Clinique Wear Everywhere Greys Eyeshadow Palette Review | Finally, a grey that works?

Just J: Clinique Wear Everywhere Greys Eyeshadow Palette Review

Newly launched this year, Clinique is following up on their fantastic Black Honey makeup collection with a slew of wearable palettes. The new Wear Everywhere palettes comes in five versatile styles: grey, pinks, nudes, greens and blue. Each palette contains eight shades within that color family and can be mixed and matched for endless looks. Even better, the palettes contain a mix of matte, satin and shimmery shades, adding in even more versatility!

I had a great experience with the A Black Honey Affair palette, so I was eager to try my hand at these new neutrals. As tempted as I was by the warm chocolate tones of the Nude version, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and opt for the Grey palette instead.

The reason why I was reluctant at first to try this product was because to this day, grey eyeshadow has rarely been a friend for me. While I love how it looks and how alongside some strategically placed black shadow, it achieves that perfect smoky eye, I can never seem to get it to work. Instead, grey shadow on me tends to look ashy and unnatural, which is quite sad seeing as how grey is one of my favourite clothing colors.

When I received my Wear Everywhere Grey palette, I was pleasantly surprised to see the wide variance in shades. Contrary to the name, this palette actually veers from plummy taupes to true grey and black tones.

Just J: Clinique Wear Everywhere Greys Eyeshadow Palette Review

From left to right, the shades are:
  • Light shade of seashell pink/fawn satin duo - I don't really get how this is a "duo" shade since I only see one pan here, but this is basically a light matte violet color
  • High tea - my fave shade of the bunch, this is a beautiful taupe with a soft matte finish
  • Mushroom - a grey-purple shade that also appeared in Act 1 of the Nutcracker collection. This rendition though seems to have a slightly more shimmery finish.
  • Grey matters - a smatte (my word for a satiny matte) gunmetal grey
  • Sugar cane - a repeat from the A Black Honey Affair palette, this is a pearly white highlight shade with high shimmer
  • Silver lining - a very light heather grey with a soft shimmer
  • Stormy - a plum purple with a satin finish
  • Stroke of midnight - a straight up black matte
Just J: Clinique Wear Everywhere Greys Eyeshadow Palette swatches
Left to right: Light shade of seashell pink/fawn satin, High tea, Mushroom, Grey matters, Sugar cane, Silver lining, Stormy, Stroke of midnight

In terms of consistency, they are similar to A Black Honey Affair with the mattes having minimal fallout and the level of fallout increasing as the shades get more shimmery. Sadly though, the pigmentation and texture are quite different. I found these to be much more powdery and way less pigmented than A Black Honey Affair. The shadows are also hard and it's difficult to build up color. To get the swatches seen above, I had to swipe at least 3-4 times and in this respect, they're pretty similar to the Nutcracker shadows. At $40 a palette, I was pretty disappointed in the quality. Wear time of these shadows is solid though as they last all day without fading. 

So has his palette convinced me to love grey eyeshadow? Well, kinda. Despite my misgivings about the texture and color payoff, this palette has some decent colors, but I doubt that I will ever wear the truly grey ones with any frequency. In fact, I probably will rarely stray to the right of Grey matters except to use Stroke of midnight, which is a great eyeliner shade.

Just J: Clinique Wear Everywhere Greys Eyeshadow Palette Review
Wearing Sugar cane at the brow and inner corner, Stroke of midnight as liner, Light shade of seashell across lid, High tea up to crease, Mushroom and Grey matters in outer corners and crease

Just J: Clinique Wear Everywhere Greys Eyeshadow Palette Review

Final Verdict: Ditch - this palette is too pricey for colors that are just meh. Unless Clinique chops this palette in half and only offers the left hand side, I would say pass on this one.

PS. Don't forget to enter my Hype Hair Studio giveaway!

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February Book Club: The Bees by Laline Paull | #SOBookClub

Not that I need more motivation to read, but I recently joined a blogger book club organized by Sarah, of Each month, our little group tackles a different theme, then we all blog our thoughts about our chosen book at the end of the month.

February's theme was "love" of course, and once again, I was stumped as to what to read. A love story? Bleh! I don't read romance and if you dare mention anything starting with T and involving vampires, I will seriously want to barf on you. Luckily, I realized that a book I was reading at the time fit the bill, albeit in a different way than you would initially think.

The Bees by Laline Paull has been a book I've had my eye on for awhile. It follows the story of Flora 717, a sanitation worker bee, lowest of the low, who is born with an extraordinary "deformity" - unlike all others of her caste, she can speak, As soon as she emerges from the sticky confines of her birthing cell, she is marked for death for her abnormality, but is thankfully saved at the last minute by a beautiful sister from the Sage caste, the highest tier of the hive and the priestesses who maintain order. From that chance encounter, Flora's life sets off on a journey that sees her travel through the ranks of the hive: from nursing young in the birthing chambers, to flying off for precious nectar with the foraging parties, to parlaying with deadly spiders and wasps, and even to the inner sanctum of the queen mother herself. Though Flora is celebrated for her courage and uniqueness, it is also these characteristics that cause her to be under the constant eye of the Sage priestesses and their terrifying dark enforcers.

A fascinating read, I found myself unable to put this story down. Paull immerses the reader into her world as she deftly interweaves scientific facts with fantasy. As other reviewers have noted, if you're fan of dystopian fiction like The Handmaid's Tale, then you'll be into this book. The hive is the epitome of a totalitarian communal society with rigid hierarchies and a deathly aversion to distinctiveness. All is for the hive and bees are sacrificed on the daily at the so-called benevolent whims of the ruling class.

