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.

SKINCARE | Daytime and nighttime routine update featuring Omorovicza, Eve Lom, and Verso

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Hello and happy 2020! I took a bit of a blogging hiatus towards the end of 2019 because honestly I was running low on inspiration, and I’d rather not publish unless I had something really good to say. To start off my blog in 2020, I wanted to share a skincare update with you on the products I’ve been using the last few weeks and months.

Daytime

Omorovicza Daily Vitamin C Serum

I’m on the fence about the Daily Vitamin C Serum from Omorovicza (C$200 for 30mL). I do like how lightweight and silky this makes my skin feel, and a little bit goes a long way, but I found that under a lot of products, it pills. I love the lightweight citrus scent, and while it’s not medical grade vitamin C (unlike Skinceuticals or AlumierMD), I do find a bit of comfort knowing that I’m still using this as an anti-oxidant during the day. I likely won’t repurchase this as it is also super pricey for being just okay.

You can purchase Omorovicza at Sephora and Nordstrom.

Eve Lom Radiance Antioxidant Eye Cream

Full disclosure – I’ve only been using the Radiance Antioxidant Eye Cream (C$98 for 15mL) for about a week but I am pretty happy with it so far. I ran out of my normal eye cream (from La Prairie) a few weeks ago and I’ve been going without a daytime eye cream just because I’m lazy, and was relying on my Verso eye serum. I’ve had great experiences with Eve Lom skincare in the past and this one is no different. I love the balmy texture that is moisturizing without being greasy. I use this as my “eye moisturizer” on top of the Vichy Mineral 89 Yeux and they work wonders together. I don’t notice that it minimizes wrinkles or anything but I do feel like it reduces the creation of additional fine lines.

Eve Lom Moisture Cream

Similar to the above, I’ve only been using the Moisture Cream (C$210 for 50mL) for about a week and I am absolutely IN LOVE with this. It is such an interesting gel-ish thick cream texture that is super moisturizing but still very lightweight. It has lavender in it, which not everyone enjoys, but I adore. I’ve been using this primarily as my day cream but I also use it at night on the evenings where I am taking a break from Verso. It works great both under makeup and as a rich night cream for my super dry and dehydrated skin. If you buy anything from what I’ve reviewed today, this has to be it (unless you hate lavender, then you should stay far away from this).

You can purchase Eve Lom at Shoppers Drug Mart.

Nighttime

I switched the majority of my nighttime routine to Verso towards the end of November / beginning of December last year. After about a month of using them, I’m really liking the state of my skin. This is the first time I’ve ever used a retinoid eye product and moisturizer. Historically I’ve only used retinol or retinoid serums or facial oils.

Verso Super Eye Serum

The Verso Super Eye Serum (C$110 for 30mL) is a lightweight milky gel texture. A little bit goes a super long way. I apply this at night only and I use it about five days a week, or two to three days on and then one day off (using the Eve Lom Eye Cream above) to give my eye area a break). I really like the texture of this serum but I don’t know if I feel like it’s doing much to my eye area. I feel like it is a bit too gentle to actually make a difference, but it also causes sensitivity if I use it too many days in a row. I would skip this.

Verso Super Facial Serum

The Verso Super Facial Serum (C$175 for 30mL) is a thick serum that is ultra creamy and relatively moisturizing for a retinoid-based product. I use this about 5-6 days a week, with a one day break. I really like how gentle it is that I can use more regularly compared to other retinol products. It really does work. I feel like my skin is a lot smoother and softer over time. It does cause a bit of sensitivity if I use it without a break, but I found that I can get away with just a one day break per week. If you have ultra sensitive skin, you may want to take additional breaks.

Verso Night Cream

The Verso Night Cream (C$145 for 50mL) is my favourite of the three products. It is a super rich night cream that still is moisturizing but not greasy, and still absorbs quickly. When used with the face serum, I wake up with smooth, glowy skin that is a great base for makeup. Similar to the Facial Serum, I like that it is a lot gentler compared to straight up retinol products, and I can use it pretty much every night (I also take a one day break with this each week). Slow and steady wins the game – now I can get all the benefits of a retinol-like product without the dryness.

