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.

SKINCARE | La Prairie Essence of Skin Caviar Eye Complex… you don’t know how good it is until you stop!

La Prairie Essence of Skin Caviar Eye Complex review

Last summer, I got a nice raise and bonus at work, so I rewarded myself by buying myself a nice eye cream. I’ve always had really good luck with La Prairie skincare, so I picked up the La Prairie Essence of Skin Caviar Eye Complex (C$225 for 15mL). This is an eye serum that comes in the signature dark blue La Prairie bottle with a silver dropper. You can apply this alone, but they recommend that you apply this underneath their Skin Caviar Eye Cream.

The Essence of Skin Caviar Eye Complex has a lightweight clear gel texture. It sinks in super quickly into the eye area, and you really don’t need a lot for maximum spreadability. It sinks in completely, and works well alone or underneath your eye cream of choice. I am lazy, and I used this pretty much alone the entire time I owned it.

I’ve always been really bad at apply eye cream in the morning, and only apply at night, so my eye area is usually pretty dry throughout the day. Because of the lightweight texture, it really sinks in right away and I never feel like my eye area is heavy or greasy from eye cream. It also sits wonderfully under makeup.

Now here comes my revelation. When I was using this regularly, I was really not impressed. It was fine – basically just a fine eye product that did its job but I wasn’t sure if it was worth the price tag. My eye area was hydrated enough, and my lines were also somewhat smoother but not groundbreaking. Now, as soon as I finished using it and started using something else, I noticed a tremendous difference in how my eye area looked. It was almost… tired looking. I don’t generally get undereye dark circles but I noticed that my eye area looked not quite to dark circle level, but again tired. I had a tiny bit of the Essence of Skin Caviar Eye Complex left in the dropper, and I applied that back to my eye area, and then it went back to being hydrated, smoother, and brighter.

My experience was super puzzling, but then it just made me realize that La Prairie products really do work. They aren’t going to give you that WOW I just had an incredible skin procedure and now my skin looks amazing experience, but over time you can seriously tell the difference between using them and not using them.

This product is pretty pricey so I’m not sure I will immediately repurchase, but I can see myself going back to it again in the future. Because of the texture, a little bit can go quite a long ways, even if its used twice a day. I still have a little bit that I’ve just been trying to get out of the bottle. If you have an eye cream that you already use and love, this layers wonderfully underneath it as well.

Now if you’re interested in picking this up, you can grab it at Holt Renfrew. If you buy in store, make sure to ask for samples of other products as well because the girls are usually very good about giving samples with your purchase. You can try this out with the La Prairie Skin Caviar Eye Cream, and you’ll likely get an even more dramatic effect.

SKINCARE | DRUNK ELEPHANT A-Passioni Retinol Cream, C-Firma Day Serum, TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, and B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum reviews (part 2 of DE reviews)

DRUNK ELEPHANT A-Passioni Retinol Cream, C-Firma Day Serum, TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, and B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum reviews

I’m back with a few more Drunk Elephant skincare reviews! Today I’m talking about the good stuff, basically all of the products that got them to the top of everyone’s wishlists. The Drunk Elephant facial serums are some of the most popular on the market today, and for good reason. While in my last set of reviews, I was iffy about most of the products, I am happy to report that I am fans of pretty much everything I’m reviewing today.

The first is the highly anticipated A-Passioni Retinol Cream (C$92 for 30mL), which contains 1% vegan retinol. When Drunk Elephant first came out, retinol was on the list of “dangerous ingredients.” This was highly debated because retinol is one of the most researched ingredients in skincare, and is the ONLY skincare ingredient that is proven to actually work to reduce and prevent the signs of aging. Tiffany Masterson said that she read that retinol can’t be used during pregnancy, so she assumed that the ingredient must be “dangerous” in some way. Fortunately for us, she later did more research and found that retinol can actually be safely used (just not during pregnancy), so here we are with A-Passioni.

