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.

Review: Dior Hydra LIFE Oil to Milk Makeup Removing Cleanser, Lotion to Foam Fresh Cleanser, Extra Plump Smooth Balm Mask, and Fresh Hydration Sorbet Creme

Dior Hydra LIFE Oil to Milk Makeup Removing Cleanser, Lotion to Foam Fresh Cleanser, Extra Plump Smooth Balm Mask, and Fresh Hydration Sorbet Creme review

Dior Hydra LIFE Fresh Hydration Sorbet was one of the first high end moisturizers that I bought for myself almost 10 years ago when I was still a poor university student. I had grown up with my mom using exclusively Dior skincare and she has the most incredible skin. She always preached the importance of using quality skincare, so it was natural for me to look to Dior. Nearly 10 years later, for Spring 2017, Dior is revamping the Hydra LIFE line, including the introduction of a few brand new products. Today I have a few products from the line to share with you.

Dior Hydra LIFE Oil to Milk Makeup Removing Cleanser, Lotion to Foam Fresh Cleanser, Extra Plump Smooth Balm Mask, and Fresh Hydration Sorbet Creme review

Dior Hydra LIFE Oil to Milk Makeup Removing Cleanser (C$49) is an oil-based cleanser and makeup remover. Anyone with any skin type can benefit from this. It contains sweet almond extract to soften and moisturize the skin. You massage this into dry skin, dissolving makeup, pollution, and dirt on the skin. You apply a bit of warm water to emulsify the oil, creating a creamy milk which will rise away everything. You can use this on its own, or as a first step in a double cleanse routine.

Lotion to Foam Fresh Cleanser (C$49) is a foaming cleanser, appropriate for all skin types. It comes in a liquid, but comes with a foaming pump (similar to one you’d see in a foaming hand soap), so foam is dispensed out of the bottle. It is infused with white tea leaf extract, it’s a great cleanser to use as a second cleanse after the Oil to Milk Makeup Removing Cleanser. It’s lightweight, and leaves skin feeling clean and supple.

Dior Hydra LIFE Oil to Milk Makeup Removing Cleanser, Lotion to Foam Fresh Cleanser, Extra Plump Smooth Balm Mask, and Fresh Hydration Sorbet Creme review

Hydra LIFE Extra Plump Smooth Balm Mask (C$79) is a balmy 3-minute rescue mask. It contains glycerin, jojoba, shea butter, white pine oil, hyaluronic acid and other nourishing botanical ingredients to intensely plump the skin, delivering moisture deep within the skin layers. The balmy texture makes it perfect for dry, normal, and combination skin types. You can massage this into the skin in the morning, or right before a big event for a quick skin pick-me-up.

Hydra LIFE Fresh Hydration Sorbet Creme (C$82) is a lightweight gel creme that can benefit any skin type, including the most sensitive. It contains haberlea leaf extract, a humectant, and french mallow, which is has anti-inflammatory properties. I have very dehydrated skin, yet this sorbet is perfect for my skin during the day (I do wear a hydrating serum though, but I wear that with even the most hydrating of moisturizers). It feels really refreshing and lightweight, and absorbs almost instantly without any residue. It reminds me a bit of the Belif moisturizers, but slightly more refined.

Dior Hydra LIFE Oil to Milk Makeup Removing Cleanser, Lotion to Foam Fresh Cleanser, Extra Plump Smooth Balm Mask, and Fresh Hydration Sorbet Creme review

Dior Hydra LIFE is definitely worthy of everyone taking a look. This line is perfect for anyone in their teens to their mid-30s, or if as a transition from anti-acne products to anti-aging products. You can find Hydra LIFE products now at Holt Renfrew, Nordstrom, The Bay, Shopper’s Drug Mart Beauty Boutique, and other Dior counters across Canada.

Dior Hydra LIFE Oil to Milk Makeup Removing Cleanser, Lotion to Foam Fresh Cleanser, Extra Plump Smooth Balm Mask, and Fresh Hydration Sorbet Creme review

Ingredients:

Hydra LIFE Oil to Milk Makeup Removing Cleanser and Lotion to Foam Fresh Cleanser

Dior Hydra LIFE Oil to Milk Makeup Removing Cleanser and Lotion to Foam Fresh Cleanser ignredients

Hydra LIFE Extra Plump Smooth Balm Mask and Hydra LIFE Fresh Hydration Sorbet Creme

Dior Hydra LIFE Extra Plump Smooth Balm Mask and Fresh Hydration Sorbet Creme ingredients

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

Review: Pixi Beauty Rose Oil Blend, Vitamin Wake Up Mist, and 24K Eye Elixir

Pixi Beauty Rose Oil Blend, Vitamin Wake Up Mist, and 24K Eye Elixir review

I’m back with some more Pixi Beauty reviews! You can see my last set of reviews here, where I talk about the Pixi Glow Tonic, the Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse, and a few mask options. Today, I want to share with you a few other Pixi products that I’ve recently had the pleasure of trying. So far I’ve been pretty impressed with the quality, price, and value of these products. While they aren’t the cheapest out there, they are quite affordable considering you get quality, active ingredients that truly work to make a difference on the skin.

The first product I wanted to talk about today was the Pixi Rose Oil Blend (C$34). As you know, I am a huge fan of anything oil, so this was one product that stood out at me quite a bit at the Pixi launch event. It contains sweet almond oil, rosehip oil (rosa canina), jojoba oil, pomegranate oil, damascus rose oil, geranium oil, and orange peel oil. My first impression is that it smells very fresh, not that old lady rose scent a lot of companies put out (I love old lady rose too, but this is lighter). The texture is quite fluid and lightweight, and absorbs easily into the skin. Despite it being so lightweight, I find this to be quite hydrating, as it contains a heavy dose of sweet almond and jojoba oils. On my driest of nights, though, I do like to layer a moisturizer on top just to seal it in. You can also add a drop or two in your foundation to boost the glow!

It claims to improve skin elasticity and glow. I still have relatively young skin (late 20s) so my skin is still pretty elastic, thus I didn’t notice any improvements while using this oil. As with most botanical oils, I did notice that this boosted my skin’s glow with long term use. Overall, it’s an A+.

Pixi Beauty Rose Oil Blend, Vitamin Wake Up Mist, and 24K Eye Elixir review

Next, I have the Vitamin Wakeup Mist (C$20). It contains orange flower water, as well as a blend of grapefruit peel oil, lavendar oil, orange peel oil, lime oil, and licorice root extract. All of these citrus oils are great a revitalizing tired skin. I use this in the morning and it helps to awaken my skin, and making it ready for another long day at work. It smells incredibly fresh, but unfortunately I didn’t find it super hydrating. It’s a good balancing essence spray, but if you have very dehydrated or dry skin, you may want to consider picking up the Hydrating Milky Mist or the Glow Mist (C$20 each), which contains a higher concentration of essential oils.

