SKINCARE | Vitamin C serums featuring Skinceuticals, AlumierMD, and Derma E

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Is anyone else like me and love using lots of active ingredients in skincare during the fall / winter months? I tend to go gentle with the active ingredients in the summer because most products make my skin sensitive to the sun, so I will store those products away until later in the year. One of the things I look forward to the most each year is when I break out my retinol and slather it all over my face. Retinol is hands down my favourite skincare ingredient because it makes my skin look and feel so incredible after just one use. In addition to retinol, I also use vitamin C, and AHA/BHAs in my every day skin routine.

Today I wanted to talk about some of the vitamin C serums that I’ve been using lately. Vitamin C is an incredible anti-oxidant to help prevent aging, and also combat against pollution and sun damage. I use vitamin C products during the day (with copious amounts of sunscreen… SPF 50 every day!) as a serum, layered on top of my pre-serum, essence, and underneath moisturizer and sunscreen.

The one I’ve been most frequently reaching for is the ultra-popular, the one everyone knows about – Skinceuticals CE Ferulic (C$175 for 30mL). This is a cult classic product, and for good reason. It contains 15% pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), 1% vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), and 0.5% ferulic acid to help prevent signs of environmental (sun, air) damage. This product is primarily for prevention, so I don’t expect to see massive changes to my skin health. That being said though, I do really enjoy using it and my skin feels comfortable every day.

This product is expensive, and before I received a bottle from PR, I cheaped out and purchased a “dupe” that was just a fraction of the price. There are several dupes on the market that contain a similar blend of vitamins C and E plus ferulic acid, BUT after using both the original and the dupe, I highly recommend just splurging for the original. The original serum is super lightweight, sinks right into my skin with zero stickiness. The L-ascorbic acid grade in Skinceuticals is also much more stable than ones you would find in cheaper dupes, so it didn’t oxidize on me as quickly as the dupe did. I only managed to get 2 months of use out of the dupe before it went completely orange on me, not only in the bottle, but leaving a really ugly orange stain on my skin. The dupe was also noticeably thicker and also left my skin feeling super sticky. I didn’t enjoy the dupe, so even though it was cheaper, I wasn’t reaching for it and it also went bad on me really quickly, so it ended up being a waste of money anyways.

The one thing I don’t particular love about this product is that its in an open dropper. Vitamin C oxidizes easily so I would have preferred it to be in an airless pump.

AlumierMD EverActive C & E (C$179 for 45mL) is a product I’ve just recently been introduced to. Similar to Skinceutricals CE Ferulic, this product contains 15% L-ascorbic acid and vitamin E. It also contains Matrixyl, which is an anti-aging ingredient which targets lines and also improves elasticity in skin. While other products come already pre-blended, the EverActive C & E comes in three separate unblended vials of 15mL each. The L-ascorbic acid powder is stored in a chamber at the top of each bottle, and you need to pop it, and mix it together with the rest of the solution before applying. The purpose of this is so that you get the freshest product possible each time you use it. Each 15mL vial is supposed to last you one month, but I found that this actually lasted me longer than a month. It also makes me feel less guilty if I take my time in finishing my products, since the vials stay fresh for a long time unless you’ve mixed it.

I find the EverActive C & E to be much more moisturizing than other vitamin C serums I’ve used. This makes sense because it is targeted towards a more mature audience with the addition of Matrixyl.

Lastly, we have Derma E Vitamin C Concentrate (C$34 for 60mL). This is a hyaluronic acid serum that contains Vitamin C. It is the most natural of all these products, the most inexpensive, but also the least clinical. The texture is a very lightweight gel that is lightly moisturizing, and also smells very fresh. It doesn’t leave any residue on my face, as it sinks it completely, leaving my skin feeling smooth and plumped. I feel like this is probably a good entry-level vitamin C product, as it is relatively affordable. Over time, I do feel like my skin has gotten brighter with continuous use. You get fantastic value with this product as well, since it comes in a bottle that is double the size of most serums. I am new to Derma E, but its products are generally very natural and contains mostly plant essential oils.

Each of these vitamin C serums have their benefits and drawbacks: Skinceuticals is great for all skin types but is purely an anti-oxidant serum; AlumierMD is great for anti-oxidant and also anti-aging; and Derma E is great for younger skin who want the benefits of vitamin C serum without spending a fortune and can also provide moisturizing benefits. Of the three, my personal favourite is the Skinceuticals, but the Derma E is a close second. I could see someone my mom’s age really enjoying the Alumier, as it will help repair some of that lost collagen in their skin.

