Top 4 favourite foundation formulas of ALL TIME, featuring La Prairie, Guerlain, Dior, and Too Faced

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As a beauty blogger, I go through so many products. One of the things I love testing out the most is foundation. In addition to great skin, it’s also important to start your makeup with a beautiful and smooth complexion, with the help of a good foundation. Today, after nearly 10 years of blogging and foundation testing, I want to share with you my top four formulas.

La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation

If money was no issue and I could have an unlimited supply of any foundation, it would be this one. My go-to foundation for when I need my skin to look flawless for endless hours, the La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation never ceases to amaze me with how amazing it can make my skin look and feel. It does an incredible job at smoothing out my fine lines and pores, and also hides any dryness really well. Every time I use this, I am basically guaranteed to have good skin. It’s so expensive though, so I really only use this when my skin needs it, otherwise I’m so scared to run out because the high price means I am likely to pick up another one. I did a full review here. I wear the shade Warm Linen, which is the perfect match for me.

Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation

My second favourite foundation, and something I am actually very likely to repurchase is the Parure Gold Foundation by Guerlain. Again, this is something I use when I need good skin, whether its for an event or wedding, or maybe I have something after work and I need my makeup to look good all day. This doesn’t have as good staying power as the La Prairie, but it does make my skin look lit from within. This is my go-to foundation to take with me when I travel, because flying wrecks havoc on my skin so I need a good foundation to balance out the dryness and also give back some of that glow. You can check out my full review here. I wear the shade 02, which is a 95% good match to my skin.

Diorskin Air Nude

My go-to foundation for when I need to cover a bit of redness, or on a good skin day, the Diorskin Air Nude is a “serum foundation,” super lightweight, easy to apply, and generally foolproof. It doesn’t have very good coverage, so I only really wear this when I have nowhere fancy to go, and it’s also great in the summer when I want something lighter. The only thing is because the foundation is so light, I tend to go through this very quickly. That being said, it’s not too too expensive that I can definitely repurchase this when the time comes! I wear the shade 020.

Too Faced Born This Way Foundation

I was so in love with this foundation when it first released that I wore it nonstop for months. I was later introduced to a few other foundations and then forgot about this in the back of my foundation drawer. I recently took it back out because I remembered how much I loved it, and alas, it was like falling in love all over again. The Born This Way foundation is the most high coverage of all the ones here, and in addition to being a high coverage foundation, it also soft focuses my skin and blurs out all of my imperfections. I can layer this over itself and it never looks or feels heavy or cakey. It is also extremely long wearing – after a full day’s work without touchups, it is still mostly intact on my face. I wear the shade Warm Nude, which is a great match for me. You can see my previous review here.

You can purchase La Prairie, Guerlain, and Dior at Holt Renfrew, and Too Faced at Sephora.

What are some of your favourite foundations?

Products provided by PR for review consideration; all opinions are my own. My original Diorskin Air Nude was purchased by me, but then the Dior PR graciously sent me another one.

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How I afford designer and luxury products

Today’s post is a bit unconventional from my usual. If you follow along on my Instagram, you’ll notice that I post a lot of designer stuff. I have a somewhat high maintenance life in that I love designer products, whether it is Valentino shoes, or YSL handbags. I wanted to talk a bit about how I generally afford these things, because I know a lot of women out there love designer products as well. I do have some tips and tricks up my sleeve that help me save money. They don’t call me the deal fairy for nothing!

1. Create a wishlist

In my mind, I have a set wishlist of the shoes and bags I want to buy, and I slowly check them off my wishlist over the years. With designer stuff, it’s very easy to get sucked into the current “it” style without thinking about longevity. I consider a number of factors before even putting it on my mental wishlist, including but not limited to:

  • Will it stand the test of time
  • Is it practical, for example can I wear this to different events, can I wear this to work, is it comfortable to wear, will it go with a lot of outfits
  • Does it fulfill a hole in my collection, for example a Chanel mini is on my list because I don’t have any evening bags

Once I have it on my wishlist, I generally stick to the wishlist. I’ve never bought a bag on impulse, and I always mull over it for at least a few weeks. During this time, I go back to the store to look at it, try it on, read online reviews and watch review videos. I want to make sure that whatever I’m buying is exactly what I want with no issues.