Drunk Elephant says that you can use this retinol cream as a booster, with Framboos at night or C-Firma during the day. I don’t necessarily agree with that, because retinol breaks down under sunlight so its just for better efficacy if used at night. Retinol can also sensitize the skin, which means I personally feel like it’s too much if used with glycolic acid. I would lay low on the other actives for the first few weeks while your skin is getting used to the strength of the retinol, and then once your skin is calming down a bit, either alternate with glycolic, or use a stronger peel 1-2x a week and then retinol the remaining nights.

I used this over Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Serum Ex and an essence lotion which I used as toner, and underneath moisturizer, at night only. After two straight nights of using this, my skin became super sensitive and red, and I decided to give my skin a 3-night break. On the 6th night, I added a few drops of Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum (an oil) to the A-Passioni and that seemed to help a lot in terms of drying and sensitivity. I still applied moisturizer on top, to maximize the hydration.

If you’re new at retinol, or if you’ve never used retinol of this strength before, I highly recommend taking it easy by either mixing it with an oil (such as DE’s own Marula Oil) or hydrating serum (such as B-Hydra). They do give you a small vial of B-Hydra in the same box as A-Passioni to facilitate those transitioning their skin to retinol. After a week or so, my skin was fully acclimatized to A-Passioni and I can use it alone without mixing with anything else, but always underneath a moisturizer. I highly recommend also picking up Lala Retro to use over A-Passioni.

After two weeks of using this product (not every night), even my mom commented on how bright, even, smooth, and generally healthier my skin looks. I ended up picking one up for her as well, because the results were so good, and I can’t wait to incorporate this into my wedding skincare routine.

The glycolic acid serum that has everyone talking is TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum (C$112 for 30mL). This is probably Drunk Elephant’s most popular product (before A-Passioni was released, of course). It contains a potent acid blend, including glycolic acid, tataric acid, lactic acid, citric acid, as well as salicylic acid. I had previously tried Drunk Elephant’s Suraki Babyfacial, which is a acid peel / mask. I quite enjoyed that, so I was looking forward to trying Framboos. It has a really lovely lightweight gel texture that absorbed easily onto my skin with no residue. Compared to other acid serums, I found that this one tingled slightly but didn’t sting, per se. After a week of using this (used separately and during a different period than A-Passioni), I could tell that my skin was smoother and brighter. The effect wasn’t as intense as A-Passioni, but for those with younger skin (early 20s and up), you probably don’t need retinol so this product would be perfect to help rejunvenate the skin.

Next we have C-Firma Day Serum (C$100 for 30mL), a day serum that contains 15% vitamin C in the form of L-Ascorbic Acid, plus ferulic acid, plus 1% vitamin E. Sound familiar? This is the blend for Skinceuticals C E Ferulic, one of the cult favourite vitamin C serums on the market, and 75% more expensive than C-Firma. The Drunk Elephant version also contains pumpkin ferment and pomegranate extract, mild chemical exfoliators, and hyaluronic acid, for hydration. I wrote previously that I really enjoyed using C E Ferulic, and I think I enjoy C-Firma more. The texture is very lightweight, and thinner than C E Ferulic.

The primary “issue” I had with this is I mentioned earlier that I’ve used a travel size of this from my Littles Kit that I purchased late last year, and the texture of the full size and the travel size are different. The travel size is way more watery, and also a darker orange tint, compared to the full size. I have heard that this product is prone to turning in the bottle, so it *could* be that, I am not sure though. Both applied fine on my skin, with the full size version slightly tackier on my skin than the travel sized version (which dried down non-tacky). I really enjoy using this, and even though it is a vitamin C serum, I find it actually hydrating enough to last me through the day with no discomfort. With other vitamin C serums, I tend to have to layer some hydrating serum on top.

An essential in everyone’s skincare kit is B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum (C$65 for 50mL). This is another product that I’ve discovered and fell in love with. I always keep a hydrating serum in my routine for a boost of water. My skin is so dry, so I need it morning and night. I love that this comes in a 50mL bottle because otherwise I’d run through a bottle of this much faster than the other serums I use. Despite it looking like it has a high price tag, most serums come in 30mL bottles so this is really comparable to other products in the C$39 (for 30mL) or so price range. This hydrating serum is so lightweight, absorbs quickly into my skin, but still very hydrating, leaving my skin feeling very comfortable and soothed. This is one of my favourite Drunk Elephant products because my skin just soaks it up. I also love mixing this with Lala Retro or A-Passioni for a boost of moisture.