You can purchase Verso products at Holt Renfrew.

All products were provided by PR for review consideration. All opinions are my own.

SKINCARE | Blush and navy wedding skincare featuring Suqqu, La Prairie, Laneige, Halo Beauty, and Nivea

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Ever since we picked blush and navy to be our wedding colours, I’ve been subconsciously drawn to skincare products packaged in these colours. Today I wanted to share with you some of the products that I’ve been (still) enjoying in my skincare routine as I prepare my skin for our big day!

The first is Suqqu Moisture Repair Essence N. This product I added to my routine in early September as the weather was just starting to turn cold in Vancouver. My skin isn’t perpetually dry and dehydrated and I needed an extra moisture serum step to help boost my skins hydration level. I purchased this in London when I was there last summer, and so far I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s such a lightweight hydrating serum that works perfectly over my retinol. I love this under my La Prairie moisturizer too. With my dry skin I’ve been expecting it to peel once I restarted using retinol, but I haven’t had any redness or peeling.

I previously wrote about the La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream Sheer, and I’m still loving it. While with the colder weather, it’s not quite enough hydration for my dry skin (hence the layering with the Suqqu serum), I love how it absorbs so quickly into my skin leaving no residue behind. While I love a rich moisturizer, some of them do leave behind a residue, but thankfully this does not. My skin feels firmer and smoother with every week of using this cream, featuring the new Caviar Premier which launched earlier this year.

I have perpetually dry lips but when I was in Vegas earlier this year, I picked up this mini size of the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. I LOVE THIS STUFF! It’s been absolutely amazing for my dry lips. My lips used to peel and crack regularly but with this lip mask applied every night, I haven’t had any issues at all with dryness. I also bought the day gloss / balm and while it’s great for on-the-go, I still prefer this one since it works the best on me.

In terms of general skin, nail and hair health, I started using Halo Beauty Hair, Skin and Nails Booster this year. I was using it off and on (which you’re not supposed to do since it won’t maximize the benefits), but when I am using it, I definitely see and feel a difference. I was on the keto diet earlier this year and I had been experiencing some hair fallout. While I feel like this didn’t stop the fallout, this did make my hair grow back at an alarmingly fast rate. I also noticed the random dry patches on my skin have been disappearing. Recently I’m back on HSN Booster on a regular basis because I’ve been really stressed out from work so my scalp has been really dry and flakey.  I’m hoping that this will help.

Lastly, an oldie but goodie is the Nivea Firming Body Oil. I’ve taken FOREVER to use up this entire bottle, and sometimes I do forgo this in favour of other, more interesting body lotions, but I always come back to this one eventually because it works. I love how fast it dries on my skin, how it doesn’t leave a residue, the amazing and comforting smell, and how it’s great for the colder months. I wanted to pick up another bottle but I don’t think they sell this anymore… so sad!

As I continue further into my wedding prep and get closer to the big day, I’ll be sharing more skincare prep ideas and product reviews with you! I’m so happy to be back writing skincare reviews, it really does bring me the most joy and I hope you enjoy reading them too!

La Prairie and Nivea were PR samples. Everything else was purchased with my own money or received as a retail gift with purchase. All opinions are my own.

MAKEUP | Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation

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I wasn’t intending on reviewing this foundation, but I’ve been seeing nothing but raves about it (mostly from girls who received this in their Influenster box or as PR samples) so I felt it was only right to share my views. I’m talking about the recently(ish) released Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE CHARLOTTE TILBURY. I have to yell that at the top of my lungs because it is true. Her products have quickly become an absolute staple in my makeup kit, for example her pressed powder is the first pressed powder I ever finished. I also use several of her other complexion products because most of them are AMAZING. That being said, the Airbrush Flawless Foundation has failed me in many many ways.

The TL;DR version of it is that it oxidizes poorly, sinks into pores, and doesn’t sit well on my dry skin.