2. Follow the sales

I only buy my designer stuff on sale. I’ve only bought one bag at retail – my Louis Vuitton Alma BB, and that was only because I had a few gift cards for Holt Renfrew. I’ve purchased only one pair of shoes at retail – my first pair of Ferragamo Varas – and then later I bought two more pairs at pretty good discounts. Every other bag, shoe, clothes I bought on sale. My best buy was a Roland Mouret dress for 85% off; I paid under $500 for a runway dress that retailed for $3,000. Even my Chanel bags, I bought from my personal shopper and friend who gets a discount from the salesperson.

This goes with step 1, because if you have a mental wishlist and are sure of what you want, you know exactly what to look out for. My favourite “retailer” or discount designer goods is Erica at HGBags. She has some amazing prices on classic items. I purchased my Valentino Rockstud flats from her for half off the Canadian retail price at the time, and same with my Christian Louboutin Simple pumps. Both styles are classics that pretty much never go on sale at a department store, yet you can find them through her for fantastic prices. She also sells Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, and once in a while she’ll get in some Dior and Chanel bags as well.

My other amazing sale resource is my personal shopper and friend Claire (Orchmelia on Instagram). I purchased my Chanel Jumbo from her, brand new with stickers and full set, and saved myself over $1,200 the Canadian post-tax retail price. You can go buy a Chanel wallet with that money you saved (#shoppingmath).

3. Buy pre-loved

My first designer bag, I bought pre-loved off eBay. It was a Chanel Just Mademoiselle Tote in Lambskin with ruthenium hardware, and I saved $1,200 off retail. Out of my designer bags, I bought 1/3 of them pre-loved. The rest of them I didn’t buy pre-loved only because the style was so new, or the second hand price was too similar to retail to justify it. Buying pre-loved doesn’t mean it’s used. You’d be surprised at how many people buy designer things, take them home, never take them out of the box, and then resell them at pretty much brand new condition. The Chanel tote was one like that, it still had all the stickers on the hardware, yet I saved a lot of money by going that way.

The only thing I don’t like buying pre-loved is shoes. I feel like feet are a weird thing, and I don’t really like the idea of putting my feet in shoes that other people have worn around all day.

4. If you can afford it, aren’t in debt, are in good financial standing, buy it NOW

Take this piece of advice with a grain of salt. I’m not telling you to go out and hoard all of your wishlist items right now. But if you’ve had your eye on something for a few years, and you can afford it, and know that eventually you will very likely buy it, you should just buy it now. Designer goods go up in price at insane speeds, so if you don’t buy it now, it will go up in price at a rate that is much faster than your wealth will accumulate. A good example is the Chanel classic medium flap. In 2010, the price was hovering around $2,000. Now it’s over $6,000 in Canada. In the meantime, did your wealth triple? Unlikely.

5. Save money in other areas of life

I work full time and earn a full time salary. I don’t really make any money off my blog, maybe a few sponsored posts here and there, but nothing that I can really call income (i.e. less than $1000 a year). I don’t have investment income either, as all of my investments are for retirement savings purposes only (and yes I do save quite a bit there).

Aside from buying designer bags and shoes, I generally live pretty frugally. My biggest expenses are my mortgage payments every two weeks, and then I also have The Bar Method membership that is monthly. We generally cook dinner at home, and we try to limit eating out to once a week, where we also budget our eating out to be around $30-40 max for two people. I bring a home-cooked lunch to work pretty much every day and I rarely buy Starbucks or coffee out, and just drink the coffee in my office. I don’t own a car, and take public transit to and from work. I also have automatic debits set up every month to withdraw money from my paycheque into separate RRSP and pension accounts.

Basically, I figured out that being frugal every day but buying designer products once in a while is happier than if I lived fancy every day but didn’t have money left for designer products. It’s all about deciding where your priorities lie, and then executing on it. Unless you make a ton of money at your job, have very wealthy parents who are happy to support you, or don’t care about savings at all, then you can have it both ways. Otherwise, it’s really hard to live a life of luxury on a day-to-day basis and also be able to buy a ton of luxury products too.

Anyways, most of this blog post was general rambling, so I apologize if it was too long. I hope it was helpful in that you can see how I can afford to buy designer stuff. I’m not wealthy, by all means. I have a good job, and my parents are self sufficient so I don’t have to worry about supporting them, so I’m in a good place in my life right now. I do work hard, so I can justify rewarding myself with nice things. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

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.

Top 10 splurge-worthy luxury products, featuring La Prairie, Guerlain, Vintner’s Daughter, Charlotte Tilbury, and more

Guerlain Spring 2017 Meteorites 30th anniversary review

On this blog, I feature a ton of beauty products all the time. A lot of them are luxury products, some of them are worth buying, others not so much. I wanted to do a quick roundup of some of the luxury products truly worth picking up, and also give you guys a quick guide as to what to invest your money in to get the best bang for your buck.

