Buy or Ditch: Marcelle Hydra-C 24H Energizing Hydrating Gel review

Marcelle Hydra-C 24H Energizing Hydraging gel bottle

The Product
The Marcelle Hydra-C 24H Energizing Hydrating Gel is a light-weight gel face moisturizer designed for daily daytime use. Its "ultra-light jelly-like texture" provides 24 hour moisture without the heaviness of other lotions and comes packed with multiple star ingredients to rejuvenate and provide anti-aging benefits.

The Guts
Here are the top ingredients in this product:

  • Algae extract - serves a variety of purposes in cosmetics, but primarily acts as an emollient and antioxidant. Depending on the type of algae used, it could contain various vitamins and minerals to help skin. Some types of algae are known skin irritants.
  • Allantoin - an emollient that helps protect skin from moisture loss
  • Aloe leaf juice - a super ingredient that is packed with vitamins that act as antioxidants. Aloe Vera is also a known anti-inflammatory agent, which helps to soothe red, damaged skin
Besides these awesome ingredients, this moisturizer also contains vitamins C and E, and green tea extracts, which are all great antioxidants.

Price & Packaging
The Hydra-C is available for $23.95 off Marcelle's online site and at London Drugs (although I couldn't find the listing on London Drug's website, so I'm guessing it's at a similar price). Housed in a glass, screw-top jar, the Hydra-C's packaging is the best of both worlds - utilitarian and luxurious. Although germophobes may prefer the use of a plastic scoop with their creams, I prefer using my finger over fiddling with yet another tool.

While there are a lot of rave reviews of this product, I have to say that I HATE this product. My skin is normal-dry and not normally sensitive to any type of product, but my skin utterly rebelled against this cream. After 2 days use, my skin became so inflamed that it stung like a bitch immediately after application and the only relief was to remove it, immediately. Once I switched to a different lotion, my skin turned quickly back to its more balanced tone. I'm not sure what it is that I'm reacting to (perhaps the algae?), but one thing for sure is that I'll never try this, or any of the others in its line, again.

The Verdict
Straight up ditch.

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Back from the holidays

I'm back from the Christmas madness! The break from blogging and being online in general gave me a much-enjoyed break from keeping up with everyone's random updates, and energized me with some new posts just itching to be typed out.

Firstly though, a recap of Christmas! I always love the holidays as it gives me time to relax and just enjoy being with family and friends. I've been kept pretty busy the past week spending time with my and Mr. Artist's respective families and eating tons of Christmas goodies. My mom as always, outdid herself with the yearly Christmas cookie baking and gave me my first Christmas-themed cookie tray upon which she piled sugar cookies, candy cane cookies, shortbread, ginger snaps, chocolate rum balls, sweet raisin bread, pound cake and coffee cake to take home, with a "let me know if you want more!" for good measure. It was my first time spending Christmas in Vancouver as usually I'm one of the countless hordes trekking out of town for Christmas. I did kinda miss seeing my cousins and aunts though who usually come into our hometown, but I still felt close to them when my mom gave me the hedgehog doggie toy that my aunt had given to Ecko! He sure loved it and immediately tried to fit the entire thing into his mouth.

My dog enjoying his Christmas present. Photo Just J

Besides being my first Christmas spent in Vancouver, it was also my first Boxing Day spent in Vancouver! It's a yearly tradition for my mom and I to spend the day out shopping together. We usually spend it in 1+ malls, enabling each other to buy more than we should. This year did not disappoint and I was pleasantly surprised that the sales were all fairly decent! I was able to get shoes for 50% off and both my mom and I purchased leather purses for only $100!

My Boxing Day shopping haul. Photo: Just J
My Boxing Day shopping haul. Photo: Just J

I'm kinda worried that I won't be able to fit into all my new clothes come January as I seem to be having endless family lunches and dinners. Today was a delicious dumpling fest at Dinesty with some of Ric's family friends and yesterday I cooked my first turkey dinner with Ric's sister for their family and friends. Seeing as I'm the one whose the most "Canadian" (aka "white-washed"), it was assumed I was the expert on turkey dinner lol. Luckily, our turkey had accurate cooking instructions printed conveniently on its label! I stuffed the skin with butter and rosemary and the inside was filled with whole sprigs of rosemary, carrots, onions and a sliced lemon. The whole house smelled amazing and the result was surprisingly tasty! I guess turkey looks intimidating, but once it's in the oven it's pretty much just waiting - which I'm not good at as I was hopping around anxiously for the final half hour debating with myself on when to take it out of the oven #overthinking

My first home-cooked turkey! Photo: Just J
My first home-cooked turkey! Photo: Just J

First Christmas dinner in my new house. Photo: Just J
First Christmas dinner in my new house. Photo: Just J

Anyhoo, that was my Christmas! How was yours and what are your plans for NYE?