The shade I have, which I received from Sephora as a deluxe sample with purchase, is 4 Neutral. When it goes on my face, it is way too light, as if I’m wearing a mask, but 20-30 minutes later, the shade has oxidized to the point of it being perfectly suited for my skin. A foundation should not oxidize that much, especially since I have dry skin so it’s not like it’s mixing with the oils on my skin to create something else. The brand says this is the foundation ‘adjusting’ to you skin, but really it’s just oxidizing. I don’t own any other foundations that oxidize like this, which is several shades deeper than what it looks like out of the bottle.

The first thing I noticed wasn’t even the oxidization, but rather how much this stuff sinks into pores. Again I reiterate I have dry skin, and I generally have pretty poreless skin. I’ve never owned a foundation like this that accentuated all of my pores, especially on my nose and cheek area. Thankfully I wear glasses so that area is a bit harder to see, but I know it’s there, and it’s not pretty. Charlotte Tilbury says to use this over the Magic Cream, which I haven’t tried yet and don’t plan on trying. I don’t need to use a specific skincare routine to make my foundation work – it shouldn’t be like that. I did try this over the Wonder Glow, which is Charlotte’s primer, and even then it sunk deep into my pores.

Charlotte advertises this as a hydrating foundation for those with dry skin. Unfortunately I didn’t find this to be the case at all. My skin felt dry and tight when I used this, and not skin relieving or hydrating. Even the long-wearing foundations I have that aren’t supposed to be hydrating feel more comfortable on my skin than this one. I didn’t change up my skincare routine at all when I used this, and even added a hydrating serum at night (which was washed off in the morning) to help my skin feel more comfortable. Unfortunately my skin was still dry feeling.

I’m not really sure how Charlotte got it so wrong this time. I have the Hollywood Flawless Filter and I love it. I also have the Light Wonder foundation and I also use that once in a while; it’s not my go-to foundation but it fills a need in my foundation collection.

If you’re looking for a foundation, stay far away from this one. I rarely write about a product with no redeeming qualities, but unfortunately this is one of them.

NAILS | CND Treasured Moments collection

If you’ve been following along for a while, you’ll know that CND makes my favourite nail polish formula – the Vinylux. I’ve spoken about them countless times in the past on the blog. I love how long wearing the formula is (they usually can last up to 2 weeks without chipping), the seamless and flawless application, as well as its lack of a strong nail polish scent. Once in a while I would go try out another nail polish brand and it would literally stink up my entire house, so I’m thankful that CND can deliver such a beautiful formula without the pungent scent.

Now that we’re in the swing of fall, CND has released a fall-appropriate Treasured Moments collection, featuring five gorgeous shades that were inspired by the memories of childhood and growing up.

The shades are:

  • Baby Smile – the most perfect peachy nude shade
  • Secret Diary – a rich violet
  • First Love – a creamy raspberry red
  • Cap & Gown – an olive green
  • B-Day Candle – a rich orange

I had the absolute pleasure of getting my nails done at Onyx Aesthetics Studio in Gastown, which not only is a CND salon, meaning that they use exclusively CND products, but is also the only nail salon I go to for special occasions where I need to absolutely trust the esthetician (for example for my engagement photos!). Whenever I get nail art done on my hands, I generally let the artist have free reign on the design. I’m absolutely in love with the Picasso-inspired art that the artist created on my nails. She used Baby Smile as the base, and accented with First Love and B-Day Candle. It was such a treat and I couldn’t stop staring at my nails.

You can purchase CND products at Onyx if you’re in Vancouver. Alternatively they can be purchased at your local salon, Chatters salons, and Trade Secrets stores.

Product received for review consideration. Manicure service and nail art were provided complimentary of CND and Onyx. All opinions are my own.

SKINCARE | Recent product hits and duds featuring Herbivore Botanicals, Apothekari Skincare, Caudalie, May Coop and Elemis

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I haven’t written about skincare in a while but I wanted to share some quick thoughts on a few products I’ve been using lately.

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Herbivore Botanicals Bakuchiol Serum

I got a free deluxe mini bottle of this when I placed an Herbivore order during their 30% off sale. I used this every night for a few weeks and I didn’t see any major benefits to my skin at all. It was lightly hydrating, and the texture was soothing, but other than that I wouldn’t say it’s a very effective anti-aging serum. I personally feel like if you are pregnant or are majorly adverse to using stronger ingredients such as actual retinol, or you have very sensitive skin, or you just want all of your skincare to be 100% clean, then you might enjoy this because you can feel like you’re using an effective anti-aging ingredient. Otherwise, I wouldn’t get this over something else that’s more potent.