For her part, Flora begins life utterly dedicated to the well-being and lives of her sisters, but she slowly begins to see the corruption that hides within its upper echelons. As well, there is an unknown horror lurking unbeknownst to the hive and only Flora realizes how close it lives. When she inadvertently commits the greatest sin her kind can commit, she is galvanized to do things she never would have dreamed of and she learns the true lengths she would go to in the name of love.

The Bees is a story about society, religion and ultimately, the rights of the individual versus the majority, but it is also a story about mothers and daughters. Would you sacrifice the good of all for the love of one? What if that meant destroying everything you know and cherish? A strong debut novel, I can't wait to see what Paull comes up with next.

You can purchase your own copy of The Bees on Amazon.

Want to join along with me and the other bloggers? Sign up now! 
And don't forget to join me for next month's theme: biography!

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Hype Hair Salon x Just J Review + Giveaway!

One of the funnest perks about being a blogger is that you get invited to check out cool businesses that you may never otherwise have come across. Case in point: I was invited recently to try out Hype Hair Studio in Kitsilano by getting a complimentary hair and color treatment!

Hype Hair Studio has been voted as one of the best salons in Vancouver. With its large, bright inviting space and friendly, knowledgeable staff, it's easy to see why. Hype isn't your average hair salon. Their stylists keep their skills sharp by competing in hair competitions, participating in fashion editorials and styling the who's who of Vancouver. They're also a partner with Green Circle Salons, an organization that recycles salon materials, chemicals, and even hair! Yes, even your discarded strands are valuable items that can be re-purposed to create mats that are used to soak up oil spills.

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when I made the trek out to Hype. I was immediately greeted by the friendly receptionist and then taken to meet Nichola, who was to be my stylist for the day. After a quick discussion around hair colors and cut, away we went.

Since I'm getting married this year, I knew I didn't want to go with anything too crazy, but I also wanted to try something different. After all, how can I turn down the opportunity to get free color? So I decided to opt for a medium brown color a couple shades lighter than my natural black-brown locks. Nichola reassured me by answering all my questions and we chatted away during the entire process. I found Nichola super easy to talk to and while normally my shyness makes me just want to bury my face in my phone to avoid small talk, I found myself chatting away with Nichola just fine. Her lovely Irish accent doesn't hurt either!

After two hours of color and cutting, the big reveal was finally ready. Here is my before:

Just J: Hype Hair Studio - the before

And now, here is the after!

Just J: Hype Hair Studio - the after
Photo: Hype

Just J: Hype Hair Studio - the after
Photo: Hype

So dramatic right! My hair felt thicker, bouncier and so much more alive without the excess length. The lighter color doesn't look too different in this photo, but out in the sunlight, it's not even recognizable! I loved the change and am definitely planning a touch-up before Hawaii. A huge thanks to Nichola and the entire team at Hype for making me look so good!

On top of being so generous to me, Hype is also extending that same generosity to one lucky reader for their own chance to try a cut and color service worth $200. This giveaway is for Vancouver residents only (or someone willing to come to Vancouver) of course, and will run until March 6. Good luck!

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FOTD: Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed Makeup Look

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not exactly a morning person. I HATE waking up early, so when I had to pull myself out of bed at 6 am everyday last week for work, I was not a happy camper. As a result, my morning makeup routine quickly simplified into this look that I wore everyday. It's simple, quick, fool-proof and manages to make me look more alert than I actually feel. It's also Mr. Artist approved as it falls into that ridiculous range that men deem acceptable levels of "natural" makeup.

Just J: Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed Makeup Look

To create this look, I used:


Just J: Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed Makeup Look
FACE: Lancome, Revlon, Hourglass and Cargo

1. Apply foundation and concealer. Opt for a dewy finish one, such as this Lancome one. I love this foundation and although it's quite pricey, it lasts for ages and has a beautiful, natural finish. A definite repurchase!

2. Set your face with a finishing powder that also illuminates. Dim is a beautiful shade for my skin tone that imparts a healthy glow.

3. Apply a pinky blush to apples of your cheeks using a fluffy brush.


Just J: Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed Makeup Look
EYES: Urban Decay, Lise Watier, Chella, Makeup Forever, The Body Shop, Stila

4. Prime your lids with an eye primer to help your color last all day - for long days like I had, this is key!

5. Take an ivory or cream colored highlighter and apply generously to the inner corners of eyes, brow bone and along the bottom rim of your eyes; doing this brightens and widens your eyes to give you a refreshed look. I prefer a matte highlight for this step as we'll be applying shimmer later.

6. Apply a pink-mauve eyeshadow to lids, blending up the lid to meet with your highlighter. Keep the color darker below the crease so that you get a gradient effect on your lid. Here I am using Innocent from the Stila The Natural palette.

Just J: Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed Makeup Look
Stila The Natural: Innocent

7. Then take a shimmery pink-gold shade, such as YDK from the Naked 2 palette, and using the tip of a stiffer eyeshadow brush, dot shadow along your upper and lower lash line where you applied the highlighter. The point here is to create a luminous outline on your eyes. The more light and shimmer you can create around your eye area, the more awake you'll appear. If you want something more dramatic, then you could opt for a glitter shade instead of a shimmery one. I'd also recommend not using a very stiff brush, such as an eyeliner brush in this step as you want the line to be soft and smudgy, as opposed to stiff.