Pixi Beauty Rose Oil Blend, Vitamin Wake Up Mist, and 24K Eye Elixir review

The last product I wanted to share with you today is the 24K Eye Elixir (C$28). This product is a lightweight eye serum that you can apply alone, or under a more emollient eye cream. It contains cucumber fruit extract, raspberry fruit extract, and real gold. This is probably one of the more disappointing Pixi products I’ve tried. The Elixir is ultra lightweight, so it doesn’t actually feel like anything on the eyes. While the cucumber extract helps make it feel soothing and cooling, the effects are quite temporary. I didn’t notice a boost in hydration while using this on its own. For the price, I think you can find an eye cream that is good enough standalone without having to invest in this. I would probably skip.blueberry

You can find Pixi Beauty products at Shopper’s Drug Mart locations across Canada.

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

Celebrating the opening of Skinceuticals by Project Skin, and multi-masking with Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Masque, Phyto Corrective Masque, and Hydrating B5 Gel

Skinceuticals by Project Skin MD opening review

Last month, I was invited to the grand opening of the Skinceuticals by Project Skin, the first freestanding Skinceuticals boutique in Canada, as well as a Project Skin MD treatment centre, located at Richmond Centre in the Greater Vancouver Area in B.C., Canada.

The new state-of-the-art skin boutique and facial centre offers a variety of specialized facials that are designed for those who are looking for express services, as well as full service offerings, to complement the complete service offerings at the original Project Skin MD location in Vancouver.

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Skinceuticals by Project Skin MD opening reviewSkinceuticals by Project Skin MD opening review

Sample full services include complimentary skin consultations, the Signature Customized Glow Facial (60 min for $150), Dermaplanning (60 min for $150), or their MAX+ Customized Facial (75 min for $255), which includes a MAX+ LED light therapy treatment which helps to target skin concerns such as acne, hyperpigmentation, melasma, rosacea and other common skin problems. Express services include various peels and mask treatments, customized for your skin type for just $85 for 30 minutes. You can find out more about the treatments and services here.

Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Masque, Phyto Corrective Masque, and Hydrating B5 Gel review

I took home from the event a multi-masking facial set, which contained three Skinceuticals masks: Clarifying Clay Masque, Phyto Corrective Masque, and Hydrating B5 Gel, as well as a mixing bowl and Skinceuticals mask brush (not pictured).

The Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Masque contains active cleansing ingredients such as kaolin, bentonite, as well as various fruit enzymes and extracts to help faciliate a deeper exfoliating action. It also contains aloe leaf juice to help hydrate. I was surprised to see titanium dioxide so high up on the ingredients list, as I understand this ingredient helps to cosmetically improve and brighten the appearance of the skin, but this is not a long-term benefit. This is a very mild clay mask; I didn’t feel like it was too drying, and unlike other clay masks, it doesn’t suck the life out of my skin. I ended up using more than usual to get decent coverage, but once on my face, it felt very soothing. I also like that despite it drying down completely, I didn’t get that “I can’t move my face” type thing happening.

The Phyto Corrective Masque is a cooling, hydrating botanical gel mask that works great on all skin types. I normally use this on its own, or as a quick pick-me-up after the Clarifying Clay Masque. I love the cooling sensation, and most importantly that the cooling sensation doesn’t appear to come from some kind of mint or peppermint oil. You get a nice 60mL of product, which is enough for several months. A little bit goes a long way, and I don’t find that it dries down too quickly so you can keep masking for longer compared to other gel masks. While I was kinda meh about it initially after using it, I did notice that the next morning, my skin was significantly softer, more plump, and more hydrated. I didn’t leave it on as an overnight mask, and I washed it off in the shower before bed, but the benefits were definitely enhanced overnight. I was pleasantly surprised. This is a great mask to use before a big event to help re-hydrate your skin.

Lastly, the Hydrating B5 Gel (C$86) is a hyaluronic acid gel serum. It’s very lightweight, absorbs very quickly (under a few seconds) and does noticeably improve the hydration levels of my skin. I love using this in the mornings over my spray essence, and under moisturizer. It’s also fantastic mixed into the Clarifying Clay Masque to reduce how drying it may be, for the driest of skin types. My biggest qualm about this product is the price. It’s hyaluronic acid, nothing new, nothing groundbreaking, so I’m not sure why it’s $86… If you are looking for a good hyaluronic acid serum, Deciem makes a few in their various product lines, so I would suggest checking those out instead.

You can pick up these and other Skinceuticals products at Skinceuticals x Project Skin boutique.

Visit SkinCeuticals by Project Skin:
6551 No 3 Rd
Richmond, BC
V6Y 2B6
Phone: 604.285.8115
E-mail: richmond@projectskinmd.com

Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Masque, Phyto Corrective Masque, and Hydrating B5 Gel review
Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Masque, Phyto Corrective Masque, and Hydrating B5 Gel review

Skinceuticals by Project Skin MD opening reviewSkinceuticals by Project Skin MD opening review

Clarifying Clay Masque ingredients: aqua / water / eau, kaolin, bentonite, aloe barbadensis / aloe barbadensis leaf juice, propylene glycol, glycerin, ci 77891 / titanium dioxide, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cetearyl alcohol, dimethicone, lithium magnesium sodium silicate, phenoxyethanol ceteareth-20, vaccinium myrtillus fruit extract, caprylyl glycol, helianthus annuus seed oil / sunflower seed oil, saccharum officinarum extract / sugar cane extract / extrait de canne a sucre, sodium hydroxide, citrus aurantium dulcis fruit water / orange fruit water, citrus limon fruit extract / lemon fruit extract, acer saccharinum extract / sugar maple extract, chamomilla recutita extract / matricaria flower extract, rosmarinus officinalis leaf oil / rosemary leaf oil, cucumis sativus fruit extract / cucumber fruit extract, pelargonium graveolens flower oil, lavandula hybrida oil, curcuma longa extract / turmeric root extract, sclareolide, rosa spp / rose flower oil, jasminum officinale extract / jasmine extract

Phyto Corrective Masque ingredients: aqua / water/ glycerin/ alcohol denat./ dipropylene glycol/ dimethicone/ butylene glycol/ propylene glycol/ peg-8/ peg/ppg/polybutylene glycol-8/5/3 glycerin/ ammonium polyacryloyldimethyl/taurate/ phenoxyethanol/ carbomer/ dimethiconol/ sodium hyaluronate/ olea europaea leaf extract / olive leaf extract/ sodium hydroxide/ tetrasodium edta/ sodium citrate/ parfum / fragrance/ acetyl dipeptide-1 cetyl ester/ cucumis sativus fruit extract / cucumber fruit extract/ t-butyl alcohol/ sodium benzoate/ thymus vulgaris flower/leaf extract – thyme/ flower/leaf extract/ citrus grandis extract / grapefruit fruit extract/ toluene sulfonic acid/ benzyl benzoate/ cellulose acetate butyrate/ benzyl alcohol/ alpha-isomethyl ionone polyphosphorylcholine glycol acrylate/ linalool/ morus alba root extract/ polyvinyl alcohol/ caprylyl glycol/ citronellol/ ci 19140 / yellow 5/ ci 42090 / blue 1/ sodium chloride

Hydrating B5 Gel ingredients: aqua / water / eau, phenoxyethanol, calcium pantothenate, sodium hyaluronate

Thank you for Project Skin MD for inviting me to the event, and for gifting me the products.