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Last post of 2013!

Today is my last post of 2013 before I take a break to celebrate Christmas. Or at least I will be taking a break from blogging until I become bored of sleeping in/eating everything in sight/watching dog videos/watching Food Network/shopping/gaming/boozing it up to post an update.

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy holidays filled with all the above things I plan on doing. Thanks for checking in on me though during your holidays and I'd like to leave you with some posts from my blog archives that you may have missed and this totally fabulous video of a mouse decorating a Christmas tree. Enjoy!

What's for Dinner: Simple chicken noodle soup - Asian style

Delicious dining c/o Drew Cooks!

Vancouver blogger challenge: how to wear a LBD

Seeking summer: Granville Island photowalk

Buy: Enesti Multiple Water Drop BB cream

Ask MizzJ: Great patent flats for any price range

Spend on Trend: unique Vancouver jewelry

Ditch: Almay Wake-up eyeliner and highlighter

My attempt at everyday Korean makeup

#365outfit challenge: my favourite outfits

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My Winter Beauty Routine

I've been inspired to do a beauty routine post after seeing a couple online and because I'm often asked what products I use to maintain my skin. For the record, I have medium-dry skin and am in my late 20s, so I tend to use products that are heavy on the moisturizing and anti-aging side. I don't get many breakouts, but I do have a little sun damage and my face tends to get a bit shiny by the end of the day.

Finding the right balance for your skin is something that changes over time, in different climates and seasons and is rather unique to each person, but hopefully this post can provide some guidance to people out there with similar skin. Besides experimenting to find the right combination of products for you, I also recommend switching your beauty products up a bit during summer than winter. Here are the products I'm using right now for winter.

My daytime beauty routine products
Daytime beauty products

Lately for my morning routine, I've been opting to either just use a cleansing toner or a very light, moisturizing cleansing cream, like this Marcelle BB Cleanser. Seeing as I do a thorough job cleansing during the night and my skin doesn't get very oily or dirty during the night, I just try to refresh and protect my face for the day. This BB cleanser does the trick and also acts as a light moisturizer in one simple step! Next, I apply my trusty Hada Labo Arbutin Whitening Lotion. I've been using this toner for years and while I think the whitening affects are minimal, I do love the refreshing feel this moisturizing toner provides with its mix of vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. After toning, I dot on eye cream; right now, I'm using the L'Occitane Divine Immortelle eye cream. Lastly, I like to apply a product that contains sunscreen. During the summer, I would normally apply an actual sunscreen product, but in Vancouver winters, sun is a rare thing, so I've been half-assing it by liberally applying this Marcelle DD cream. This DD cream contains SPF 25 and also acts as a pretty decent foundation that evens out and covers imperfections.

My evening beauty routine products
My evening beauty routine products

Compared to daytime, my night time routine is much more extensive. First, I wash off makeup, dirt and oil with the Dermalogica Pre-cleanse (one of my favourite products). Then, I follow that up with a good cleanser - currently, I'm trying out the Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel; it's a bit watery, but suds up well and rinses easily. After cleansing, I clean off any residual dirt and makeup with a toner. Normally, I prefer non-alcohol toners, but somehow I received this Lancome Tonique Radiance, so that's what I'm using now. The Lancome toner is effective, but it's high alcohol percentage causes my eyes to water a bit and I wouldn't buy this for myself.

Once my face is squeaky clean, it's onto the protecting stage. First up, is some protecting serum, care of Kiehls' famous Midnight Recovery serum. I think I'm a fan more of the Abyssine serum, but the Midnight Recovery smells amazing and does seem to do its job of leaving my skin baby soft. Then it's onto the eye cream and then a hearty dose of night cream of which I'm currently using the L'Occitane Divine Immortelle cream. I've only been using the Immortelle products for a little while, but I love how soft it's made my skin already and my only complaint is its price where I literally feel as if I'm slathering my money away each night into my bottomless pores.

Besides my daily routine, I also exfoliate twice a week (loving the Lush Cosmetic's Let the Good Times Roll scrub) and use a deep cleansing face mask once a week (right now am using Lancome's Pure Empriente pore reducing clay mask).

And that's it! What is your beauty routine? Do you use more or less products everyday than me?