Just J: Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed Makeup Look
Urban Decay Naked 2: YDK

8. You could stop here for a softer look, but for just a hint more definition, I like to line my eyes with a subtle light brown eyeliner. This Lise Watier liner is perfect for creating a slightly defined eye. Although I was disappointed with the lack of pigmentation when I first got this eyeliner, I've grown to find it very useful for purposes such as these.

9. Curl and apply two coats of mascara to the top eyelashes only. I rarely apply mascara to my bottom lashes as I tend to get raccoon eyes, but applying mascara just to the top rim also helps open up eyes.

Just J: Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed Makeup Look

Just J: Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed Makeup Look

  • Annabelle Stay Sharp lipliner in Java
Just J: Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed Makeup Look
Annabelle Stay Sharp lip liner - love this!

10. Lastly, line and fill in your lips with a pink-brown or other MLBB (my lips, but better) shade, such as this one from Annabelle. I highly recommend picking this lip-liner up as it is self-sharpening, waterproof and stays put all day - it also helped me to finally play around with a Kylie Jenner lip!!

Just J: Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed Makeup Look
*swoon* over this lip color

I hope you enjoyed this look! Pinks, rather than browns are my go-to neutral and as you can see here, it only takes 10 steps to achieve a flawless face that works for any situation. If I can apply this while half-asleep in the dark, then so can you!

Just J: Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed Makeup Look

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Pinspirations: Ready for Spring

Just J: Inspirations that get me ready for spring

After the ranty post earlier this week, I thought I'd lighten things up a bit with a long overdue inspirations post. There's something so soothing about putting together collages. I used to love cuttings shapes out magazines and pinning them together into a mood board. Creating digital versions is nowhere near as fun, but it does result in less sticky fingers.

This board is all about images that make me eager for spring. With the sunny and relatively warm (sorry everyone else on the continent!) weather we've been having here in Vancouver, I think our entire city is itching to ditch the socks and sweaters and longing for some good old fashioned hot weather sweat. Although I find spring chilly as I'm a summer gal, I do appreciate the season for its gorgeous color palette and how it enables me to go max cardigan lady all day, err'day.

1. Anna Sheffield Black Diamond ring - at an "affordable" $4900, this black diamond ring is as unique as it is gorgeous. I'd never really pondered black diamonds before, but this would be such an edgy and elegant contrast to all the pretty pastels you usually see in Spring.

2. Parsonii watch - this simple black and gold watch, just like the black diamond ring, are all I can ever hope for in Spring accessories. My love for thick, chunky men's watches remains, but this season I feel drawn towards anything minimalist, which means this watch that doesn't even mess with usable time numbers, is absolute perfection.

3. Givenchy nail polish in Seafoam Green - does this really require an explanation? Young green shoots, young love, and a plethora of colors that evoke this youthful promise abound. As opposed to something more like a celery green, I prefer the ocean tones of seafoam, which have a grayer tone that suits me just fine. Available at Sephora this spring.

4. Dress via Lovely Melody Clothing - one of my lone concessions to pastels is blush. I am crushing hard for everything blush lately. It's even one of my wedding colors! My bridesmaids are wearing blush, which I'm quite envious of. Is it safe to say blush is my color of 2015?

5. Outfit via ThirstyThought - I wouldn't consider this really a spring outfit for Vancouver, as like I said our spring weather doesn't get close enough to get this bare, but I am really feeling the laid-back, minimalist vibe of this outfit. This would be perfect for wearing in summer actually when it's hot enough to feel a good warmth on your arms!

6. Makeup Forever Artist Shadows in M-540 Matte Grey Beige, S-560 Satin Taupe and ME-302 Metallic Peacock (image via Office Chic) - LOVE this palette combo. The thing I'm finding daunting with the MUFE Artist Shadows is that it's way too many choices and finishes for me and I am paralyzed by my own indecision. I just want someone to create a fabulous palette for me and this fits the bill. The mix of neutral tones with that gorgeous peacock color is fabulous. You could smoke that out for evening, or just go for a sheer wash of color in the day. Amazing!

7. Minastone dress - another beautiful, floaty dress number. I'm a sucker for florals and can never have enough of them. Sometimes floral can veer into too darling of a look, so I like to keep it more on the laidback hipster side, as opposed to the ultra-feminine kawaii side. The loose top paired with that trim waistline is also very flattering if you're a bit boy shaped like me.

I hope you enjoyed this post! What's always fun to realize when you create mood boards is that you notice themes jumping out at you and this collection makes me realize that I need to invest in more green and blush!

What colors are you looking forward to wearing in spring?

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5 Things PR Should Know About Bloggers

Oh man, I am probably going to lose a ton of PR relationships by writing this, but I suppose I've never been afraid to offend with my reviews before, so why stop now?

As long as I've been a blogger and known other bloggers, a common topic of conversation is our love-hate relationship with brands and specifically, PR. We love PR and we strive to create and maintain relationships with them. By strive, I mean slave away for, compete viciously against each other for, and cause breakdowns amongst us for. Yet, I think, and I believe many I know would secretly agree, that if PR spent even a tenth of the amount of time we spend thinking and planning on how to work with them, learning how to work with us, all would benefit. So here I am, writing this post and really hoping it doesn't screw me over for life.

Here are the five things that PR people should really know about bloggers.

1. Some bloggers rock, but a lot of us really suck.
If you choose to invest in blogger outreach, focus on the long-term, not short-term gains. You're going to reach out to a lot of bloggers and a lot of them will likely not live up to expectations, e.g. giving bland, one-liner reviews, or not even writing about you at all. You'll have to play the odds if you want to find the right types of bloggers to work with.