Lastly, we also have the Dopp Kit (US$18), a super cute train case that was sent to me by Drunk Elephant and housed all of the products they sent. This is part of their Drunk Life collection, which is a range of lifestyle products featuring the Drunk Elephant logo. I’m not sure what Drunk Elephant is planning to do with this, because they are deviating from their skincare background and brand philosophy. I would much rather than focus their efforts on developing skincare. Yes this is a great way to make some extra money, but people see them as a skincare brand, not necessarily a lifestyle brand. More and more skincare brands are doing this, but it just confuses skincare enthusiasts like me. That being said, the Dopp Kit is super cute, very neon, and definitely very on brand with Drunk Elephant’s packaging. I can see myself taking this to the beach or on beach vacations, housing all of my product necessities. It can be a cute lunch box as well, if you’re into that retro look. The quality is not bad for $18, so if you’re looking for a train case like this, it might be worthwhile to check out.

While I didn’t enjoy most of the products in my other Drunk Elephant review post, I saved the best for this post because I honestly recommend all of the skincare items I reviewed here. Depending on what age group you’re in, you might want to take a more targeted approach to building your Drunk Elephant skincare routine:
– Under 20 – B-Hydra Serum, Lala Retro Moisturizer, and Marula Oil
– Between 20 and 30 – TLC Framboos, C-Firm, B-Hydra, Lala Retro, Marula Oil
– Over 30 – A-Passioni, TLC Framboos, C-Firm, B-Hydra, Lala Retro, Marula Oil

Which Drunk Elephant product do you want to try the most?

DRUNK ELEPHANT A-Passioni Retinol Cream, C-Firma Day Serum, TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, and B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum reviews
DRUNK ELEPHANT A-Passioni Retinol Cream, C-Firma Day Serum, TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, and B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum reviews

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

EXPERIENCE | Bioéthique Spa on 4th in Vancouver

Review of Bioéthique Spa on 4th in Vancouver

I love getting facials done, and in the last few years I’ve had them at quite a few places so I’d like to consider myself semi-knowledgeable about facials and the different styles available. There are the super skincare focused facials, the one where it targets your skin needs without much concern for relaxation. Those are usually the ones you find at medi-spas, or given using dermatologist brand products such as Dermalogica or Skinceuticals. And then on the other end of the spectrum, you have the ultra relaxing facial that focuses on mind and body experiences with less of a focus on piling all kinds of products on your skin during the facial. Depending on the state of my skin, and how well I think I’m taking care of it at the moment, I will prefer one or the other, or maybe something that’s more balanced (like the La Prairie facials that are some of my very favourite).

Bioéthique Spa is a spa on West 4th in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver. It’s a very small boutique with only one treatment room. This little spa only serves four clients a day, with ample time in between, so you almost never run into another client (unless you were running late like me and my appointment time went over). You never feel rushed, and the service is incredible from the moment you arrive (infused water, anyone?) to right before you leave (cold pressed juice and organic chocolates, yum). The space is gorgeous – very clean, minimalist, and calming. The founder of the spa, Claudine Michaud, also created her own organic skincare line, which is used at the spa and also available for purchase. The line is made in France, where there are much more stringent rules and regulations surrounding the “certified organic” label.

Review of Bioéthique Spa on 4th in Vancouver
Review of Bioéthique Spa on 4th in Vancouver

I was invited for 60 minute facial (C$125) with a 30 minute add-on to try one of their facial rejuvenation options. I was helped by Kara, who has the most soft-spoken voice. She cleansed and did a skin analysis on me to determine the most appropriate products to use for the treatment. Everyone’s treatment will vary depending on their skin condition. Mine was feeling congested that day so I got a deep detox mask done. I have pretty dry skin, so Kara prevented additional dryness by massaging in a layer of oil before applying the mud mask, and then keeping my skin moist with a warm mist machine which was directed right at my face. I loved the warm mist – I had a bit of a stuffy nose the day I went in for the facial and the warm mist really helped to clear my sinuses.

