Treat yourself with a Garnier SkinActive Sheet Mask… without breaking the bank!

Sheet masks are the fastest and easiest way to treat yourself to a salon-quality facial without leaving the comforts of your own home… and without breaking the bank! Today I want to share with you three sheet masks from Garnier SkinActive that I’ve recently been introduced to. At $3.99 a piece, these sheet masks are incredibly affordable, and still deliver fantastic results.

The first one is the Moisture Bomb Glow-Boosting Super Hydrating Mask with Sakura Flower Extract and Hyaluronic Acid. This incredibly juicy sheet mask is chock full of serum, so much so that after 15 minutes, the mask is still dripping wet. It smells very fresh, with a light floral scent that isn’t overpowering. The mask textile itself is nothing special, like a cotton-fibre weave, but the fit is perfect for my face. It sticks to the contours of my face very well, and I didn’t once have to adjust it. I can do stuff around the house without worrying about it falling off. The serum is very lightweight and super skin-plumping. After one 15 minute session, I felt like my skin indeed felt a bit brighter, and significantly more hydrated.

Next we have the Moisture Bomb Anti-Fatigue Super Hydrating Mask with Lavender Essential Oils and Hyaluronic Acid. This is such a wonderful face mask to relax in after a long day at work. Similar to the Glow-Boosting Mask, the mask fits very well to the contour of my face, and is also drenched in hydrating serum. Again, this is a great face mask to use if your skin is feeling dry or dull. The amount of serum in the pack also makes it a great mask to use on airplanes because it won’t dry up as fast.

Lastly, for those who are looking for some skin purification, the Super Purifying Charcoal Sheet Mask with Black Algae, LHA and Hyaluronic Acid is amazing for those living in the big city and are in need of deep detox. It contains charcoal powder, pineapple fruit extract, and papaya fruit extract to exfoliate and purify the skin. For regular use, I found this to be a bit too drying for my dehydrated / dry skin type. That being said, I can see this mask being amazing for those who live in Toronto / Montreal during the summer where it is very hot and humid and there is significant pollution. I would probably also take this on vacation with me if I were to visit China or somewhere else that has a hotter climate with elevated levels of pollution.

For just $3.99 per mask, you really can’t go wrong with any of these. My top pick out of these three is the Moisture Bomb Glow-Boosting Super Hydrating Mask – it really helped to brighten and plump my skin.  You can pick these up now at drugstores and mass market retailers across Canada, including London Drugs, Shoppers Drug Mart, and more.

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


Holy mother of serums – La Prairie Platinum Rare Cellular Night Elixir

Honestly, if you had told me that I would be sitting at an exclusive banquet dinner to launch the new La Prairie Platinum Rare Cellular Night Elixir, I would have said that you must be dreaming. But alas, this did come true and in February, 2018, I attended a launch event for this serum of serums – a C$1,555 night elixir that promises to encourage skin detox, improve skin respiration, provide life-infusing skin nutrients, and boost the skin’s self-defense capabilities as you sleep.

The Platinum Cellular Night Elixir is probably one of the most expensive skincare products on the market, containing the highest concentration of La Prairie’s exclusive Cellular Complex, combined with the Advanced Platinum Complex that is exclusive to La Prairie’s platinum line. Each bottle contains only 20mL, but a tiny bit goes a very very long way (thank goodness because this stuff is $78 per mL!!!). It comes in the most beautiful bottle – designed to look like a purple diamond, with a platinum-hued dropper.

I was sent home from the event with a 3mL sample bottle, which, to be honest, I haven’t opened. If this stuff is unicorn tears, then I will be saving it for a special occasion, like for my wedding or the month after I have my first child (and need my skin to bounce back despite lack of sleep).

If you have $1,750 to spare (after tax), then get yourself to a La Prairie counter. La Prairie also offers complimentary mini-facials where you can experience this magical elixir applied on your skin first before you make the investment. I’ve had amazing results with pretty much every La Prairie product I’ve used in the past, so I’m expecting that my socks will be blown off by this one as well.

The La Prairie Platinum Rare Cellular Night Elixir is available now at Holt Renfrew Vancouver, as well as other La Prairie counters across Canada.

