Review: Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm & Queen of Hungary Mist, PLUS some amazing holiday value sets

Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm and Queen of Hungary Mist review

Recently I’ve been obsessing over luxury beauty brand Omorovicza. Ever since my trip to Japan, I’ve been missing the healing powers of thermal water – soaking in the Japanese hot spring and experiencing the benefits of thermal water was probably one of my coolest experiences I’ve had. Omorovicza’s products all contain Hungarian thermal water as well as Hungarian thermal water extract. It also harnesses the power of Hungarian moor mud to help detox the skin of all impurities. The products are all developed in collaboration with a Hungarian Nobel Prize-winning laboratory. Today I have two products from Omorovicza to share with you.

Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm and Queen of Hungary Mist review

The Thermal Cleansing Balm (C$135 for 50mL) is a gentle black facial cleansing balm is rich in Hungarian Moor Mud, whose unique mineral complex detoxifies and purifies the skin. Its supposed to remove all makeup, including waterproof mascara, and cleanses all skin types without stripping to leave the complexion soft, hydrated and radiant. It’s a bit messy to use, as it contains charcoal due to the Hungarian Moor Mud. It also contains Hungarian thermal water ferment extract and Hungarian thermal water, so you get the benefits that come with mineral water (think onsen water!).

Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm and Queen of Hungary Mist review

It does remove most makeup, but I prefer to do a second cleanse anyways so I lose a lot of the benefits of it being an all-in-one product. Because it is full of natural ingredients (the base oil for the balm is sweet almond oil), it doesn’t actually emulsify, so even when I cleanse with the mini cloth that’s included with the balm, I still get an oily film left on my skin. It’s probably fine to leave it on since it’s all good ingredients, but I prefer a cleaner feeling so I do a double cleanse. They recommend that you use their full size cleansing mitt in order to get all of the cleanser and makeup off (and also act as a mild exfoliant). In addition, I like to do a facial massage when I use a cleansing balm, and you need quite a bit of product each time. It’s pretty expensive for the amount you get, so you end up going through it very quickly. For those reasons, I don’t know if I can recommend this product. If you are set on trying this product, it does come in a 15mL size for $40 so you can see if you like it before dropping money on the full size.

Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm and Queen of Hungary Mist review

The Queen of Hungary Mist (C$110 for 100mL) is Omorovicza’s most popular products. It is a neroli and rose-scented face mist that refreshes the skin. This toner was inspired by the Queen of Hungary Water, the world’s first recorded perfume, formulated for Queen Elisabeth of Hungary in the 14th century. It’s perfect for morning and night, over or under makeup. I really love this product, it definitely helps my skin feel more hydrated and supple. I really love how it smells – very fresh and uplifting. I find it to be more hydrating than other skin mists I’ve used, so I don’t really need as much of it compared to other facial mists. That being said, it is probably one of the priciest facial mists I’ve used, so it’s hard for me to justify the money for it. There are some products I can justify spending money on, but cleansers and mists don’t belong in that category. If it was under $100 then I would feel a lot better about it.

All of that said, Omorovicza actually has some amazing skincare sets coming out for the holiday season. They are a fantastic way to try out the brand to see if you will want to buy the full size, and you can try out multiple products for the price of less than one full size product. I’ve already ordered a kit to try because I really do love the concept behind the brand and its products, it’s just hard for me to justify spending money on the full size. There are two sets that particularly jump out to me, as they are travel sizes but are very generous travel sizes. The moisturizers themselves should last you at least 6-8 weeks.

The Omorovicza Essentials Collection is a kit designed for normal to dry skin types, and it contains the two products I reviewed above in travel sizes, as well as two moisturizers for day and night. It’s priced at US$105 on the Omorovicza website, but only C$120 on the FeelUnique website, which is a British e-tailer that is like Sephora. It contains:

  • Thermal Cleansing Balm (15ml) – value of C$40
  • Illuminating Moisturiser (30ml), designed for normal and dry skin types, this moisturizer helps to hydrate and illuminate your complexion – value of C$120
  • Rejuvenating Night Cream (15ml), a rich silky cream to rejuvenate your skin overnight – value of C$88
  • Queen of Hungary Mist (30ml) – value of C$40
  • Omorovicza Cleansing Mitt – value of $20
  • Travel case

You can see that this is amazing value because it contains a total of C$308 worth of product, and it also includes everything you need to travel with. Just the Illuminating Moisturizer makes up for the entire cost of the kit, and you get everything else essentially as a gift. I’m going to Toronto in December, and I’ll be bringing this kit with me.

The Omorovicza Discovery Collection is a kit more suited for normal, combination, or oily skin types. It is priced at US$95 on the Omorovicza website and C$105 on FeelUnique. It contains:

  • Deep Cleansing Mask (15ml), to deep-cleanse and brighten tone while reducing pore size – value of C$45
  • Queen of Hungary Mist (30ml) – value of $40
  • Thermal Cleansing Balm (15ml), which removes all makeup without stripping the skin – value of $40
  • Cleansing Foam (30ml), to awake and cleanse the skin – value of C$20
  • Balancing Moisturiser (30ml), which provides hydration, whilst absorbing instantly – value of C$102

This kit contains C$247 worth of product, which is also incredible value. Both kits come in beautiful gift boxes so they would make fantastic holiday gifts as well. There were some other kits available, but the products in those kits weren’t as highly recommended by other reviewers, whereas these two kits contains the most highly recommended products for the best price. If you click through my referral link on FeelUnique, you can save another $15 off your first purchase. You also get free tracked shipping on orders over $120.

Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm and Queen of Hungary Mist review

I received the full size Thermal Cleansing Balm and Queen of Hungary Mist as a press sample for review purposes. I purchased the Omorovicza Essentials Collection. All opinions are my own.

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Three new Skin Caviar product to feast your eyes on, and La Prairie counter opening Bloomingdales 59th Street

When I was in New York, I paid a visit to the PR office of one of my favourite beauty brands – La Prairie. There, I was introduced to three new Skin Caviar products released recently to lead up to the 30th anniversary of La Prairie Skin Caviar.

The first, Skin Caviar Absolute Filler is a skin plumping moisturizer that’s used as the last step to your skincare routine, before your sunscreen and makeup. It contains Caviar Absolute, a potent derivative of Skin Caviar which helps to fill in skin’s fullness, and also refine the skin’s contour. It comes in an innovative pump packaging that gives you the perfect dose, every time. I played with the Absolute Filler at the La Prairie office, and hastily applied a layer over my makeup. I have to say this stuff is pretty amazing – it’s a light whipped texture that activates immediately to help volumize the skin and also firm the skin. I could feel my skin tightening in the mere minutes after application. Priced at C$775 for 60mL, it is pricey but definitely works.

Next is the Skin Caviar Essence-in-Lotion, the first product in this category released by La Prairie. It contains primarily Caviar Water, which is active water infused with Caviar extracts. It’s a lightweight yet ultra hydrating essence water that you apply after cleansing and toning, and before serum. It helps to increase your skin’s hydration level which will also help the absorption of products applied on top of this. I had this applied on me at my La Prairie facial and it is so amazing, I love how lightweight it is and how it makes my skin feel plump. You only need a few drops of this per application, so a bottle will last you a long time. Press on your skin with the palm of your hands, and you won’t need to waste any product on a cotton pad either. Priced at C$325 for 150mL, it is one of the more affordable Skin Caviar products, and is a great entry-level La Prairie product for anyone wanting to experiment with the brand.

Lastly, we have the White Caviar Illuminating Pearl Infusion. This is a brightening serum as part of the White Caviar line, meant to give you a bright, luminous complexion. It contains stabilized vitamin C encapsulated in pearls to keep the product from oxidizing. Once you pump it out on your hand, the pearls dissipate, releasing the active ingredients within. If you apply this and then wait a few minutes before applying the rest of your skincare, the Pearl Infusion will create an invisible veil which will also help to protect your skin against pollution and environmental aggressors. Living in the big city, this is definitely a must-have function. It is priced at C$680 and you get 30mL of product.

In Canada, you can purchase all of these products from Holt Renfrew.

Coincidentally, I was in New York just the week after La Prairie had re-opened their new counter space at Bloomingdales at 59th and Lexington. This new counter, named “the Penthouse,” has 530 square feet of retail space, including a 95 square feet facial room. The space is GORGEOUS, super modern, with lots of space to browse products. The counter also offers complimentary services, such as a 10 minute hand and arm massage (I had this service and it was such a nice treat after a long week of walking around the city), eye refresher massage (the boyfriend had this done and he said it was super nice), quickie mask, makeup touch up, and more. Exclusive to this counter, you can also get a complimentary 60-minute Skin Caviar facial, which includes treatments using the brand’s Skin Caviar products. If you are a La Prairie newbie and are interested in the products, a facial is a wonderful way to familiarize yourself with which products might work best for your skin.

I received a bottle of Skin Caviar Essence-in-Lotion as a gift from PR during my visit to their office, all opinions are my own.

Preventative eye creams for early signs of aging, featuring BareMinerals, L’Occitane en Provence, Estee Lauder

A big misconception that people often have is that you can fix your under-eye wrinkles. If you imagine a new piece of paper that’s been wrinkled up, regardless of how much you try to smooth it out, it will never go back to being that brand new smooth crisp sheet you started with. That’s similar with the under-eye area – if you have lots of lines and wrinkles, unfortunately you won’t ever go back to looking like you didn’t have any. That being said, you can prevent fine lines and wrinkles from showing up in the first place by using proper eye care. Eye creams, eye serums, and eye masks are great at 1) preventing those lines from forming in the first place, and 2) making your under-eye area appear smoother (if you already have lines). Today I have a few recent eye releases to share with you.

BareMinerals Brilliant Future Age Defense & Renew Eye Cream

BareMinerals Brilliant Future Age Defense & Renew Eye Cream (C$49 for 15mL) is a new eye cream from BareMinerals for Spring 2017. It contains a few key active ingredients: Manganese to help support the skin’s defense against signs of aging; Vitamin C to help brighten the skin’s appearance and improve skin tone; Alfalfa Seed Extract to help de-puff and reduce under eye circles; as well as youth peptides and eye reviving peptides to combat the appearance of fine lines and dark circles.

L’Occitane’s Immortelle Divine Eye Balm

L'Occitane Immortelle Divine Eye Balm review

L’Occitane’s Immortelle Divine Eye Balm (C$98 for 15mL) is made with organic Immortelle oil and 7 naturally-derived ingredients, including Aescin, a natural-based extract of horse chestnut. I can be used as an eye mask, or a daily renewal balm. It is very emollient, and a true balm (the second ingredient is shea butter, after all). It’s very moisturizing, and great for those with dry skin. I normally use this at night, and I only apply a tiny bit because a bit goes a long way, and I wake up with smooth, hydrated, and overall happy undereyes. It does take a while to absorb, but once it does, my skin feels pretty bouncy. I can’t use this in the morning because it does take a while to absorb. The good thing is, there’s no shine or greasy finish, as it absorbs to a satin finish.