  1. La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer and Foundation* (C$295 for 30mL) – Starting this list with a bang is my all-time favourite luxury foundation. I’ve talked about this a ton on the blog, and you can see my original in-depth review here. This is what I use when I need a guaranteed good skin day and night. It lasts all day and into the evening, and wears beautifully on the skin. It is expensive, and the price has actually gone up since the last time I reviewed it. Your foundation covers your face for usually 12+ hours a day, you really want something that will not just cover up your skin, but also treat it at the same time. If $300 is just way too much for you, I also love Guerlain Parure Gold foundation. It doesn’t have quite the level of skincare benefits in it, but it also gives me a flawless complexion that I can count on.
  2. Guerlain Meteorites Pearls* (C$76) – I love these and I’ve talked about them extensively on the blog as well (one review here). They are the perfect finishing powder to give you a blurred, glow from within look. They are truly the real life Instagram filter. I love them so much that I own four jars of the Pearls from the different releases, as well as two variations of the pressed version (the first few I purchased myself so I’m not just saying that because I received some as PR samples!). If you have the extra budget, the Meteorites Voyage Compact is the ultimate luxury version, but will set you back C$200.
  3. Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow (C$80) – My favourite bronzing, sculpting, and highlighting compact, reviewed here. Actually, my favourite highlighter of all time. Mine actually cracked recently and the highlight is now missing a big corner of it, so I can’t travel with it. I’m so devastated that I might actually go pick up a brand new one just so I can take it around with me.
  4. Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum* (C$240 for 30mL) – The ultimate in face oils, this is the best of the best. I originally reviewed it here, so you can hear my backstory about how I started using this. I love this for when I have tired, stressed, dry, or angry skin that just won’t cooperate. It has amazing active ingredients in it, and is so nourishing. It feels amazing on the skin, both during application and afterwards, and then the morning after. It also smells incredible. I use this whenever I need that extra oomph!Guerlain Spring 2017 Meteorites 30th anniversary reviewLa Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation review
  5. May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon (US$180 for 50mL) – Another favourite face oil / balm is this blue cult favourite. I’ve talked about May’s products repeatedly on the blog, and I can’t rave about it enough with my friends. I love using this when my skin is feeling congested, as it has amazing healing and soothing properties. Compared to Vintner’s Daughter ABS, it’s lighter and more soothing, less nourishing. Both are moisturizing, but I like them for different purposes. I love using this to de-stress, and the scent alone calms me. Yes you need both, yes both are simply amazing.
  6. La Prairie Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Dry Oil* (C$430 for 30mL) – The last oil on this list, this relies on high tech and science, rather than natural botanicals. Different than the other two, I love this one for its versatility. It is a very lightweight oil that dries down almost immediately, with no residue or leftover greasy feeling. It’s fantastic for mixing in with your foundation or moisturizer, or used on its own. It also smells really fresh, and I love that for my mornings when I want something lighter. I mostly use this in the morning, compared to the other two that I use exclusively at night.
  7. Diptyque Room Spray (C$89 for 150mL) – I used to love burning candles, until I got my princess Noodles the Siamese cat, and then I got really paranoid about candles because she might hurt herself (or burn our home down if she accidentally knocks one over). I fell in love with Diptyque Room Spray on my trip to New York. The one I picked up was Baies (berries, which is scented with rose and blackcurrant), and it smells so good. One spritz is all you need for a medium sized room and it lasts a really long time. The bottle is pricey but we’ve used it every night since we’ve been back from New York and we’ve barely made a dent. I plan on picking up Figuier next; that was boyfriend’s preferred scent when we went to try it out, but I really loved Baies and have been wanting a Baies candle for a long time, so I had to get it. Well now I have an excuse to pick up Figuier too!
  8. Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser* (C$104 for 125mL) – The only cleanser on this list because I don’t generally believe in splurging in cleansers, but this one is SO GOOD. It’s a physical scrub and enzyme-based cleanser in one, and it’s pretty much the only physical scrub I use. I actually have the 50mL one because I couldn’t bear to spend over $100 on a cleanser, and I’ve been using it sparingly. I really love it, and you can also layer it with the Resurfacing Mask for a deeper cleanse.
  9. T3 Featherweight Blow Dryer (C$320) – I’ve never talked about this on my blog, but I have a T3 Dryer that I purchased from Sephora in 2012, and it’s still my favourite hair tool. I’ve used other blow dryers after that but I always still go back to this one. It’s lightweight, relatively quiet, hot, and dries my hair in record time. I have the older, original model, the current one is the Featherweight 2i, so I don’t know how this one performs, but I really love the original. With a good hair dryer, you save yourself a lot of time every time you wash your hair.
  10. Laura Mercier Body Souffle (C$72 for 355mL) – It’s a pain for me to say this because for a body cream, it is SO exorbitantly expensive. It is so good though, which is why I have to put it on this list. I purchased a set of six minis during the holidays, which came with six different “flavours” of the famous LM Body Souffle. I really wish I didn’t, but I fell in love so quickly that I had to buy the full size. Thankfully I did have the $20 VIB gift voucher from Sephora so I paid “only” $52 for this. I love this stuff because it’s so moisturizing, but it absorbs really quickly without feeling sticky. I have perpetually dry skin and this body moisturizer lasts until I wash it off, leaving my skin feel silky and hydrated, and also prevents itching. I compared it with the Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum cream that a lot of people are obsessing over, but I actually prefer this one. The Bum Bum cream leaves weird residue on my skin that never fully absorbs, whereas this one will absorb fully. Both smell AMAZING, but the Bum Bum cream scent will pretty much never dissipate, whereas this dissipates after an hour or so (which is my preference).

