Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Lipstick Review | A new summer fave!

estee lauder lipstick in empowered

A flattering red lipstick is one of those things that every woman (or at least every makeup loving woman) strives to have. That perfect red lipstick is the one thing in your makeup kit that can truly finish, elevate and literally make a look. Within the red spectrum itself, there's a variety of shades to suit every skin tone and occasion. For myself, I love a bold, full-on red lipstick, but it can be tricky to find one that isn't super high-maintenance to wear, or which stays put, but leaves my lips parched, so I was excited to try recently the Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy lipstick to see if this was finally the red I'd been looking for.

Designed to provide full, luscious color with a creamy finish, the Pure Color Envy lipsticks contain multi-faceted pigments to give your lips full dimension color, while a time-release moisture complex ensures they stay moist and full looking for full 6 hour wear. The Pure Color Envy line contains 20 shades, ranging from pink rose nudes to bright orange-reds and shimmery plums. The shade I received to try was Empowered, a rich, scarlet red.

estee lauder lipstick in empowered

Price & Packaging
One tube contains 0.12 oz or 3.5 ml of product and retails for $34 from Sephora. One thing that Estee Lauder always gets right is their packaging, which is spot-on luxuriousness. The lipstick comes in a glossy black tube with a gold interior and is slightly slimmer than normal lipstick tubes. The most satisfying thing about this tube though is its magnetic closure lid, which slides elegantly shut with a most gratifying click. The only other lipsticks I own that feel so good to open and close are my Burberrys and possibly the Clinique Pop lips! While the Clinique Pop Lip Color + Primer lipsticks slide closed in an almost sensual way, the Pure Color Envy lipstick closes with a very business-like click that makes me feel very sophisticated and worldly. At $34, this lipstick is definitely a splurge item, but as a gift for someone, or to yourself, it's a reasonable price for a taste of luxury.

estee lauder pure color envy lipstick in empowered

Pigmentation & Wear
In terms of pigmentation, the Pure Color Envy lipsticks are truly one-swipe color. When swatching, I couldn't see much difference between one vs. two swipes of color. With its creamy texture, I found this lipstick a joy to apply. Empowered is a beautiful, full red that smooths on easily, although if you haven't exfoliated your lips in a while, you may want to before applying as the bright color will definitely catch on flakes and rough patches.

estee lauder pure color envy lipstick in empowered swatches
Swatches: one stroke and two strokes

Once on, it has a glossy finish, which I find very pretty and natural, but it does shorten the lifespan of your color. As opposed to getting 6 hours of wear, I usually achieved around 3-4 hours and after a meal, this lipstick definitely wears away.

estee lauder pure color envy lipstick in empowered

The other disadvantage of the Pure Color Envy lipsticks is that it tends to wander outside of your lip line very easily. Even when I used a clear lip liner, I still wasn't able to keep this lipstick in check. I also tried to apply with a brush, but I found that method to apply the color kinda streaky. My recommended method to apply then is straight-up from the tube - just be careful to keep within your lip lines!

These downsides though are a small price to pay though for such a beautiful color. On my NC 20/25 skin tone, this color is just perfection. Not too orange and not too blue-toned, Empowered is the perfect wearable red and the color that has finally gotten me out of my nude pink rut!

Final Verdict
Buy - gorgeous luscious color + beautiful packaging = must-have!

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A Book Devoured: Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell

It's been awhile since I did a book post, so I thought I'd share a good read that I found recently. I've been reading a lot of non-fiction in the past year and while I find them informative and interesting, there's just nothing like a good fiction story to really entertain you and take your mind off things.

I love to read medieval, Roman, and Egyptian historical fiction, so when I saw this pop up in my Kobo recommended reads list, I was instantly intrigued. Patricia Bracewell's Shadow on the Crown is the first in a trilogy chronicling the life of real-life English queen, Emma of Normandy. Beginning when Emma is just 15, the book follows her journey from being a young girl riding along the shores of Normandy to the courtly intrigue of 11th century England. For Emma, this journey is far from a fairy tale: her marriage is loveless and her husband, the king, is cruel and haunted by the ghost of his murdered brother, while the kingdom is under constant siege by the Danes. Throw in a forbidden love triangle, a tempestuous and beautiful rival, and this soap opera-y twist on history is one entertaining ride.

Bracewell does a deft job of mixing truth and fiction, which is helped by the fact that history leaves a lot of intriguing gaps and hints to fill in. The story follows Emma's journey primarily but also has chapters following the other main characters, which enriches and humanizes even the antagonists. Interestingly enough, I found the most interesting characters to not be Emma herself, but to be the supporting characters Athelstan, the crown heir, and Elgiva, daughter of England's most powerful lord and bitter enemy of Emma. Both Athelstan and Elgiva start their story with having their fortunes foretold by the same far-seerer, who predicts glory and downfall for each. How that all unfolds though is the mystery and somehow Emma is right in the middle.