I also picked up a small size of the Drunk Elephant C Firma, but I’m waiting to use that still…

You can purchase Skinceuticals from their website, AlumierMD from your skin expert’s office, and Derma E from London Drugs.

What are some of your favourite vitamin C serums?

Products featured were provided by PR for review consideration or as media event gifts; all opinions are my own.

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BATH & BODY | Pamper yourself in this cold weather with ME! Bath, Calgon, and Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts

Me! Bath bath bomb review

Even though I’m not a fan of the cold and rain, I do love my cosy sweaters and baths in the fall. It’s usually around this time that I start taking regular baths to help relax and warm up my body. I’m completely obsessed with LUSH Bath Bombs, but they can be incredibly expensive so I’m always on the lookout for similar products that don’t break the bank. I was sent a sampling of bath products to try out and share with you guys. These are great because they are incredibly affordable, and are super nice to use.

ME! Bath (C$10.99 for a bag of six) comes in five different scents – Lavender Lullaby, Birthday Cake, Cucumber Melon, Pomegranate, and Love, ME!, the last one being a blend of berries, coconut milk and vanilla. The products are made in the US, and are 100% cruelty-free and vegan. It has the same base ingredients of Sodium Bicarbonate, as well as skin nourishing ingredients of jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, sesame oil, and macademia nut oil. They also contain seat salt and epsom salts to help relax the muscles, which is something not typically blended with a bath bomb.

The two ME! Bath scents are Lavender Lullaby, which is AMAZING for a pre-sleep bath. The lavender smells so soft and soothing for my mind, and does a fantastic job at relaxing me at the end of the day. The Love, ME! smells really yummy. I love the coconut milk and vanilla, and the touch of berry reminds me of dessert.

I was sent the Calgon Bath Fizzies  (C$7.99 for eight) in Hawaiian Ginger, which smells like a tropical beach vacation. I actually didn’t love this one as much as the ME! Bath, it just felt a bit too strongly fragranced. Each bath fizzy contains vitamin E, which helps to moisturize the skin.

One downside of LUSH bath bombs is that I find the sizes can be too big and the scents too overwhelming (especially if you use the entire thing). Sometimes it just feels like a waste. With ME! Bath and Calgon, each bath bomb is smaller in size, so it is perfect to get the benefits of using a bath bomb without the extra waste. If you love an extra strong bath, you can throw 2-3 bath bombs in the water, and even then it’s still more affordable than a LUSH bath bomb.

Between ME! Bath and Calgon, I love ME! Bath a bit more because the scents are more me and the formula feels better on my skin after a bath.

Dr. Teal's Epsom Salts review

The other cult favourite bath product is the Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts (C$8.99). I’ve been working out less regularly lately so if I work out intensely one day, my body gets pretty sore the next day. It’s the perfect time to use the Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts as I’ve never tried it before. Epsom salts contain Magnesium Sulfate to soothe tired muscles, as well as, depending on the specific scent, a blend of different essential oils to help revitalize and hydrate the skin. The scent I have is Soothe & Sleep with Lavender, which is great for a pre-sleep soak.

My favourite way to bath is to combine one ME! Bath bath bomb with the Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts to get pure mind and body relaxation. They are all so affordable that I can be happy bathing regularly without worrying about going through my bath products so quickly.

You can pick up ME! Bath at Shopper’s Drug Mart, and Calgon and Dr. Teal’s at London Drugs, Shopper’s Drug Mart, and Walmart.

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

PERSONAL CARE | LELO IDA personal toy for couples

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I previously wrote about the LELO SONA, a personal toy for women, and today I want to share a couple’s toy, the LELO IDA with you. The LELO IDA (C$199) is a toy that is designed to be worn by the woman during intercourse. It is primarily designed to stimulate the G-spot. It has the same smooth silicone exterior as the SONA, and the silicone allows it to be flexible such that it can be comfortable when used. It also comes with an external remote control that can be used to control the IDA, or as another toy as it also vibrates. The IDA itself is rechargeable, full waterproof, and comes with eight different settings, including rotation settings.

I’ve never used anything like the IDA so I was a bit unsure about how it would work. For first-timers like myself, LELO includes a packet of lube that you can use with the toy. I’m a bit of a vanilla so I wasn’t really into it at first. It requires a lot of trial and error, which might ruin the mood for some couples. I know I definitely was more tense when I was trying this out, and it didn’t make for the best experience for the both of us.