Bioéthique Spa offers three facial rejuvenation options – microdermabrasion, radio frequency, or LED light therapy. Kara gave me a mini microdermabrasion treatment, going over my face one time with the microdermabrasion machines. I also received a radio frequency eye treatment, where she applied a jelly to my eye area to act as a conductor, and then used radio frequency to help improve circulation, collagen production, and overall the general perki-ness of my eye area. I felt like these two together really complemented the 60 minute facial.

Review of Bioéthique Spa on 4th in Vancouver

In addition to the in-house developed organic skincare products, the biggest draw for me about Bioéthique Spa was how focused they were on client holistic experience. I had the most amazing head, face, neck, shoulder, arm, and upper back massage while we were waiting for the mask to finish up. A lot of other places that use face masks on their clients don’t provide massages, sometimes the esthetician leaves the room, or is cleaning up in the room, which can be distracting and not good value for the client (why pay someone for a facial when you can literally just slap the mask on at home yourself). There was basically no downtime at all, with Kara working on some part of my body at all times. In addition, the treatment bed and comforter are both incredibly comfortable. The comforter especially is a premium comforter, I could have slept all day there and woken up completely refreshed.

When I was done my treatment, in addition to feeling fresh-faced, I was also so relaxed and in general, happy. I generally like to get facials once a quarter to help address any skin concerns, and “normalize” my skin during the changing seasons. I also like to get massages because my body can get quite sore sitting at a desk all day. With a Bioéthique Spa facial, I honestly feel like I was able to achieve both benefits in just one session.

In addition to the 60 minute facial, Bioéthique Spa also offers a 90 minute facial (C$170), which includes another mask step, and a foot massage. If you’re really in for a day of relaxation, there’s a 2-hour facial option (C$275), which includes the full facial plus a full microdermabrasion and LED treatment session. Bioéthique Spa offers packages so you can save when you buy multiple sessions at once.

I had such a good time here that I immediately booked a follow-up session. While it is a bit out of the way for me, I didn’t mind the drive over on a Saturday morning and I left very happy. Highly recommend checking this place out if you are in Vancouver or plan on visiting Vancouver. You’ll want to book early because their Saturdays book up a month in advance.

Bioéthique Spa on 4th
3578 West 4th Ave.
Vancouver, B.C.
V6R 1N8
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Review of Bioéthique Spa on 4th in Vancouver
Review of Bioéthique Spa on 4th in Vancouver

Treatment was provided complimentary of Bioéthique Spa, but I liked it enough to book a paid follow-up treatment! All opinions are my own.

SKINCARE | DRUNK ELEPHANT Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, Shaba Complex Eye Serum, Lala Retro Whipped Cream, Virgin Marula Oil, and Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Sunscreen (Part 1 of 2 DE reviews)

DRUNK ELEPHANT Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, Shaba Complex Eye Serum, Lala Retro Whipped Cream, Virgin Marula Oil, and Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Sunscreen reviews

Today I am so happy to share with you the first of my two part reviews on the Drunk Elephant products I’ve had the pleasure to test out. For this post, I’m going to focus on the products that don’t contain the key active ingredients, i.e. the non-face serum ingredients. I used these products pretty much exclusively for a minimum of 2 weeks before I wrote up this review. Hopefully this will be helpful for those who are considering venturing into this brand.

Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser (C$42 for 150mL) was something I was curious about because I really love the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. While this cleanser is super gentle but still effective, I don’t love it. As a personal preference, I like something that is either cream, or super foamy. This cleanser is kind of in the middle – a watery gel that creates a flat foam that feels really watered down. It is very mild, which is great for a morning cleanse or for those with sensitive skin. I will still use this as my morning cleanse, but I wouldn’t be able to replace my everyday cleanser with this. I also find that it doesn’t work well with my FOREO Luna, again because it doesn’t foam up fully. I’d skip this.