In contrast, I found Emma to be kinda boring. She's extremely dutiful and is endlessly described as looking regal and beautiful, which is fine in public, but as a reader, c'mon - give me some evidence that this woman lets her hair down a little! Even the much awaited love scene between Emma and her forbidden lover is left to only one page, which after so much angst and yearning between the two is pretty disappointing. Nevertheless, she's interesting enough that I somehow kept reading, right into the sequel, The Price of Blood, which I just started.

If you're a fan of historical fiction, you can find Shadow on the Crown via Amazon, Kobo and Google Play Books.

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Amie Morning Clear Purifying Facial Wash Review | A gentle way to refresh your skin

Amie morning clear facial cleanser

I've tried a lot of Amie skincare products (see all my past reviews here) and while their moisturizers are so-so, I have no complaints when it comes to the cleansers. My latest item to try from the British brand is Amie's Morning Clear Purifying Facial Wash. Composed of 96.8% natural ingredients, Morning Clear contains extracts of elder flower and may blossom to unclog pores and remove dirt, while sugar, cocoa seed butter and sweet almond oil replenish your moisture. The Morning Clear cleanser can be used both morning and night, contains 15% moisturizers and is also pH balanced to ensure your skin remains smooth and even-toned.

The Guts
The primary ingredients in this cleanser are:
  • Water
  • Caprylic/Capric triglyceride - thickens and acts as an emollient
  • Theobroma cacao seed butter - a rich, natural emollient that also helps relieve skin irritation
  • Cetearyl alcohol - can be derived from coconut oils and acts as an emollient, thickener and foaming agent
  • Glycerin - a humectant that helps your skin draw in moisture
Other ingredients of note are sweet almond oil (moisturizing), panthenol (skin conditioning), bitter orange flower extract (fragrance, can be irritating), raspberry extract (antioxidant), hawthorn extract (antioxidant), limonene aka lemon oil (fragrance, can be irritating).

Overall, this product seems to contain lots of emollients, which match its moisturizing claims and a few natural antioxidants. There are however some natural extracts in here that are more for fragrance and which could irritate sensitive skin.

Price & Packaging
A generously sized 150 ml tube costs just under $5 off the Amie website, so I imagine it is a similar price at Shoppers Drug Mart

Amie morning clear facial cleanser

Since this cleanser can be used both morning and night, I tried the Morning Clear out both ways. As a nightly cleanser, I found it surprisingly effective at removing makeup and dirt as it passed my toner test with flying colors, leaving little to no residue behind. 

The cleanser itself comes out of the tube with a mousse-like texture that emulsifies once it comes into contact with water on my skin. You just need to dampen your face slightly to get this cleanser going. If your face is too drenched with water, then the Morning Clear tends to just dissolve away. As it is, if you're used to a ton of foaming action, then you likely won't like the this cleanser. 

I loved the milky creaminess of the Morning Clear and how it just glides over my skin. My skin feels coated in a silky layer that rinses away cleanly, yet leaves it feeling soft and velvety. The Morning Clear does have a slight floral scent, but it's not over-powering and fades away once you've rinsed off. 

With its gentle texture and moisturizing effect, I've primarily been using the Morning Clear as my morning cleanser and it's been a great way to gently cleanse my skin and refresh it for my daytime products.

Final Verdict
Buy - a lovely moisturizing cleanser that's effective day and night.

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How To Mix It Up Between Eyeshadow Palettes

As you all know, I love a good eyeshadow palette. They're pretty, offer good value,  and hen I'm in my morning rush, nothing makes getting ready easier than grabbing the palette closest to me and slapping on a couple of colors to be good to go. Eyeshadow palettes are great as they do all the work for you by presenting you with an array of predefined, coordinating options, but they can also make you easily fall into a rut where you just wear those same combinations all the time. I'm certainly guilty of this trap as I rarely wear colors across multiple palettes, so I thought I'd try to dig myself out of this rut.

Most of my palettes, as evidenced by my recent palette collection post, are made up of neutrals, so that makes it both easy to mix and match them, but harder to create anything that different from my normal look.