To be honest, even after trying this for a few times, I’m not sure if I really enjoy it that much. Even though the silicone is flexible, it didn’t feel very comfortable when worn, and then it was a bit distracting for me. I’ve only had this for about a month so maybe it’ll get better over time, but I didn’t find myself reaching for it too often, only doing so for the sake of the review and trying to give it the benefit of the doubt.

It’s all good though, because personal toys are really personal preference, and while I do enjoy venturing outside my comfort zone once in a while, I mostly know what I like. While the IDA didn’t work out, just a quick browse of the LELO website showed me a few other options that might work better for couples like us, or for solo play.

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

NEW IN MAKEUP | Shu Uemura x La Maison du Chocolat Holiday 2018 collection

Shu Uemura x La Maison du Chocolat Holiday 2018 collection review

In recent years, Shu Uemura has been doing incredible collaborations for its holiday releases. This year, Shu has collaborated with La Maison du Chocolat, a popular Parisian chocolate house. The collection contains some super cute products to create perfect fall / winter looks.

Shu Uemura x La Maison du Chocolat Holiday 2018 collection review

The products that got me the most excited are the Ganache and Praline Eye Palettes (C$115 each). It comes in two variations: Framboise Berry (top) and Dark Cacao (bottom). These are palettes of eight shades that come in an adorable chocolate bar package. I thought that my palettes have a subtle ganache scent, but other people haven’t reported the same so it could just be my mind playing tricks on me since the eyeshadow is packaged like a chocolate bar.

Framboise Berry is a reddish-pink palette that is my favourite of the two. It’s very warm, but would look amazing for the holiday season. At first glance, it reminds me a bit of the recent Urban Decay Naked Cherry combined with the earlier Naked Heat palettes – these red-orange palette are quite popular at the moment. That being said, I prefer Shu Uemura eyeshadow formulas, and the Framboise Berry has a similar quality as the Shu Uemura Shu:Palette, which continues to be one of my all time favourite eyeshadow palettes.

Dark Cacao is a cooler-toned palette that is fantastic for creating a neutral smokey eye. While I don’t love this palette as much as I do the Framboise Berry, this one is definitely way more wearable for most skin tones because it’s not so red or warm. The quality of this palette is fantastic as well – it’s smooth, pigmented, and wears very well. Again its giving me Shu:Palette vibes, and I can see this as a great palette to take on vacation when you want something versatile.

My only concern with these palettes is that the packaging is made of relatively flimsy packaging. Shu Uemura is a luxury brand and these palettes are very pricey at $115 each, so I expected something way more hefty. The lightness definitely makes them more travel-friendly, but if I didn’t know these were Shu Uemura, I probably would have guessed that these packaging was made for drugstore brands.

Shu Uemura x La Maison du Chocolat Holiday 2018 collection review

No new collection is complete without new lipsticks. The lipsticks in this collection come in two formulas – the Rouge Unlimited Supreme Matte (C$36, the darker brown packaging) and the Rouge Unlimited (C$36, the dark red packaging). I received three shades total, two in the Rouge Unlimited Supreme Matte formula, which are the shades Ripe Cherry (middle) and Deep Cranberry (far right). I also received one shade in the Rouge Unlimited formula, which is Hazelnut Ganache (far left).

I love Shu’s Rouge Unlimited Supreme Matte formula. It’s an ultra comfortable satin-y matte lipstick that pigmented to wear but isn’t drying. The shade Ripe Cherry is a darkened cherry red, and Deep Cranberry is a gorgeous dark pink. Both are very wearable. There are four other shades of the Rouge Unlimited Supreme Matte formula in the limited edition packaging, including a beautiful raspberry, and an easy-to-wear nude beige.

The Rouge Unlimited formula is a glossy lipstick that has medium pigmentation. It is comfortable to wear on the lips, but it’s not a formula I tend to reach for because I find it a bit heavy on the lips. The shade Hazelnut Ganache sadly is also not a shade I would reach for as it is a dark reddish brown.

Of all of these shades, I like Deep Cranberry the best as it is the most wearable for every day, as well as the most comfortable on.

Shu Uemura x La Maison du Chocolat Holiday 2018 collection review

The holiday season is all about sparkle and Shu Uemura has two Shimmery Powders (C$40) for offer. These are multi-purpose shimmer powders that can be used on your cheeks, to highlight your eyes, or anywhere on the body. You can even sprinkle some with your body lotion and give yourself a beautiful subtle glow. It comes in two shades, Luster Gold Dust, which is a champagne gold and what I first opened which made me go WOW, and then I saw Luster Rose Dust which is even more gorgeous as I love anything rose gold. It does come with a little puff application, but I find the application to be too intense and patchy when using the puff. I prefer to use a fluffy brush and lightly dust it on the skin.