Many bloggers are just in it for the free stuff and they actually don't give a damn about you or your brand. Maybe that works for you, but hopefully, you're seeking something more. That leads to my next point...

2. Please actually visit the blogs you apparently "love" and want to work with.
I can't believe I have to say this, but #2 happens quite a lot. I would rather get a generically addressed PR release with an obvious bcc: address, than a faux "personal" email where it's obvious that the person emailing me has

  • no clue what my blog is about, e.g. pitching me gardening tools, maternity wear, or vitamins for the elderly
  • wrote the email like a version of mad libs. I can tell because you inevitably "love what I do" and insert a link to a post I did last week which is still on the front page, OR better yet, telling me you love my OLD blog which I deleted. Three years ago.
  • no clue where I'm even located, e.g. inviting me your store opening in Miami, your runway show in Turkey, or to try a product you won't ship anywhere near Canada

Please please PLEASE for the love of gawd, at least skim through some of my posts and read my About and PR pages before contacting me. Have your interns do the work they were hired for and research! Create a spreadsheet with blogger's names, up to date urls, topic areas and details of our relationship. You should know what a CRM is. Use it.

At the very least, do what I do, and create a spreadsheet documenting these things. I can even send you my template where I detail out each PR contact I have, who they represent, and whether they are an active contact or not. It's simple and there's no reason not to do this.

3. The bloggers that do rock, do this out of love.
At least when I started blogging way back in the day, people did it out of love and not for the goodies. That has changed somewhat, but I think most of us still do it out of genuine love for beauty products, fashion and the community. Blogging is life-changing. It opens your eyes to this welcoming sub-culture that really gets you and can be very addicting. The saddest thing though, is that one of the top reasons I see some of my favourite bloggers fade away forever is because they get burned out dealing with PR and trying to get products.

There's a voracious obsession that gets a hold of you once you start working with PR. It's utter FOMO; you get tons of things, but you see others getting more than you, so then you want more and you start obsessing over blogs and stats and doing anything you can to chase that next PR connection. I went through that; several times in fact. I would check my stats everyday and jealously bitch about how so-and-so doesn't deserve this-or-that because I wrote so much better, or took better photos, or just deserved it more for some reason or another. It's awful and the antithesis of all that makes blogging fun. Eventually we all realize this and we either change our outlook or quit forever.

As PR people, I'm not sure what you can do to change this. Maybe try to make it clear what your strategy is - do you just want those with numbers, or are you seeking people with engaged, niche audiences? Personally, I hope you want the latter because the former is a race to the bottom of SEO tricks and high bounce rates with little conversion, but to each their own.

4. Bloggers have lives.
This ties into the previous point as well. Bloggers do this out of love and without pay at the sacrifice of their time and money. We spend weekends and weeknights blogging when we should really be spending time with family and friends. Each post takes hours of time to do. We are our own writers, editors, marketers, photographers, graphic designers and web designers. Maintaining a blog is basically a second job, so when you demand us to post reviews right away, or to jump through all these hoops to work with you, it just becomes annoying and too much to handle. And then when we do jump through all these hoops and get zero response from you? Even worse.

Here are some tips to make this process better:

  • If you have a timeline that you need to work by, then let us know before you send anything. A lot of bloggers keep editorial calendars, so they should be able to tell you approximately when to expect a review.
  • Also, testing products takes time, so anticipate that a blogger will want to try out a product for awhile before they can reasonably write an opinion about it. 
  • Expect that we will take vacations, have exams or busy periods at work. Don't send us a box of twenty items a week before Christmas and then ask when your post is going up.
  • Don't email us asking when a review for a product we didn't even ask for will go up; instead, ask us if we received the package you sent and when we might get to posting about it. 
  • If you do want to be able to send unsolicited products, then I suggest re-reading #2 and having profiles on what bloggers will likely want certain types of products. While I love receiving surprises in the mail, I also feel horrible when I receive products that don't apply to me or that I'm not interested in as then I feel guilty and obliged to write a half-assed post.

5. Realize that there are others out there who are also working with us.
Most bloggers will have relationships with several brands. I have a policy that I usually test a product for 4 weeks before posting. That timeline is slightly shorter for makeup as I like to wear it out a few days and in different ways to test wear time and such, but generally, 4 weeks is the norm. That timeline gets extended even further if I'm testing other products that I can't test in parallel; for example if I'm testing an eye cream all February, then I won't be able to test another one until March. Add on 4 weeks to that, and that review of your eye cream isn't coming out until April.

There's only so many products a person can reasonably track and test within their spare time, so ask your bloggers when you can expect a post either before or after sending product. Not all bloggers will be organized enough to give you an accurate answer (see point #1), but some will. All too often I experience PR people sending products based around their marketing timelines and not taking into account mine; then when I'm unable to produce to that timeline, and there is no follow up by either party, then that relationship dies with the PR person thinking I am a lame blogger, and me left wondering what I did wrong. I realize that bloggers are pretty low in terms of priority for marketing, but considering the budget that is allocated to us, I think these small considerations would allow for that money to be spent more wisely.

If you've managed to get through this post, bravo! I hope this was enlightening and useful to read. I've been fortunate enough to work with some really great brands and this post was meant as a plea to those who are perhaps newer to working with bloggers to learn more. There's a lot of great work we can do together, if we only take some time to learn about each other!

To my fellow bloggers: what things do you wish PR would know about working with us? Please share in the comments!