Shaba Complex Eye Serum (C$72 for 15mL) is a milky eye serum that you can use alone or underneath the C-Tango Eye Cream. It contains copper peptides, edelweiss stem cell culture, black tea ferment, and sea buckthorn oil, a cocktail that is meant to prevent signs of aging, improve skin texture and radiance, and also hydrate. This was another Drunk Elephant product that I was meh about. I felt like it didn’t quite do anything to help my eye area. It was hydrating for sure, but I didn’t feel like my eye area was brighter, smoother, or firmer.

DRUNK ELEPHANT Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, Shaba Complex Eye Serum, Lala Retro Whipped Cream, Virgin Marula Oil, and Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Sunscreen reviews
DRUNK ELEPHANT Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, Shaba Complex Eye Serum, Lala Retro Whipped Cream, Virgin Marula Oil, and Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Sunscreen reviews

Lala Retro Whipped Cream (C$75 for 50mL) is one of the two moisturizers that Drunk Elephant offers. This is the more “basic” moisturizer that offers skin hydration and plumping benefits. I LOVE this moisturizer. The texture is incredibly smooth and refined, and feels pretty much like it’s described – a whipped cream. I have dry skin and this moisturizer is great for day and night. It sinks in perfectly, leaving my skin refreshed and plumped, with zero residue or heaviness. I definitely recommend that you pick this up if you are looking for a good moisturizer.

Virgin Marula Facial Oil (C$90 for 30mL) is somewhat of a hot debate item. It contains 100% unrefined marula kernel oil, which is great to help nourish and rejuvenate the skin. The debate isn’t about whether marula oil is good for you, rather, about the price that Drunk Elephant sells theirs at. Technically you can purchase marula oil from brands such as The Ordinary for a fraction of the price. I have my own thoughts about The Ordinary – while I haven’t tried their marula oil, I haven’t had any luck with any of the products I bought from them. I find it to be a waste of money if it isn’t working on your skin, regardless of the price point. That being said, I really like the Drunk Elephant Marula Oil. I find the texture to be lightweight yet still very nourishing on the skin. It’s great for mixing with Lala Retro, or used on top of everything as a last step. I bring the little bottle with me on my travels, and it’s wonderful for relieving airplane-wrecked skin. While I don’t know how this compares to other marula oils, I think everyone can decide for yourself whether the higher price point is worth it for you. I know that this little bottle will last me a loooong time, as a few drops will go a very long way. I also love to mix this with my body lotion for more intense moisture.

Lastly, we have the Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Sunscreen SPF 30 (C$42 for 50mL). This is a physical sunscreen, containing 20% zinc oxide. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I love my Japanese sunscreens, which wear completely invisible on the skin. Umbra Sheer isn’t quite invisible. It has a relatively thick, almost grainy texture. While it’s not super heavy, it’s also not invisible. I used this on my sunny vacation to Florida, and while I still tanned, I didn’t burn (I burn pretty easily). Also zinc oxide is much more ocean and coral friendly, so it makes this a great sunscreen for vacations.

I received the full size products as PR samples, but I also purchased The Littles Kit (C$110) for my trip to Florida late last year. I love that Drunk Elephant makes that little kit for those who are either new to the brand, or want to bring their entire Drunk Elephant routine with them on vacation. The products in the kit are perfect for 2-3 weeks of use, depending on how much you use each day, which is a good enough time for you to figure out which products you like and which ones you don’t. If you’ve never tried the brand before, I highly recommend picking up one of the Littles Kits to use.

Are there any Drunk Elephant products that catch your eye so far? Which ones have you used and loved?

Products received from PR for review consideration; all opinions are my own.