While I personally don’t love loose shimmer powders, they are a great way to liven up any outfit (I can see myself bringing mine to Vegas with me next Spring to jazz up my club outfits…). Loose shimmer powders can also easily shimmer up any body cream so that you don’t have to buy shimmery body creams on their own.

Shu Uemura x La Maison du Chocolat Holiday 2018 collection review

Of course, the holidays call for a limited edition Shu Uemura lash curler (C$25). This one is in a beautiful shimmery dark brown colour instead of the usual silver. It also comes with a super cute metal tag that you can take off and use as a key chain or bag chain. Shu curlers are the only lash curlers I use because they are so good at curling and the curl really holds all day. If you’re in the market for a Shu curler, the holidays are the best time to get them because they usually come in really adorable limited edition designs.

Of this collection, I recommend picking up the Ganache and Praline Eye Palette in Framboise Berry, the Rouge Unlimited Supreme Matte in Deep Cranberry, and the super cute lash curler.

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

SKINCARE DEVICE | Clarisonic Mia Smart

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Clarisonic overhauled their entire product line in September of this year, discontinuing all older models including the Mia 1, Mia 2, Mia Fit, Smart Profile, Smart Profile Uplift, and whatever else was available at the time. In their place, it launched Mia Smart and Mia Prima. It was probably a good thing because it was starting to get confusing which models were which and which ones were still available versus discontinued.

I previously owned a very early generation of the Clarisonic Mia way back in 2009 or 2010, and it was one of the priciest skincare products I purchased out of pocket while I was still a student. I remember ordering it from TSC and they had this pay over 6 periods thing interest-free, and that’s what I used to pay it off. Unfortunately, it was fine for the first few weeks but then my skin became super sensitive to it. I continued using it off and on for about 6 months and then I stopped, preferring manual cleansing over a cleansing device.

Clarisonic was one of the first beauty cleansing devices on the market, and the first with a sonic cleansing technology. There were other cleansing devices on the market at the time but none of them had the technology that Clarisonic had, and those other devices definitely weren’t being recommended on a widespread level. Over the years after the Clarisonic launched, I’ve tried and reviewed several cleansing devices, including the Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush, which I loved and used for a long time, and the Philips PureRadiance Facial Cleansing System, which I loved a little less. None of them received the same amount of hype as the Clarisonic, and for good reason. Clarisonic is a brand that only makes skin cleansing devices, so their technology is constantly updating and being reviewed. Compared to Clinique or Philips where they have multiple product lines and the device isn’t the heart and soul of their brand. Because of that, over time, Clarisonic developed new uses for its sonic technology for the skin.

And that’s where the Mia Smart comes in. The Mia Smart is not just a cleansing device, it is a beauty device for cleansing, massaging your skin, massaging your eyes, and applying foundation. With just the switch of a device head, you can use one device for four applications. The Mia Smart also has bluetooth capabilities, so it connects to your phone via the Clarisonic app. I love to customize my skincare routine, and you can do just that with the Clarisonic. I tend to find using the cleansing brush a bit too abrasive on my face, so I focus more time on my chest and neck where I could use a bit more of a deep clean. The timing of how long you use your device on each spot on your body can be customized via the app.

Each device head has a barcode at the bottom where it connects to the device, and the barcode allows the smart device to know which head is attached to it, so it knows to vibrate at a certain intensity. It will also know whether to be on for 1 minute (for a cleanse) or 3 or 5 minutes for a massage. The length and intensity of your massage can be customized through the app as well.

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In addition to the cleanse, it also comes with the Uplift facial massager and the eye massager. The facial massager is made to contour to your face, and the massage is super intense, much more intense than what you’d be able to do with your own hands over the span of a few minutes. The eye massager has these two metal balls that are designed to cool the temperature of the skin around your face so that it will help reduce puffiness, and fine lines and wrinkles. Lastly, it comes with the foundation brush that can be used to apply and blend foundation on your face. This brush has been much raved about by a lot of Youtubers. I personally don’t love using a brush for foundation because I’m lazy and don’t like to wash brushes, but I can see how this could be useful.