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Revlon Ultra HD Lip Lacquer Review | Second time's the charm

A couple weeks ago I posted a preview of the new Revlon collections, including a less than stellar review of the Revlon Ultra HD Lip Lacquer. In that review, my take on the shade Rose Quartz was that it was a frosty, dated shade that was a huge pass for me. Well, here I am back again trying another shade! You see, Revlon employs some awesome PR people and they actually read my review AND they acted upon it! I've had a couple instances like this with Revlon and it has really impressed on me how classy their people are. Unlike a lot of other brands, they don't react negatively or defensively to poor reviews; they just up their game more. This in turns makes me LOVE them all the more and sing their praises as I'm doing now!

So what happened was that Revlon wanted me to give the Ultra HD Lip Lacquers another chance and this time I got to choose the shade I would try. Let me tell you, it was a difficult choice as there are just so many gorgeous shades to choose from: 15 in fact! What is helpful is that their website features a gallery of images for each shade, with models of different skin tones so you can "preview" what that shade may look like. Unfortunately, I don't think it's entirely accurate as Rose Quartz looked okay on the models and definitely wasn't on me!

After much deliberation, I finally settled on the gorgeously vampy, blood red Carnelian. I can never pass up a dramatic red and I didn't have one quite this shade in my collection. The closest shade I probably own is Cherry by Annabelle is close, but that one is a bit more purple.

Just J: Revlon Ultra HD Lip Lacquer Review

All of the Ultra HD Lip Lacquers come in a tube format with a brush applicator. The tube is also topped with a jeweled crown, which is a cute touch.

I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of formulation with this line as it's a "lip lacquer" as opposed to a gloss or a lipstick or a stain. What is up with all these new terms for lip products? As far as I can tell, it's just a liquid lipstick, which means it's very very pigmented lip gloss.

As in my previous experience with Rose Quartz, I found the formula for the Ultra HD Lip Lacquer to be super duper thick and extremely rich. If you think to apply this like a lip gloss, you will end up with 1000 times more product than you need. I'd recommend dabbing the color judiciously onto the center of lips instead and then rubbing your lips together to spread out the color; or, if you're more fancy, you could dab this onto your hand and then apply using a separate lip brush. Because Carnelian is such a rich color, I recommend the latter method, but it works just as well either way.

The end result is amazing. Carnelian is a beautiful, vampy, sexy, ruby red and it has me swooning all over it. I love everything about this shade: the wet, glossy finish, the slick, but not sticky texture, and that wonderful, gorgeous blood red. Ugh, have you ever loved something so much it hurts?

Just J: Revlon Ultra HD Lip Lacquer Review

In terms of wear, the Ultra HD Lip Lacquers are a bit high maintenance. They transfer pretty easily while wet so you had better not touch your lips to anything, like cups, fingers, your teeth, nothing, until it sets. If you do this though, you'll have color that lasts all day. I applied this at 8 am last week and at 6:30 pm when I met up with Mr. Artist after work, my lips were still red with zero touch-ups! The color won't remain as vibrant and glossy as when first applied of course, but it will give your lips a nice stain.

Just J: Revlon Ultra HD Lip Lacquer Review

If you're interested in purchasing this shade, which I think you should, then you can purchase it at most drugstores, like London Drugs, Target, and beauty stores like Ulta.

Final Verdict: Buy - this line has vindicated itself to me. Just be cautious which shade you get and always swatch in store first.

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Introducing: Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brightening Solution

Introducing a revolution in the fight against dark spots and aging: the new Sonic Radiance line from Clarisonic.

Consisting of a special rendition of the Aria cleansing brush alongside an exclusive Radiance brush head, day cleanser, serum and night cleanser, the Sonic Radiance Brightening Solution is designed to prevent and eliminate hyper-pigmentation.

As we age, melanin deposits in our skin react to elements like sun damage and acne by creating excess melanin. Normally, melanin helps to protect our skin, but when produced in excess, it surfaces onto the skin as ugly dark spots and uneven skin tone. This type of damage takes years to develop, so it's key to start a prevention program as early as possible. Wearing sunscreen and limiting sun exposure helps, but for those of us who didn't listen very closely to this (*raises hand*), repair is the only solution.

For Asians especially, hyper-pigmentation is our biggest sign of aging, even over wrinkles. As an island girl, I grew up worshiping the sun in summers and now I have a "healthy" sprinkling of dots to show for it. When I received the Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brightening Solution in my mail, I literally whooped for joy, as I'm always on the hunt for whitening/brightening products to try.

Just J: Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brightening Solution
My before: slight sun spots across cheekbones and acne scarring around the chin and mouth

Every product in the Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brightening Solution is designed to combat hyper-pigmentation. The two cleansers are specially formulated with a mix of powerful antioxidants and glycolic acid to prevent future dark spots, while the special Radiance brush head exfoliates away existing ones.

With regular use, after just one week 37% of testers felt improvement in their skin's texture. After 12 weeks, over 86% of testers saw a difference in their skin in terms of radiance, smoothness and texture - pretty impressive results!

You can purchase the Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brightening Solution online or at Sephora. The entire set is pretty pricey at $265 USD from Clarisonic and $311 from Sephora Canada!

With such a huge price tag, the expectations on the Clarisonic Sonic Radiance Brightening Solution are pretty damn high. Brightening products are typically disappointing at best and I have yet to find one that is truly effective. Personally, I'm a little skeptical because Clarisonic isn't exactly known for beauty products, just cleansing brushes. Can they actually create something that works?

Check back in 12 weeks to find out!

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Happenings Lately: Wedding updates and photowalks

It's been a minute since I last did a life update post. January has been pretty quiet as January's usually are. The weeks slip by quickly as work has been crazy and wedding planning is starting to wind up again for me.