Of course, one way to solve this color rut problem is to depot all your shadows into a large open palette, but personally, I'm lazy and also for the non-makeup obsessed, it's unlikely that they would go to that sort of trouble. So for those people and lazy people like me, here are some tips I thought of that anyone looking to think outside of the palette (box) can do:
  • take cues from nature - nature is the ultimate color combiner and generally what works in nature, will work for you. Combinations like pink and greens, blue and purples, gold and blacks or dark browns, all occur in nature and while they sound super dramatic, you can tone them up or down depending on how bright or vibrant your shadows are
  • pay attention to finishes - besides color, an important factor to pay attention to is whether the shadows you're mixing are matte, shimmery, or glittery. It's a good rule of thumb to keep your highlight and base colors on the more shimmery side if you have to, while pairing them with a matte crease shade
  • keep it in the family - don't go nuts when mixing palettes and use one that has primarily cool tones with one that is more warm, or by trying to mix a rainbow bright palette with one that is more muted. The easiest way to mix palettes is to choose pairs that are kinda similar so your resulting look is cohesive, instead of manic.
To try these tips out myself, I chose to use my Lise Watier Rivages palette alongside my Urban Decay Naked 3 palette. Both offer warm neutrals that are a mix of shimmer and satin shades that I thought would pair well together.

urban decay naked 3 eye shadow palette
Urban Decay Naked 3

Lise Watier limited edition Rivages eyeshadow palette
Lise Watier Rivages 

To get this look:
  1. Smooth out with a velvety primer base, such as The Body Shop's Instablur All-in-One Tinted Concealer + Primer all over lids and under-eye
  2. Apply a light pink base shadow all over lid - I'm using the bottom pink shade from the Lise Watier Rivages
  3. Next, take a fluffy shadow brush and apply Urban Decay Naked 3's Limit from lash line to well above the crease
  4. Apply the mossy green tone from the Lise Watier Rivages to the outer third of the lid as a fun accent color
  5. Bring light to the eyes by applying a gold shimmer shade like Trick from the Naked 3 to the centre of lid
  6. Add more light to eyes by applying a creamy ivory, such as Strange from the Naked 3 to the inner corners and brow bone
  7. Lastly, line the lower lash line with Limit
Finish things off with lots of mascara and liner if you wish.

how to mix and match colors across eye shadow palettes featuring Urban Decay Naked 3 and Lise Watier Rivages palette

how to mix and match colors across eye shadow palettes featuring Urban Decay Naked 3 and Lise Watier Rivages palette

I've always loved the mix of matte and shimmer between the shades Limit and Trick and it's a look I've done before when I want to look soft and pretty. The new addition of the green from the Rivages palette adds a subtle new twist to this tried-and-true look that makes it look refreshed and a bit of a daytime smoky eye!

I hope you enjoyed this eye look! Please let me know what your tips are for mixing and matching new color combos from your eyeshadow collection!

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Help the Environment and Avoid Microbeads with Lush Cosmetics | #BanTheBead

Who doesn't love a good scrub? I know I do! Even though you may try your best to avoid harmful ingredients, have you ever thought to consider that what you put on your face could be harmful in another way? It's not something often remarked upon on blogs, but a lot of common ingredients can be perfectly safe for your skin, but utterly devastating to the environment.

In recent years, scientists and environmental groups have been raising concerns over one such item that has been making its way into cosmetics, cleansing products and even toothpaste: microbeads. Although these little tiny scrubbing beads work amazingly well to slough off dead skin cells and dirt from your skin, they unfortunately are also detrimental to life in waterways and oceans. All too often, these small beads are made of tiny plastic granules that do not decompose and are too fine to be caught by our sewage filtration systems. Sadly, these microbeads instead end up washing through our sewage into the open water, where they are eaten by animals. Needless to say, ingesting these plastics isn't natural for animals and eventually that plastic makes it up the food chain to us.

Thankfully, there are organizations and brands out there fighting for a change. Lush Cosmetics has partnered with Ottawa Riverkeepers, a society dedicated to the health and protection of the Ottawa River and its tributaries, on an online campaign designed to educate consumers on the harmful effects of microbeads and encourage them to take action. Anyone can help take part in the #BanTheBead campaign in the following ways:
  1. Follow the conversation and spread the word via the #BanTheBead hashtag on Twitter and Instagram
  2. Sign the Ottawa Riverkeeper's petition to the federal government to ban microbeads in cosmetic products.
  3. Purchase biodegradable alternatives to microbeads

How to spot microbeads
It can be pretty difficult to know whether your product contains harmful microbeads or not, but there are some tricks and ingredients to watch out for. Obviously, anything with the word "microbeads" is suspect, but also watch out for products that use the words "pearls" or "scrubbing beads" and watch out for the following ingredients: 
  • polyethylene (PE)
  • polypropylene (PP)
  • polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
  • polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
  • polystyrene (PS)
  • nylon
While these ingredients can have other purposes that are harmless, when paired with a product that claims exfoliating properties, the likelihood of these ingredients being used to form plastic beads is very high, so better safe than sorry and avoid them!