The Radiance brush head has been redesigned for the Mia Smart so that it draws more impurities from your pores, along with the dirty way, out of your skin and out of the brush. The fibres on the Radiance brush are also softer. Despite these updates, and after almost 10 years of having owned the first Clarisonic device, I have to say that the new one is still meh for cleansing. I honestly feel like it is way too abrasive on my skin, and I prefer cleansing with my FOREO Issa or using my hands. My skin is pretty dry and dehydrated, so if you have oily or combo skin you might enjoy the Clarisonic cleanse more. I do have to say that the brush head is significantly softer than what I had back in the day, but it still feels slightly irritating on my skin.

My favourite device head is, of course, the Uplift facial massager. I rarely even switch my device head out to something else. It is fantastic to use with a face mask, or a facial oil, massaging the goodness into your skin. The sonic waves are supposed help to push the product deeper into your skin, and you also waste less product because nothing is being absorbed into your hands and later washed off. The recommended time for a facial massage is 3 minutes, but I let it go on for 5 minutes instead, focusing around my jawline and neck. While I don’t feel like it necessarily “pushes” product into my skin, I do feel like it gives my face and contours a nice massage with minimal effort.

With all of these improvements to the Clarisonic Mia Smart, the price point also dropped. The comparable device prior to everything being discontinued is the Clarisonic Smart Profile, which includes the cleansing brush heads as well as Smart technology for recognizing the difference between the different brush heads, but without Bluetooth. That device was priced at $389. Mia Smart, on the other hand, is priced at just $229, which is a pretty good deal for an all-in-one beauty device. The Mia Prima, is even purse-friendly, priced at $129 (compared to $169 for the Mia 1, which is now discontinued).

That being said though, I feel like the Mia Smart is definitely not as well built as the Smart Profile. While I’ve never owned a Smart Profile, I have held it in store and it feels substantially heftier. Even compared to the Mia 2, the Mia Smart feels a little cheap. The good to this is that it is very light, and if you were to hold it up to your face up to 5-7 minutes per session (cleanse, face massage, eye massage, then foundation brush), your wrists aren’t being tortured.

Finally, do I recommend the Mia Smart? Yes and no. If you already have a cleansing routine that works for you, you may not need the Clarisonic. I certainly don’t. What I do enjoy it for is the facial massage abilities, and then once in a while I may use it to exfoliate my face since I already own the device. The price point now is much more attractive to more consumers, so if you have the budget for it, especially come Sephora VIB sale time, you may want to pick one up to try. Do you absolutely need it though? Not really.

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Product gifted by PR at a media event; all opinions are my own.

NEW IN BEAUTY | Charlotte Tilbury Genius Magic Loose Powder, Stars in your Eyes Eyeshadow Palette, Pillow Talk Luxury Eye Palette and Blush

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I have a few Charlotte Tilbury reviews for you today. I first posted about these a few months ago when the photos were posted on Instagram. I’m so excited that I now have all three products that I wanted from the new releases in my hands!

The first product is a release that is permanent (not limited edition) – Charlotte’s Genius Magic Powder (C$58). When I first heard that Charlotte was releasing a new loose powder, of course I got excited. I LOVE the Airbrush Flawless Finish pressed powder, it is one of the only powders that I’ve finished completely and then repurchased. It is so finely milled and skin smoothing, while setting and mattifying my face. It is one of the top items I highly recommend from the brand. When the loose powder came out, I received a jar from PR to try out. I read some reviews on the Charlotte Tilbury website that said it had a really strong scent, but I didn’t think too much about it. When I first opened it though, I was completely taken aback by the scent. It is super strong and smells really terrible, like chemicals or plastic or something. Over time it does dissipate, but it’s still a bit unnerving especially if you aren’t expecting it.

I’m just… okay about this powder. I don’t think it’s finely milled or smoothing as the pressed version. It does have a bit of micro shimmer so you get a bit of glow to your skin after you apply this, but that’s not something I tend to look for in a powder. I wear shade 1, which is a pretty good match for my light skin tone, and the same shade I wear in the pressed powder version. Comparing the two, I still prefer the Airbrush Flawless Finish.

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The next product is the Stars in your Eyes Eyeshadow Palette (C$95), a 12-shade palette comprised of four different eye looks. I skipped on last year’s 12-shade palette, but I’m really happy I purchased this year’s. It has a rose gold, blush, and purple theme to it, which is completely up my alley. I love Charlotte’s eyeshadows, they are essentially the only shadows I wear now (unless I’m wanting to be super adventurous one day), because they are incredibly foolproof, have amazing staying power (without primer, and I have relatively oily eyelids), and come in a variety of shade combinations for basically any eye look. The Stars in your Eyes palette has the same amazing quality of Charlotte’s normal quads, which is really nice because sometimes limited edition palettes tend to not be as good quality as the regular collection. My favourite daily eye look is Love Eyes, the first set of colours, for a super easy girly eye look.