I can hardly believe it, but it's 8 months until Mr. Artist and I get married! I should probably start that wedding diet, but first things first, there is a tub of ice cream I should really eat up in my fridge...

Our Save the Dates have been sent and our venue set, so I suppose it's safe now to reveal where we'll be having our big day! I felt shy about saying anything before in case it didn't happen, but we are getting married in my favourite place on Earth - HAWAII!!

Yes, we're a little crazy to do a big destination wedding, but somehow we are... and we have almost 60 people joining us for it! Although it will be a humongous expense for us for sure, we both feel that it will truly be an experience of a lifetime. To be married somewhere that I have always felt such a deep connection to means a lot to me. I actually feel anxious to have so many friends and family coming to Hawaii for the first time as I feel that I hype it up a lot and if it's not as perfect for them as I feel it is, I'll be really crushed! Hawaii isn't everyone's idea of perfect, but for whatever reason, it has really captured a part of my heart.

While most people would choose a beach wedding for Hawaii, I opted to go for a garden theme instead. I've always dreamed of getting married surrounded by flowers and trees and the thought of getting married out in the hot sun, with sand blowing into my face and my eyes squinting in the light, just wasn't appealing. Plus, direct sunlight is awful for photos!

Our venue is in a spot of Hawaii I have never actually been to, but it totally epitomizes the feeling of the islands: the towering, green mountains eroded by waterfalls; the lush garden greens; the gentle lapping of water and that overall feeling of the aloha spirit. I can't wait to be there with all of my ohana.

Where our ceremony will be

Love these mountains!

Besides wedding planning activities, I also had the chance to catch up with old friends, including doing a photo walk recently with Sheila and Angela. We all happened to have new camera lenses to try out, so one very gray day we headed out to Steveston to take photos.

If you've never been, Steveston is a small town adjacent to Richmond, BC. It's roots are in fishing so there's a very quaint, fishing village feel to its streets and shops. Fun fact: they apparently film Once Upon a Time here!

We had a great time strolling the streets, taking photos of boats and passersby. Steveston also has some fantastic boutiques, including one shop that I think we spent literally an hour in poring over all the exotic teas, hand lotions and stationery! I definitely am planning on returning back to Steveston in the summer and to explore more neighborhoods this year.

Fishing boats at Steveston, BC

Fishing dock at Steveston, BC

Fishing boat at Steveston BC

Fishing docks at Steveston

A seagull

seagulls on a roof at Steveston

Photos: me

That's all I've been up to lately! What is new and happening with you?

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Lush The Kiss Lip Scrub and The Kiss Lip Gloss Review | Limited edition Valentine's Day goodies!

Just J: Lush The Kiss Lip Scrub and The Kiss Lip Gloss Review

There are few beauty brands out there that celebrate the season with as much fun and downright whimsy as Lush. Every season, whether it's Christmas, Valentine's Day or just plain summer, Lush comes out with a fantastic new set of winners for your bath, body, hair, face and everything in-between.

By now I'm sure you've read a bunch of reviews gushing about the Lush Valentine's Day collection. Well, here's another one.

I recently received the new limited edition The Kiss lip gloss and scrub to try and yes, gosh darn it, I love them, even enough to venture into poetry.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Lush gave me some lip stuff
That you should have too

(The above is why I'm engineer, not a poet.)

The Kiss Lip Gloss

Just J: Lush The Kiss Lip Scrub and The Kiss Lip Gloss Review

Price: $7.95 per 10 g tin
What it is: The Kiss Lip Gloss is a tinted glossy lip balm that delivers a hit of moisture and shine to your pucker. This lip balm is vegan and contains no synthetic preservatives, yet is also self-preserving somehow through the magic of Lush's factory wizards.
What's in it:
  • Shea butter - a natural ingredient that is deeply moisturizing, an emollient and acts as a natural UV barrier
  • Castor oil - an emollient 
  • Agave syrup - I couldn't find much info on the use of agave in skincare, but EWG classifies it as a skin conditioner
  • Cupuacu butter - an emollient with antioxidant properties
My take: I really wish this lip balm didn't come in a tin. Although the tin is very cute and slim, dipping my finger into a tub of balm isn't the most hygenic thing to do. I have no problems doing this with creams and such because my hands are usually clean when I apply these in the morning and at night, but applying lip balm throughout the day this way seems like a big no-no. Other than that, I quite like this lip balm. The texture is nice and soft due to the shea and cupuacu butters and it spreads easily my lips, giving them a healthy shine. Although you can't see it in my photo, it also colors my lips a flattering pink that is actually very pigmented for a lip balm. You could easily wear this as an everyday lip color if you're someone who isn't into wearing lipsticks, but still wants a bit of color. 
Final Verdict: Buy

Just J: Lush The Kiss Lip Scrub and The Kiss Lip Gloss Review
Wearing: The Kiss Lip Gloss

The Kiss Lip Scrub

Just J: Lush The Kiss Lip Scrub and The Kiss Lip Gloss Review

Price: $9.95 per 25 g jar
What it is: The Kiss Lip Scrub is a salt and sugar based scrub that exfoliates away all those ugly dry patches and flakes from your lips, leaving them smooth and ready for even the driest of lipsticks. As well, this scrub has the fun addition of edible heart shaped sprinkles and confetti - simply apply, rub away and then lick off!
What's in it:
  • Caster sugar - a natural exfoliant
  • Safflower oil - an emollient
  • Sea salt - a natural exfoliant
  • Cocoa butter - an emollient and antioxidant
My take: I've never actually used a lip scrub before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Actually, I wasn't expecting much as I was skeptical about purchasing lip scrubs in the first place. Normally, I just use a wet toothbrush to scrub my lips and that worked just fine. What extra benefit could a scrub provide? Well, I guess I was wrong. The experience is very different, although the end result is somewhat similar.