Want more info? Check out Beat the Microbead for info and an app that helps you identify products with microbeads.

So what can I use?
While microbeads are affordable and effective, there are just as many natural alternatives that work just as well. Lush in particular has some great alternatives that are worth checking out and they were kind enough to send me a few to try!

#banthebead and Lush cosmetics

Movis Facial Soap ($9.95) is a unique bread-based face soap that's uses breadcrumbs as its exfoliator and contains vitamin E, coconut oil, organic cocoa butter, and sunflower oil to soften and moisturize skin.

Sugar Scrub ($6.25) harnesses the natural cleansing powers of sugar, fennel and ginger to revitalize and renew your skin. This hard circular body scrub can be used kinda like a dissolving pumice stone to scrub away those pesky rough patches.

Lush let the good times roll #banthebead
Lush's Let the Good Times Roll

Let the Good Times Roll (starting at $12.95) is a face and body scrub that I've reviewed before and love for its sweet cookie dough scent and its comforting mix of maize, corn meal and popcorn granules.

Lush lifes a beach scrub
Lush's Life's a Beach

Life's a Beach ($6.95) is supposedly a gentle scrub, but considering it looks like someone took a fistful of sand, washed it, dumped in some fragrance and put it in a jar, I have to say I'm a bit skeptical, yet wait to try it out! Plus 100% of proceeds from sales of this scrub is donated back to the Ottawa Riverkeepers, as well as other organizations working to ban microbeads.

I hope this helps you to reconsider what products you use and do your part to help save our oceans and rivers! If you have any tips on natural exfoliants to try or recommendation for your favourite eco-friendly exfoliating scrub, please let me know in the comments!

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Nuxe Dry Oil Huile Prodigieuse Oil and Shimmering Dry Oil Review

nuxe paris huile prodigieuse oils

In case you haven't heard: oils are in. Forget the days when oil was a four letter word, now oils are key to your skincare regime. Want supple, glowing skin and glossy hair? Well, oils can get you all of that and sometimes with just one product! Nuxe Paris' famous Huile Prodigieuse dry oils are one such wonder product. Designed to be used all over your body, from head to toe, this plant based dry oil has been used by women around the world for over 20 years. Recently, I was fortunate enough to get to try this famous product, alongside its summer sister, the Shimmering Dry Oil.

Started by French entrepreneur Aliza Jabes in the 90's, Nuxe merges the concepts of nature with luxury and science with plant-based ingredients. With over 30 spas, 45 patents and selling in 65 countries, Nuxe has established itself as an authority in innovative skincare. The Huile Prodigieuse oils are their first and perhaps most popular product. Made up of a blend of six plant oils, this dry oil can be used in a variety of ways:
  • as a moisturizing treatment for the face
  • as a lip balm
  • mixed in with foundation for smoother application
  • as a body moisturizer
  • on hair and scalp as a deep conditioning treatment for softer, shinier hair
The Shimmering Dry Oil can be used in all the same ways as well, but contains the added bonus of of tiny, shimmering particles to impart a healthy glow. As a dry oil, the Huile Prodigieuse won't leave your skin feeling slick as it absorbs readily into skin, leaving it velvety soft.

nuxe huile prodigieuse oil for hair, body and face

The Guts
Composed of 97.8% natural ingredients, the Huile Prodigieuse oils contain:
  • macadamia nut oil - a powerful anti-aging oil that contains one of the highest concentrations of palmitoleic fatty acid, which helps delay cell aging
  • hazel nut oil - assists with cell regeneration and is great for oily/combination skin types as it has astringent properties
  • sweet almond oil - moisturizes skin and makes it soft and supple
  • camellia oil - high in antioxidants
  • St. John's wort - has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties 
Besides all the aforementioned plant oils, the Huile Prodigieuse oils also smell amazing. Macadamia and sweet almond oils themselves have a rich, luxurious fragrance, but Nuxe has also added to this additional notes to create a sensual mix of floral and earthy scents:
  • Top notes: orange blossom, bergamot and mandarin
  • Middle notes: rose, gardenia and magnolia
  • Base notes: vanilla and coconut milk

nuxe huile prodigieuse oil with shimmer

Price & Packaging
The Huile Prodigieuse oils are available in different sizes and as a spray or splash bottle. I received the 100 ml spray version of the original Huile Prodigieuse dry oil, which retails for $45 and the 50 ml splash version of the Shimmering Dry Oil, which retails for $39. In my opinion, the value of the spray version is much better than saving just $6 for half the size with the splash bottle. As well, the spray is easier to use, since you can efficiently spray oil into your hands rather than shaking the splash bottle forever to get the same amount. 