Products that did not do it for me, featuring Estee Lauder, Sally Hansen, Live Clean, and NARS

I think a lot of bloggers get a lot of flack for always loving products, or never having anything negative to say about products, especially ones that they get from PR. A lot of times, I do get products I dislike, but I only have so much time on my hands so I try to only share the ones that I recommend to my readers. That being said, there have been a few big releases recently that just haven’t earned my stamp of approval. I went into trying these products being hopeful, as usual, that I found the next HG products, but sadly they failed to performed, and were even downright bad on some levels. So… read on for some of the products that I’ve disliked recently.

Just a caveat though – these are products that I personally dislike because I have a different skin type, or general preferences as you. If you like any of these products, please continue to use them. I’m not trying to dissuade you from using them, I’m just saying they did not work for me personally.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules review

I was introduced to this product when I was going through a really rough time in my life – I was really sick for over 3 weeks, I was stressed out over the closing of my first apartment, I was busy planning a three-week trip to Asia, AND my day job was crazy busy – so I was really looking forward to trying this product. Basically it is a oil concentrate contained in individual ampoules, which is designed to calm and repair the look of over-stressed skin. Even though the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair line is designed to be anti-aging, this product was created for those with dry, combination, and stressed skin, as well as those with sensitivity. You would use this as a skin “reset,” applying one ampoule each evening for a two week period at a time.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules review

I have to say it smells so warm and inviting, and the ingredients list looks very promising. Unfortunately, this product failed to absorb in my skin, and left a greasy mess every time I used it. I even tried using it over wet skin, which is how most oils absorb into my skin, but still this was stubborn and just stayed on the top layer. It also broke me out, and left congested pores on my cheeks, temple, and chin. Despite it being so “oily,” I actually woke up with dry patches all over my face, I have no idea how that happens. I tried using it alone, over hydrating serum, under moisturizer, with both hydrating serum and under moisturizer, and I just couldn’t get it to work. My suspicion is that the oil is too thick and not refined enough, so you’ll probably need to be someone who has very dry skin in order to enjoy this.

You get 60 ampoules though, for C$135 (ouch), which is enough for just over four treatments.

Sally Hansen Color Therapy Nail Polish (with Argan Oil)

Sally Hansen Color Therapy Nail Polish review

I was really excited to try this Color Therapy polish formula from Sally Hansen because it contains an infusion of argan oil, which sounded so promising since my nails are super dry and brittle. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst nail polish formulas I’ve ever used… the instructions say that you don’t need a base coat, but I used a red shade (not the one pictured) which then stained my nails. The worst thing wasn’t even that, it was when I applied the specifically designed top coat on already-dried colour, there was a ton of colour transfer onto the brush of the top coat which then dyed my top coat red. I tried a different shade on my ring fingers, and due the red colour bleed, my ring finger ended up with streaks of red on it as well.

Sally Hansen Color Therapy Nail Polish review

The only good thing I can think about for this formula is that it doesn’t smell as foul, but if it’s not effective as a polish, I don’t really care how it smells because I just won’t be using it. Wear time was average, maybe 5 days on me before it chipped substantially, but then it got another week’s wear out of it, so even though it does start chipping quickly, the entire nail doesn’t chip off that quickly, which I guess can be another good thing. Maybe.

The argan oil cuticle oil is okay, but not amazing. It smells pretty fragranced (powdery floral) and does temporarily hydrate my nails, but it’s nowhere as good as my CND Solar Oil (which I carry around with me everywhere).

Live Clean Exotic Silk Keratin Oil Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner

Live Clean Exotic Silk Keratin Oil Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner review

The Live Clean Exotic Silk Keratin Oil Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner was my first foray into Live Clean hair care. I’ve previously tried their body care products and I’m a fan of the natural, SLS/sulfate-free, phthalate-free and paraben-free formulas. Sadly, the Keratin Oil Smoothing Shampoo was probably one of the worst shampoo / conditioner combos I’ve ever used. My beef is mostly with the shampoo – it suds up nicely but it refuses to rinse out completely so it leaves a thick layer of reside on my hair, making it heavy, limp, and also very greasy looking. The shampoo, together with the conditioner made my hair look and feel kinda gross, which is unfortunate.

I stopped using the shampoo after about 2-3 weeks, but I continued to use the conditioner. I don’t have ultra damaged hair but it can get frizzy, especially with the cold dry winter air. This conditioner is very nourishing, but also heavy so that you aren’t able to style your hair with a lot of volume. It’s not amazing enough for me to recommend, but it does its job.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Live Clean products, but the Keratin Oil line is not great.

NARS Sculpting Multiple Duo

NARS Sculpting Multiple Duo review and swatches

I was really looking forward to these NARS Sculpting Multiple Duos. Dior had previously released similar (but limited edition) contouring duos so I was interested to see how this performed. The Dior and NARS sculpting duos are both priced similarly, the Dior is C$48 and NARS is C$52 (I was surprised too that Dior was cheaper than NARS). That’s kind of where the similarities ended – the NARS Sculpting Multiple Duos are very dry, much dryer and waxier than the Dior duos, and also sheerer. The two variations I have are Copacabana – Sidari Beach (swatched on the left) and Hot Sand – Laguna (swatched on the right).

NARS Sculpting Multiple Duo review and swatches
NARS Sculpting Multiple Duo review and swatches

As you can see, the highlighter shades are pretty patchy, and don’t blend out very well. The contouring shades are slightly better, but they end up blending out so naturally that it doesn’t look quite contour-y. I was hoping that despite it not being intense contours, you can still get a nice bronzed look with highlight, but again the highlights continue to blend patchy, rendering them basically useless. Lastly, the tubes are quite large, my face isn’t that wide so when I swipe this down my cheek, it covers too much area so I have to be careful when I apply and blend. I like NARS regular Multiples way better, and I think you might get better results purchasing the highlight and contour shades separately, or instead get powder contour products that apply better.