Thanks to the La Prairie team for inviting me to the dinner, and for gifting me with the product.

NEW at The Body Shop, featuring Roots of Strength, Drops of Youth, and Spa of the World!

A few years ago, The Body Shop released their Oils of Life collection and everything changed for them. The Intensely Revitalizing Cream was one of my go-to moisturizers for a while, and it was comparable to a lot of the high end moisturizers that I’ve used. At the time, I was really excited to see what The Body Shop will come out with in the years to come, and I haven’t been disappointed. I was recently invited to The Body Shop to check out some of their new collections in person, and I really have to say that a lot of these products are excellent.

The collection that I was most excited to see was Roots of Strength. This multi-step range of firming and lifting products that contains your core products – an Essence Lotion (C$22), a Shaping Serum (C$42), and a Day Cream (C$34). It harnesses the power of traditional Chinese medicinal concepts using ginger root and ginseng root to strengthen and lift your skin. This range is 100% vegan, is free of mineral oil, paraffins, and petrolatum, and the serum also contains 99% ingredients of natural origins. I really like the Essence Lotion; it’s lightweight and non-sticky, and really gives my skin a good dose of hydration.

Next we have Drops of Youth, which is not a new range but is introducing some new products. Namely, a Youth Bouncy Eye Mask (C$32) and a Youth Gentle Foaming Wash (C$20) to round out the collection. The cooling Bouncy Eye Mask contains cucumber extract which is refreshing and depuffing. It’s super light and silky, so you can apply this lightly during the day, or as an overnight night mask. The light texture actually feels okay over makeup too. The Gentle Foaming Wash isn’t something I’m super into as I don’t really like self-foaming cleansers anymore, but this would be a good product for someone with combination or oily skin and still want a bit of that anti-aging.

Lastly, we have Spa of the World, which is one of my favourite The Body Shop lines. For a relatively inexpensive brand, The Body Shop does luxury spa so well. Celebrating exotic ingredients and beauty traditions from around the world, Spa of the World released four new shower products – Tahitian Tiaré Bath & Shower Oil-In-Gel, Brittany Coast Algae Bath & Shower Gel, Balkan Juniper Bath & Shower Gel, Adriatic Peony Bath & Shower Cream (C$14 each). These amazing shower products are so luxurious, despite the completely reasonable price tag. I have the Tahitian Tiaré Bath & Shower Oil-In-Gel, which smells fresh and floral, and is super hydrating. It contains honey as well as coconut oil and other oil extracts, to keep your skin nice and supple in and out of the shower. From the same collection, I also have the Brazilian Cupuaçu Exfoliating Scrub-in-Oil (C$32) which is the most decadent body scrub but with the most reasonable price. Every time I smell these products, it brings me to somewhere warm and sunny.

These new The Body Shop products are available in stores and online now!


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

Celebrating 50 years of cleansing oils with Shu Uemura

Shu Uemura cleansing oil review

I can hardly believe that it’s already been 50 years since the creation of the cleansing oil by Shu Uemura. Indeed, Shu was the first brand of cleansing oil that I’ve ever tried, over 10 years ago. At the time, there were only a few formulas available, so it’s amazing that there are so many different variations available for different skin types. I was generously sent a beautiful gift box containing the top four formulas, made for specific skin types.

Shu’s cleansing oils are made to effectively remove makeup and impurities from the skin, and prepping the skin for the follow-up steps. Shu claims that double cleansing is not necessary since it rinses completely and doesn’t leave behind any residue (although I personally still prefer to double cleanse).

The four formulas I received are:

  • Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil – the richest formula created by Shu, this is the all-rounder product that targets all skin products. Created primarily for those with dry or aging skin types, the Ultime8 is made with traditional Chinese medicine in mind. This is an amazing cleansing oil, particularly in the winter, as it is very effective at removing all makeup, including eye makeup, without getting into my eyes. It smells a bit medicinal, like something that would be good for you. It’s not stripping at all, unlike some cleansing oils, and is great for all skin types except the super oily types. Shu often makes limited edition bottles of the Ultime8 so if that’s also something to be on the lookout for.
  • Anti-Oxi Skin Refining Cleansing Oil – created for those living in highly populated big cities with pollution, this cleansing oil is anti-pollution and will remove polluting impurities from deep within your skin. It contains the potent anti-oxidant green tea extract, as well as moringa, to improve skin dullness and sallowness. I really enjoy this one, as it is not too rich and not too light. It’s a very effective makeup remover, and doesn’t strip the skin. I’m not sure how good it is at anti-pollution, but my skin usually looks pretty good when I use this (in combination with other products). The Anti-Oxi is one of my top picks in terms of a cleansing oil from Shu.
  • POREfinist2 Sakura Fresh Cleansing Oil – the lightest Shu cleansing oil, made for oily skin types. Blended with sakura and cinnamon bark extract, it helps to regulate oil production as well as shrink the appearance of pores. This is probably my least favourite cleansing oil – not surprisingly because I have dry skin. It feels too light on me and also strips my skin a little. The lightness of the oil also means that if I am removing eye makeup, the oil migrates into my eyes and then it stings. Regardless, it’s an effective cleansing oil for removing base makeup, and because of the slip, a little goes quite a long ways.
  • Nutri-nectar Cleansing Oil in Emulsion – this is a brand new formula for this year to celebrate Shu’s 50 years in the cleansing oil market. Created for sensitive skin types in mind, it blends together acai, magnolia, and reishi mushrooms. It has a thicker jelly-like texture that is really fun to use. Because of the thicker consistency, I find it a little bit harder to rinse off (you’ll need a bit more water and a bit more effort to massage the skin and emulsify the jelly). I also prefer to use this on days where I am not wearing so much eye makeup because it doesn’t have as much slip compared to one of the lighter oils. That being said, it feels really nice and gentle on the skin.

Shu Uemura cleansing oil review

My top pick is definitely the Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil.

Lastly, of course everyone knows Shu Uemura also for its lash curlers. Over the years, I’ve purchased and repurchased this lash curler a number of times, and it’s still my #1 go-to lash curler that I bring with me everywhere I go. I’m a fan of the classic silver design, as well as of their various limited edition designs such as gold, black lacquer, and more. A lash curler is such an essential part of the makeup kit, and Shu’s version is definitely a top cult classic.

You can pick up Shu Uemura cleansing oils and lash curlers, as well as other Shu Uemura products, at The Bay and Sephora.

Shu Uemura cleansing oil review

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

Morning and evening skincare routine, featuring Tatcha, Bioderma, Reversa, Sekkisei, Eve Lom and Acure

Morning skin care routine featuring Tatcha The Essence

I haven’t done one of these skincare routine updates in a while, but lately I’ve been really happy with the state of my skin, so I wanted to share all of the amazing products that I’ve been using. For a while last year, I’ve been experimenting with new skincare products, and including switching up my routine pretty much every night depending on what I was feeling like using. I was way over complicating it, and even though I had fun mixing and matching products, I didn’t feel like I was maximizing any of the products’ potential to really make a difference on my skin. One of the changes I made towards the end of last year was to simplify my routine, and go back to basics. This also helped me declutter my bathroom counter because there weren’t a million things floating around (which the boyfriend is also thankful for)!

My routine is pretty simple, I use a cleanser, pre-serum, toner / essence, serum, eye cream, then moisturizer.

For my morning routine, I try to focus on adding hydration. I have very dehydrated skin so adding water is the most important step for me. In order, I use these products:

  • THREE Balancing Cleansing Milk – I purchased this in Japan in the fall of 2016 and I finally got around to using this. Cleansing milks are tricky for me because I find that a lot of them don’t fully emulsify and leave a weird film on my skin. This one is simply amazing. It has a beautifully whipped milky texture that’s lightweight but feels so soothing on the skin. I use this on dry skin with dry hands, massage it in for 30 seconds, and then emulsify and wash off with warm water. I am left with incredibly soft, silky, and very balanced skin. It’s never drying, and is perfect if you have dehydrated, dry, sensitive skin. THREE is a Japanese brand that uses primarily natural and organic ingredients, this Balancing Cleansing Milk contains 94% natural ingredients. I honestly haven’t been able to find an equivalent product like this in the western market, which is another reason why I love this so much.
  • Freeplus Deep Pre Moist Essence – Another product I purchased in Japan is this pre-serum. I apply this directly to cleansed skin, before toner / essence and everything else. It has a super lightweight watery gel texture that absorbs quickly. My skin is immediately plumped up ready for other products. This is also a fantastic product for sensitive skin types because it is fragrance free and very gentle on the skin. A similar product in the western market would be Vichy Mineral 89.
  • TATCHA The Essence* – I will be doing a feature on essence waters soon, but just as a quick sneak peek of my thoughts, I’ve been using this off and on since it first came out, and I’m honestly torn about how I feel about it. It does hydrate my skin but that’s pretty much it. It’s a great basic skincare item, but I don’t know if it’s worth the high price.
  • Bioderm Hydrabio Moisturizing Concentrate* – I initially discovered this product and did a full review of it in 2013. This is one of my go-to hydrating serums, it really helps to seal in the hydration and prevent my skin from feeling tight all day. One thing I noticed when using this product this time around was that it feels a little bit silicone-y. It does have dimethicone in it, but lower in the ingredients list. That being said, I still rely on this a lot in the winter time.
  • Reversa Anti-Wrinkle Cream* – Another oldie but goodie, I did a full review of this back in 2015 and my stance has basically stayed the same. This is a super easy way to incorporate glycolic acid in your routine, especially if you use other active ingredients at night. It’s a super easy 2-in-1 glycolic treatment with sunscreen, and is super moisturizing at the same time. I still love it, and still absolutely recommend it.

Night time skin care routine featuring Eve Lom Time Retreat Face Treatment

Like I mentioned earlier, my routine at night is basically the same as my daytime routine but just with the product switched up a bit:

  • Pre-cleanse with a cleansing oil – I’m currently using Jill Stuart Cleansing Oil, which I purchased from Japan. Any cleansing oil / balm / water will do to remove makeup, and I haven’t really noticed anything too amazing with the Jill Stuart one. I almost always (like 99.5% of the time) double cleanse, every night. The only time I don’t double cleanse are the nights when I am just lazy and forget to do it, but even if I have just sunscreen on, I will double cleanse. The trick to prevent stripping is to use gentler cleansers, instead of harsher foaming cleansers which strip your skin. Other cleansing oils that I use that you can find in Canada are by Shu Uemura, Palmer’s Skin Therapy Cleansing Oil, and L’Occitane.
  • Nursery Yuzu Cleansing Gel – I purchased this cleansing gel in Japan and it smells SO GOOD. It’s technically a makeup removing gel, and I have used this to remove light makeup in the past, but I prefer to use it as a second cleanse. It doesn’t foam up, and is just a gentle gel cleanser. It gently cleans my skin without stripping, and it leaves it feeling super soft and fresh. I am addicted to the scent, and I will likely be repurchasing this when I return to Japan later this spring. A similar jelly cleanser in the western market is the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, although that one isn’t really a makeup remover, it has the same gentle texture and good cleansing properties.
  • Freeplus Deep Pre Moist Essence – As described above.
  • Kose Sekkisei Lotion Excellent Enriched* – I first used this product in 2008 when I was still in university. It is a cult favourite in Japan and has been around for decades, with good reason. I will be doing a feature on this product as well in my essence lotions article, but the gist is that I love it and will repurchase in the future.
  • Eve Lom Time Retreat Face Treatment – Truly one of my favourite skincare discoveries of all time, this retinol serum is what I attribute most of my skin improvements to. For a product with retinol, it is incredibly gentle and very moisturizing, as it includes shea butter as a top ingredient. It smells so good, like lavender, which helps to soothe my spirits at night just before bed. Best of all, it has done a fantastic job at smoothing my fine lines. I tend to wrinkle my brows and forehead a lot, so I have a lot of fine lines there which this has pretty much eradicated. My pores are also more refined, and my skin texture overall is smoother and brighter. I will definitely be repurchasing this. It comes in a great size as well – 50mL – which is 2/3 more than other serums.
  • Acure Night Cream* – This is a great basic night cream for those who are interested in trying out more natural skincare products without the high price tag. The packaging is very simple and to the point, but the product is really good. It goes on emollient, but then absorbs and dries down without any sticky residue. I love using this in the winter, as it protects my skin throughout the night. They’ve actually repackaged this and renamed it the Brilliantly Brightening Night Cream, but the product is still the same.