Compared to a normal Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Eye Palette, this actually is incredible value. A normal CT quad is C$66, whereas you get eight more shades in this palette for an extra C$30. This is currently still available on the Charlotte Tilbury website, and will also be available in stores at Nordstrom Canada and Holt Renfrew. I highly recommend buying this in stores, because I had a pretty bad experience ordering from their website (see my mini-rant later in this post).

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Lastly I have two products from the Pillow Talk collection, which sold out online in a matter of days, but I have heard rumours that it will be at Nordstrom in January / early next year. I have the Pillow Talk Luxury Eye Palette, a quad of blush pink shades with rose gold shimmer, as well as the Pillow Talk blush. I originally only had my eye on the Pillow Talk eye palette but then after seeing a tutorial on Charlotte’s Youtube channel, I had to order the blush too.

The Pillow Talk Luxury Eye Palette is GORGEOUS. I LOVE rosy blush colours right now and it is such a beautiful, foolproof, easy to apply, eye palette. I have my eye on this for future wedding makeup inspiration. I was surprised at how similar it is to the earlier limited edition Exaggereyes palette, so if you have Exaggereyes you won’t need Pillow Talk. Pillow Talk is slightly warmer and more rosy and Exaggereyes is slightly more cool-toned, so you’ll get a more neutral look with Exaggereyes but a more romantic, girly eye look with Pillow Talk.

The Pillow Talk Blush is a nice every day neutral blush to warm up your skin. It’s not anything too special though, like I didn’t notice that it was particularly amazing on me. It does help me look more alive and healthy, which is nice, but I can achieve a similar look with other neutral blushes. I probably prefer the look of Charlotte’s Sex on Fire blush over this one.

In conclusion? Buy the Pillow Talk Eye Palette, the Stars in your Eyes Palette, and the Airbrush Flawless Finish pressed powder, and skip the Genius Magic Powder and the Pillow Talk Blush.

Semi-related to this, I had a horrible time ordering from the Charlotte Tilbury website for the Pillow Talk products. Long story short, I ordered off their official website, but there were delays left and right, no communication from their customer service, and then the product was sold out. There were a few days when I thought I wouldn’t even be getting the product, which caused me quite a bit of stress. I heard from others who have purchased from the official website during a popular product launch that this is not uncommon. The customer service during this time was slow and basically nonexistent (you try calling their customer service line and you get a recorded message saying to e-mail them… ouch).

When I get my packages from her, it comes from a third party logistics provider, i.e., the Charlotte Tilbury company itself doesn’t ship out your products, which isn’t uncommon either. Also, I got a sense that the customer service was provided by a third party call centre company too, because they seemed a bit disconnected from what was actually going on, and the messages going out on social media. It seems like the only thing that was actually done by the Charlotte Tilbury company was the social media aspect, which is why they were constantly promoting products even though they weren’t able to fulfill them – because the fulfillment wasn’t in their hands. When you tweet at their official Twitter, most companies provide support directly on their social media, but their Twitter also tells you to just e-mail the customer service – likely because they are run by different companies with different mandates.

All in all, after the stress, I did get my products, but it made me think twice about order off the official website. I’d rather purchase from Nordstrom or Holts where they actually have dedicated customer service agents who are responsive, and real people you can talk to. It doesn’t affect the products themselves, but of course the experience will always affect how you view or support / don’t support a brand.

Charlotte’s Genius Magic Powder was sent to me by PR, everything else I purchased with my own money. All opinions are my own.

PERSONAL CARE | LELO SONA personal toy for women

Lelo Sona review

I’ve never written a review like this on my blog, but the last few years I’ve tried to bring more authenticity back to my blog posts by not simply pumping out reviews of beauty products, but write about the stuff I want to write about. So today I am venturing into the unknown world of personal toy reviews. I was recently contacted by the PR team at LELO about their recent celebration of five years on the market of personal toys.

The team at LELO sent me the SONA (C$189) to try out. It is their most popular product, and one that has been on the market for only a year but has already been breaking records. It is a clitoral vibrator, using sonic waves instead of vibrations to stimulate entire area, not just the visible parts. The SONA features eight different intensity settings, and is also 100% waterproof. It’s quick charging – an hour of charging will give you an hour of use. Because it relies on sonic waves, it is also quieter compared to conventional toys.