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Life Ramblings: T+J Designs Luxe Wing Crystal Earrings, Cheerslator iPhone app and first Christmas

I've been pondering lately about how to incorporate more of my personal life into my blog and I thought I'd mix things up a bit by trying out a new weekly post about things I'm loving, things I'm hating and just plain other happenings with me! If you enjoy reading my Lust of the Week posts, don't worry because I plan to incorporate those into here. Let me know what you think of this type of post as I love to hear your feedback!

T+J feather crystal earrings
via T+J Designs, $42

Life is all about getting er' done with my Christmas shopping this month for me. Every year I harass my family for their Christmas lists and everywhere we all delay as long as possible in sending them out. Also as usual, I'm shopping down to the wire and literally just finished this past weekend.

Shopping is the fun part, but now I'm left with one week to do the dreaded wrapping. I HATE wrapping presents. I'm not sure why, as it seems most girls enjoy wrapping things in pretty, festive paper, ribbons and sparkles, but wrapping makes me want to punch someone. Why bother spending so much time on something you're just going to rip off anyway? Isn't it the thing inside the box that matters? It's also suddenly occurred to me that you could make the same argument for lingerie...

In case you still haven't finished your Christmas shopping or you are at the point where you're just exhausted from it all and feel like treating yourself, these crystal feather-shaped earrings pictured above could be just the thing you're looking for. These stunning statement pieces are the perfect accessory to cap off your evening outfit and are sure to elicit "Where did you get that?" reactions.

An interesting fact about the online store that these earrings come from is that it was started by 2 blogger sisters! T+J, which stands for Tiffany and Jen, are both popular style bloggers from Seattle and a couple years ago, they launched their own online jewelry line to huge success. Their site is full of affordable, gorgeous and glittery things and you can see many other bloggers wearing their items on their blogs as well. Definitely recommend bookmarking this site, plus it's free shipping to Canada if you spend over $50!

Screenshot from the Cheers iPhone app
Photo: iTunes

If drinking bubbly is more your thing than some retail therapy, then check out this new iPhone app that my friend made! Developed for kicks, but actually quite cool, the Cheerslator app teaches you how to toast in multiple languages and features real audio snippets by native speakers. There are tons of languages supported already, such as Greek, Tagalog and Croatian to name a few.  Time to download and drink up!

Besides shopping, I've also been indulging in the usual copious amounts of eating with friends. A couple weekends ago, I went to a holiday potluck hosted by my good friend Sheila. We ate delicious roast chicken, roasted vegetables, pasta, salads, and soup, along with homemade mousse and green tea cheesecake for dessert!

Christmas potluck at Sheila's. Photo: Just J
Christmas potluck at Sheila's. Photo: Just J

Angela's delicious Zuppa Toscana soup! Photo: Just J
Angela's delicious Zuppa Toscana soup! Photo: Just J

Last weekend Mr. Artist and I also finally found our first Christmas tree! It's a Martha Stewart Living one of course and I was literally clapping my hands in delight when I woke up the next morning to see that Mr. Artist had secretly set it up and its rosy glow was filling our living room. Ecko also seems to approve, although a week later he did decide to take an exploratory nibble of it!!

Our first Christmas tree together! Photo: Just J
Our first Christmas tree together! Photo: Just J

That's all from me this week, how were yours?

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What's for Dinner: Grilled Ratatouille Pasta

I made this dish last weekend for a Christmas potluck and it's a great easy, nutritious side for any meal. It was quite fast to make and is super versatile as you could sub in basically any type of vegetable that you like; for instance, I couldn't find eggplant or zucchini at my local grocer, so I subbed in 2 cups of crimini mushrooms and 1/2 cup of sliced english cucumbers instead!

If you also don't feel like grilling or roasting, you could do what I did and just saute your vegetables on a hot skillet with lots of olive oil. My last tip would be to be very generous with your salt and pepper to bring out the natural flavours of your vegetables.

Prep time: 40 mins
Serves: 4

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound curly pasta, such as cavatappi or rotini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided, plus more for grilling
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into thick slices
  • 1 bell pepper halved, stemmed, and seeded (any color will do, but I prefer red or yellow for the sweetness)
  • 1 small red onion, halved
  • 1 small eggplant, cut lengthwise into thick slices
  • 4 large tomatoes, cut crosswise into thick slices (I actually only used 2)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (preferably white)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

In a medium pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Be sure to be uber generous with the amount of salt you put into your pasta water. As I learned from watching many cooking shows, the salt will help your water boil quicker and bring out the flavour of your pasta. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain and return to pot.

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high; clean and lightly oil hot grill. Working in batches if necessary, lightly brush vegetables with 2 tablespoons oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill, turning occasionally, until browned and tender. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and let cool slightly.