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All products featured in this post were provided by PR; opinions are my own.

Welcoming Pixi Beauty’s launch in Canada! Featuring Glow Tonic, Double Cleanse, Glow O2 Oxygen Mask, and Peel & Polish

Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic and Double Cleanse review

Cult favourite British brand Pixi is finally re-launching in Canada! Previously available at Target, the brand disappeared off the shelves when Target shut its doors in Canada. Now back and kicking again at Shopper’s Drug Mart, it brings back its arsenal of fan favourites, as well as some new innovations. Today I’m sharing with you my thoughts on some of the Pixi Beauty I’ve recently discovered.

Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic and Double Cleanse review

The honest truth is that I’ve always been so intrigued by Pixi, but I’ve never had the chance to try the products. When the PR reached out announcing the re-launch of the brand in Canada, I was so excited for this opportunity to finally get on the Pixi fan wagon. I received a few products to try in advance of the launch, including the famous Glow Tonic, as well as some new products, such as the Glow O2 Oxygen Mask, the Peel & Polish lactic acid mask, and the highly sought after Pixi Beauty collaboration with UK power blogger Caroline Hirons, the Double Cleanse.

Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic review

The Glow Tonic (C$20 for 100mL or C$38 for 250mL) is an alcohol-free exfoliating toner that uses the power of 5% glycolic acid to remove dead skin cells, and revitalize and brighten the skin. I’ve been using this as my first toner after cleansing my skin (I use a second hydrating toner, and then a third essence water… yes), and I like that it absorbs so quickly into the skin. Generally you should give any product with active ingredients in it a few minutes to sink in, but I’m kinda lazy so I just wait for it to completely absorb (usually around 30 seconds to a minute) before applying the next layer.

Truthfully, I am actually quite meh about this product. It’s a very gentle exfoliator, so I’ve noticed that my skin texture is slightly more refined than before, but does it really create glow? I’d have to say no. I could also be biased because my Vintner’ Daughter Active Botanical Serum is SO glow-inducing. I do like that it is a chemical exfoliator because then you don’t have to scrub your skin, which could potentially cause problems depending on how rough you are with it. It’s a good option, and does a good job at exfoliating, but if you’re expecting it to be life changing, maybe you’ll have to change your expectations.

Pixi Beauty Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse review

The Pixi Beauty x Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse has been a super smash hit ever since it hit the global market last month. It’s an unique jar with dividers that contains a solid cleansing oil on one side, and a cream cleanser on the other side. I’m a huge fan of the double cleanse method, i.e., you remove your makeup first with a specialized makeup remover, and then do a second cleanse to actually clean the skin. The CH Double Cleanse is a fantastic innovation that combines the two steps into one convenient packaging. The 100mL size makes it the perfect size for travel as well, because you just have to pack this one product to get your makeup removal and cleanser in.

I like this product because 1) it is very gentle but still removes every trace of makeup, 2) it’s scent free, and 3) it’s in a convenient tub for travelling. I don’t like this product because I tend to use more of the cleansing cream than the cleansing oil, so my cleansing cream side is running quite low, faster than the oil side. Also just as a general preference, I prefer a foaming, or gel cleanser at night as my second cleanse, and I leave my cream or lotion cleansers as my morning cleanser. That being said, this is a fantastic product and really works, you just have to see if it works with your personal skincare preferences. Sadly, this isn’t available in Canada yet, but hopefully we’ll see it come here soon!

Pixi Beauty Glow O2 Oxygen Mask and Peel and Polish review

The Glow O2 Oxygen Mask is glow-inducing mask that contains lactoccus ferment lysate, caffeine, licorice root extract, panax ginseng root extract (a key ingredient in La Prairie’s products!), lactic acid, as well as lavender oil, sodium hyaluronate, lemon peel oil, orange peel oil, and bergamot oil. The cocktail of potent ingredients is left on the skin for only 2-3 minutes to revive dull or tired skin. It’s perfect as a quick skin pick-me-up in the morning after a late night, or right before a big event. It’s a bubbling mask, which means that when the bubbles activate, it draws oxygen to the skin to also help refresh the skin. It’s not yet available in Canada, but hopefully it will arrive here soon.

I’m actually kind of meh on this product. It subtly bubbles up, not as much as the other crazy ones on the market, so that’s good (I hate those crazy bubbly ones), and there’s a mild tickly sensation from the bubbling. I left it on for longer than the 2-3 minutes, but even then I didn’t really notice any difference in my skintone. All of the great ingredients in this after lower on the ingredients list to accommodate for the ingredients that activate the foaming action, but that just seems like a waste of good ingredients. I would have liked to see a gel texture without the gimmick, in order to maximize the benefits of all those awesome ingredients. Sadly, this one will likely stay in the back of my mask drawer.

Last but not least, is my favourite of the bunch. The Peel & Polish (C$34) is a resurfacing concentrate mask. It contains 6% lactic acid (the 2nd ingredient on the list!), as well as witch hazel water, panax ginseng root extract, papaya extra, sugar cane, sugar maple extract, cucumber fruit extract, orange fruit extract, lemon fruit extract, and vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) fruit extract. You can use this 2-3 times a week, for 5 minutes each time. It is slightly grainy (think micro-dermabrasion type exfoliants), so you can use this as an exfoliator by gently massaging this into your skin to activate the enzymes and acids.

Because of the grainy texture, I found this to be hard to spread on the skin as a mask. I ended up having to use quite a bit to get a nice layer on my skin. Also I was pleasantly surprised to find that it didn’t tingle too much, even though my cheeks in particular are quite sensitive. As I was rinsing this off, I found that the warm water activated the enzymes even more so that it tingled and warmed a bit more. My skin was left feeling smoother, and looking brighter. My skin was so soft! I took advantage of this very nicely exfoliated skin to use some of my glow-inducing products, such as Sunday Riley Luna and Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, and the next morning my skin had never looked better.

Out of all these products, I truly love the Peel & Polish the most. The Double Cleanse is nice to have but not must have. I haven’t really seen results from the Glow Tonic, which I am very disappointed about because I know this is such a cult favourite. They sell them in 100mL bottles to try first before investing in the larger 250mL bottle, which could also be a good option for those with more sensitive skins.

Pixi products are available now at Shopper’s Drug Marts across Canada! I have a few more products to review… keep an eye out!

Products courtesy of PR; all opinions are my own.