Just J: Lush The Kiss Lip Scrub and The Kiss Lip Gloss Review

The Kiss lip scrub comes in a cute little jar and is packed full of bright pink sugary goodness. With it being so packed in, the scrub actually feels kinda hard and grainy at first, so you have to either break it up with a toothpick, or just gently rub your finger into it for awhile to soften it up. You only need a little bit to cover your lips, but I like to really pack it on as I love a good grainy exfoliation. The feel of this scrub is oddly enough reminiscent of a micro-dermabrasion scrub and feels really pleasant on my lips. I can literally feel the roughness being wiped away and within seconds, my lips feel smoother and tingly.

Just J: Lush The Kiss Lip Scrub and The Kiss Lip Gloss Review

Although Lush says you can eat this scrub, I wouldn't recommend it. The sea salt flavour is really strong and tastes horrible! 

So will I ever go back to my toothbrush method? Probably not. Lush, you have won me over.
Final Verdict: Buy

Will you be rushing out to grab the Lush Valentine's Day collection?

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January Beauty Favourites

Just J: january beauty favourites featuring L'Occitane, Rocky Mountain Soap company, Lush, Sephora and Stila

Wow, I can't believe it's time for the first beauty favourites post of 2015! January has flown by... without being particularly interesting. With little money and few social events happening, it feels as if everyone is laying low.

Work has been crazy busy for me with planning for all the year's projects ahead. As well, wedding planning is kicking up into gear again. I can't wait to share more wedding updates with everyone as we've now finalized a few very key details!

In the meantime, here are some of my favourites from the past month:

1. Stila The Natural face palette - I think this one is discontinued now, but I picked up this face and eye palette during my Portland trip a couple years ago. Yes, makeup lasts FOREVER. This palette has a beautiful mix of neutral, matte and shimmery tones for the eyes and face. I tend to use the mattes more as they make for an easy no-makeup look. The bronzer also works well in summer to illuminate and chisel out my cheekbones.

2. Sephora Shimmering Marsala Cheek Trio - consisting of two blushes and one highlight, this palette has quickly entered heavy rotation in my morning routine. Marsala is the most pigmented of the three and is a gorgeous wine-red that is very flattering alongside winter's nude trend. My usual mode of wear is to wear Marsala and then blend it out with some of the coral shade on my apples. View full review.

3. Rocky Mountain Foot Butter balm - I've been testing out this mini foot balm the past couple weeks after being introduced to this eco-friendly line and am instantly in love (review coming soon!). The scent is a mix of lemon and citrus, which of course I am swooning over and the thick emollients in this balm have helped stave off those dreaded dry heels.

4. L'Occitane Shea Cleansing Oil - I raved about this one earlier this week, but I'll say it again - this cleansing oil is the shizz. Thick, moisturizing and effective, this oil will convince you to ditch makeup remover forever. View full review.

5. Lush So White Shower Gel - this body wash contains a mix of rose water, sea salt, orange flower, apple cider vinegar, rice bran oil, neroli and bergamot to gently cleanse your skin and surround you in a deliciously fruity cloud. Although I shower at night, I still find the fresh, sweet scent of this body wash soothing and a great way to close off my day.

What were your beauty faves this month?

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Lusting for: Ted Baker Spring 2015

I haven't done a fashion post in AGES, but after receiving an email alert to the new Ted Baker collection, I knew I just had to share.

Although unbelievably out of my price point, I still lust for one day owning a Ted Baker item. To me, this brand epitomizes a unique mix of preppy chic and futuristic graphic prints that result in clothes that are fun, stylish and elegant all at once. The Spring 2015 collection is a prime example of what I mean with its playful use of bold tropical prints paired with classic lines straight out of a Stepford wife catalog.

This adventurous green and pink pattern would be perfect for my next Hawaii trip! I love that Ted Baker does beautiful bikini and one-piece swim styles; too often the one-pieces get left with mom-like cuts and patterns. And for those occasions when you do want to show some skin, this maxi with its daring frontal cut-out will fit the bill. Not only does this maxi look comfortable, it is also very on trend with the whole "criss-cross front and non-existent back" styling that all the bloggers are wearing.

If green isn't your thing, you can also play the ingenue with this delicate rose on white pattern. The swimsuit would work well playing double-duty as a playsuit and that purse is just to die for!

Of course one cannot forget accessories. Each of these purses scream urban fashion-lover to me and would immediately fierce-up any outfit, even if it's just a casual tee and jeans. Actually, I can only imagine how killer it would look this way, paired with some super skinny strappy sandals, or bright white Adidas' for a weekend look. Lest you think the vintage-inspired middle purse is more drab than fab, think again as this purse looks just like one made popular by Taylor Swift, my not-so-secret fashion crush (god-damn her for looking so good all the time!)

Finally, I have to gush about these skirts. I don't have any product descriptions for these, but they do appear similar to tulle, which of course is every fashion girl's fantasy to wear. Unlike the familiar tutu style we're all used to seeing tulle in, these skirts look much more subdued and ready to jump from dream to reality with ease and a flick of some eyeliner.

For us Canadians, you can purchase Ted Baker sadly only in Toronto at the Yorkdale Shopping Center and Toronto Eaton Centre.

Would you purchase this collection if you had the money?