Repurchase? Nope.

Herbivore Botanicals Pink Cloud Moisturizer

Another dud from Herbivore Botanicals is their Pink Cloud Moisturizer. I purchased this last November during the Sephora VIB sale, and started using it at the beginning of July, and by then the jar had already mostly dried up to a point of it being a thick cream instead of a more whipped texture. In addition to not being moisturizing on me at all, it also broke me out. I loved the subtle rose scent, which was the only thing it had going for it.

Repurchase? Heck no.

Herbivore Botanicals Prism Serum

I ordered this because I love chemical exfoliants and this one contains a blend of fruit acids. Well similar to the Pink Cloud Moisturizer, it sat in the box for 8 months (unopened) and turned a weird brown murky colour. I still used it for a few days (according to the Herbivore Instagram account, the product is still good to use, and the colour change is just cosmetic) but I literally felt nothing from this. Maybe if you’re just starting out with acid exfoliators, you could give this one a go, but the fact that it turned bad before even the one year mark, combined with how it didn’t do anything for my skin at all, dissuades me from recommending this to anyone.

Repurchase? No

Herbivore Botanicals Rose Hibiscus Coconut Spray

The only item from Herbivore that I seem to be getting along with is the Rose Hibiscus Coconut Spray. It smells subtly rosy, which I am enjoying. It’s not super hydrating, which is a bummer, but it does feel really refreshing on the skin. It sinks in completely with no residue, making it a good candidate as a post-makeup setting spray too.

Repurchase? Maybe, but probably not because there are other products out there that can do better.

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Apothekari Skincare Bespoke Vitamin C 10% Serum

I received this from the Apothekari brand. I’ve known about this local Vancouver brand for years but it was my first time trying their products. The founder is a pharmacist and created this brand for people who are looking for active ingredients without certain harmful ingredients. The Bespoke Vitamin C 10% serum was custom mixed for me once it was confirmed that I wanted to try this product. With this product, they don’t mix everything together until it is confirmed that a client is ordering it, which means everything is ultra fresh.

I’ve tested several Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid combo serums in the last few years, including the very famous CE Ferulic by Skinceuticals, and I honestly have to say this one is my favourite. The texture is funny, almost goopy like aloe gel, but it feels super soothing and hydrating on the skin. As a vitamin C serum, I apply this on my face pretty much every morning and it doesn’t feel sticky or leave my skin with an orange tinge. I would highly recommend that you check this out if you are in the market for a Vitamin C serum, especially if you’ve been interested in the Skinceuticals one for a while. This is $95 which is a lot more affordable than the Skinceuticals version.

Repurchase? Absolutely yes.

Apothekari Skincare A is for Anti-Aging Retinal Serum

Retinal is Retinaldehyde, a derivative of retinol. Per Apothekari, retinal is the “ultimate retinoid because it is the direct precursor to Retinoic Acid, the form of Vitamin A.” I haven’t looked too much into the science of it, but this is supposed to be a gentler version of retinol. In addition to retinal, it also includes one of my favourite skincare ingredients Niacinamide at a 5% concentration.

This serum is an interesting yellow, creamy texture. It goes on smooth underneath my moisturizer without giving me a yellow tinge. I love that it absorbs super quickly, and is not as drying as regular retinol. The effects aren’t as immediate as regular retinol either, which is good and bad depending on what your skincare preference is. I personally like instant gratification, which is why I’m obsessed with regular retinol. I do see that my skin is smoother and brighter over time, but it’s just not an immediate benefit.

Repurchase? Maybe. At this point in my skincare life, I personally prefer something stronger like retinol because my skin can take it right now, but I definitely will repurchase if my skin becomes sensitive later on and I need something gentler.