Roughly chop vegetables, then add to pasta, along with 2 tablespoons oil and vinegar to taste. If necessary, add pasta water to create a light sauce that coats pasta. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

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The Future of Vancouver Fashion: Blanche Macdonald Grad Fashion Show 2013

Some people like to watch college sports and the minor leagues to check out the athletic stars of tomorrow. I prefer to watch fashion school graduate shows. The other week I was fortunate to attend the 2013 graduate fashion show for Blanche Macdonald, one of Vancouver's top fashion and beauty schools. Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the Atelier campus of Blanche Macdonald was a buzzing hub of activity with many of Vancouver's fashion elite in attendance.

Seeing as I came straight from work, I felt extremely under-dressed as many attendees went all out, sporting fur coats, the latest designers and of course black everything. As fascinating as it always is to people watch at fashion events, the majority everyone's attention was on the show and the grads of 2013 did not disappoint.

Drama was the theme of the night as each designer sent out fresh new takes on romance, menswear and even modern warrior looks. Here are some of the highlights from the night:

Andrianna Pahl
Pahl's collection was inspired by "The Swan's Ballet" and her collection was a dream of soft, silky whites and fluttering appliques. Romance and grace at its best.

Dorothy Ting
Also inspired by the power and grace of ballet was designer Dorothy Ting whose collection was a take on the story of Swan Lake, crossed with opulence of France's Versaille. This stunning take on the power suit was the highlight of Ting's collection for me with its exaggerated shoulders and intricate crystal embellishments that were contrasted with the purposely ragged hemlines to give it a more modern, undone look.

Joanne Huang
Probably one of the most RTW collections in the show, Huang's designs were trendy, but a bit too safe. While I did love her takes on crop tops and high-low skirts, I felt her designs were a bit too of the moment and nothing that was especially forward-thinking.

Kira Sams
Definitely the most interesting designer in this show, Sam's take on the classic female warrior was spot on and looked more suited for an epic Hollywood movie than a Vancouver runway. In particular, this snakeskin-like top, made of tons of individual metal scales and consisting of only a front - no back - was stunning and I longed to see it up close to examine the construction more. Set against the glowing skin of her model, the end result was flawlessly executed.

Yinan Wu
Lastly, there's nothing especially "cool" about this simple black dress, except for the fact that it totally reminds me of classic 90s Calvin Klein and I absolutely adore how simple and sexy this dress looks. Check out how awesome that model's boobs look! Sign me up for a pre-order if that dress can make me look like that!

All photos: Peter Jensen

It looks like the future of Vancouver's fashion scene is in good hands if these graduates have any say. It will be very interesting to see how each designer's career progresses. 

Which of these is your favourite look?

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Lust of the Week: Larkspur & Hawk Olivia Button Ring

Olivia button ring

Boyfriends take note. This gorgeous copper and gold shiner is sure to make your special someone's eyes light up. Made of rose gold washed silver and copper foil, this dramatic, yet classic cocktail ring is a stunner that will dress up even the most casual of outfits. Designer Emily Satloff, has a sharp eye for detail and a healthy appreciation for the timeless looks of the past, so you can be sure that item will stand the test of time. Prices available by request.

In other news, lately I've been feeling a bit of a rut with posts and wanting to write things that are more personal than the usual, check out this pretty thing, but I find myself at a loss as to how to do so in an interesting way for you, my readers. I think the best blogs are the ones where you feel as if you're reading a letter from a friend and that you follow the blogger, not the blog, yet I hesitate to show too much of my personal thoughts or life on here as it's public and therefore I have to censor out large parts of my life (e.g. work and people) which leaves me a bit at a loss as to how to approach this. Does anyone have any ideas?

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Lise Watier Winter 2013 Collection: Jardin de Givre

Last month, I received a lovely package in the mail - the new Winter 2013 makeup collection from Lise Watier! The collection, named "Jardin de givre," which as far as I can tell translates to "frost garden" or something, is a beautiful holiday collection of sparkly, jewel toned colors that will brighten up your complexion and leave you glowing. As Lise Watier puts it, "winter will be sophisticated!"

The Winter 2013 collection consists of an eye-shadow palette, a highlighting powder, lipstick, eyeliners, nail polish, lip gloss and a special edition Les Neiges moisturizer.

