicating it, and even though I had fun mixing and matching products, I didn’t feel like I was maximizing any of the products’ potential to really make a difference on my skin. One of the changes I made towards the end of last year was to simplify my routine, and go back to basics. This also helped me declutter my bathroom counter because there weren’t a million things floating around (which the boyfriend is also thankful for)!

My routine is pretty simple, I use a cleanser, pre-serum, toner / essence, serum, eye cream, then moisturizer.

For my morning routine, I try to focus on adding hydration. I have very dehydrated skin so adding water is the most important step for me. In order, I use these products:

  • THREE Balancing Cleansing Milk – I purchased this in Japan in the fall of 2016 and I finally got around to using this. Cleansing milks are tricky for me because I find that a lot of them don’t fully emulsify and leave a weird film on my skin. This one is simply amazing. It has a beautifully whipped milky texture that’s lightweight but feels so soothing on the skin. I use this on dry skin with dry hands, massage it in for 30 seconds, and then emulsify and wash off with warm water. I am left with incredibly soft, silky, and very balanced skin. It’s never drying, and is perfect if you have dehydrated, dry, sensitive skin. THREE is a Japanese brand that uses primarily natural and organic ingredients, this Balancing Cleansing Milk contains 94% natural ingredients. I honestly haven’t been able to find an equivalent product like this in the western market, which is another reason why I love this so much.
  • Freeplus Deep Pre Moist Essence – Another product I purchased in Japan is this pre-serum. I apply this directly to cleansed skin, before toner / essence and everything else. It has a super lightweight watery gel texture that absorbs quickly. My skin is immediately plumped up ready for other products. This is also a fantastic product for sensitive skin types because it is fragrance free and very gentle on the skin. A similar product in the western market would be Vichy Mineral 89.
  • TATCHA The Essence* – I will be doing a feature on essence waters soon, but just as a quick sneak peek of my thoughts, I’ve been using this off and on since it first came out, and I’m honestly torn about how I feel about it. It does hydrate my skin but that’s pretty much it. It’s a great basic skincare item, but I don’t know if it’s worth the high price.
  • Bioderm Hydrabio Moisturizing Concentrate* – I initially discovered this product and did a full review of it in 2013. This is one of my go-to hydrating serums, it really helps to seal in the hydration and prevent my skin from feeling tight all day. One thing I noticed when using this product this time around was that it feels a little bit silicone-y. It does have dimethicone in it, but lower in the ingredients list. That being said, I still rely on this a lot in the winter time.
  • Reversa Anti-Wrinkle Cream* – Another oldie but goodie, I did a full review of this back in 2015 and my stance has basically stayed the same. This is a super easy way to incorporate glycolic acid in your routine, especially if you use other active ingredients at night. It’s a super easy 2-in-1 glycolic treatment with sunscreen, and is super moisturizing at the same time. I still love it, and still absolutely recommend it.

Night time skin care routine featuring Eve Lom Time Retreat Face Treatment

Like I mentioned earlier, my routine at night is basically the same as my daytime routine but just with the product switched up a bit:

  • Pre-cleanse with a cleansing oil – I’m currently using Jill Stuart Cleansing Oil, which I purchased from Japan. Any cleansing oil / balm / water will do to remove makeup, and I haven’t really noticed anything too amazing with the Jill Stuart one. I almost always (like 99.5% of the time) double cleanse, every night. The only time I don’t double cleanse are the nights when I am just lazy and forget to do it, but even if I have just sunscreen on, I will double cleanse. The trick to prevent stripping is to use gentler cleansers, instead of harsher foaming cleansers which strip your skin. Other cleansing oils that I use that you can find in Canada are by Shu Uemura, Palmer’s Skin Therapy Cleansing Oil, and L’Occitane.
  • Nursery Yuzu Cleansing Gel – I purchased this cleansing gel in Japan and it smells SO GOOD. It’s technically a makeup removing gel, and I have used this to remove light makeup in the past, but I prefer to use it as a second cleanse. It doesn’t foam up, and is just a gentle gel cleanser. It gently cleans my skin without stripping, and it leaves it feeling super soft and fresh. I am addicted to the scent, and I will likely be repurchasing this when I return to Japan later this spring. A similar jelly cleanser in the western market is the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, although that one isn’t really a makeup remover, it has the same gentle texture and good cleansing properties.
  • Freeplus Deep Pre Moist Essence – As described above.
  • Kose Sekkisei Lotion Excellent Enriched* – I first used this product in 2008 when I was still in university. It is a cult favourite in Japan and has been around for decades, with good reason. I will be doing a feature on this product as well in my essence lotions article, but the gist is that I love it and will repurchase in the future.
  • Eve Lom Time Retreat Face Treatment – Truly one of my favourite skincare discoveries of all time, this retinol serum is what I attribute most of my skin improvements to. For a product with retinol, it is incredibly gentle and very moisturizing, as it includes shea butter as a top ingredient. It smells so good, like lavender, which helps to soothe my spirits at night just before bed. Best of all, it has done a fantastic job at smoothing my fine lines. I tend to wrinkle my brows and forehead a lot, so I have a lot of fine lines there which this has pretty much eradicated. My pores are also more refined, and my skin texture overall is smoother and brighter. I will definitely be repurchasing this. It comes in a great size as well – 50mL – which is 2/3 more than other serums.
  • Acure Night Cream* – This is a great basic night cream for those who are interested in trying out more natural skincare products without the high price tag. The packaging is very simple and to the point, but the product is really good. It goes on emollient, but then absorbs and dries down without any sticky residue. I love using this in the winter, as it protects my skin throughout the night. They’ve actually repackaged this and renamed it the Brilliantly Brightening Night Cream, but the product is still the same.

I hope this gave you some inspiration to try some new products!

Products provided by PR are denoted by *, everything else was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

Top 10 splurge-worthy luxury products, featuring La Prairie, Guerlain, Vintner’s Daughter, Charlotte Tilbury, and more

Guerlain Spring 2017 Meteorites 30th anniversary review

On this blog, I feature a ton of beauty products all the time. A lot of them are luxury products, some of them are worth buying, others not so much. I wanted to do a quick roundup of some of the luxury products truly worth picking up, and also give you guys a quick guide as to what to invest your money in to get the best bang for your buck.