If you were to use the Huile Prodigieuse as your main body lotion, you'd probably use this up very quickly and at $45 per bottle, that could be a bit expensive. I would recommend instead using this as a finishing touch or spot treatment for those areas that you want to really pamper or show off.

As a big fan of the The Body Shop's dry oils, I was looking for big things from Nuxe's version. It's safe to say that Nuxe blows TBS out of the water in terms of luxurious packaging and fragrance. The scent of the Nuxe oils is just so much more multi-faceted and lush compared to the TBS oil; the Nuxe oils smell amazing and could easily even be worn as a very light fragrance. 

nuxe huile prodigieuse dry oil
Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Shimmering Dry Oil in indoor light. Left: unblended. Right: blended

I used the Huile Prodigieuse oils on my body, face and hair on separate occasions. My favourite way to use this oil is on my body. 2 full sprays is enough to spread over one leg, leaving it silky smooth. When using oils, you'll notice that they take longer than lotions to absorb at first, but once it had absorbed, the dry oil texture actually left my skin feeling less sticky than my usual lotions. Besides leaving my skin feel soft and hydrated, the oil also gave it a nice subtle sheen, which could be amped up more with the Shimmering version. I love to use the Shimmering oil on my legs and chest to give them a golden glow that feels super sexy and glamourous. Although at first I was hesitant to the use the Shimmering oil as it looked super bronzey, in reality the shimmers are dispersed so finely that the final look is quite subtle.

To use on the face, take one spray and spread between the palms, then press lightly onto face. I like to use this on my face as the last step in my night-time routine, to seal in my serum and creams. You could also use this as an overnight moisturizing mask simply by applying a heavier layer, but be warned that your pillow will get kinda oily this way!

nuxe huile prodigieuse dry oil
Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Shimmering Dry Oil in outdoor light. Left: unblended. Right: blended
Check out that gorgeous sheen!

Lastly, I tried applying the oil to the ends of my strands, but I found it tricky to know how much to apply. I seemed to always apply too much and my hair felt more clumpy and oily than silky. I think I'll next try it as a scalp treatment as my scalp has been driving me crazy since dying my hair again recently!

Final Verdict
Buy - a gorgeously scented, luxurious treat that captures the healing powers of nature. Love the concept, the packaging and the effects.

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Amie Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask Review | For those who love that deep-down clean feeling

Amie spring clean deep cleansing mask

There's something so psychologically satisfying about really deep cleaning your face. When I'm scrubbing away at my skin with a good, grainy exfoliant my imagination envisions those cheesy cartoons in acne-fighting commercials where the product swooshes through an imaginary pore, scooping all the gunk away. And that tightening feeling that deep cleansing masks give? Love it. It makes me feel as if I'm sucking out all the dirt and that tight feeling is just my pores shrinking!

If you're one of those weirdos like me then you will be interested to read on about my experiences with the Amie Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask. Containing organic peppermint, white clay and lime butter, the Spring Clean mask will purify pores for a clear, radiant complexion. Like all Amie products, this mask is pH balanced for sensitive skin and contains no parabens or mineral oils. You can use this mask whenever your skin needs a pick-me-up or generally 1-2 times a week.

The Guts
The Amie Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask contains primarily:
  • water
  • kaolin clay - a natural clay that helps detoxify and clarify 
  • zinc oxide - may be used here to help give this mask it's light color and thick texture
  • glycerin - a humectant
  • magnesium aluminum silicate - another thickener
This mask also contains cyclopentasiloxane (a silicone that helps give a spreadable texture), PEG-100 stearate (surfactant, cleanser), lime leaf essential oil (antibacterial), and peppermint extract (antibacterial, can cause irritation). 

Price & Packaging
A 100 ml tube costs around $12 and is available at Walmart. I've always found Amie products to be very affordable and I love their youthful, cute packaging. Also fun fact - Amie packaging colors usually match the color of the product within!

Amie Spring Clean clay mask

The first thing I noticed about the Amie Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask is its refreshing, zesty scent that is full of lime and peppermint. I'm a sucker for anything fresh smelling, so I could smell this mask all day. 

The texture of the Spring Clean mask is like most clay masks and is delightfully thick and cooling. I found this mask to spread easily and within 10 minutes it dries down to a thin, crackly layer. Although Amie claims that this mask can be used by sensitive skin peeps, I would not recommend it if your skin is easily irritated. The peppermint comes through very strongly in this mask, even though it's halfway down the ingredients list. Clay masks can feel a little intense normally, but I think the peppermint just takes this to a whole other level. The Amie Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask made my skin tingle like crazy, to the point where it almost wasn't pleasurable at all and just felt like burning. Even after rinsing the mask off, my skin felt tingly still and this sensation lasted for awhile until my moisturizer had time to absorb and counteract it. 