I hope this gave you some inspiration to try some new products!

Products provided by PR are denoted by *, everything else was purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

First thoughts – Naruko Jing Cheng premium anti-aging series

Naruko Jing Cheng premium anti-aging series review

A while ago, I gave you guys my thoughts on Naruko’s Rose & Botanic series. Today I’m sharing with you a more premium line in the Naruko family, which is the Jing Cheng series. The Jing Cheng series is for ultimate anti-aging, containing 60 botanical extracts to treat all signs of aging.

Jing Cheng 60 Actives La Creme EX (C$99 for 50mL) is the cream version of the Ultimate Moisturizer. It’s the most moisturizing product I tried from Naruko as it is a true cream formula that will melt under the heat of your fingers. I love moisturizers like this because my dry skin demands it. It’s a bit rich for those sweltering summer months, but in the winter I can see this being my skin saviour. I don’t have any wrinkles right now, but I do notice that this helped to smooth out some uneven texture on my skin. It also helped to firm and tighten my skin just slightly. It’s definitely on the pricier side, but it’s pretty worth the money.

Jing Cheng Illuminating Bright Essential Gel Cream (C$99 for 48mL) is a light gel-creme that contains 60 botanical extracts and 10 peptides to help maintain skin radiance, prevents melanin production, gently softens and soothes skin, as well as improve skin balance. It contains arbutin as the primary brightening ingredient. I really love this gel, it’s lightweight, hydrating enough for the summer, but does a great job at evening out my skin tone. I would imagine this alone would not be great in the winter as it’s not the most moisturizing of moisturizers, but for the summer it’s perfect. Always use SPF after using this because any brightening products will make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

Jing Cheng Platinum Bright Essence Repairing Complex (C$100) is an ampoule set. I first learned about ampoules through Niu Er, and since then I’ve tried a few of them. Ampoules are essentially highly concentrated serums housed in individual glass bottles. They do not contain any preservatives, and each ampoule is designed for one-time use only. Once you open it, you gotta use it up right away. Each ampoule of this Repairing Complex is good for one day, half bottle in the morning, and half bottle at night. It contains rosewater as its primary ingredient, and also contains arbutin for brightening. I used two ampoules, morning and night, right after a day trip to Seattle where I definitely “grew” more sun spots. I felt like my skintone was evened out a bit. Just after four doses, I didn’t expect my skin to look any brighter or my sunspots reduced, but it was definitely promising.

Jing Cheng Face Renewal Miracle Essence (C$99 for 150mL) is a treatment essence (think SK-II Facial Treatment Essence) that is designed to be patted over the skin until absorption, or applied using a cotton pad. It contains 94.4% active ingredients. This Miracle Essence claims to revitalize skin, remove dullness, prevent melanin production and lighten spots. I really like this, it’s very lightweight but still hydrating. I did find that my skin was brighter whenever I used this, but I didn’t see any of my spots lighten.

Jing Cheng 5-D Face Lift Firming Serum (C$130 for 30mL) is an anti-aging serum that claims to work with the collagen protein in enhancing firmness and elasticity of the skin. I only had a small sample of this, so I can only say that based on using it for a few days, my skin felt smoother and more hydrated. I didn’t notice any increase in firmness or elasticity, but I imagine it would take more than a few days of use to see the results.

Jing Cheng 60 Actives Ultimate Moisturizer (C$94 for 120mL) is a moisturizing milk that also contains the 60 botanical extracts. It claims to stimulate collagen production to boost elasticity and firmness, also deeply hydrates, smoothens wrinkles, rejuvenates and balances skin tone. Despite it being a moisturizing milk, it’s a good nourishing moisturizer for the nighttime in the summer. I’ve really enjoyed using this when my skin is still dry, but I need an additional dose of moisture. I haven’t noticed any firming or smoothing from this one compared to the La Creme Ex. If you have normal to combination skin, this is a good fit for you.