As summer is approaching, I ended up passing this off to my mom because she has pretty dry undereyes, so this would be a better fit for her skin type. If you are just looking for entry-level eye creams for preventative treatment, this may be a bit too heavy for you (unless you have ultra dry skin).

L'Occitane Immortelle Divine Eye Balm review

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Eye Mask

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Eye Mask

Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair is one of the top-selling anti-aging serums on the market. The Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Eye Mask (C$14 for a set, C$49 for a box of 4 sets) is a new introduction to the ANR family, and is an eye mask that harnesses the power of the ANR technology to create younger, hydrated, and smoother looking undereyes. Each packet comes with two masks (one for each eye), and the mask is kept separate from the serum. When you’re ready to use, just squeeze the serum side into the mask side, let sit for a few minutes so that the serum penetrates fully into the mask fibre, apply on your face, then sit back and relax for 10 minutes. Massage in any leftover serum, and apply eye cream on top if needed.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Eye Mask

I’m not sure what’s the reasoning behind having the mask and serum in separate compartments, it seems almost gimmicky. Also after one use, I didn’t really notice much of an improvement in the eye area, and I was almost tempted to decant the remaining serum (there is a ton in there) in a jar for use later. They recommend that you use this once a week, so I assume if you get the 4-pack, after a month you’ll notice better results.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Eye Mask

Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Global Anti-Aging Power Eye Gelée

Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Global Anti-Aging Power Eye Gelée

Continuing with the Estee Lauder eye products, this is a new favourite discovery. The Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Global Anti-Aging Power Eye Gelée (C$68 for 8mL) is a milky gel that comes in a tube with a metallic gold applicator tip. There’s a rubbery bit on the side of the tube, where you squeeze and it dispenses a bit of product, then you can massage it in using the gold applicator.

I love this product because not only is the product hydrating yet refreshing at the same time, leaving my undereye area looking smoother and slightly firmer, the applicator is also a pleasure to use. I tend to apply too much pressure when I apply eye creams with my ring fingers, so the gold applicator allows me to massage in the product gently without sacrificing any of the actual massage part. I can use this both evening and mornings, alone or with a heavier eye cream (depending on my skin’s state of the day), and it works beautifully on all occasions. In the mornings, it also absorbs quickly enough for me to apply makeup on top. Win-win, I must say. The only thing is that it’s pretty pricey for the amount of product you get… it’s basically just a bit more than half the size of a normal eye cream, so if you prorate the price for size, it will end up being around $128 for a normal 15mL sized. Still though, I think it’s a worthy buy.

Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Global Anti-Aging Power Eye Gelée
Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Global Anti-Aging Power Eye Gelée

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

Recent product hit and misses featuring Nivea, Dermalogica, Clarins, Farmacy, ATTITUDE and Caudalie

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Hits

Nivea Firming Body Oil – I received this as part of an Influenster Vox Box and I was so excited about this I started using it without taking photos first. Seriously though, it is so amazing. It’s the perfect dry oil, I can use this on a summer evening and it will absorb right away with no residue. It’s super hydrating without being heavy, and it smells SO GOOD. A little goes a long way, so this big bottle is fantastic on value. It contains Q10 for firming, and avocado oil for moisture. I’ve been using it for a few weeks and I haven’t noticed any firming, but that’s okay because even without that it’s still pretty great. Highly recommend!

Dermalogica AGE Smart Nightly Lip Treatment – I have very dry lips, so I tend to go for products that are very emollient and almost mask like (e.g. Bite Agave Lip Mask or Nuxe Reve de Miel). I wasn’t super impressed with this the first 2-3 times I tried it because I felt like it was a bit lightweight and didn’t really do much. Oh boy I was so wrong. This anti-aging lip treatment is to be applied to your lips and the surrounding skin. One pump is all you need, and massage it in using the metal applicator tip. This is seriously firming – I can feel it firming and tightening my lip area, and it also leaves being an invisible barrier that keeps my lips feeling hydrating throughout the night without the thick layer of actual product. The result lasts the entire night and I can feel it up until the morning when I wash it is. Definitely a must have if you’re looking for a new lip product.

Clarins Double Serum – This classic product was reformulated for fall and now include tumeric, which helps the product’s absorption into the skin’s cells. The new formula also does not contain mineral oil, which is fantastic for those who are looking for more of a vegetable-based product. With the addition of tumeric, the Double Serum now contains 21 active ingredients to help combat aging in the skin. In addition to the formula upgrade, the packaging has also been upgraded. I love the customizable dosage option, where you can choose to dispense a full pump or a half pump. I use a full pump at night for my face and neck, and half pump during the day, either alone as my serum, or mixed with my moisturizer. I loved the previous generation of Double Serum, and this new one is even better. In addition to being super moisturizing and plumping for my skin, it absorbs quickly with no residue, and also smells amazing. I generally don’t use oil products during the day because I move fast to apply my makeup on top, but this one works really well to prime the skin. The scent is truly an aromatherapy experience, and adds to the overall feeling of the product. I highly recommend this for anyone ages 25+ who have dry, normal, or combo skin. It’s a great way to start your anti-aging journey.

Misses

Farmacy Honey Drop Moisturizer – If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I am positively honey obsessed, so when I received this Farmacy Honey Drop Moisturizer, you know I was super excited about it. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great moisturizer – a super lightweight gel-creme formula, smells just slightly sweet like honey, and relatively hydrating. Sadly I didn’t find it moisturizing enough for my dry skin. Even though it is the summer and I don’t need as heavy of a moisturizer, we have been sleeping with the AC on every night because otherwise we will wake up at 5AM sweating (our apartment faces east). As such, my skin is still feeling pretty parched in the morning. I really do love this, but it just isn’t the best fit for my skin type right now. If you have normal, combination, or oily skin, definitely look this up!