Winter skin rescue essentials, featuring Primavera Skin, L’Occitane, Kat Burki, and more

This winter in Vancouver has been absolutely brutal – we almost never get snow here but this year we had five separate cases of snowfall and blizzards. With the arctic cold air, also came the dry, itchy, irritated skin. Here are some products I’ve been using lately to help soothe and heal my winter skin.

Primavera Revitalizing Cream Cleanser review

Daytime routine

Primavera Revitalizing Cream Cleanser

The Primavera Revitalizing Cream Cleanser (C$38.50 for 100mL) is my go-to morning cleanser. It contains beautiful hydrating oils such as sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, rose oil, as well as nourishing shea butter. I also love that it contains lactic acid to help gently exfoliate any pillow-residue / dead skin cells off my skin before applying skincare and makeup. It is ultra gentle, massaging wonderfully into my skin and rinsing off completely. I also love this because you can use it on damp skin (some cream cleansers require that you use it on dry skin and then emulsify later with water), which makes it easy for those lazy morning cleanses.

A little bit goes a long way, I’ve been using mine for two months and I’ve only used up 1/3 of the bottle. I normally use two pumps, but in an effort to use it up more quickly, I’ve started using three pumps. Two pumps is more than enough though. It smells wonderful, but that’s also where my major issue lies with this product – fragrance (parfum) lies halfway down the ingredients list, even before rosa damascena flower oil, which is really disappointing from an ingredients point of view. I will still use this though, because it does cleanse, soften, and hydrate my skin, all in one.

You can pick up Primavera at Petal & Post.

For Beloved One Hyaluronic Acid Tri-Molecules GHK-Cu Moisturizing Serum

The biggest mistake that you can make when you have dry skin is not replenishing your skin of water, and only replenishing the oil. It’s important to have balance, both oil and water content should be at a happy medium in order to have comfortable skin. I use a deeply nourishing facial oil at night, but during the day, I make sure to replenish my skin’s water via a lighter, but still heavily hydrating facial serum. The For Beloved One Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Serum (C$68 for 30mL) is a light-as-water serum that just plumps my skin out and refills my overnight heater dehydrated skin with a heavy dose of water. I only use one pump and it’s enough to cover my entire face. It’s also a great pre-makeup serum because it absorbs so quickly, making my morning base prep so much easier.

You can purchase For Beloved One at T&T Supermarket locations across Canada.

Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb review

belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb

My favourite day-time moisturizer during the winter is the belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb (C$47 for 50mL). This lightweight gel-cream moisturizer applies very thinly but veils my skin in a heavy dose of water. I love this during the day because it absorbs so quickly while relieving dryness, flakes, and redness. I like to use a heavier / more emollient sunscreen during the winter, and the lightweight moisturizer layers perfectly underneath. It also creates a great base for makeup, as it leaves my skin looking and feeling smoother. On certain days I end up using more than my usual dose of moisturizer, but it never leaves my skin greasy. The only negative is that it doesn’t contain any built in SPF, otherwise it’d be even more perfect!

belif is available at The Face Shop locations across Canada and online.

Night-time routine

L'Occitane 5% Shea Foaming Cleanse and Kat Burki Rose Hip Revitalizing Serum review

L’Occitane 5% Shea Foaming Cleanser

My night-time cleanser is the L’Occitane 5% Shea Foaming Cleanser (C$28 for 125mL), a new product introduced this January. It is a very gentle foaming cleanser, lathering up into a soft foam. It removes light makeup, and leaves my skin feeling clean but never stripped – it is one of those rare foaming cleansers that actually leaves my skin feeling super soft! If you’re a lover of foaming cleansers like me, and despite having dry skin, can never wean off the foaming cleanser, this is the ONE for you. The major ingredient in this is 5% shea oil, which really does help to protect and nourish the skin. I can see myself repurchasing this, and also purchasing it for my mom to use.

You can get L’Occitane products at L’Occitane boutiques and Murale stores across Canada.

Kat Burki Rose Hip Revitalizing Serum

The Kat Burki Rose Hip Revitalizing Serum (C$182 for 30mL) is an aloe vera leaf juice-based hydrating and anti-aging serum that is created using Kat Burki’s signature cold pressed methods, and contains her famous KB5™ Complex. It also contains rose hip seed oil, and stable forms of Vitamins C, B, A, and E. Aloe vera and glycerin provide intense hydration, while everything else helps to balance and brighten the skin, while minimizing future lines, wrinkles and the look of pores. While it is pricey, a little bit goes a very long way – I only use one pump on my face and neck each time.

Kat Burki is available at Murale, Shopper’s Drug Mart Beauty Boutique Online, and Nordstrom locations in Canada.

Farmacy Eye Dew review

Farmacy Eye Dew

The Farmacy Eye Dew (C$49 for 15mL) has been my go-to winter eye cream for the last little while. It has a gel-cream texture that feels lightweight, but is still quite emollient in terms of spreadability. Supposedly it is great for dark circles, dullness and elasticity, but I haven’t really noticed much improvement in those areas but it is very hydrating without being heavy. Since moving into my late 20s, I’ve really noticed that my under eye area is dryer and that there are more lines, so sad. This product really helps to keep those lines at bay, without giving my undereye area milia. A little goes a long way, so this 15mL size really lasts a very long time.

You can pick up your Farmacy products from Sephora.

May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon

I can’t be writing a winter skin rescue story without including the cult favourite May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon (US$160 for 50mL). This is a cult classic for a reason – it does an incredible job at soothing redness, irritation, and general weathered skin. I find that it is actually not the most hydrating facial oil unless you seriously pile it on, but the blue tansy oil does a fantastic job at calming any redness that I may have. I don’t use this every day, but rather on the days or nights when I feel like my skin is overbeaten. Did I mention even though this is basically 100% oil, but you can use this in your eye area? It doesn’t leave milia, and really helps to soothe the area around my eyes as well. Works on lips too!

Pick up your May Lindstrom from the May Lindstrom online shop!

Hand & body

L'Occitane Shea Butter Intensive Hand Balm review

L’Occitane Shea Butter Intensive Hand Balm

The L’Occitane Shea Butter Intensive Hand Balm (C$40 for 150mL) is the newest member of the L’Occitane Shea Butter body care family. It contains a whopping 25% shea butter formula in a beautiful light balm texture. My hands are usually the first to show dryness in winter. Wait who am I kidding, my hands are dry all the time… but it’s especially bad in the winter! I’ve been getting cracks in my hands and also any cuts just don’t heal because the dryness pulls the skin apart. I’ve been slathering this on religiously since I received it, always applying a very thick layer right before bed. I was worried that the heavy shea butter content would leave my skin feeling super greasy, but it actually completely absorbs! It also leaves a soft, silky protective film on top of my skin to prevent moisture from escaping. While I feel like my hands are just marginally more hydrated in the morning, I’ve actually gotten to the point where I don’t have to continuously apply hand cream overnight.