I’m pretty impressed with this line, it contains a lot of good active ingredients that are targeted and treat various skin concerns. That being said, the price point is on the high side, which can be risky if you want to try it but don’t know if it’s worth the money. Hopefully my review has been helpful!

Naruko Jing Cheng premium anti-aging series review

Ingredients of Jing Cheng 60 Actives La Creme EX and Jing Cheng Illuminating Bright Essential Gel Cream

Naruko Jing Cheng premium anti-aging series review
Naruko Jing Cheng premium anti-aging series review

Ingredients of Jing Cheng Platinum Bright Essence Repairing Complex

Naruko Jing Cheng premium anti-aging series review

Ingredients of Jing Cheng Face Renewal Miracle Essence, Jing Cheng 5-D Face Lift Firming Serum and Jing Cheng 60 Actives Ultimate Moisturizer (click to zoom)

Naruko Jing Cheng premium anti-aging series review
Product received as PR samples for review consideration; all opinions are my own.

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF 50+… does it live up to its hype?

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF 50+ review

IT Cosmetics launched in Canada last year, and I was sent a tube of their Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF 50+ (C$49 for 32mL) to try. This is one of IT Cosmetics’ most raved about products, and I was really excited to see how it lives up to the hype and its claims.

This is the first CC cream I’ve tried in a long time, and it has some pretty hefty claims (per the IT Cosmetics website):

Clinically shown to give you 179% of skin hydration, smooth skin texture and enhance skin brightness, this breakthrough color-correcting cream never creases or cracks and instantly camouflages skin imperfections including dark spots. Plus, it’s infused with an advanced anti-aging serum made of hydrolyzed collagen, peptides, niacin, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and vitamins A, B, C and E that work in harmony to diffuse the look of wrinkles, minimize pores and give you a more radiant, supple and flawless-looking complexion.

The ingredients look pretty impressive, with snail secretion filtrate (a popular K-beauty ingredient), Babassu Oil (Orbignya Oleifera Seed Oil), bergamot fruit oil, lim oil, grape seed oil, avocado oil, niacinamide, and a very long list of plant extracts and oils. It also contains SPF 50 in the form of titanium dioxide 9.0% and zinc oxide 6.3%. In terms of the makings of a CC cream, IT Cosmetics got it all right. In addition, it comes in seven shades, which again is impressive for a CC cream, which following after traditional Korean beauty, usually only comes in 1-3 shades that are all very light / fair. This one has something for almost everyone, from fair to deep.

I was sent the shade Fair, which looks super light in the tube but actually does a pretty good at adjusting to my skin tone. It is still just slightly too light for me so I’ve been making it work for a tinted powder. It blends in very, very easily, and I just pat it in with my fingers. I can get light to medium coverage with this, and it also does a pretty good job at covering redness. It’s also lightly hydrating, which is great because I have dry skin.

My biggest dislike, and the reason why I actually don’t like this CC Cream for day-to-day, is that it doesn’t fully dry down. I really need to powder it quite a bit in order to get it to stay on my face, otherwise it slips and slides around. While I appreciate that it is an all-in-one product for moisture, anti-aging, sunscreen, and tint, I generally prefer to rely on individual products for each purpose anyways (including applying an actual sunscreen because the sun block in a foundation is never enough for true sun protection). I have relatively dry skin too, so I can’t imagine how much it will slip and slide on someone with oily skin. Also, because it has some slip, I find it settles a bit into my lines and pores unless I really powder it down.

With all of the products on the market now, and all of the products on my bathroom counter, I don’t find myself reaching for this one very much, if at all. The only time I can think of that this would be good for is travel, and even then I’d want to apply a separate SPF to get true sun protection.

If you are looking for an all-in-one product for travel or for convenience, then you might find luck in this one. It does have some very promising ingredients and it is priced pretty fairly based on what it can do.

You can find IT Cosmetics at Sephora in Canada.

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

Review of pre-serums, featuring Vichy Mineral 89, Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum Ex and Dior One Essential

Review of pre-serums Vichy Mineral 89, Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum Ex and Dior One Essential

Ever since I wrote about Shiseido Ultimune more than three years ago, the original pre-serum serum, the market has been flooded with other brands introducing similar products. I’m still skeptical of the benefits of using a pre-serum, but I love layering skincare and any excuse to add more products to my regime is a good one. Today I have three pre-serums to share with you, ranging from affordable to the ultra expensive.