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Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Essence

I received this from Caudalie PR and I love it so much, I have it saved on my Sephora Loves list. This is such a great lightweight essence lotion / toner for the summer months! I love the thinner texture which makes it great as a toner but also as a gently brightening essence. The scent is super subtle and very refreshing. I use this primarily in the morning but I also use it at night if I feel like my skin can use a bit of a kick. This is probably the most comparable essence lotion to the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence that I have found, which is amazing because this is a fraction of the price of SK-II.

Repurchase? Already on my list!

May Coop Raw Sauce

I love essence lotions and when I saw a promotion on May Coop’s popular Raw Sauce, I ordered myself a bottle to use in the mornings. This has a really thick serum-y texture which absorbs quickly. The trick is not to use a lot, otherwise you end up feeling sticky. I noticed an immediate boost in hydrating in just 1-2 days of use, and then my skin also feels way more comfortable and even. I had a pimple on my chin that was taking a while to heel but for some reason this really helped heel that as well. I haven’t used this enough to see the long term benefits, but in just the few short weeks I’ve had it, I’m already starting to be a believer.

Repurchase? Yes! It’s so affordable too.

Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream

This full size jar came in the Elemis advent calendar I ordered last year. I’ve been using this as a daytime moisturizer and I’m a big fan. It has such a nice lightweight gel cream texture, soaks in immediately, is super hydrating, layers well with other products, and creates a good base for foundation. While this is advertised as a day cream (there’s a separate night cream that’s supposed to be thicker), you can absolutely use this as a night cream as well. I don’t think I’ve noticed significant anti-aging benefits, but I do feel like my skin is nicely hydrated all the time and more plump. The only thing I don’t love about it is the jar – I feel like the formula is light enough to be in a pump or squeeze bottle. That being said, you can easily get every last drop of this cream from the jar.

Repurchase? Very likely.

PR products include Caudalie and Apothekari, everything else was purchased with my own money. I do not use affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

BAG REVIEW | Saint Laurent Large Kate in the black leather with gold hardware

I love reading / watching bag reviews, so I’m going to slowly go through my handbag collection and review some of my favourite bags for you! I’m starting off with the Saint Laurent Kate bag in the size Large in grained leather and gold hardware. The Saint Laurent Kate has been around for a while now, and it has a pretty popular following. It comes in two styles – one with tassel and one without. Its available in multiple sizes, from small, medium, and large, as well as in variety of leathers, such as smooth calfskin, this type of caviar-like grained calfskin, lizard skin, paired with different hardwares such as silver, antique brushed metal, and gold.

The large size was newly introduced two years ago, and at the time of me purchasing mine it came in only two colours, black and grey, both in the pebbledcaviar leather. Over time and in certain seasons, more colours and leather variations were introduced. The calfskin is also treated to give it a tiny bit of shine (not patent), which helps to repel water.

I’ve had mine since May 2017 and I’ve worn it a TON. I use this as an everyday bag. It is slightly too big to be an evening bag, but I’ve still carried it to weddings with me and it’s not too awkward. The gold hardware makes it look classy. With the rain in Vancouver, this bag is actually fantastic because of the coated leather. I’ve been caught in the rain several times with this and I just wipe it wipe it dry as soon as I get a chance, and there has been zero signs of wear or water damage.

In terms of size, it’s is approximately same width as a Chanel Jumbo, a little shorter in height, and a flatter in depth. It is also significantly lighter, because it doesn’t have the double flap and also because of the lighter single chain. The leather is very thick, and actually very stiff at first, but it does soften a tiny bit to allow you to put more stuff in it. The thick and stiff leather helps the bag hold its shape amazingly well, and I haven’t experienced any sagging, stretching, or issues with it so far.

I don’t carry much with me every day, just my wallet (currently the LV Victorine), LV 6-key holder, iPhone X, earbuds, transit pass, and a mini hand cream. This bag fits everything perfectly and still keeps its shape.

I’m about 5’6 and a half, and the chain length is perfect for me to wear on the shoulder and the bag hits me right at the hip. It’s a very comfortable length, and this is how I prefer to wear it. If you’re desperate, you can also wear it cross-body. It hits me very high on the waist when worn cross-body but sometimes if I’m tired and carrying groceries or something, I’d glad that this is an option even if it’s not the ideal way to wear it. I’ve seen some people double up the strap to wear in the curve of the arm, but I don’t want to do that because I’m worried that the chain will rub onto the side of the bag causing the piping to get scratched off.