Reversa Skin Smoothing Body Lotion

In addition to dry skin on my face, the rest of  my body is also dry and scaly. The Reversa Skin Smoothing Body Lotion is my secret to deeper body exfoliation and also allowing other more nourishing products to penetrate deeper into my skin. I use this product twice a week, allow it to dry on my skin, then layer on another, thicker body cream (currently I’m using The Body Shop’s Spa of the World line, so much love for this). My elbows, legs, and knees are the worst when it comes to dehydration, and this really helps to remove that top layer of dead skin.

Pick up Reversa at Shopper’s Drug Mart locations near you.

Some of the products featured were courtesy of PR for review consideration, others were purchased with my own money; all opinions are my own.

Give yourself a skin treat with La Prairie’s Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation

La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation review

Over the last six months or so, I’ve been using the La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation (C$285)This is by far the most expensive foundation I’ve ever used, and I believe it is also marketed as being the most expensive foundation on the market. Despite it being a makeup product, it contains heavy doses of La Prairie’s signature Cellular Complex, as well as the famous Caviar Extracts, so it doubles as a skincare product. As foundation covers your entire face for often longer than 12 hours a day, you want to make sure that you’re giving your skin only the best products. Why waste hundreds of dollars and hours of time each week on your skincare routine if you’re going to smother your skin in crappy foundation all day?

La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation review

The Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation contains a top and bottom part. The top cover flips up to reveal a high coverage brightening concealer and high definition mirror underneath the cover, and the bottom is a medium to full coverage foundation that is super lightweight but still offers that nice coverage. You get 30mL of foundation, which is normal, but I’m not sure how much concealer you get. It also comes with a nice mirrored stand, which has a slot to rest the mini concealer brush that comes with the set. Presentation-wise, it is definitely very beautiful, intricate, and luxurious. Even in little details like the mirror, which is clear and high quality with no distortions, you get a sense of luxury.

The foundation itself is in a thick, plastic pot with a transparent side so that you can see how much you’ve used. It comes with a spatula, which rests in the foundation pot, and you can apply by directly dapping foundation onto your face with the spatula. This is my preferred method because it doesn’t waste product (this stuff is $9.50 per mL, which means each time you wear it, you are likely using about $10 worth of product!), but the major downside is that it doesn’t protect the product and the skincare ingredients from oxidizing, and also bacteria can easily get into your foundation since you are directly touching the main pot of foundation each time you use this. That being said though, I only use this product after I wash my face, so hopefully that will prevent bacteria.

La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation review

In terms of texture, it is a thicker cream, but still ultra lightweight. I apply with my fingers, again because I want to waste less product, but I also find that the warmth from my fingers helps to blend it in my skin more naturally. It does blend out absolutely flawlessly, and you can also layer it without caking, creasing, or drying your skin out. It does not cling to dry spots at all, rather it is lightly hydrating, and keeps my skin feeling lush and glowy. I don’t always need to powder, especially if I am wearing it in the winter, and it lasts me all day, with minimal fading, until I want to remove it at all. It is one of my go-to foundations for when I want to look my best. I can wear this with light, barely-there coverage, as a tinted moisturizer (by mixing with my La Prairie moisturizer), or as a medium-to-full coverage foundation, depending on my mood. It wears beautifully in all three situations.

As for cons, I’ve mentioned earlier that the pot design isn’t the greatest. I would prefer to see a pump if possible, since there are so many skincare ingredients in the foundation that we’d want to protect. The other con is the concealer – it does not have very good coverage, I feel like I can layer up my foundation underneath my eye area if I wanted similar coverage. It also creases on me, which is a little unfortunate, but most concealers crease so I wasn’t too surprised. Despite the convenient packaging for both foundation and concealer in one, I would actually prefer to see the price reduced and the product coming with only foundation and no concealer.

La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation review

Another foundation-like product that is in La Prairie’s collection is the Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Transforming Cream. Between the two, I am strongly for the Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation, because despite it not having that high SPF protection that comes with the Transforming Cream, the finish and wear times are significantly more favourable in the Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation. The price differential is not big, the Transforming Cream is only $35 less than the Concealer + Foundation.

While a $285 foundation is not everyone’s cup of tea, I do firmly believe in taking good care of your skin, over buying nice clothes or going out to the movies. When you’re 70 and with flawless skin, you will continue to be radiant and feel good about yourself.

The shade I wear is Warm Linen and it’s the perfect match for my light medium skin tone with neutral undertone. For reference, I am also a Guerlain 02, Dior 020, Chanel B20.

You can purchase La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation at Holt Renfrew. If you’re not sure what shade you are, please make your way to a La Prairie counter to get matched. They can also provide you with generous samples to try out your chosen shades at home and out and about in your natural environment before making the commitment to buy. La Prairie is expensive, a luxury brand, but it is foremost an experience. I hope you’ll fall in love with the La Prairie family of products like I have.

Ingredients:

La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation ingredients
La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation ingredients

This post contains PR samples; all opinions are my own.

Review: Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, the face oil to end all face oils

Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum review

Today, I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to share with you the facial oil that has taken the world by a storm – Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum (C$240 for 30mL). Created by vintner April Gargiulo when she was pregnant with her child, the Active Botanical Serum is an all-purpose, nutrient dense face oil that can potentially replace every other product in your skincare routine. My apologies in advance for this crazy long post. I had an extensive conversation with April about  the Active Botanical Serum, so I wanted to transfer all of that knowledge to you. If you already know everything about this magical serum, then you can jump down to the section titled “My thoughts,” where I describe my experience.

April’s background is in fine wine making, where every ingredient needs to be the truly best quality, and each step of the wine-making process strictly monitored and controlled. The same philosophy was adopted when she created Vintner’s Daughter – there are no shortcuts taken to create the very best product for your skin. The end product is simple, but it’s not at all easy to create or execute. Armed with a background in agriculture, April and the Vintner’s Daughter team works only with the very best producers around the world. Each and every ingredient that passes through to Vintner’s Daughter is tested by the lab to ensure for quality.

While it was designed for April’s acne-prone, discoloration-prone skin, and it can treat everything from dehydration to blemishes, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, deep wrinkles, and elasticity. The product was created to address skin concerns at its very foundation, using skin balancing minerals and omega fatty acids. It contains 22 natural oils and extracts, with no fillers, fragrances, nothing, with each ingredient playing a key role in keeping your skin looking and feeling its best. Each of the ingredients are present in the serum in high quantities, April warns, if you are sensitive or allergic to one of these ingredients then the product will not be for you, because the product is truly concentrated. That being said, if you have sensitive skin in general, then this product is for you because of all the anti-inflammatory ingredients present.

  • Vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil – A powerful foundation oil with maximum absorption and anti-oxidant properties.
  • Corylus avellana (hazelnut) oil – A key foundation oil rich in linoleic acids that strengthens skin’s elasticity and its small particle size allows it to reach deep into skin.
  • Citrus aurantium var bergamia(bergamot) peel oil – A time-honored oil that inhibits melanin synthesis; lightens and brightens skin.
  • Persea americana (avocado) oil  – An oil rich in vitamin e and a serious free-radical avenger.
  • Calendula officinalis (marigold) – An oil prized for centuries for its potent healing and soothing powers.
  • Rose damascena (rose) absolute – An ancient skin healer and hormonal skin balancer
  • Daucus carota (carrot) seed oil – An oil rich in vitamin a that is a super charged cell regenerator and wrinkle reducer
  • Oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil – A powerful healing and anti -inflammatory oil that also acts as skin balancer
  • Rosa rubignosa (rosehip) seed oil – An oil that uniquely targets damage and discoloration caused by uv exposure
  • Citrus limon (lemon) peel – A botanical that inhibits melanin synthesis to lighten and brighten skin
  • Lavandula x intermedia (lavender) flower – A deeply healing and highly anti-inflammatory ancient botanical
  • Medicago sativa (alfalfa) leaf – A potent detoxifier with dense phytonutrient content for cell regeneration
  • Urtica dioica (nettle) leaf – A botanical with maximum vitamin a and c content to combat wrinkles and sun damage.
  • Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) leaf – A potent detoxifier with dense phytonutrient content for cell regeneration
  • Boswellia carteri (frankincense) oil – A sought after oil that increases blood circulation allowing serum to penetrate skin’s layers
  • Citrus aurantium var amara (neroli) flower oil – A powerful and ancient aromatic for spiritual and skin health.
  • Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract – An anti-microbial botanical that also helps to reduce acne
  • Hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn) fruit – A deeply nourishing oil that contains the entire family of omegas 3, 6, 9 and the rare omega 7.
  • Curcuma longa (tumeric) root oil – A super-charged anti-inflammatory, skin brightener and free radical avenger.
  • Cupressus sempervirens (cypress) leaf oil – An oil that increases blood circulation, strengthen capillaries and delivers oxygen to skin.
  • Jasminum grandiflorum (jasmine) flower – A rare and sought after oil that promotes skin elasticity and increases cellular renewal.
  • Calophyllum tacamahaca (tamanu) oil – A deeply nourishing oil prized for its rich fatty acid content readily available for skin absorption.

While April herself uses a very simple skincare routine – cleanse, tone with an acid-based toner for gentle daily exfoliation, then apply Active Botanical Serum, and sunscreen if it’s the daytime – she believes that skincare shouldn’t be prescriptive. Everyone should do what feels best for them! If you are using a multi-step, more complicated routine, then the Active Botanical Serum should be applied at the very end of your routine.

Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum review

While applying the Active Botantical Serum, Vintner’s Daughter recommends a Push/Press method that allows for deeper and more effective penetration of the active ingredients, which also allows the user to create a 30 second daily ritual where you can relax and enjoy the aromatherapy benefits of the Active Botanical Serum. The Push/Press technique is as follows:

Step 1. Start with clean, damp skin
Step 2. Place 6- 8 drops of Active Botanical Serum in palm of hand
Step 3. Gently rub palms together. This will further activate your serum and evenly distribute serum to both hands.
Step 4. Place full hand on either side of face and press firmly. Push serum into skin by repeating Push / Press technique on entire face, neck and décolleté.
Step 5. Continue to repeat entire process for 60 seconds.

Despite it containing such a long list of active ingredients, April believes that the Active Botanical Serum can be used in conjunction with most other ingredients, including retinols, acid peels, and others.

My thoughts

Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum review

I received my bottle of Vintner’s Daughter the day after my offer was accepted on my first ever apartment, and it was a very, very stressful week, to say the least. I was trying to get an inspector in, secure a mortgage, and also review strata documents all in just a few short days. It was also bad timing because it was one of my busiest times of the year for my day job, AND I was also very sick with a bad cold. But that was the true test that I put the Active Botanical Serum under, and it seriously blew my expectations away. Despite the lack of sleep, stress, illness, and everything else on top, the first night I used this, I woke up with incredibly glowy, smooth, luminous, and plumped up skin. I was completely shocked at how good my skin looked.

If you’re not a fan of facial oils, or if you find them too heavy, then the Active Botanical Oil might be a good option for you. Despite the heavy dosage of active ingredients and natural oils and extracts, this oil is surprisingly lightweight – it is one of the fastest absorbing natural facial oils I’ve used. That being said, you still get about 30 seconds to push and press this product into your skin, and also inhale its beautiful scent, but once all that’s done, you get incredibly supple skin.

Since the first day I tried this, every single time I use this on my face I am wowed by how much my skin glows. It looks truly healthy from the inside out. I derive so much happiness from including this product in my daily ritual, but I try not to use this every night because I don’t want my skin to get used to it. I do use it on those nights where I feel like my skin needs some extra TLC. It’s an all-in-one oil for me, so I can use this on its own when I’m travelling, or layered on top of my other skincare products. I’ve also used this during the day, on a particularly cold winter morning, and this oil left my skin feeling nourished and protected against the winter elements.

The only downside that I found with this oil is that I find you need to use more than what you would use in other oils. For example, the May Lindstrom Youth Dew only requires a single pump to adequately cover and hydrate my face and neck. The Active Botanical Serum requires six to eight drops – I did try this with less drops (around four) and it wasn’t enough for full coverage, simply because it absorbs quickly and weightlessly into the skin. Why is this a problem? Well it’s quite expensive, priced at $220 for just 30mL. It is very potent, but I wouldn’t say that a little bit goes a long way, so I can see this needing replenishment quite often.

Lastly, if you are wanting to try out the Active Botanical Serum without committing to buying the full bottle, unfortunately there isn’t a sample program that allows you to do that. Because quality is so important to Vintner’s Daughter, and most sample bottles are clear glass, which may affect the efficacy of the active ingredients, the company has chosen not to do samples until they are able to design a sample program that won’t compromise the quality of the ingredients. However, certain retailers like Clementine Fields offers samples for C$10, which will allow you to test this out on your skin without breaking the bank.