Priced at C$40 for 50mL, the Vichy Mineral 89 is the most affordable and most easily accessible of all pre-serums. It contains 89% Vichy thermal water, powered by 11 different minerals, and only 10 other ingredients. It is ultra light, very watery, and fast absorbing. This is also the simplest of all of the pre-serums, in that it claims to hydrate, plump, and fortify the skin. I think it does a fantastic job at hydrating my skin, and I can even use this alone as a hydrating serum during the day. It does help the absorption of other products, which I am loving, but whether or not it helps to boost the other products’ efficacy is hard to tell. Based on its superior hydrating properties and its reasonable price, I’d re-purchase this.

Priced at US$84 for 60mL, the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum Ex contains the most plant extracts, harnessing the power of traditional herbal medicine to create a product that’s good for you on both the inside and outside. The texture is a super lightweight gel. As with most Asian skincare, it does contain alcohol. It’s not as fast absorbing as the Vichy Mineral 89, but it feels significantly more nourishing, like a step above simple hydration. Despite its higher price tag, you do get a good decent amount. I use one pump for my face and one pump for my neck, and the bottle has lasted me a long time. I can see myself wearing this as a serum on its own as well in the summer as on its own it performs decently. Sulwhasoo is a high end luxury brand, and this product seems to be priced on the lower end. It’s a great entry level product if you are interested in trying more from the brand.

The Dior One Essential is the most expensive product talked about today. Its priced at C$162 for 50mL, or you can also purchase a smaller size of 30mL for C$130. The Dior One Essential has the most claims of all of these products, as it claims to “detoxify, regenerates and boost skin for a revitalized complexion,” and also targets UV rays, stress, and pollution, as well as indoor toxins such as carpet, glue, varnishes, and electronic devices. I generally have pretty good skin so I didn’t see many major changes. I do feel like my skin is a tad brighter and less dull after incorporating this in my routine for a few weeks, likely because pollution is one of the major causes to skin sallowness. In that sense, it worked pretty well!

But let’s not end it here. I’ve previously talked about the La Prairie Anti-Aging Rapid Response Booster (C$405 for 50mL), which is probably the most lux pre-serum on the market. I only had a small sample of it so I wasn’t able to test it over a long period of time, I have heard that some people consider this a favourite and game changer. If you have some cash to spare, consider looking into the La Prairie as well. Another brand that released a pre-serum around the time that Ultimune was released was Elizabeth Arden, called the Superstart Skin Renewal Booster (C$119 for 50mL). I’ve never tried theirs but it’s another option to look at.

If I had to pick in terms of price and value for the benefits, my top choice would be the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX. It’s not the most expensive, but comes in the biggest bottle, and also has the most nourishing herbal ingredients. If you are looking for a simple, straight-to-the-point hydrating pre-serum, the Vichy Mineral 89 is a fantastic choice. If you are looking for a do-it-all and aren’t worried about price, then the Dior One Essential can be your friend. With so many pre-serums on the market, you’re bound to find one that fits your needs.

Sulwhasoo, Dior, and La Prairie are available at Holt Renfrew. Vichy and Elizabeth Arden are available at London Drugs.

Products were provided from companies for review consideration; all opinions are my own.

Fight city pollution with Biotherm Skin Oxygen

Biotherm Skin Oxygen review

The new Biotherm Skin Oxygen collection is designed for city life. It claims to fight off pollution and other environmental aggressors, helping the skin breath and be more detoxified through the use of star ingredient Chlorella Algae ‘the breathing algae.’

Skin Oxygen Foaming Melting Gel (C$26 for 150mL) depolluting cleanser traps and removes impurities while not drying out the skin. It’s a foaming gel cleanser that deep cleanses but is still gentle on the skin. Biotherm makes some of my favourite high end yet still affordable. Over the years, the prices of their basic cleansers and toners haven’t gone up by much, which is great. This cleanser doesn’t remove makeup, and would work best as a second cleanse. It also works very well with a Clarisonic to remove all last traces of makeup and grime. In terms of its skin oxygenating properties, I really haven’t noticed much. It’s a good basic cleanser for anyone who is looking to try something new. I’d say this is good for all skin types.