ATTITUDE Dish Detergent – I previously wrote about my foray into ATTITUDE skincare and haircare products, which I was pretty impressed with. I was later sent some household items and sadly they’ve been a bit of a letdown. The Dish Detergent in particular was super meh, it didn’t suds up enough and I end up having to use a ton of product to get our dishes clean. We don’t eat super greasy either so I was surprised that this was the case. Compared to normal dish detergent, this is pretty pricey, so I won’t be repurchasing.

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum – I am SO SAD as I am writing this because I’ve been wanting to try this serum for YEARS and now that I finally have, I’m disappointed by it. This serum is a complexion brightening serum that harnesses the powers of grapevine extract to help even out the skin tone. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I find this serum very drying. It has a light milky texture, so it feels like it would be hydrating, but it just sinks into my skin into nothingness, and then my skin is left feeling super thirsty. For the first week, I wore this as my lone serum during the day, followed by moisturizer, sunscreen, and foundation, but then my foundation would cling onto dry spots and it looked like my skin was flaking. I tried it with a few different moisturizers and the results varied in dryness but it was still dry. If I layer a hydrating serum on top, it would fix the issue, but I generally prefer a more simplified skincare routine in the morning. I will still use it, but it just doesn’t live up to the hype, IMO. I haven’t noticed much radiance either, but maybe I’ll need to use it for longer to see effects.

Masking with Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial and Even Better Brightening Moisture Mask

Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial and Even Better Brightening Moisture Mask review

Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial

Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial review

The ultimate facial and exfoliator in one, the Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial is an amazing all-in-one pick-me-up to prepare for a special night out. It works fast to remove dead skin on the skin surface to create an instantly illuminated appearance. There are micro crystal exfoliants in the mask to also provide some physical scrubbing action. The micro crystals are very fine in texture and delivers even exfoliation all over my face. I have relatively sensitive cheeks and I find that the mask base, combined with the crystal scrub, are still gentle enough on my skin without creating irritation.

The main downside is that I feel the micro crystals leave shimmer or glitter on my skin even after washing off the mask, therefore I usually have to wash my face again with my usual face wash to get off all the shimmer.

The recommended “dosage” of this mask is twice a week, and I find that to definitely be enough to keep my skin looking bright and smooth. Definitely love!

Clinique Even Better Brightening Moisture Mask

Clinique Even Better Brightening Moisture Mask review

The Even Better Brightening Moisture Mask is a cream mask that you apply on your cleansed skin, leave on for 10-15 minutes, and then tissue off. I usually prefer to wash off because I like to use my normal night cream, but you can just tissue off, or tissue off and lightly wipe off with a moist towel. If I don’t wash off, it feels a bit sticky and heavy on my face, never really absorbing completely into my skin and then leaving a slight film on the surface. I’ve used this mask a few times I find that it doesn’t really deliver in terms of its brightening effect – at most it’s lightly hydrating, but not really groundbreaking in anyway.

Overall, I’d recommend checking out the Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial but skipping the Even Better Brightening Moisture Mask. You can find much better alternatives for brightening and/or moisturizing masks, but the Turnaround Revitalizing Instant Facial is an all-in-one cleansing, brightening, smoothing, and exfoliating mask that’s great for those short on time and in need of a quick pick-me-up.

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

Tata Harper Top 8

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One of my all time favourite skincare products definitely hit me like a bus… I discovered this brand in 2016 and now I incorporate this in my daily routine. If you haven’t yet figured this out, I’m talking about Tata Harper. I’m very lucky that the brand sent me some products for review, but most of my Tata products I purchased with my own money. I’ve tried a large number of the collection, so now I’m here sharing with you my top eight favourite Tata Harper products. Why eight? Because I couldn’t narrow it down to five.

If you click through this link, you get a code for $25 off your $100 purchase! I don’t earn commission, but I can also get $25 off my next purchase (I don’t get anything  unless I purchase anything, and most of their stuff is over $25!).

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser review

1. Regenerating Cleanser

I previously reviewed this here, and my thoughts are still the same. This is one of my favourite physical exfoliators. I have the 50mL version and because I only use this about once a week, it’s lasted me forever.

2. Honey Blossom Mask

I didn’t like the original Resurfacing Mask because I felt like it didn’t do much on my skin (except when paired with the Regenerating Cleanser for some deeper enzyme power), but the Honey Blossom version is seriously true love. It has everything in the Resurfacing Mask, with the addition of raw honey. For some reason, the honey makes all the difference, and this mask leaves my skin feeling so much smoother, firmer, brighter, and hydrated after every use. It is crazy expensive, priced at US$65 for just a measly 30mL jar, but I couldn’t help but get a back-up because it’s just so lovely, plus it’s limited edition!

3. Purifying Cleanser

My second favourite cleanser by Tata Harper is more of a daily cleanser. The Purifying Cleanser works to deep cleanse your pores and flush out any toxins, pollutants, and anything else nasty that resides in your pores. It’s ultra creamy, and despite it having a clay base, it’s gentle and leaves my skin feeling soft and cleansed, without being stripped.

4. Repairative Moisturizer

I love this deeply moisturizing creamy lotion from Tata Harper. It’s her one moisturizer designed for dry/mature skin, and my skin just soaks it up. I love using this in the winter – it doesn’t absorb immediately so I can do a nice facial massage with it. It contains honey, mango seed butter, and lots of other seriously nourishing ingredients to help soothe winter-dried skin. I only use this at night though because it does take a while to absorb. Reviewed here.