In terms of products I generally don’t prefer to spend too much money on, those are usually products that get washed off, such as cleansers or body washes. I review some luxury cleansers but only a select few will get the thumbs up from me, and usually because it does more than just cleanse. I generally use pretty inexpensive body products; I will buy LUSH shower gel but that’s pretty much it.

Facial mists are the other thing that I don’t spend too much money on, there are a select few that I think are worth the price (such May Lindstrom The Jasmine Garden), but I won’t necessarily go out of my way to purchase it. You can get pretty inexpensive facial mists that do the same thing, and I’d rather spend my money on something more potent like serums or moisturizers. I was recently gifted a tube of Marvis toothpaste. They are $12 for a small-ish size tube here. While it’s a nice splurge once in a while, I don’t think it’s a total necessity, and in my personal opinion, I’d rather buy cheap toothpaste, then pool the savings together over a year and buy myself a nice serum, you know?

What are some luxury splurges you love?

Products that were provided by PR are denoted with *, others were 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.

Travel review – Iberostar Paraiso Beach in the Riviera Maya, Mexico

I’ve done so much travelling in the last little while, it only makes sense that I try to catch up in my travel posts. The boyfriend and I went to Riviera Maya in September, 2017. We traveled as a couple with the boyfriend’s friends, a nice group of 9 people total, including four couples. It was my second time in the Riviera Maya area and honestly it’s one of my favourite relaxing vacation spots. The first time we stayed with Grand Bahia Principe Tulum, which was an amazing resort with the most incredible food and service. This time we opted for something different, another chain – Iberostar – mostly because there were way more activities that you can do here compared to Grand Bahia Principe. The Iberostar Paraiso resort grounds includes four full resorts with varied luxury, as well as a conference centre. The resort grounds were big but definitely walkable.

I have so many thoughts about this, so I ended up organizing it into pros and cons lists. In general I had a good time; it was a super relaxing trip and it was also a good mix of things going on, such as activities to do as a big group or just with your significant other. They had a shooting range where you can shoot BB guns and arrows, as well as a full gym with fitness classes (I didn’t end up taking advantage of this). There was also a shopping centre on the resort properties that hosted a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants (included with the all-inclusive), as well as a club.

One main thing I didn’t like was the inconsistency in service. I saw people who worked at our resort also work at others on the same grounds, so I’m not sure why there’s that inconsistency.

Pros: 

  • The beach is beautiful, sand is very smooth, not very rocky, and the water is very clean with very little kelp and other things floating around. The water was so clear that we could see angel fish swimming around underwater while we were standing in the water.
  • The pool is very beautiful, lots of options for loungers and cabana beds. We would go later during the day and even with a big group of 9, we were still able to find lounge chairs in a row. There are a lot of options for quiet versus party areas, and there is also pool volleyball, pool basketball, as well as a nice waterfall.
  • The service at the pool and beach were fantastic, there were people who came around regularly asking if we needed anything, and also taking away our empty cups. The service as the swim up bars was also very efficient.
  • The alcoholic drinks were AMAZING. The best I’ve ever had for an all inclusive. It was never watered down, and the drinks were also made consistently between bars / bartenders.
  • There are a lot of food options so that you don’t just choose between buffet or a la carte. The taco place at the shopping centre was AMAZING. We went there pretty much every day. The Star Rock Cafe was also good, albeit the service was very questionable (particularly from older servers, the younger ones were good). I love the room service option as well, since on some evenings we were craving snacks and they had room service included with the all-inclusive. The food wasn’t the best but it was nice to have fries and nuggets delivered to your room!