At first glance, I love the design aesthetic. Not only is the colour and shape pleasing to the eye, I also love that it added a touch of gold to increase the luxe factor. The size is relatively small – not the smallest personal toy I’ve owned but small enough to fit comfortably in my hand. The waterproof silicone that wraps around most of the device feels nice and smooth, and also gives good grip. There are three buttons at the front, the top and bottom buttons are to increase or decrease your intensity, as well as the button in the middle is for changing the pattern of the sonic pulse. I haven’t played through all of the pulse options yet because I generally prefer just a limited number of patterns. The changes in intensity is very useful, which I enjoy using.

My first impression of the SONA is that it is pretty quiet. The toy I’ve been using the most frequently in the last few years is the Magic Wand, and compared to that, this one is super quiet. There is a very light, relatively low-pitched humming sound when operating it. For such a small device, it is powerful. The sensation is comparable to my Magic Wand, which is strong.

There are a few downsides to this though, specifically I find it a bit tedious (and mood killing) to aim. Because this device uses sonic waves, the waves are concentrated in the little opening at the top. You basically need to be pretty precise in where you place this otherwise it doesn’t feel like anything. That can be a mood killers especially because when you are getting all handsy, you tend to be not as precise.

All in all, I do really enjoy the SONA. It is powerful and effective for its size. It is fantastic for when you are travelling and want something equivalent to what you are getting at home without lugging around so many toys. The waterproof feature is also quite useful – while you may not need this function all the time, it’s nice to have the option. You can purchase the LELO SONA at Amazon, Well.ca, as well as several online retailers.

Lelo Sona review

Lelo Sona review

Lelo Sona review

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

HAIRCARE | Natural yet effective haircare products featuring LaCoupe Naturals Moroccan Rose and Coconut Milk

LaCoupe Naturals Moroccan Rose and Coconut Milk

It’s no secret that the beauty trend for the last few years has been on natural beauty. In addition to using skincare and makeup that are natural and organic, haircare has been a big area where consumers are pushing for sulfate-free, silicone-free, and paraben-free products. Today I want to share with you the LaCoupe Naturals range, which feature four different collections that target four specific concerns.

The LaCoupe Naturals Moroccan Rose Volume Loving was created using a blend of aloe leaf juice, coconut water, Moroccan rose, as well as biotin and collagen to help thicken and volumize the hair. It comes in a shampoo, conditioner, and volumizing mousse. The formula is sulfate-free, silicone-free, paraben-free, DEA free, petroleum-free and propylene glycol-free. Over the summer, this was my favourite of the two ranges I was able to try out.

First things first – this range smells AMAZING. You know how I love to incorporate roses in every step of my beauty care routine, and this is the first ever rose-based haircare line that I’ve ever tried, and I’m obsessed. It doesn’t smell overly strong, and the scent doesn’t linger, so I get to enjoy it just when I want to. I love having volumnous hair, especially when the weather is nice.

LaCoupe Naturals Coconut Milk Moisture Quenching is perfect for the fall and winter months. It’s rich and hydrating but not heavy, which is great for when the weather gets cooler. It contains aloe leaf juice and coconut water, as well as a blend of oils to help nourish dry hair. My hair can get a bit dry and static-ky when the indoor heat gets turned on, so this range helps to prevent frizz and keeps my hair smooth. I love the coconut milk scent as well; it’s very warm and earthy.

In addition to how well these work, the best part is also that the prices are super reasonable. The shampoo and conditioners come in 500mL large format bottles with a nice pump, and are priced at just $9.99. The Volume Loving Mousse that’s part of the Moroccan Rose line comes in 200mL for also just $9.99. As they are drugstore brands, you can also find them on sale.

If you are looking for an affordable yet natural alternative to drugstore haircare, you should look into LaCoupe Naturals.

Ingredients:

Moroccan Rose Shampoo & Conditioner

LaCoupe Naturals Moroccan Rose and Coconut Milk ingredients

Coconut Milk Shampoo & Conditioner

LaCoupe Naturals Moroccan Rose and Coconut Milk ingredients

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

LIP CARE | A tale of two lip balms from Bite Beauty

Bite Agave Lip Mask in Lavender and Maple review

Bite Beauty Agave Lip Masks are my absolute favourite lip product to use. I have several tubes that I keep next to my bed, in my travel case, etc. The first one I purchased was the Maple version, which contains maple syrup and is a bronze tint. I also have the regular formula, and the Lavender. I purchased the Lavender because it just felt like such an awesome combination – night-time lip mask + lavender oil, what could go wrong? Well I was too optimistic, because the Lavender Agave Lip Mask completely ruined my lips.