Despite this, I persevered with this mask and now I don't notice the stinging as much. Also, I found applying a thinner layer and using it in the shower seemed to help, as opposed to letting it air dry. If you can handle all this though, you'll find that the results are great. After using this mask, my skin feels tighter, brighter and super refreshed. I also like to use the Spring Clean as a spot treatment on blemishes and it zaps those away much faster than if I'd just left them on their own.

Final Verdict
Buy - an intense clay mask that smells amazing and leaves skin feeling tingly and clean in a good (and kinda bad) way.

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Bioderma Sensibio 3-in-1 One Step Cleansing Milk Review | A silky, luxurious kind of makeup remover

Bioderma Sensibio cleansing milk makeup remover

French brand Bioderma is well-known for their gentle, thorough skincare products, in particular they are known for ushering in the era of micellar waters to the mainstream public. Based on this success then, I was curious to try out Bioderma's other makeup removal products.

The Bioderma Sensibio 3-in-1 One Step Cleansing Milk is an all-in-one product that acts like an old-school cleansing milk that removes makeup, cleanses and conditions skin. This product is absolutely perfect for travel or on-the-go use as it doesn't require rinsing: simply apply, then wipe away dirt and impurities and be on your way! What's also cool about this cleansing milk is that it's actually designed to improve your skin. With continued use, Bioderma claims that its patented ingredient, Toleridine, will strengthen skin and make it more resistant to inflammation and thus, redness. Although I don't have particularly sensitive skin, I love it when brands design with sensitive skins in mind as what's good for sensitive skins is generally good for all. Bioderma is known for designing their products to contain a minimum of irritants and the 3-in-1 One Step Cleansing Milk is no exception; this product is fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic and contains no parabens or surfactants!

The Guts
To continue the topic of ingredients then, the primary ingredients in the Bioderma Sensibio 3-in-1 One Step Cleansing Milk are:
  • water
  • glycerin - a humectant
  • ethylhexyl palmitate - an emollient and solvent that gives this product a slippery texture
  • mineral oil - an emollient that is non-irritating
  • polypropylene terephthalate - an emulsifier that leaves behind a silky film on skin that acts as a moisture barrier; my guess would be that this helps your skin retain moisture. There are some studies that warn that this ingredient may have harmful effects, but I didn't find other sources backing up this claim

Price & Packaging
A 250 ml bottle sells for around $20 at drugstores, such as London Drugs. Pharmasave and Shoppers Drug Mart. I've noticed that Bioderma really likes to offer value for your money as this and their micellar water both come in huge bottles. If you were to take this for travel, I'd squeeze some out into a smaller travel bottle or jar as the size and cylindrical shape of this bottle don't make it easy to pack. 

The 3-in-1 One Step Cleansing Milk comes in a plain plastic bottle with a flip-top cap where you squeeze product out of a small opening on top. I think a better format for this product would have been a squeeze tube, as the plastic bottle is kinda awkward and will require you to shake it upside-down, kinda like a ketchup bottle.

Bioderma 3 in 1 cleansing milk

You can use this product using either a cotton swab or your fingers to apply to a dry or damp face. I prefer to use this on dry skin, using a cotton pad. Since you're supposed to be able to use this as your only cleansing product, I decided to try it a few times this way. During a typical weekday, I'll be wearing foundation, blush, lipstick, eyeliner, waterproof mascara and eyeshadow - to take all that AND daily accumulated dirt off is quite the undertaking. 

The 3-in-1 One Step Cleansing Milk feels cool and silky against my skin and is quickly absorbed by skin, so you have to work fast at massaging this in. What's awesome about this milk is that it immediately begins to break down my makeup, causing it to literally dissolve off my skin, similar to a cleansing oil. My guess would be that the high mineral oil content is the workhorse makeup remover, while the polypropylene terephthalate left my skin feeling really soft and luxurious. 

What is sad though, is that it took 3 cotton pads, used on both sides, to completely remove all the makeup, dirt and gunk off my face. Each swab was quite disgusting, like a lovely swirl of whatever makeup colors I was wearing that day, plus god knows what else! The cheapo in me hated having to use so many cotton pads and I'm skeptical that if I'd just used my fingers that it would have been enough to cleanse my skin as deeply as I like.

As a precleanse treatment though, the Bioderma Sensibio 3-in-1 One Step Cleansing Milk works great. It loosens and dissolves enough of my makeup that my regular night cleanser is good enough to wash away the rest. I think with it being so gentle, this milk would be a great morning cleanser as well. Although I don't think this product will wean me away from my beloved cleansing oils, it's a nice alternative that I would recommend to anyone to try.

Final Verdict
Buy - affordable and effective, the Bioderma Sensibio 3-in-1 One Step Cleansing Milk gets the job done.