Cons:

  • Check in was very slow and inefficient. We had emailed the resort weeks in advance to request a room on a higher floor, but when we got there they didn’t have such a room available. They were helpful to try to group everyone’s rooms near each other, and on the first night they put myself, my significant other, and one other couple in the Presidential Suite so that on the second night we can check into a room closer to the other couples. While this was appreciated, they had told us the Presidential Suite had 2 bedrooms and a connecting living room, when in fact it was just the one bedroom with the second couple having to sleep on futons in the living room, which were extremely uncomfortable. Finally on the second day when we checked into our actual room for the trip, the communication was very confusing and inconsistent, and the change in rooms wasn’t updated in their system completely, so we had a lot of issues trying to book a la cartes and other activities that required room numbers. It just seems very inefficient that such a big resort requires the guest to go back and forth between the check in counter and the activity counter to confirm the changes, and that the change isn’t actually made in their system.
  • We noticed that service is very inconsistent. Sometimes it was fantastic, other times, particularly when the person seems to be more in a management position, the service is severely lacking. We were at the Japanese restaurant with the group, no one explained to us how the menu worked, when we tried to order both the sushi and the appetizer, the server gave us attitude because we could only pick one. If that was the case, why not explain the menu to us.
  • The buffet food was just okay, we didn’t really go to the buffet much because the food was pretty bland and there weren’t that many options or changes day by day.
  • Housekeeping was inconsistent even though we tipped the same amount of money every day.
  • The air conditioning was set at 22 degrees and could not be changed. It was very very hot and humid out so this was kind of unfortunate as even 1-2 degrees lower would have been better.
  • The men in our group got sick from eating at one of the beach restaurants (#9 on the map). For some reason the women ate at the same restaurant but did not get sick, don’t know how that happened.
  • The beds were very uncomfortable and the sheets were rough. For a hotel that is advertised to be 5 stars, I definitely would not say that is the case.
  • The first few days we were there, there weren’t that many trolleys to help bring us around. While the walk from lobby to beach isn’t terrible (10 minutes), the days were very very hot and humid, so more trolleys would have been appreciated.

Overall, we’d probably not go back to this resort again. The experience was generally on the positive side, but It didn’t wow us enough to want to go back, and we’d more likely want to try out other resorts.

All the love for the L’Occitane en Provence x Rifle Paper Co. collaboration collection

L'Occitane en Provence x Rifle Paper Co. collection review

One of THE most exciting collaborations I’ve seen in a long time is the L’Occitane en Provence x Rifle Paper Co. collection. I LOVE Rifle Paper Co., if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I own several pairs of their Keds collaboration shoes, as well as their 5-year journal and more. I would love it if my entire home was filled with Rifle Paper Co. prints. I received a few products from the brand for review, and I also purchased some for myself just because I love the print so much. The prints are super beautiful and do a great job at reflecting both companies.

L'Occitane en Provence x Rifle Paper Co. collection review

The Shea Butter Hand Creams (C$12 for 30mL or C$32 for 150mL or set of three 30mL tubes for $29) need no introduction – I’ve been using these hand creams for years and I will continue to use them. I love that they come in a variety of sizes (10mL, 30mL and 150mL) to keep with you at all times and also keep on your nightstand or desk. I have one in every single handbag (and I have a lot of handbags). This formula is super hydrating, nourishing, and soothing, perfect for the cold winter climates. I wash my hands a lot so they are also perpetually dry, so I love using this to replenish that lost moisture. In addition to the Shea Butter Hand Cream, I also religiously use the Shea Butter Intensive Hand Balm, which is an HG product of mine for the winter, particularly after each day’s dishwashing session.

Anyways, I digress. The regular Shea Butter Hand Cream and the Rose-scented version have both been given Rifle Paper Co. makeovers. The regular formula is available in both the 30mL and 150mL, and then rose version is available in the 30mL. I also received a small 10mL version as a gift with purchase from my order, which is super cute. As a rose lover, I can’t get enough of the rose-scented version.