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L'Occitane Shea line: Shea Light Comforting Cream, Shea Cleansing Oil and Shea Gentle Toner | Review + giveaway!

Last year, I was burning through product reviews and trying new products every single month, sometimes even every couple weeks. At the same time, due to hormonal changes, my skin type was changing from normal-dry to something more akin to normal-combination.  As a result of that, and a so-so facial experience, my skin ended 2014 in the worst shape it's been in a very long while.

Enter 2015 and my saviour, the L'Occitane Shea line. With a focus on gentle, naturally infused products, L'Occitane has rarely done me wrong and its soft approach to skincare has done wonders to bring my skin back into alignment.

L'Occitane Shea line: Shea Light Comforting Cream, Shea Cleansing Oil and Shea Gentle Toner

I first introduced the new additions to the shea line earlier this month and now I'm back to provide you some of my thoughts on each of these great products.

Shea Cleansing Oil

Just J: L'Occitane Shea cleansing oil review

Price: $26 for 200 ml
What it is: a gentle cleansing oil that is enriched with 5% shea butter to remove makeup, dirt and impurities.
What's in it:
  • Sunflower seed oil - an emollient
  • Isopropyl isostearate - an emollient that helps lock in moisture and gives a silky feeling
  • PEG-40 sorbitan peroleate - an emulsifier that causes oil and water to mix together in order to rinse away dirt
  • Caprylic/Capric triglyceride - an emollient that helps thicken the product and deliver beneficial ingredients into skin
My take: the Shea Cleansing Oil was my favourite product of the entire Shea line. The thick, silky texture of this cleansing oil was unlike any I'd tried before and it felt super luxurious on my skin, as if I was spreading warm honey over my face. This cleansing oil emulsified really well and left my skin feeling cleansed, but also soft due to the shea butter (which sadly, is halfway down the ingredients list). It washed away all of my makeup quickly and easily, even my stubborn mascara! You only need a little as well to get a lot; one full pump should cover your whole face. 
Final verdict: Buy

Shea Gentle Toner

Just J: L'occitane shea gentle toner review

Price: $26 for 200 ml
What it is: the Shea Gentle Toner is an alcohol-free toner that's designed for use after cleansing to wash away any detritus left by your cleanser and to prep your skin for your moisturizer. 
What's in it:
  • Centaurea Cyanus flower water - an astringent that is also an anti-inflammatory and moisturizer
  • Glycerin - a moisturizer
  • Polysorbate 20 - a surfactant and emulsifier that works to mix oil and water to cleanse skin
  • Sodium PCA - a humectant, meaning it binds moisture to the skin
  • Other ingredients of note: shea butter (moisturizer), bitter orange flower extract (emulsifier, can cause irritation)
My take: this toner has a light, pleasant scent and is translucent in color. Unlike a lot of other toners, this one uses a pump system, so it quite literally soaks a cotton pad with just one pump. I actually like the pump as I usually have to pour my toners into another pump bottle, or sit there shaking the toner out of the original bottle's pin-shaped opening. As a toner, this one is fairly effective; it does help prep my skin after cleansing, but I wouldn't say it does a fantastic job of removing makeup or dirt. I would recommend this for people with drier skin as it's quite gentle and contains a lot of moisturizers, but if you're looking for a deeper cleanse, then you may wish to stick to a proper micellar water. As such, I don't think I would repurchase this as I think you could find cheaper alternatives at a drugstore.
Final verdict: Ditch

Shea Light Comforting Cream

Just J: L'occitane shea light comforting cream review

Price: $30 for 50 ml
What it is: the Shea Light Comforting Cream is a day/night moisturizer designed for normal-combination and sensitive skin. Containing 5% shea butter, this silky smooth moisturizer can be applied for 48 hour moisture. For those requiring even more moisture, there's also the Shea Ultra Rich Comforting Cream, which is designed for very dry skin and contains 25% shea butter, the highest concentration of any product in the Shea line. 
What's in it:
  • Dicaprylyl ether - a non-greasy feeling emollient
  • Shea butter - a wonder ingredient that provides moisture, antioxidants, shields against UV rays, is anti-inflammatory, and forms a protective barrier to help skin repair itself 
  • Octyldodecyl myristate - an emollient
  • Glycerin 
  • Other ingredients of note: sunflower seed oil (emollient), limonene/lemon (fragrance, potential irritant), geraniol/rosewood oil (fragrance, potential irritant)
My take: a close second to the Shea Cleansing Oil was my love for this cream. Anything where the second ingredient (technically third, since the first is water) is shea butter is something you know will be good. Shea butter is one of my favourite ingredients as it's a rich moisturizer that doesn't clog pores and smells very, well, comforting! I've been using this cream as a night moisturizer and you need only very little to leave your skin with that coveted silky feeling. I literally just lightly skim my finger across this cream's surface to have enough to apply to one cheek. If my skin is feeling especially parched, I turn this into a sleeping mask by applying a thicker layer. Come the morning, my skin feels soft, supple and plump. For the slightly oilier skin I have now, this is the perfect level of moisture, but if you have drier skin, you may wish to apply more or switch to the Ultra Rich version. Once summer arrives, I'm not sure whether I'll continue to use this cream, but for now, it fits the bill perfectly.
Final verdict: Buy

Are you intrigued yet to try this line? Well, now you have the chance to win a set of your own L'Occitane shea products! I'm giving away a special gift pack containing full-sized versions of all of the products above, PLUS the Shea Ultra Rich Lip Balm for a total value of $100! 

All you have to do is fill in the entry methods below and be a Canadian resident. Good luck and thanks for reading!

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