5. Replenishing Nutrient Complex

I brought a small 3mL rollerball bottle of this to Asia with me last fall, and I can say that this cult favourite Tata Harper facial oil is seriously the bomb. I have very dry and dehydrated skin, which is worsened on travels because of the dry airplane air and stress. I rolled this all over my face and neck and then massaged it in. Not only does it smell so heavenly, it completely rid my skin of flakes, dryness, and any other signs of dehydration, while adding glow and a healthy look to my face. While it is expensive (a 10mL rollerball bottle is US$48, while the full size 30mL is US$125), a little goes a long way. I’ve you can also use this as a spot treatment over acne, or a general spot treatment over dry spots. I haven’t tried it as an acne treatment, but it works wonders if you have any dry spots during the day, just dab and go! Also did I mention it smells so incredibly, I just want a little bottle to carry around with me so I can take a whiff anytime I want…

Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Essence and Concentrated Brightening Serum review

6 + 7. Concentrated Brightening Essence and Concentrated Brightening Serum

I’ve reviewed this combo here. I can only recommend this as a combo because I didn’t use this separately. It gave me truly radiant skin… go read the full review for details!

8. Restorative Eye Creme

My first foray into natural eye cream was thanks to a few small Restorative Eye Cream sample sachets. The tiny 1mL sachet lasted me WEEKS, no joke. I have very dry undereyes, and this eye cream really helped to alleviate any dryness and fine lines that were caused by dryness. It does smell very strongly of florals, which isn’t perfume but just Tata’s proprietary blend of essential oils, so if you are sensitive to smells, I wouldn’t recommend this, but otherwise it’s great for anyone with dry skin around their eyes.

If you order directly from the Tata Harper website, you can get $25 off your order just by using this link here. Also you can get a deluxe sample of some of her products with your first purchase if you sign up to her newsletter. I’m signed up and she doesn’t send many e-mails, only to notify you of special deals and sales, which don’t even happen often!

First thoughts – Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series

Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series review

Naruko is a Taiwanese brand created by famed Taiwanese skincare connoisseur and talk show host, Niu Er. I had a period in my youth where I was OBSESSED with Asian skincare (I still am, but less so mostly because Western skincare has really caught up to the technology of Asian skincare), so I watched his shows religiously. A lot of my skincare tips and tricks, I learned through watching his segments. That was also around the same time he launched his brand, which is what I am very happy to share with you today. Naruko is available in Canada through their website, which to be completely honest is actually not that great, but the pretty amazing prices make up for lack of website user-friendliness.

Today I’m sharing with you my thoughts on the first part of products sent to me by Naruko Canada’s PR team. The Rose & Botanic line is formulated with hyaluronic acid to boost the skin’s hydration level, increase collagen production, and prevent the first signs of aging. This line is perfect for those in their early to late 20s, or if you are just starting out in the anti-aging arena.

Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series review

Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Jelly Lotion (C$25 for 120mL) is a jelly-like softening lotion, applied using a cotton pad over cleansed skin. This is very heavily scented with rose. I actually didn’t find this to be super hydrating, sadly. It dries down to almost a matte finish, whereas I prefer something that stays tacky for a while, which helps my other products absorb better. While I was really looking forward to trying this, I was sadly a bit let down.

Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Complex EX (C$29 for 30mL) is a hydrating serum, applied after the lotion and before moisturizer. This rose hydrating serum is only slightly hydrating and not really that plumping on my dehydrated skin. I feel like this Rose and Botanic line was created for Taiwanese weather, which is significantly more humid than it is in Canada, so while I only felt a temporary relief from dryness, I much prefer my other hydrating serums that just inject my skin with so much water.

Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series review

Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Hydrating Mask (C$24 for 10 pieces) is a hydrating mask that you can use to supplement your existing skincare routine. I received two pieces of this, which I used once a week. Each mask is drenched in 25mL of hydrating serum – one of the first things I learned from Niu Er was to never waste any of that serum inside a mask sachet, and instead apply it over your body so your body can receive the same treatment. I quite like this mask, it’s lightly hydrating and also very cooling and soothing. I would take this on vacation with me to Mexico when I need to cool down my skin after spending the day in the sun.

I also received a sample of the Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Night Gelly EX (C$24 for 80mL), which is a night-time moisturizing gel. I wear this in place of my night time moisturizer and so far I’ve been pretty happy with it. It’s lightly hydrating, and perfect for those hot summer nights when you want to stay away from anything oily.

Naruko Facial SPA Massage Cotton Pads review

Lastly, I was very excited to receive a box of the Facial SPA Massage Cotton Pads (C$5.50). You might be wondering, who cares, it’s just cotton pads, but if you’ve ever tried premium cotton pads, you will know what I am talking about. Good quality cotton pads truly elevates your skincare experience, and as the fibres are more refined, it is gentler on your skin too. I really love these cotton pads, they are super soft and glide over my skin very nicely without dragging or pilling. The cotton is high quality and doesn’t leave behind fibres or lint when you’re using it. Each cotton pad is thicker, so you tend to use more toner / lotion. I’ve used this with both hydrating and exfoliating toners and both work very well.

If you have very dry skin, I’m not sure that the Rose & Botanic line will be a be-all-end-all solution for you. The products are relatively inexpensive though, so it isn’t much risk if you wanted to try it out. Naruko also sent me some products from their Jing Cheng collection, which I’ve had much better luck with (review coming soon!). I definitely recommend picking up a box of the Facial SPA Massage Cotton Pads, just to see the difference between your generic cotton pads and these ones that are a bit more of an upgrade. You can purchase Naruko on their website.