SKINCARE | AHA/BHA products featuring Neostrata, Drunk Elephant and Omorovicza

Review of Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial, Omorovicza Acid Fix, Omorovicza Silver Skin Savior, Neostrata Enlighten Dual Acid Brightening Peel review Neostrata Enlighten Dual Acid Brightening Peel

Happy New Year! I mentioned earlier that I looove using active ingredients in my skincare during the fall/winter months. Today I’m going to talk about some of the AHA/BHA products that I’ve been using. I generally love using retinol at night, and I prefer not to use retinol and acids during the same routine at night, so I tend to use my acids more as weekly / bi-weekly treatments.

The first one is the product that I cannot stop talking about. The Neostrata Enlighten Dual Acid Brightening Peel is one of my most used products lately, and something that I’ve been recommending to everyone who will listen to me. There are three formulas within the Dual Acid Peel, Brightening is just one of them. The other two are Anti-Aging, which contains peptides, and then Clarifying, which is great for acne-prone skin. This peel does such a great job at gently exfoliating my skin; my skin looks and feels brighter and softer immediately and for the next few days. This product is also incredibly easy to use – I drop 2 full pipettes of liquid onto a cotton pad, swipe all over my face and neck (avoiding the eye area because it does sting a bit), wait 20 minutes and then wash off. It is very easy to wash off too, not like another product that I will talk about in a bit. I use this 2x a week, and it’s pretty much the only exfoliation I do.

The next product was a mask that I was obsessed with before I discovered the Neostrata peel – the Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial (US$80). This mask contains 25% AHAs and 2% BHA, in the form of Glycolic, Tartaric, Lactic, Citric and Salicylic acids. This mask is so potent and the acid levels so high that it can’t even be sold in Canada. It comes in a gooey paste-like texture that you spread on your face and then wash off after 20 minutes. This mask is super effective and definitely does a fantastic job at making my skin looking clear and bright, but I don’t love the texture that much. The texture is sticky and feels a bit messy, but to apply and to wash off. While equally good in terms of efficacy compared to the Neostrata, it’s just not as convenient to use.

Review of Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial, Omorovicza Acid Fix, Omorovicza Silver Skin Savior, Neostrata Enlighten Dual Acid Brightening Peel review Neostrata Enlighten Dual Acid Brightening Peel

Omorovicza was kind to send me two of their newest acid products, the Acid Fix and the Silver Skin Savior. Acid Fix (C$140 for 30mL) is glycolic / salicylic / lactic acid peel is a product that’s layered underneath moisturizer, applied 2-3x a week at night. Of the three products reviewed, this is probably the easiest for anyone to integrate into their existing skincare routine (given that routine doesn’t already have an acid component). I actually find this super gentle on the skin. It’s a great, gentle acid exfoliator that leaves my skin soft and bright, but there isn’t such a wow factor because it’s not a peel. If you have more sensitive skin, this one would be a better match for your skin because it’s not so abrasive.

Silver Skin Savior (C$150 for 50mL) is a salicylic / glycolic acid treatment. Advertised as a treatment for acne-prone skin due to the inclusion of colloidial silver, which is a fantastic anti-bacterial ingredient, I actually use this as an acid peel. The third and fourth ingredients are glycolic acid and niacinamide, which means I am pretty much guaranteed to have a good time. The first time I used this, it stung pretty bad and my skin was a bit red and sensitive after, but the next morning I woke up to the smoothest, most glowy skin. My foundation went on easily and it also wore very well all day. The next few times, my skin reacted less to it, and I haven’t had my skin go red on me again.

My top choice in terms of ease of use, product efficacy, and value is the Neostrata peel. It works so well and is priced just right. While I love Omorovicza Silver Skin Savior, it is on the pricey side and isn’t as easy to use as the Neostrata. I also really enjoy using Acid Fix as it’s very easy to integrate into an existing routine. If I had to choose one as a must-buy, the Neostrata for sure, but if you can afford Silver Skin Savior, definitely look into that one too. I was really in love with Sukari Babyfacial when I first tried it, but I definitely don’t like the texture. Out of all of these, I’d probably say skip the Drunk Elephant.

Neostrata and Omorovicza were sent by PR for review consideration, I purchased the Drunk Elephant myself. All opinions are my own.