L'Occitane en Provence x Rifle Paper Co. collection review

In addition, the amazing Multi-Purpose Shea Balms (C$12 for 10g or set of three for $29) have also been repackaged. There are three scents – regular Shea, rose, and apricot. I picked up the rose version for myself, and I keep it with me in my purse. As its name indicated, it can be used anywhere on your body, on your lips, nails, cuticles, skin, hair. Again, this is a great product for the winter. My only complaint is that the tub seems smaller than I remember it… I wish it was bigger!

L'Occitane en Provence x Rifle Paper Co. collection review

The collection is out now both in stores and online, and a lot of the products are already sold out. At the time I made my order, there was an offer for a Rifle Paper Co. limited edition tin, plus a 10mL rose hand cream and 50mL Shea Butter Body Butter, PLUS $10 off your order, with the code Rifle18. I’m not sure if this promotion is still on, but if you google around, L’Occitane online generally has some codes for very generous gifts with purchase. This collection was introduced for Valentine’s Day 2018, so if you want something, you better get going on it. In addition to it making a great gift for the special woman in your life, it also would be a fantastic treat yo’ self.

I received the Shea Butter Hand Cream set for review purposes, and I also purchased the other products for myself. All opinions are my own.

Show some love with the LUSH Valentine’s Day 2018 collection

Lush Valentine's Day 2018 Tisty Tosty

The LUSH Valentine’s Day collection for 2018 is the biggest I’ve seen it in several years. I’m so excited about this year’s collection because it’s a good variety of bath, shower, and other products. Also, this is usually when rose products come full force so I am definitely a fan. Check out my thoughts on the various products below!

Starting out with the biggest hit of this year, the popular Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb (C$8.95) is now available in a GIANT version. The normal version, which is also available to purchase, is 165 grams, but the Giant Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb (C$19.95) is over four times the size at 700 grams.  It is huge, very heavy, and is amazing for if you want to fill up a larger bathtub. Both sizes are formulated with lemon oil, geranium oil, rose absolute, rose oil, as well as sea salt and rose petals for that complete relaxing bath experience. It smells amazingly rosy, and is such a fun indulgence both by myself and with my boyfriend. My apologies that I don’t have photos of the Rose Bombshell Bath Bombs because my photos were corrupted 😦

Lush Valentine's Day 2018 Love Boat

In addition to Rose Bombshell, in the bath bomb category we also have Tisty Tosty (C$6.95), a concoction of rose and jasmine. Compared to Rose Bombshell, Tisty Tosty is fresher and lighter, and not as much of a warm rose. This is great if you like rose but doesn’t want to be overwhelmed by it. My boyfriend really enjoyed Love Boat (C$7.95), because it’s like the adult version of having a toy boat in your bath. It contains lemon oil, orange oil, and rose oil if you want a citrus-y take on a rose product.

Lush Valentine's Day 2018 collection review

If you prefer to have a bit more fun during your bath, may I suggest Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar (C$7.95) or Whole Lotta Love Bubbleroom (C$8.95). Both of these will create a plethora of silky bubbles to help you spend a bit more time in the bath. Unicorn Horn is a lavender, ylang ylang, and neroli blend that’s pretty much just straight bubbles. In comparison, Whole Lotta Love is formulated with bergamot, jasmine, lemongrass, rose, ylang ylang, and gardenia for that full garden experience, and also contains cocoa butter and murumuru butter to give you silky smooth skin right out of the bath. Lastly in the bubbles category is Heart of Enlightened Expectation Bubble Bath Melt, a bubble bar that contains cocoa butter, bergamot oil, geranium oil, jasmine absolute, and rose absolute. Between the three, I prefer Whole Lotta Love just because I find it slightly less drying and the scent is also mesmerizing.

Lush Valentine's Day 2018 collection review

For body care products, we have Cherryish Body Scrub (C$12.95), a sea salt and cocoa butter based balmy body scrub, as well as Melt my Heart Massage Bar (C$7.95), a cocoa butter and shea butter based massage oil bar. I personally dislike Lush’s body scrubs, not because of the formulation, but because I tend to take very hot showers and then the product just melts really quickly in the shower. I do like the formulation though, because it gives a very nice scrub and moisturizes at the same time. Lush’s Massage Bars were one of the first Lush products I’ve used ever, and I’ve been loving it since. In addition to being a great treat with your partner, they are a great alternative to a body butter when you’re traveling since it doesn’t take up your liquids allocation.