Ingredients of Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Jelly Lotion and Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Complex EX

Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series review

Ingredients of Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Hydrating Mask

Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series review

Ingredients of Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Night Gelly EX

Naruko Rose & Botanic Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Series review

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

My Blend and Boost journey – a review of my custom blend!

Blend and Boost review

Blend and Boost is a Canadian company founded by Canadian pharmaceutical compounding company Medisca. Based in Montreal, Blend and Boost specializes in creating custom blend skincare for customers through a specialist skin doctor or medical skin centre. There are five base creams for sensitive skin, anti-aging, oily skin, and dehydration, as well as various boosters that get added into the base creams to create your special blend of cream which is designed to address all of your skin concerns in one convenient bottle. There are over 90 different combinations of creams that you can end up with, and all of the end creams are blended by pharmacists who ensure that the concentration of the ingredients, and the combination of ingredients can work well together without clashing.

A few months ago, I met with Dr. Nicole at Vancouver medical skin clinic Skin Method, where I had a skin consultation and she prescribed what she believed to be the best for my skin. I was also told to change up some of my current skin habits, for example not cleansing or exfoliating as much, as it strips your skin of its natural oils. Specifically, they said no to double cleansing, and no cleanser in the morning. I didn’t agree with everything they said, so as much as I tried to follow some of their tips, I incorporated my Blend and Boost cream in my routine in a way that worked best for me.

The one thing that frustrated me a bit was that because I had a fresh mango allergy (only when eating fresh mangoes), it eliminated the Rich Anti-Aging Base cream for me because it contained mango butter. While I appreciated that they were being extra diligent with avoiding anything that may cause allergic reactions, it did eliminate a lot of options for me. I was left with only three base cream options, which when blended with the boosters, only addressed some, but not all of my skin concerns. If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while, then you know that my primary skin concern is dryness and dehydration, my secondary concern is hyperpigmentation and sun spots, and my third concern is preventative anti-aging. The two ideal Blend and Boost options that I was presented with was either using the Sensitive Skin base with hydrating boosters, or using the Oily Skin base with brightening and anti-aging boosters. As summer was coming, I opted for the second option which could include more brightening and anti-aging boosters.

Blend and Boost review

Round 1

The Oily Skin base is described as an “Ultra-lightweight purifying lotion that leaves a refreshing and matte after-feel. Infused with a unique combination of skin-balancing ingredients. Fragrance-free, paraben-free.” The three boosters that I got were:

  • CM Glucan H – Cosmetic Beta-Glucans which helps skin recover from external environmental stressors. Improves appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Ac.Net – Multifunctional cosmetic blend that helps to reduce skin shininess and improve appearance of blemishes.
  • Niacinamide PC – Vitamin B3 which helps improve appearance of pores, soothes skin, and evens skin tone.

Because there are no parabens or other preservatives in here, they recommend that you finish a bottle within three months of its preparation date.

In terms of the product itself, the texture is a very light, liquid, milky gel.  It’s ultra lightweight, and sinks in pretty much right away. It really truly dries down to a matte look, as in super mattifying primer type of matte. It doesn’t feel matte, as in it’s still a little bit tacky, so your sunscreen and foundation shouldn’t have any issues adhering. It truly does blur all of my fine lines, pores, and skin texture, and smooths everything to look as if I applied a filter on top. Because my feels nicely hydrated, it also looks brighter. Lastly, good news for sensitive nose folks, it doesn’t have a fragrance, and smells like any usual fragrance-free cream.

In terms of my experience using the Oily Skin base, it was a complete disaster. It ended up being way too drying for my skin, and it actually caused my skin to be even more dehydrated than I started with. It also made my skin extremely congested, itchy, and blotchy. Overall it was not good. BUT, I reached out to the Blend and Boost team to let them know about my experience, and within a few days, they had taken my feedback into consideration, and re-blended something for me using the Light Anti-Aging base.

Round 2

During the second time around, my blend was created using the Light Anti-Aging base, with ET-VC (vitamin C), which will target my skin lightening concerns, it will help with reducing dark spots and overall lightening of the skin, also it helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The second Booster was CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10) which is an antioxidant, it helps reduce collagen breakdown, helps improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and protects skin against oxidative stress.

The cream itself has an orange tint and is thicker than the Oily Skin base, with a slight metallic scent. It smooths easily over the skin, and absorbs within 30 seconds with some light massage. It is significantly more hydrating than the Oily Skin base, but still isn’t as hydrating as I generally prefer my moisturizers, so I usually layer a hydrating serum or oil underneath. During the day, it absorbs well enough that I can apply makeup pretty much right on top, even with an additional SPF 40+ layered in between (because of the vitamin C, but also because I do that everyday anyways). I have found that my skin is smoother, slightly more even toned, and generally healthier looking. I still go through periods of dryness, just because my skin is finnicky like that and because for the majority of the time I was using this blend, the weather and climate in Vancouver were going nuts and my skin went along with it. I was significantly happier with the Light Anti-Aging base, and I did notice that over time, my skin looked smoother and brighter.

Overall

The packaging, for a $200 product, is a bit disappointing. While I understand that they probably invest all of the cost into the quality ingredients, but I don’t think people would mind if they paid an extra $10 to get a packaging upgrade. The first time I tried using it, the vacuum seal part of the bottle (where the cream is kept) came apart from the rest of the bottle. Thankfully I could just screw it back on, but for a $200 product, this really shouldn’t be happening.