 

SKINCARE | La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream Sheer

La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream Sheer review

Recently, La Prairie reformulated their Skin Caviar Luxe Cream and Luxe Cream Sheer (C$630 for 50mL) to contain Caviar Premier, their most concentrated and potent form of anti-aging ingredient which includes a blend of seven active ingredients plus Caviar Extract. Not only that, but it also contains AHAs to help gently exfoliate and smooth the skin. This is so important because a lot of anti-aging products on the market only have that anti-aging ingredient or extract, but AHAs are some of the best partners to anti-aging ingredients because it can help slough away the dead skin to help the anti-aging ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin.

I’ve been playing with this Luxe Cream Sheer for a while, using it primarily as a day cream. Compared to their regular Luxe Cream, the Sheer formula is much lighter and more like whipped milk rather than a cream. As a day cream, it sits wonderfully underneath my foundation, keeping my skin feeling hydrated and supple. In the winter, this isn’t moisturizing enough for me to use as a night cream (I’m currently using Creme de la Mer which is very heavy… that’s the type of texture I enjoy at night). Comparing the Luxe Cream and the Sheer, the Sheer formula is definitely better for someone with normal, combo, or oily skin, or if you like a lighter moisturizer that isn’t a cream or a gel. Dry and normal skin types will enjoy the Luxe Cream formula better, as it is a balmy cream that is just beautiful on the skin.

In terms of efficacy after a few weeks, I don’t know if I noticed a huge difference in how my skin looks overall. My skin looks and feels fresh, and comfortable, but not necessarily reflective of the high price tag. That being said, I’ve had experiences with La Prairie products before where your skin looks good and it’s not a huge improvement from before, but once you stop using it and start something else, you notice a huge difference with and without La Prairie, so you really don’t know how good you have it until you lose it.

Another thing to note is that La Prairie Skin Caviar products are all heavily scented. I really enjoy a bit of the Skin Caviar scent, but when it lingers a bit too long, that’s when I start not loving it so much. The Skin Caviar Luxe Cream Sheer does have a bit of that fragrance but I find it dissipates pretty quickly. If you are highly sensitive to fragrances, you might want to avoid this.

I don’t know if anyone really *needs* this. I’m sure there are creams out there at a fraction of the price that is equally or almost equally as good, but if you love the La Prairie experience (scent, packaging, shopping experience, premium ingredients, etc.), you’re getting the full package with the Skin Caviar Luxe Cream Sheer. I personally do love that La Prairie experience, so I’ve saved some of this cream for my wedding skin prep.

You can pick up La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream Sheer at Holt Renfrew.

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

TRAVEL | Cruising for the first time with Celebrity Cruises


For our five year anniversary, the boyfriend and I took our very first cruise together. It was also our first time visiting Florida, leaving from Fort Lauderdale, with stops in Key West and Nassau, and returning back to Fort Lauderdale after four nights. The ship we were on was the Celebrity Infinity, which is one of their older, smaller ships.

As a first time cruiser, the four nights was long enough to get a taste of cruising. We booked a veranda (balcony) room that had gorgeous views of the Caribbean Sea. We really enjoyed our time on the ship, but we’re not sure we’ll go back anytime soon. I’ve summarized my top pros and cons for anyone who is considering taking a cruise.

Pros

1. It’s a fantastic way to see the world from the comforts of a ship

We boarded the ship from Fort Lauderdale, stopped at Key West and Nassau, and came back to Fort Lauderdale. We’ve never been to any of those cities, so for us it was a great way to see all of the cities without being too exhausted. We love the Caribbean, all of our tropical vacations have been to this area because the waters are just so beautiful and turquoise. There are also so many islands in this area that makes it hard to visit all of them without breaking the bank. A cruise ship is a fantastic and easy way to jump on one vessel that will take you to all of these islands. The cruise company basically helps plan your vacations for you via their onshore excursions as well, so everything is easy in one straightforward package.