The TL;DR version is that I love my precious bottle of Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum. I’ve been recommending it to everyone around me, so now it’s time for me to recommend it to you too. It’s a wonderful product, and adds an extra layer of depth to my skincare routine. It is expensive, but think about it this way – it’s basically the cost of going to a facial 2-3 times, yet with this one bottle you get that beautiful post-facial glow every time you use it. It’s a product truly worthy of your investment.

Purchase your Vintner’s Daughter direct from their site for the freshest product, or from other online retailers such as Cult Beauty, the Detox Market, and more.

Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum review

Ingredients:

Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum review and ingredients

The product featured in this post was provided by the company; all opinions are my own.

Review – Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Essence and Concentrated Brightening Serum

Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Essence and Concentrated Brightening Serum review

Tata Harper‘s Concentrated Brightening products were the star products of the Tata Harper Brightening Facial that I received a few months ago. I’ve been into brightening products for a very, very long time, and these from Tata Harper are the only ones I have seen on the market that are 100% natural. As my love for natural beauty products grows, I’m so happy that I’m also able to combine my love for brightening products with this newfound passion. Tata’s Concentrated Brightening products are a part of the Supernatural collection, which is a high end collection that contains the highest concentration of quality ingredients to deliver the fastest results, with a primary goal of anti-aging.

Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Essence and Concentrated Brightening Serum review

The Concentrated Brightening Essence (C$202 for 100mL) is a liquid essence lotion (essentially a serum toner) that combined Alpha and Beta Hydroxy technology to give the complexion a toned and refined look, helping to minimize the appearance of dark spots for a more even, luminous glow. It also boosts the performance of all Tata Harper serums, and can be used with all three of Tata Harper’s Supernatural collection serums. You should use this after cleansing, and before your serum of choice.

The Concentrated Brightening Serum (C$306 for 30mL) is a multitasking age-defying treatment that effectively illuminates, brightens and corrects the appearance of skin tone for a balanced, radiant complexion. It contains a blend of 35 high-performance ingredients which takes a triple-action approach to fighting and minimizing the appearance of dark spots. It claims to reduce melanin by 36% within 24 hours, boost the melanin elimination process by 155% in 3 days, decrease skin pigmentation by 41% in 28 days, and reduce the look of dark spots by 63% in 42 days.

I’ve been using these two products together and within the first week, I was noticing my improvements in my skin. I had just gotten back from my trip overseas, and I was also still in the midst of unpacking after my move so you know my skin wouldn’t be in the best condition. After just a few days, I could definitely see a noticeable an increase in brightness in my skin, as well as a smoother, more even-toned complexion. Despite being brightening products, i.e. full of exfoliating ingredients, my skin didn’t feel dry or dehydrated at all, rather it was quite hydrating and I did not need a second hydrating serum like I did with most brightening serums. It also complemented my choice of moisturizer or facial oil of the day. A little bit goes a long way, I only need 1-1.5 pumps of the Brightening Essence, and one pump of the Brightening Serum.

For those with sensitive skin – I generally have lightly sensitive skin that gets red very quickly. I haven’t noticed any increased sensitivity during or after using this. I definitely recommend using a high SPF sunscreen during the day though, because there are many chemical exfoliating ingredients in the products.

Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Essence and Concentrated Brightening Serum review

I haven’t put either of these to the test separately, but together I can tell you they work very well. I’ve been using this for the last few months and I can say that there definitely has been a reduction in hyperpigmentation, scarring, and my freckles also appear slightly lighter. My complexion in general is brighter, and my skin is smoother in texture as well. These products together are lightly hydrating, so if you have oily skin you may not even need a moisturizer, but if you have combo, normal, or dry skin, a separate moisturizer is recommended. I’m loving the Tata Harper Regenerating Moisturizer at the moment, which contains honey, my current favourite beauty ingredient.

I’m not going to put it gently, these products are expensive. Tata Harper’s products are already pretty expensive, but the Supernatural collection, which includes these Concentrated Brightening products, are considered the crown jewels of her collection. If you are looking for a nice skincare splurge, and are looking for effective yet gentle brightening products, these are the ones for you.

Pick up your Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Essence and Serum at TataHarper.com, BeautyMarkGreen & Pure, and Cult Beauty.

Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Essence and Concentrated Brightening Serum review

Concentrated Brightening Essence ingredients: Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit water*, Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Water*, Glycerin, Water (Aqua), Propanediol, Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Leucojum Aestivum (Summer Snowflake) Bulb Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Acacia Senegal Gum, Lilium candidum leaf cell extract, Sodium Phytate, Anogeissus Leiocarpus (Akulia) Bark Extract, Xanthan gum, Lonicera japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Lonicera caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Extract, Populus tremuloides (Aspen) Bark Extract, Gluconolactone, Narcissus tazetta (Daffodil) Bulb Extract*, Brassica Napus Extract, Menyanthes trifoliata (Buckbean) Flower Extract, Ascophyllum nodosum (Norwegian Sea Kelp) Extract, Dictyopteris Membranacea (Sea fern) Extract, Aroma**, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Alcohol, Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool

*Ingredients from Organic Farming

**Clinical grade Essential Oils blend

Concentrated Brightening Serum ingredients: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, Glycerin, Rosa damascena flower water*, Propanediol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride,  Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) seed Oil, Hydroxystearyl Alcohol, Silybum marianum (Milk Thistle) ethyl ester, Glyceryl undecylenate, Leuconostoc ferment filtrate (radish root extract), Arachidyl Alcohol, Sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil*, Leucojum aestivum (Summer Snowflake) Bulb Extract, Ascophyllum nodosum (Norwegian Sea Kelp) Extract, Lavandula stoechas (Spanish Lavender) extract, Narcissus tazetta (Daffodil) bulb extract*, Phoenix dactylifera (Date) seed extract, Sodium hyaluronate, Lilium candidum (Madonna Lily) leaf cell extract, Anogeissus Leiocarpus (Akulia) Bark Extract, Pancratium maritimum (Sea Dafodil) extract, Menyanthes trifoliata (Buckbean) Leaf Extract, Dunaliella salina (Algae) extract, Brassica Napus (rapeseed) extract, Squalene, Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Seed wax, Cocos nucifera (Coconut) oil, Daucus carota sativa (Carrot) root Extract, Lonicera japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Lonicera caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Populus tremuloides (Aspen) Bark Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Glyceryl,  Caprylate, Dictyopteris Membranacea (Sea fern) Extract, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan gum, Behenyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Hydroxystearyl Glucoside / Glucoside Hydroxystearyl, Cetyl alcohol, Gluconolactone, Aroma**, Limonene, Linalool, Citral, Geranioll, Benzyl Benzoate, Citronellol

*Ingredients from Organic farming

** Clinical grade essential oils blend

The products in this post were provided by PR for review consideration purposes; as always, all opinions are my own.