Lush Valentine's Day 2018 collection review

If you’re not into taking baths, and are just looking for plain and simple shower products, then Tunnel of Light Soap (C$8.95) and Tender is the Night Naked Shower Cream (C$24.95) are for you. Tunnel of Light Soap is a rosewater, cocoa butter and coconut oil-based soap. It has a very subtle light flora rose scent that even my boyfriend was fine using – it’d be an awesome product to stick in your shower for your partner! Tender is the Night Naked Shower Cream is made with  shea and murumuru butters, as well as jasmine, ylang ylang, and vanilla to give you the most decadent of showers. I’m a fan of Lush’s naked shower creams as they work pretty much exactly like the regular shower creams. I’ve been using mine every day for the last 2 months and I still have maybe 1-2 weeks worth of product left.

One new, and very intriguing thing introduced this year is the Kiss Me Quick Wash Card (C$3.50). Basically the adult version of a Valentine’s Day card, you can stick this into a card for your lover or friend and they get a one-time-use card that will lather under water for some quick and easy suds. Made with apple pulp and cloves, this smells delicious, like cider. It’s great if you are going somewhere for one night and need to bring your own shower products with you.

Lastly, we have a delicious lip scrub, The Kiss (C$9.95), made with mandarin and almond oil, it’s great for keeping your lips flake-free and hydrated. I don’t generally use lip scrubs since they can get messy, but this one is easy to use since you just lick your lips clean.

Overall, my picks for this year’s Valentine’s Day collection are the Giant Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb, Whole Lotta Love Bubbleroom, Melt my Heart Massage Bar, and Tender is the Night Shower Cream. You can pick up all of these products in LUSH stores across Canada and online at Lush.ca.

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

Review + swatches – Guerlain Spring 2018 Glow with Love collection, featuring new Meteorites

Guerlain Spring 2018 Glow with Love collection review

I’m actually really surprised there isn’t much news on the internet about this collection because it is absolutely divine, and one of the more recent makeup releases that got me super excited. It seems like every spring, Guerlain releases new variations to its Meteorites collection – last year it was the 30th Anniversary Meteorites, in 2016 it was the new Meteorites Base and Meteorites Voyage, and in 2015 it was the Meteorites Baby Glow Foundation, Meteorites Perles de Blush, and the Meteorites Compact. Spring is such a perfect season to release these Meteorites products because they help to create beautiful, ethereal glow on the skin – think Arwen from Lord of the Rings. For Spring 2018, Guerlain is going a heart-theme and is introducing a brand new Meteorites product – the Heart Shape compact. In addition, there are five new lipsticks in the KissKiss range, called the KissKiss LoveLove lipsticks.

Guerlain Spring 2018 Meteorites Heart Shape Compact review and swatches

The Heart Shape Compact (C$71) is not just called that because of the heart on the cover of the compact, but also because it is meant to be used as a subtle contour palette to give you that cute heart-shaped face. The darker pink can be used as the contour along the edge of your face, with the lighter pink and light beige used as highlights on your cheekbone and nose to create dimension. This product reminds me of that Guerlain event I wrote about a few years ago about how Guerlain’s international makeup artist, Maxime Poulin used highlighters to contour the face. The cutesy theme makes me think this was probably designed with the Asian market in mind.

Guerlain Spring 2018 Meteorites Heart Shape Compact review and swatches

The Heart Shape Compact comes in one variation, which is really only good for those with fair or light skintones. If you have medium or dark skin tones, this would likely turn out ashy on you. For my light-medium skin tone, this works really well to highlight my face. The dark pink is a bit too sheer to do any true contouring a la Instagram, but it does subtly help to shape my face. As with any Meteorites product, the effect is very subtle and you don’t quite notice it specifically (i.e., wow I love your highlight), but you do notice that something is different (i.e., wow there’s something about your skin today…). If you’re lazy like me, you can also just use this like any other Meteorites product and swirl your brush over the entire thing and use it as a finishing powder. That is what I love using my Meteorites for as they do give you that ethereal, lit from within glow.

My biggest issue with this is how flimsy the packaging is. For a $71 product, they should be able to invest a bit more in the packaging. The compact is probably one the lightest and most flimsy of all of my Guerlain products, and even out of all of the luxury beauty products I own. Also, the actual powder pan fell out of the compact the first time I opened it, so it wasn’t glued on that well. I’m pretty disappointed with this in that sense.