2. The food and service are amazing

Different from an all-inclusive resort where you might only get 3 non-buffet meals per week of stay, you can actually eat all of your meals at a 3-course, sit down, a la carte restaurant on a cruise (except for the lunches that are stopped at a port). We ate most of our meals in the main dining room, and the food was downright amazing. We basically ate like kings all 4.5 days we were on the ship. Each meal was a 3-course meal with appy, main, and dessert, and each dish was similar to what I’d get if I went to a semi high end restaurant. Some of the menu options included steak, prawns, lobster, scallops, lamb chops, jerk chicken, and more. Each night, half the menu changes with a new rotation of dishes to try. If you’re a purist, there are also menu items that stay the same every night. My boyfriend had steak 3 nights in a row.

The service is also some of the best I’ve ever had. Our server in the main restaurant took such good care of us. I love lobster, and he offered to bring me an extra lobster tail on the night they served lobster. Our drink server at the main restaurant remembered my drink orders every night and would offer to bring it for me the next night. Everything was just so attentive.

There is a lot of entertainment on the ship, and we went to a few shows and club nights. All of the people hosting these events were so lively and full of energy, and seemed to genuinely want people to have a good time.

3. It can be an inexpensive all-inclusive vacation

We love all-inclusive vacations to Mexico. We both work quite a bit so we love just relaxing and lounging and doing nothing when we’re on vacation. We figured cruising is another great way to do that. For a 4 night cruise, we paid around C$700, which is not bad when taking into consideration our room level (veranda, versus inside or just oceanview), and all of the food and amenities on board.

When we booked our cruise, Celebrity was doing a promotion where you can pick two out of four “perks,” to enjoy on board. The options were free pre-paid gratuities; drink and alcohol package; internet package; and $300 on board credit for the cabin. We picked the drink and alcohol package, which means all of our drinks on board were now free (normally they are not), and also the on board credit, which means we were able to book our excursions essentially for free. Even after booking our excursions, we still had money leftover in credits to pay for the gratuities, which means that those were “free” (to us) as well. The only thing we didn’t have was the internet, which is fine because we just unplugged for a few days which was a nice change.

Cons

1. The other cruisers aren’t always the most pleasant people

I’m not sure if its just because we left from Florida, but the other guests we encountered on the cruise were some of the most unpleasant people we’ve ever met on vacation. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone was unpleasant, some of them were extremely nice, but there were enough unpleasant encounters to put us off cruising forever.

Some examples of the people we met include people who made the server (who is from Indonesia and has an accent) repeat stuff over and over again because they kept saying they couldn’t understand him. We had the same server and we understood him just fine! Another woman tapped her room card on the counter when the service was slow, and kept sighing loudly. We were in line in front of her so imagine how we felt. The elevators were pretty busy on some nights, and when we were in the elevator one time, it kept stopping at different floors to let people out, and this one lady complained loudly that the elevator was servicing people other than her.

Like I mentioned earlier, the service on the cruise was for the most part very good, way better than the all-inclusive resorts we’ve been to, but the other guests’s entitled and rude attitude really are making us think twice about cruising again.

2. While you are on the water, you’re not close to a beach

One of the things we love doing is being on the beach. While you are on the water, the beach isn’t always super accessible. We thought we would have more opportunities to go to the beach, but we really only had one day where we were at the beach. There is a pool on the ship but it is very small and very busy, so we didn’t use that and mostly opted to sit on our private balcony. We missed being at the beach, and the one day we were able to swim in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean was such a wonderful experience.

Overall

I did have a generally positive experience. I would highly recommend splurging a little bit and getting the veranda room. There is nothing compared to waking up in the morning and having breakfast in your robe, sitting on your private balcony, and overlooking the blue waters. Room service is included in your base rate, and we definitely took advantage of this pretty much every morning.

I think next time if we were to do another cruise, we might try the pacific coast, leaving from LA to go down to Mexico. While we do love the Caribbean, at certain times of the year there are no direct flights from Vancouver to Florida, so the transit there was brutal.

We had a great time cruising with Celebrity, and I would definitely cruise with them again (if we do decide to do another one).