My end conclusion was that if I were a paying customer, I probably wouldn’t get the Blend and Boost, but not because the product doesn’t work, my mango allergy really eliminated most of the viable and ideal options for me in terms of which base cream I can use. I would have loved to get a cream that had the anti-aging, hydrating, and brightening properties, but sadly the formulations just didn’t hit on 100% of my concerns (for a product that is advertised to be an all-in-one solution). Obviously this isn’t going to be the case for everyone, so if you are having issues locating a moisturizer that addresses your needs, are looking to simplify your skincare routine, and don’t mind the price tag, then obviously Blend and Boost may be a good alternative to off-the-rack products for you.

I am thankful that the Blend and Boost team will work really hard to make sure your custom blend works for you. I received my product from their PR, and even then they took my first blend back and reformulated so that I got something that was more suited for my skin type. If you are a paying customer and your blend doesn’t work for you, they will 100% take it back and reformulate until you get the perfect blend. That is a true sign that they stand behind their products and its efficacy.

In terms of pricing and availability, the Blend and Boost skin consultation takes place at medical skin centres, and the consultation fee is $100, which goes towards the purchase of a Blend and Boost cream. The cream itself is $200, so you end up just paying $200 for the product if you decide to purchase the product, or $100 for the consultation alone. The locations in Vancouver where this is available include:

Skin Method
#103-853 Richards St
Vancouver, BC V6B 3B4
778-379-7546
Vancouver Laser & Skin Care Centre
309-750 W Broadway
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1H2
604-708-9891
Ageless Radiance Med Spa
1196 Lansdowne Dr #307
Coquitlam, BC V3E 1J7
604-227-6764

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

Review – For Beloved One Anti-Aging Ceramide Squalene collection and comparison with Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-Aging Smoothing Treatment

For Beloved One Advanced Anti-Aging Ceramide Squalane Moisturizing Cream review

Ceramide is a naturally-occurring element in the skin. At age 31, your skin’s ceramide levels decrease to 63% (if you started out at 100%), and by age 41, it will have reached 37%. For Beloved One‘s new Anti-Aging Ceramide Squalene line combines the ultra-moisturizing properties of squalane with the ultra-firming ceramide to give you a global anti-aging solution.

Advanced Anti-Aging Ceramide Squalane Moisturizing Cream (C$99 for 32mL) is the all-in-one moisturizer for those looking for preventative care and treatment. In addition to ceramide, which smoothes skin’s outermost layer while also enhancing its self-defense ability for an ageless, youthful look, and squalane, which provides additional nourishment for a supple and firm appearance, it also contains red tourmaline, which activates microcirculation for elastic and nourished skin; vitamin E and natural oat kernel extract, which helps to regenerate skin for a flawless and luminous complexion. It has a beautiful almost whipped gel formula that is thick, but spreads easily and also absorbs quickly.

For Beloved One Advanced Anti-Aging Ceramide Squalane Moisturizing Cream review

I seriously LOVE THIS CREAM. The effects aren’t super noticeable, but I’ve been using this both morning and night and I feel like my skin has been super supple and smooth ever since I started using this. During the day, my foundation stays on beautifully and even after I come home after a 12-hour day, my skin looks looks radiant and balanced. When used at night, I wake up to balanced, hydrated, and soothed skin. I normally have a lot of redness in my skin but I’ve noticed that it’s been significantly reduced since I started using this. While I can’t speak of the long-term anti-aging properties (I’m in my late 20s right now), I believe that preventative care is the best anti-aging solution, so I will keep using this. My biggest dislike, though, is the price. It’s probably the smallest full size cream I’ve ever come across, and it’s not cheap. If this came in a 50mL size, like normal creams, it’d cost $155, which is pretty steep. The jar is deceivingly big as well, since it looks like a 50mL cream but the insert only carries 32mL.

For Beloved One Advanced Anti-Aging Ceramide Squalane Bio-Cellulose Mask and Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-Aging Smoothing Treatment Mask review

For Beloved One’s Bio-Cellulose mask is one of my favourite sheet mask formulas. I previously reviewed the background behind the mask here. Now, it’s available in the Advanced Anti-Aging Ceramide Squalane Bio-Cellulose Mask (C$62.99 for 3 pieces), which contains Matrixyl® 3000 to help restore firmness and plumpness to the skin. So far, I’ve been a fan of all of the Bio-Cellulose masks that I’ve tried, and this one is no different. After 20-30 minutes, my skin feels super plumped and hydrated. I also feel like it’s smoother, redness is decreased, and overall it’s more bouncy. Again the price is a big deterrent for me as it is quite pricey for each treatment, which is why I tend to leave my mask on for longer than the recommended time (oops).

It’s one of the most pricey masks out there on the market, so I wanted to also compare it with a more affordable drugstore mask. The Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-Aging Smoothing Treatment Mask (C$19.99 for 8 treatments) comes in eight individually packaged masks. At first, I thought these were also sheet masks, but they are actually 10-minute cream masks that you apply and then tissue or wash off. Each individual package is filled with the mask, and I actually found that you can get two uses out of each sachet instead of just one. The texture is very thick and creamy, almost like a thick gel body cream. It smooths on easily, and has a slight tingling / astringent feel. I found this mask to be very firming, and my skin is left feeling taut. I don’t have many wrinkles so I don’t know how wrinkle-smoothing it is. The only drawback is that it might be too sting-y for those with more sensitive skin types.

Both the Moisturizing Cream and Mask are high performers, but of course the drawback is the price. If you are not too price sensitive, then I’d highly recommend you pick up the cream to try, and if you are ready to splurge then the mask is also great. If you are more on a budget, then the Nivea mask is also a good anti-aging alternative.