Guerlain Spring 2018 KissKiss LoveLove lipstick in Coral and Beige review and swatches

The KissKiss LoveLove (C$44) lipsticks are super cute, albeit somewhat gimmicky. I’m a fan of Guerlain’s KissKiss lipsticks, especially the balmy ones (the KissKiss Roselip Hydrating & Plumping Tinted Lip Balm is one of my favourite go-to lipsticks for subtle lips). These LoveLove lipsticks are balmy and fantastic for dry lip girls like me. They are formulated with mango butter, commiphora oil, and hyaluronic spheres to help plump and protect your lips against dryness. The two shades I received are #570 KK Coral and #571 KK Beige. #570 Coral is my favourite of the two as it is a super flattering pink-coral. #571 Beige is a pretty beige-peach that’s more suitable on those with lighter skin tones. I also love the packaging, as it is very weighty (more weighty than the compact…), and comes in a beautiful iridescent pink colour.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, these heart-themed products can make fantastic gifts, in addition to some treat yo’ self gifts. My top pick is the KissKiss LoveLove lipsticks, especially in the all-flattering Coral shade.

Do any of these catch your eye?

The swatches

From left to right – KissKiss LoveLove lipstick in Coral and Beige, and the Meteorites Heart Shape Compact (individual shades then combined… it pretty much just melts into the skin!)

Guerlain Spring 2018 Meteorites Heart Shape Compact and KissKiss LoveLove lipstick in Coral and Beige review and swatches

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

Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Collection returns for Chinese New Year in a special set!

Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Collection review and swatches

Hello, heart palpations. I first saw the Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Collection last October when it was being introduced for the holiday season. It quickly sold out, of course, but I am so excited to be one of the first to let you know that this beautiful red and gold collection is coming back as a set for Chinese New Year, exclusively at Holt Renfrew Vancouver!

Priced at C$305, it includes all three products from the collection, all adorned in the limited edition metallic red packaging – Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Silky Satin Lip Color (normally C$120), Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Loubilaque Lip Lacquer (normally C$120), and Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Nail Color (normally C$65) – plus a chic limited edition metallic finished Shopeaks clutch (photo above provided by Louboutin Beauty PR).

Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Collection review and swatches

I’ve previously reviewed the Louboutin Silky Satin Lip Color in Belly Bloom, and was super impressed by the opacity, wear time, and finish on my lips. The Metalissime Silky Satin Lipstick is equally, if not more impressive. It feels super lightweight on the lips, delivering a thin veil of colour that is still mostly opaque without any of the weight. My lips look plumper, and my lip lines are also smoothed. The Metalissime shade is a beautiful red-gold blend that is absolute perfection for the upcoming Chinese New Year festivities. I love how weighty the tube is as well, it’s made of metal and feels very substantial and luxurious in the tube with the red and gold packaging.

Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Collection review and swatches

It was my first time trying out the Loubilaque Lip Lacquer (C$120), and I’m happy to have gotten it in the shade Metalissime. This is my favourite product in the collection, it just applies so beautifully with the most gorgeous colour saturation and finish. The Loubilaque is similar to a glossy liquid lipstick, with a completely opaque finish and a super high shine glossy lacquer finish. It’s not super heavy either, making it perfect for people who normally don’t love gloss (such as me…). Wear time is fantastic – it keeps its high shine finish for about 4 hours, through light drinking. After the glossy finish wears off, there is a bit of a red-gold stain that is left behind which wears for another few hours.  The pointed doe foot applicator does an amazing job at precise application, giving me super full lips that glisten with the light.

Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Collection review and swatches

Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Collection review and swatches

Lastly, we have the Metalissime Nail Color. Again it’s my first time trying Louboutin Nail Color, and I remember it being all the rage when it first came out. The applicator made this super easy to apply, and the metallic finish polish formula was super smooth. For the high price tag though, I’m not super impressed with the formula – even after nearly 3 hours of dry time, I went to bed and I still woke up with some bed wrinkles on my nails. It also isn’t the most glossy of polishes on its own, and definitely needs a high gloss top coat. After 24 hours of wear, there is already minor chipping at the tips, which is a bit disappointing for such an expensive polish.

The Louboutin Metalissim collection is available now exclusively as a beautiful set at Holt Renfrew Vancouver. I really love the Loubilaque and the Silky Satin Lipstick in the shades Metalissime, and I feel like it would make a fantastic Valentine’s Day gift for your loved one. The red and gold is so appropriate for Chinese New Year as well as any festive environment, such as Christmas, anniversaries, or New Years. Pick up yours now because they are sure to go quickly!

Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Collection review and swatches

The swatches

Left: Loubilaque Lip Lacquer in Metalissime; Right: Silky Satin Lipstick in Metalissime

Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Collection review and swatches

Louboutin Nail Color in Metalissime

Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Collection review and swatches

Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Metalissime Collection review and swatches

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