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Under $50 Summer Shopping List

What to buy for summer that is under $50

My favourite season of the year has finally arrived - summer! I absolutely love not having to wear socks or boots, or jackets. Summer dressing is all about feeling free, embracing color and being playful with your style. Here are some of my recent summer shopping finds and all of them are under $50!

1. Forever 21 Floral Print Crepe Kimono, $19 - I love kimono tops yet regrettably have few of them in my closet. They're the summer equivalent of winter cardigans, so of course they are right up my alley!

2. Ruche Waterfront Dinner Romper, $48.99 - normally I'm not a fan of rompers, but I absolutely adore this ivory and lace romper. The delicate lace trim and elegant draping of this romper is so romantic. I'm not exactly sure where I would wear this as it's a bit like a fancy pyjama, but I'd be willing to plan an occasion just to wear it!

3. Forever 21 Embroidered Peasant Top, $26.90 - of course nothing says summer quite like a peasant top. This is another summer staple that I'm sadly lacking in. I love the casual sexiness of the neckline on this top, which is contrasted with the elastic bottom with the sweet girly ruffle. With this season's 70's trend, this top becomes even more appropriate and covetable.

4. ASOS Crochet Tee, $47.60 - another typical summer item is a crochet top, but this particular one from ASOS comes with a twist, with its unusual blue pink color. This would be so perfect to wear over dresses, or with cute bandeaus and crop tops.

5. ASOS The Ultimate Crop Cami, $10.58 - crops and camis are not something I usually stock up on, but I'm in love with the mustard yellow tone of this cami. As well, the crop isn't too short on this one, so if you're short-waisted like me, it might actually fit normally! Mustard again seems very 70's to me, and it's a color that a lot of people don't dare to try, but it goes great with denim, black and even brighter colors like green, so it's surprisingly versatile. Wearing a unique color like this is an easy way to stand out from the crowd.

6. Ruche New Beginnings Cutout Flats, $38.99 - summer shopping isn't all about the clothes; it's also about the accessories! These super cute mint flats are the type of shoe you want to wear everywhere and with everything.

7. Ruche Midnight Rendezvous Pants, $38.99 - summers here in Vancouver don't usually get so hot that you can't wear shorts, and for an office environment, slim, thin trousers are a must when jeans just get too hot to wear. I love these types of pants lately and always purchase a pair when I find one that fits me. The cinched waist accentuates your shape, while the loose fit keeps things comfortable.

8. ModCloth Keen of the Castle Sunglasses, $49.99 - I recently bought a pair of vintage sunglasses similar to these and I've been wearing them everyday! I can't get enough of cat-eye sunglasses and anything tortoise-shell always catches my eye.

9. ModCloth Fleur-ever and a Day Hair Pin Set, $14.99 - while I'm a total dunce when it comes to hair, even I can use fancy bobby pins like these gold metal ones. The delicate flowers have a vintage sort of feel to them that will instantly give your outfit just that little bit of quirkiness that is oh-so-charming.

10. ASOS Straw Matador Hat, $31.74 - Last, but not least, is this wide-brimmed matador-style hat. A breathable, light toned hat is essential for days out in the sun. I am always wearing my straw hat out on the beach or even just to walk the dog around the neighborhood. No way am I working so hard through the rest of year to eliminate my hyperpigmentation only to accumulate more!

Hope you enjoyed my summer shopping picks! What's on your shopping list for summer?

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Lise Watier Rivage Eyeshadow Palette Review | A must-have for soft, muted shadow lovers

Lise Watier Rivage limited edition eye shadow palette

As soon as I saw the swatches and reviews coming out for the limited edition Lise Watier Palette Rivages eyeshadows, I knew I had to get my grabby hands on it. Luckily, Lise Watier obliged, for which I am SO grateful as this palette is just such a beauty.

The Rivage palette is the centerpiece of the summer 2015 Lise Watier collection, but for me personally, it could easily stand as a knockout on its own without the other supporting products. Let's just say that this palette is like the Justin Timberlake of this group! Who even cares about anything else when you're looking at something this beautiful?

Lise Watier Rivage eye shadow

As always, Lise Watier impresses right off the bat by housing their products in carefully thought out packaging. Each season's collection is cohesively designed around a theme and this season's theme, judging by the Rivage packaging, is inspired by timeless elegance. The Rivage palette is housed in a brass edged and mother-of-pearl compact with a rose-mauve interior.