In terms of wear and tear, because it has a grained caviar finish, it holds up very well to wear. I haven’t noticed a single scratch, and any marks I just wipe clean with a damp cloth. I’ve had mine for almost two years and it still looks brand new.

When I got my Chanel Jumbo in the black caviar and gold hardware, I felt a tinge of regret about the Saint Laurent because they are both very similar sizes and I would use them for similar purposes. Despite that, I still use my Kate bag more because it is a lot lighter than my Chanel, and it is also a lot more durable in the rain. I would NOT want to be caught in the rain with my Chanel because it is Chanel. The YSL is also more versatile to pair with outfits, can be worn very casually or dressed up, and even though the YSL logo is quite big at the front of the bag, it doesn’t give off that vibe that you get from a Chanel bag.

I definitely think that the Saint Laurent Kate is an easy option to carry on a day-to-day basis because it’s just the right size to fit what I want and it has also proven itself to be extremely durable.

In terms of pricing, the Saint Laurent Large Kate retailed for approximately C$3,100 when I purchased mine. I was able to get a slight discount from my friend and personal shopper Claire (Orchmelia on Instagram), so I paid around C$2,800.

Hopefully this review was helpful! I’ll have a few more coming soon.

SKINCARE | The most overhyped moisturizer of all time

Creme de la Mer review

Today I have a review of a luxury facial moisturizer that is infamous for being used by celebrities as body cream – yes I am talking about Creme de la Mer. I’ve been lusting after the original Creme de la Mer for over a year, so last fall I finally took the plunge and picked up a 30mL jar. It was C$230… an astronomical price for something with pretty basic ingredients. I fell in love with this product for two reasons – the smell, which is incredibly fresh and powdery and relaxes me completely; and the texture.

A lot of the reviews say that Creme de la Mer is so thick that it causes breakouts and congestion. It is indeed very thick, a balm-cream texture that is hard to spread around, however there is actually a right way and a wrong way to apply this. The right way is to take a pea-sized amount, warm it up on your palms, and then press into the skin. You notice a significant difference when you take the time to warm and melt the cream in your palms, which then allows it to soften into a gorgeous light balm which will then beautifully envelop your skin. I don’t always take the time to melt it (you really want to take your time to warm it), so application is iffy on most evenings. I also found that it doesn’t work well for facial massage, because you’re only really supposed to apply a tiny bit and just enough to thinly cover your skin, so when I try to massage with it, I either overapply or my hands drag on my face, which is not ideal.

Going back to the smell, it really is such a wonderful comforting scent. A lot of people might think it smells like old lady, and I can definitely understand why. It is a soft floral powder, which tends to bring a lot of people back to their grandma’s perfume. That being said though, the smell dissipates after a few minutes, and you can’t smell it anymore after.

Creme de la Mer review

In terms of efficacy, this really is just a very basic moisturizer. It’s really not that hydrating – my skin is very dehydrated so I tend to have to apply a hydrating serum before apply thing (usually a few drops of hyaluronic serum). You really have to be careful not to overapply, otherwise you will get congestion and some breakouts. I didn’t notice that my lines or wrinkles had been reduced, and I didn’t notice an increase in hydration over time or anything either. The one good thing I do like about this is that it is really good at protecting skin. The original story behind La Mer (which has since been disputed and called into question) was that it was developed by some scientist to help people with skin burns. While I didn’t have any skin burns, my skin was peeling due to the A-Passioni retinol that I was using, and I found that this was definitely helpful in helping my skin heel. While most other products stung my sensitive skin at the time, Creme de la Mer did not and was very soothing on my skin.

Would I recommend / repurchase? Definitely not. The 30mL is lasting me quite a while (I’ve been using this for over 2 months now and still around 1/4 of the 30mL jar left), so I’ll just enjoy this and then move on to something more effective. The experience was nice, and I’m glad I did try it out so I wouldn’t forever be lemming after this, but ultimately I don’t think it’s worth the price tag.