The For Beloved One Anti-Aging Ceramide Squalene range is available now at T&T Supermarket locations across Canada, as well as online at yesstyle.ca. Nivea is available at most drugstores across Canada.

For Beloved One Advanced Anti-Aging Ceramide Squalane Bio-Cellulose Mask and Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-Aging Smoothing Treatment Mask review
For Beloved One Advanced Anti-Aging Ceramide Squalane Bio-Cellulose Mask and Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-Aging Smoothing Treatment Mask review

Moisturizing Cream ingredients:
For Beloved One Advanced Anti-Aging Ceramide Squalane Moisturizing Cream ingredients

Ceramide Squalane Bio-Cellulose Mask ingredients:
For Beloved One Advanced Anti-Aging Ceramide Squalane Bio-Cellulose Mask ingredients

Nivea Q10 mask ingredients:
Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-Aging Smoothing Treatment Mask ingredients

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

Feature – Sunday Riley Luna vs. The Ordinary Retinoid 2%

I’ve recently been OBSESSED with retinol / retinoids. My friend Angela uses retinol on a regular basis and she has the most amazing, poreless skin that’s babysoft and SO GLOWY. Much jelly. Anyways, I purchased the Sunday Riley Squad Goals kit last December, and I’ve been using the Luna Sleeping Night Oil every few nights, and so far I’ve been loving it. What I’m not loving so much is the price… at C$131 for 30mL, it’s pretty splurgy. That’s when I came across The Ordinary Retinoid 2%. It has the same active retinoid ingredient as Luna – Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate – but priced at only C$9.80. Do they have the same effect on me though? Read on…

I used both the Sunday Riley and The Ordinary on separate occasions 2-3 times a week, and for at least a month. P.S. Sorry for the lack of custom photo, by the time I wrote this blog post, I already gave away one of the two bottles (no spoilers here! read on to find out), so there was no point in taking a photo of just the leftover bottle.

Price

Sunday Riley Luna is $131 and The Ordinary Retinoid 2% is $9.80, both for 1 oz / 30 mL of product. Pretty clear who the winner is here…

Winner: The Ordinary Retinoid 2%

Texture & scent

Sunday Riley Luna is a light oil product that takes a few minutes to absorb. It smells SO good, like a powdery light floral and ultra soothing. The Ordinary Retinoid 2% is a milky emulsion (oil suspended in water) that is very lightweight and absorbs pretty much immediately. It smells… kind of weird to describe, but it’s like a milky chemical scent that isn’t terrible but not fantastic.

Winner: Luna for texture and scent, Retinoid 2% for how fast it sinks in.

Hydration

Due to Luna’s oil formula, I find it significantly more moisturizing than Retinoid 2%. My skin does have an affinity for oil products though, so I am slightly biased. Retinoid 2% is milky but it’s not nearly as moisturizing as Luna. Since it is winter though, my skin favours Luna more, but I can see it being a bit too heavy on those hot summer nights. Retinoid 2% is definitely more flexible in that most skin types can use it, and on most evening conditions. You can easily layer it under other hydrating products, or other oils.

Winner: Luna as my personal love in colder winter climate, Retinoid 2% for being more versatile and better for all skin types

Pore-tightening

Yes I know it is impossible to have permanent pore shrinkage unless you go through cosmetic surgery or something. In terms of a product’s ability to temporarily shrink the look of the size of my pores, Luna wins hands down because I have not seen any pore shrinkage from Retinoid 2%. My skin texture is so smooth after a night of Luna that it’s really hard to argue against that.

Winner: Luna

Skin smoothing

Again, Luna wins on this front because I wake up with incredibly smooth and supple skin, even after just one night of using this. Retinoid 2% honestly didn’t do much for my skin in this area.

Winner: Luna

Overall I wasn’t super impressed with The Ordinary Retinoid. I really hoped to see results, any kind of results, but I didn’t see anything. It honestly didn’t do much, if anything, for my skin. I was hoping it’d be mildly hydrating, but it wasn’t even that. Compared to Sunday Riley Luna, where I saw results pretty much overnight. My skin was definitely smoother, more glowy, more hydrated, and just generally looked better when I was using Luna. Honestly, though, Luna is pretty expensive so I doubt I will be repurchasing (unless there’s some kind of promotion). I recently purchased an Eve Lom retinol serum to try as well, so I will be adding that into my skin routine any day now. I ended up passing off my The Ordinary Retinoid to my friend Angela, who I hope has better luck with it.

Have you tried either of these?

Ingredients

Sunday Riley Luna: Persea Gratissima (Extra Virgin, Cold Pressed Avocado) Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Organic, Cold Pressed Concord Grape) Seed Oil, Rubus Fruticosus (Cold Pressed Blackberry) Seed Oil, Salvia Hispanica (Cold Pressed Chia) Oil, Dimethyl Isosorbide (and) Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Oil, Tanecetum annuum (Blue Tansy) oil, Anthemis nobilis (English Chamomile) oil, Eriocephalus punctulatus (Cape Chamomile) oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Blood Orange) oil, Cananga Odorata Flower (Ylang Ylang) Oil, Vetivera zizanoides (Vetiver) oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil (and) Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, CI 61565 (Green 6), CI 60725 (Violet 2).

The Ordinary Retinoid 2%: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Ethyl Linoleate, Propanediol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Bisabolol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Retinol, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Glyceryl Stearate, Ceteareth-12, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum, Acacia Senegal Gum, Cetyl Palmitate, Sucrose Laurate, Polysorbate 20, Behentrimonium Chloride, Potassium Citrate, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Disodium EDTA, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.