Skin Oxygen Oxygenating Lotion (C$26 for 200mL) is a clarifying, skin-perfecting, pore minimizing toner. It contains 99% ingredients of natural origin. I haven’t used a traditional toner in a few years, so it was interesting to see with this one. It is super lightweight, and is a perfect last step to cleansing, removing every last bit of grime from my skin, and prepping it for the next steps.

Skin Oxygen Strengthening Concentrate Anti-Oxidant Serum (C$58 for 30mL) strengthens the skin and repairs damage due to environmental aggressors. It has the texture of a lightweight gel fluid, and absorbs really quickly. It feels cooling, and slightly hydrating. It smells fresh, but the smell dissipates quickly. I have very dry skin and this alone isn’t quite enough to keep my skin adequately hydrated.

Skin Oxygen Cooling Gel (C$60 for 50mL) is an oil-free hydrating moisturizer that reinforces the skin barrier, moisturises intensively stressed skin, helps to reduce sebum and prevents pollution particles from being absorbed into the skin. While I like that this is a very refreshing moisturizer, I didn’t feel like this was enough to keep my very dry skin hydrated throughout the day. That being said, I used this in the dead of winter so it might be better in the summer when it’s not so dry out.

Generally I think this collection is fantastic for young skin. If you are in your late teens or early to mid 20s, this would be a great basic skincare range to try out, particularly if you live in the big city where there is a lot of pollution. This could also work out if you have normal to oily skin types, but not super dry. Unfortunately, I feel like the serum and moisturizer, which are the most important products in a skincare range, aren’t intense and nourishing enough for my ultra dry skin type. I love the cleanser and the toner, and feel like those would be perfect for all skin types.

You can purchase the Biotherm Skin Oxygen range at The Bay, Shopper’s Drug Mart, and on

Product received as a gift from a media event; all opinions are my own.

Review – belif Classic Essence Increment and Moisturizing and Firming Eye Cream

belif Classic Essence Increment and Moisturizing and Firming Eye Cream review

belif makes one of my favourite go-to moisturizers for my dehydrated skin. Today I’m sharing with you two additional belif products that I’ve incorporated into my skincare routine.

The belif Classic Essence Increment (C$57 for 50mL) (what a name!) is a nutrient-dense essence that nourishes and hydrates to improve skin elasticity, tone, and texture. It smells very fresh, with a bit of an herbal-floral mix; it’s definitely a very “natural” scent (it does contain fragrance, but it’s at the end of the ingredients list). If you have dry skin that lacks both water and oil, this is your godsend. It is extremely, extremely rich. I cannot use this as a serum as it is way too rich for me, and I have relatively dry skin. I can use this on its own as a serum and moisturizer in one, particularly at night. If I am feeling more water-lacking that day, I will also layer with the belif Moisturizing Bomb.

The Classic Essence Increment dries tacky, which is my main complaint about it. That being said, I do layer another moisturizer on top so the tackiness subsides with that.

The belif Moisturizing and Firming Eye Cream (C$59 for 25mL) claims to be “a hydrating and nourishing eye treatment that provides long-lasting moisture and firmness to the delicate eye area.” I love this eye cream. It’s super hydrating without being heavy, and leaves my eye area feeling very refreshed and awake. It absorbs quickly enough so that its great in the morning and under makeup. I haven’t really noticed any changes in terms of firmness of  my eye area, but the hydration helps soften the look of fine lines. The price at first looks high, but it actually comes with a whopping 25mL of product. That’s 2/3 more product than other eye creams! I only use a little bit each time, so this jar has lasted me forever.

For the upcoming holiday season, belif has this amazing gift set available for purchase. It comes with a full size The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb (my fave product from them), as well as mini sizes of the Moisturizing and Firming Eye Cream (5mL) and the Hungarian Water Essence (10mL), for just the price of the Moisturizing Bomb of C$47. That means, you get the other two products for free! This is a great way to stock up on this moisturizer and get a few additional goodies as well.

The Classic Essence Increment and Moisturizing and Firming Eye Cream were provided to me for review consideration; all opinions are my own.