The Palette Jardin de Givre comes with 7 shimmering shades. All but one of the shades are mixed with white sparkles and the last black shade is meant as a matte black eyeliner. The colors here are totally appropriate for Christmas party makeup and in person are quite saturated and super sparkly. Here are some more close-ups:

The only problem with the shades being so sparkly is that they might be overkill when worn altogether and inappropriate once January rolls around. I haven't tried the palette yet as I was waiting to take these photos, but even with just some light swatching, a large amount of sparkle was deposited.

The Palette Jardin de Givre retails for $45.

The Jardin de Givre Illuminating Powder is a gorgeous pan of peachy/golden/pink goodness. Unfortunately you can't tell from my photo, but the pan is embossed with a peacock feather pattern and the case is a slick silver that fits perfectly into your purse. I cannot wait to try out this powder as the swatches I did gave off a very glowing, shimmery look that will be great for evening or daytime if dusted very lightly.

The Illuminating Powder retails for $36.

The Rouge Sublime Lumiere lipstick comes in 2 shades: Frisson (pictured above) is a cool pink-rose while Rouge Satin is a darker, pink-red. Frisson is my lips-but-better shade that is a great match for balancing dramatic eye looks. Both colors retail for $23.

The winter collection debuts 2 holiday colors: Rose frimas (pictured above) is a rich magenta and Bleu d'hiver, a deep cobalt. Like all Lise Watier polishes, these polishes come with a built-in LED light in the cap, for you know, applying in the dark - not sure why you would need that, but still cool!

Check out all the colors and other products in the winter collection online at the official Lise Water website and purchase all Lise Watier products in store via London Drugs.

P.S Only 2 more days left to enter my Metropolis at Metrotown gift card giveaway! 

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Buy or Ditch: StriVectin-SD Eye Concentrate for Wrinkles

The Product
A multidimensional product that strives to eliminate crow's feet, dark circles, fine lines and eye puffiness. The StriVectin-SD Eye Concentrate for Wrinkles one-ups the original StriVectin-SD Eye Concentrate with a higher concentration of wrinkle fighting ingredients to deliver greater results in 8 weeks.

The Guts
This product is designed to work even for those with sensitive skin and is paraben, fragrance and artificial color and dye free. The main ingredients are:

  • Myristal Nicotinate - an ingredient that helps to repair sun damage and soothe dry, irritated skin
  • Cyclopentasiloxane - a silicon based ingredient that forms a smooth layer over your skin that helps to retain moisture and provide a temporary "plump" look. While not immediately dangerous, there is some evidence that this ingredient could accumulate in your body over long exposure.
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride - an ingredient derived from coconut oil and acts as an emollient, capturing moisture into skin.
While it's great that this product's first ingredient is an active skin repairer, the next ingredient is downright misleading and the third is so common as to be utterly basic. This product also contains other silicone ingredients, leading me to suspect that you'll see temporary results, but no lasting change. On the other hand, this product also includes ingredients like caffeine, algae extract, hyaluronic acid and cucumber, all of which are ingredients that do help to moisturize and reduce puffiness.

Price & Packaging
A full sized 1 oz (29.57 mL) will set you back $72 from London Drugs. A sample size, as shown above, is only 7 mL and is the size that I tried. It supposedly contains a 2 week supply, but I've been used mine up in about a month and a half, despite applying it twice a day.

The packaging is straightforward - just your regular squeeze tube.

The results I saw from this eye cream could be because I managed to stretch the product out 3 times as long as stated on the package, so take what you will from my review. I don't think it lasted as long as it did because I was being stingy with my use though. I applied a good sized dot of product each night and a slightly smaller amount in the morning everyday.

As expected though, I saw only temporary results, but no lasting change in the fine lines underneath my eye. I did notice a slight brightening of dark circles and the eye area felt soft and smooth, but by the end of a work day, I could definitely see my fine lines again. Sadly, this eye cream is no better than any other I've used to produce actual results.

The Verdict

P.S. Don't forget to enter my Metropolis at Metrotown gift card giveaway!

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Lust of the Week: The Kip Ring from Lionette by Noa Sade

Buy via Lionette, $135

A few years back everyone was into the YSL Arty ring and since then, bold, architectural statement rings have been all the rage. Going beyond the traditional "cocktail rings," today's statement pieces are all about capturing the rugged shapes of nature or evoking a glamourous style from the pages of history. Case in point, the beautiful Kip ring from Lionette by Noa Sade.

I've only recently learned of this jewelry brand, but it is already popular with celebs like Rachel Bilson and Rihanna. Formed by designer Noa Sade and entrepreneur Vanessa Lee, the NYC based line borrows heavily from the looks of glamourous downtown society girls. A little bit luxe and a little bit rock n'roll, this ring is a perfect example of that hard to pin down mix of edge and style.

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