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

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

Face:

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

Eyes:

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

Cheeks:

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

Lips:

  • Lisa Eldridge Velvet Muse lipstick

Other:

  • Finishing spray was Urban Decay All Nighter*

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

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

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

Thank you for reading!

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

FASHION | My designer handbag collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SKINCARE | Top beauty products under $50

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

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

Vichy Mineral 89*

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

Vichy Mineral 89 Eyes*

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

Pixi Peel and Polish*

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

Pixi Rose Tonic*

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

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

Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner

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

May Coop Raw Sauce

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

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

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

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

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

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

Neostrata Resurface Glycolic Renewal Smoothing Lotion*

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

CND Solar Oil*

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

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

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

SKINCARE | All about Vichy hydrating serums

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope this was useful!

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

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

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

Omorovicza Revitalizing Scalp Mask

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

You can purchase this product at Nordstrom in Canada.

La Biosthetique Anti-Pelliculaire Shampoo and Lotion

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

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

You can purchase La Biosthetique at select salons across Canada.

Ativo Dandruff and Dry Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner

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

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

You can purchase Ativo directly on their website.

Briogeo Scalp Revival Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo and Charcoal Scalp Treatment

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

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

You can purchase Briogeo at Sephora.

Lador Scalp Scaling Spa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biotherm Life Plankton Essence-in-Mask*

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

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

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

Laneige Water Bank Soothing Gel Mask*

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

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

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

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Mask

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

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

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

Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask*

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

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

Vichy Soothing Aloe Vera Mask*

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

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

Valmont Prime Renewing Pack*

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

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

La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Sleep Mask*

Texture: Lightweight cream with the signature Skin Caviar scent

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

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

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.