  1. La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer and Foundation* (C$295 for 30mL) – Starting this list with a bang is my all-time favourite luxury foundation. I’ve talked about this a ton on the blog, and you can see my original in-depth review here. This is what I use when I need a guaranteed good skin day and night. It lasts all day and into the evening, and wears beautifully on the skin. It is expensive, and the price has actually gone up since the last time I reviewed it. Your foundation covers your face for usually 12+ hours a day, you really want something that will not just cover up your skin, but also treat it at the same time. If $300 is just way too much for you, I also love Guerlain Parure Gold foundation. It doesn’t have quite the level of skincare benefits in it, but it also gives me a flawless complexion that I can count on.
  2. Guerlain Meteorites Pearls* (C$76) – I love these and I’ve talked about them extensively on the blog as well (one review here). They are the perfect finishing powder to give you a blurred, glow from within look. They are truly the real life Instagram filter. I love them so much that I own four jars of the Pearls from the different releases, as well as two variations of the pressed version (the first few I purchased myself so I’m not just saying that because I received some as PR samples!). If you have the extra budget, the Meteorites Voyage Compact is the ultimate luxury version, but will set you back C$200.
  3. Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow (C$80) – My favourite bronzing, sculpting, and highlighting compact, reviewed here. Actually, my favourite highlighter of all time. Mine actually cracked recently and the highlight is now missing a big corner of it, so I can’t travel with it. I’m so devastated that I might actually go pick up a brand new one just so I can take it around with me.
  4. Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum* (C$240 for 30mL) – The ultimate in face oils, this is the best of the best. I originally reviewed it here, so you can hear my backstory about how I started using this. I love this for when I have tired, stressed, dry, or angry skin that just won’t cooperate. It has amazing active ingredients in it, and is so nourishing. It feels amazing on the skin, both during application and afterwards, and then the morning after. It also smells incredible. I use this whenever I need that extra oomph!Guerlain Spring 2017 Meteorites 30th anniversary reviewLa Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation review
  5. May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon (US$180 for 50mL) – Another favourite face oil / balm is this blue cult favourite. I’ve talked about May’s products repeatedly on the blog, and I can’t rave about it enough with my friends. I love using this when my skin is feeling congested, as it has amazing healing and soothing properties. Compared to Vintner’s Daughter ABS, it’s lighter and more soothing, less nourishing. Both are moisturizing, but I like them for different purposes. I love using this to de-stress, and the scent alone calms me. Yes you need both, yes both are simply amazing.
  6. La Prairie Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Dry Oil* (C$430 for 30mL) – The last oil on this list, this relies on high tech and science, rather than natural botanicals. Different than the other two, I love this one for its versatility. It is a very lightweight oil that dries down almost immediately, with no residue or leftover greasy feeling. It’s fantastic for mixing in with your foundation or moisturizer, or used on its own. It also smells really fresh, and I love that for my mornings when I want something lighter. I mostly use this in the morning, compared to the other two that I use exclusively at night.
  7. Diptyque Room Spray (C$89 for 150mL) – I used to love burning candles, until I got my princess Noodles the Siamese cat, and then I got really paranoid about candles because she might hurt herself (or burn our home down if she accidentally knocks one over). I fell in love with Diptyque Room Spray on my trip to New York. The one I picked up was Baies (berries, which is scented with rose and blackcurrant), and it smells so good. One spritz is all you need for a medium sized room and it lasts a really long time. The bottle is pricey but we’ve used it every night since we’ve been back from New York and we’ve barely made a dent. I plan on picking up Figuier next; that was boyfriend’s preferred scent when we went to try it out, but I really loved Baies and have been wanting a Baies candle for a long time, so I had to get it. Well now I have an excuse to pick up Figuier too!
  8. Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser* (C$104 for 125mL) – The only cleanser on this list because I don’t generally believe in splurging in cleansers, but this one is SO GOOD. It’s a physical scrub and enzyme-based cleanser in one, and it’s pretty much the only physical scrub I use. I actually have the 50mL one because I couldn’t bear to spend over $100 on a cleanser, and I’ve been using it sparingly. I really love it, and you can also layer it with the Resurfacing Mask for a deeper cleanse.
  9. T3 Featherweight Blow Dryer (C$320) – I’ve never talked about this on my blog, but I have a T3 Dryer that I purchased from Sephora in 2012, and it’s still my favourite hair tool. I’ve used other blow dryers after that but I always still go back to this one. It’s lightweight, relatively quiet, hot, and dries my hair in record time. I have the older, original model, the current one is the Featherweight 2i, so I don’t know how this one performs, but I really love the original. With a good hair dryer, you save yourself a lot of time every time you wash your hair.
  10. Laura Mercier Body Souffle (C$72 for 355mL) – It’s a pain for me to say this because for a body cream, it is SO exorbitantly expensive. It is so good though, which is why I have to put it on this list. I purchased a set of six minis during the holidays, which came with six different “flavours” of the famous LM Body Souffle. I really wish I didn’t, but I fell in love so quickly that I had to buy the full size. Thankfully I did have the $20 VIB gift voucher from Sephora so I paid “only” $52 for this. I love this stuff because it’s so moisturizing, but it absorbs really quickly without feeling sticky. I have perpetually dry skin and this body moisturizer lasts until I wash it off, leaving my skin feel silky and hydrated, and also prevents itching. I compared it with the Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum cream that a lot of people are obsessing over, but I actually prefer this one. The Bum Bum cream leaves weird residue on my skin that never fully absorbs, whereas this one will absorb fully. Both smell AMAZING, but the Bum Bum cream scent will pretty much never dissipate, whereas this dissipates after an hour or so (which is my preference).

In terms of products I generally don’t prefer to spend too much money on, those are usually products that get washed off, such as cleansers or body washes. I review some luxury cleansers but only a select few will get the thumbs up from me, and usually because it does more than just cleanse. I generally use pretty inexpensive body products; I will buy LUSH shower gel but that’s pretty much it.

Facial mists are the other thing that I don’t spend too much money on, there are a select few that I think are worth the price (such May Lindstrom The Jasmine Garden), but I won’t necessarily go out of my way to purchase it. You can get pretty inexpensive facial mists that do the same thing, and I’d rather spend my money on something more potent like serums or moisturizers. I was recently gifted a tube of Marvis toothpaste. They are $12 for a small-ish size tube here. While it’s a nice splurge once in a while, I don’t think it’s a total necessity, and in my personal opinion, I’d rather buy cheap toothpaste, then pool the savings together over a year and buy myself a nice serum, you know?

What are some luxury splurges you love?

Products that were provided by PR are denoted with *, others were purchased by me. All opinions are my own.