I always suffered from a case of dry lips, which is why I was drawn to this product in the first place. The Maple version is an absolutely godsend, very nourishing, softening, and is just fantastic as a night-time mask because it is thicker than the other lip masks, which means that when I wake up in the morning, my lips are still very well protected. The Lavender version, on the other hand, is thinner, more gel-like, and a milky lavender tint. I used the Lavender religiously when I first got it, but I’d always continue to have dry, peeling lips. I thought it was just my lips being dry like normal so I applied more of it.

For a few months, I misplaced the Lavender lip mask, and went on to use something else (my other staple, the Nuxe Reve de Miel). My lips slowly went back to normal, no longer peeling or super dry. Well recently I re-discovered the Lavender lip mask, and just after two nights, my lips were back to being very dry, peeling, and cracked. It was horrible, and made me super scared to even use the Maple one. Unfortunately the Reve de Miel wasn’t helping very much either because my lips were THAT bad, so one night I decided to take the plunge and try to see if the Maple lip mask will help. I mean, it can’t get worse right? Thankfully, it paid off because the Maple one really helped to bring back that lost moisture to my lips. It was so nourishing, that the dry, peeling skin on my lips were just sliding off, revealing fresh skin underneath. A month after my dry lip fiasco, my lips still aren’t back to normal, but they are significantly better than they were when it first happened. I love the Maple lip mask, and it’s one of my absolute beauty staples.

If you are looking for a lip balm / mask, I highly recommend the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask in Maple. The regular one is good but not as nourishing. The Lavender one is a hard skip – stay away from that one!

I’m always on the lookout for new lip balms to try. If you have any recommendations, please do tell!

HAIRCARE | Kerastase launches at Sephora

Kerastase Specifique and Discipline review

I rarely do these types of “announcement” posts because I’d rather focus my time on reviews, but I honestly think this is such big news that I want to share it with you. As of September, Kerastase has launched at Sephora Canada, both in store and online. Kerastase has become one of my favourite haircare brands.

I started using Kerastase in 2013 and it has been a constant in my shower ever since. The brand truly knows hair, and has developed so many different ranges to customize that perfect haircare for your specific needs. I use several lines from the brand depending on the state of my hair and how I want it to look and feel. The two that I’ve been using constantly in the spring / summer are the Specifique for dry/sensitive scalp, and Discipline to smooth unruly hair.

Specifique is amazing for my hair because I have dry scalp and a lot of shampoos tend to dry it out. I find SLS-free shampoos to be overly gentle on my hair, especially because I only wash it every 5 or so days, so it doesn’t necessary do a good job at cleaning. The Specifique dry scalp shampoo is gentle but still great at cleaning. I was recently on a trip to Europe where I brought along another shampoo / conditioner with me and it was just terrible – it didn’t rinse out properly and my hair felt greasy and dry at the same time. I came home and immediately used Specifique on my hair and it immediately helped. In place of conditioner, I use the Specifique dry scalp hair mask, which is a gel texture hair mask that is super lightweight but very hydrating. It keeps my hair smooth and feeling comfortable all week-ish long until my next wash.

Discipline (review here) is great is you love that smooth, sleek hair look. I don’t have super frizzy hair but I do love very sleek hair, so that is what I use. It is also great for combatting static on very dry fall / winter days. It was one of the first lines I discovered from Kerastase, and also the range that made me fall in love with the line.

Lastly, I’ve also been using the Aura Botanica (review here) but only in the winter. This is an all natural haircare range from the brand that is ultra nourishing. During the spring / summer months, I find the whole range a bit too nourishing for me, but I love to use the dry oil whenever my hair needs a boost.

Yes this brand is extremely pricey, but if you know me, I love my luxury anything. Also since I only wash my hair every 5 days (or longer if I can get away with it), each bottle lasts me a very long time. If you think about it, your hair is one of those things that doesn’t regenerate (if you wear it long). Skin, if you get acne or dry spots, it will regenerate over a few weeks / months and potentially go back to normal. But your hair, once damaged, will stay damaged unless you cut it off. Just my two cents!

You can find all of these products now at Sephora now!

Product mentioned in this post were provided by PR over time; all opinions are my own.