Lise Watier limited edition Rivages eyeshadow palette

There are ten shades in this palette:

Top row:
  • a soft corn yellow 
  • a muted moss green
  • a peach pink
  • a plum
  • a deep wine red, kinda like a cool marsala
Bottom row:
  • a soft blush pink
  • a light mauve purple
  • an icy blue pink
  • a deep red bronze
  • a deep purple black
Each shade has a satin finish with the lighter highlight shades being a true satin, while the darkest shades could almost be called mattes. All the shades also have that characteristic hard texture typical of Lise Watier eyeshadows; however these ones at least felt a bit more buttery than previous palettes due to its powder-cream formula.

Lise Watier Rivage eye shadow swatches
Top row shades

Lise Watier Rivage shadow swatch
Bottom row shades

That being said, I still found these shadows to require a bit of work to build-up, especially with the peach pink highlight, the muted moss green and the mauve purple. It seems you either have to bet on having a fabulous buttery texture and rich color payoff, but deal with creasing, or go for harder, slightly powdery formulas that aren't as pigmented, but last forever. The Rivage palette falls in the latter category. You don't need a primer at all for these shadows and they last all day with only moderate fading. I do wish that the color payoff was richer, but I think that's a personal preference as I'm sure for most people, it's just fine and even preferable to build up color instead of trying to blend out.

One thing I love about this palette, is how easy it is to mix and match colors unlike some palettes where you can easily fall into using the same two or three shades together all the time. I could probably blindly choose three shades from this palette and they would always work together.

The peach pink, blush pink and corn yellow are great all over base colors and highlighters. The corn yellow is my favourite highlighter of the three as you can dot it in the center of your eye and you get instant impact that brightens and lifts the eyes. 

The darker shades in this palette are also excellent, with rich, deep colors, that are easily blended out to be wearable for day. 

If you're stuck on inspiration, Lise Watier also included a handy booklet detailing a bunch of different ways to wear this palette, which is a great touch that I wish more companies did.

Eye shadow and Lise Watier Rivages shadow palette
The "nude" look. Also wearing, the Make Up Forever Graphic Liner

Eyeshadow look with Lise Watier Rivages palette

Lise Watier eye shadow look with Rivage eyeshadow
The "beachy" look. Also wearing Lise Watier Feline HD liquid eyeliner

Lise Watier Rivage FOTD

For $54 for 10 shades the Rivage palette is very pricey, but if you don't have an extensive eyeshadow collection and you don't mind the somewhat muted pigmentation, then by all means get this immediately. The Rivage palette is an excellent choice for the adult makeup beginner as it is very well conceived with a good variety of neutral shades that work well together and will cover you for any situation.

Lise Watier Rivages eye shadow swatch
All ten shades swatched

Final Verdict

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L'Occitane Pivoine Sublime Skin Perfecting Mist Review | Capturing spring freshness

L'occitane pivoine sublime hydrating mist

Recently I was watching a youtube video about the differences between western and Asian makeup and really what it boils down to it seems is that western makeup is all about sexy, sculpted glamour, whereas Asian makeup is all about youthful glow. As a western-born-and-raised Asian, my own makeup style sits somewhere in-between these two worlds. I love a bold sexy look, but my everyday look favours more towards the glowing, girlish side. Sure, I went through a brief phase this past winter of wanting matte everything, but with the advent of summer weather, I've done a 180 and am now back to getting my glow on.

To get a proper dewy look, it's really all about the skin and making it appear clear and freshly moisturized. Unfortunately, that just lubed up look also can lead to grease and unwanted shinies. That's where something like L'Occitane's Pivoine Sublime Skin Perfecting Mist  comes in.

The Pivoine Sublime Skin Perfecting Mist is a subtle hit of sunshine freshness in a bottle. Offering hydration, anti-inflammatory properties and the beautiful soft scent of peony flowers, the Pivoine Sublime Skin Perfecting Mist will keep you and your makeup looking freshly applied.

The Guts
The primary ingredients in this mist are:
  • Water
  • Glycerin - a humectant (locks and draws moisture into skin)
  • Sorbitol - a humectant
  • Paenonia lactiflora extract - although not extensively studied, peony flower extract is said to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and can help brighten skin
  • Pelargonium graveolens water - made from rose geraniums, this extract is usually used as a fragrance, but which also has humectant and anti-inflammatory properties and can help regulate sebum production

Price & Packaging
A 100 ml bottle retails for $25 from L'Occitane, but for some odd reason, it's $30 at Sephora! Like most L'Occitane products, the packaging of the Pivoine Sublime Skin Perfecting Mist is very pretty and simple, with a deep pink clear bottle topped with a spray dispenser. 

I've never really used hydrating mists before so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Pivoine Sublime Skin Perfecting Mist. This mist has several functions: 
  • Hydration - the Pivoine Sublime Skin Perfecting Mist offers very gentle and light hydration. This mist is great to use on hot days after walking out in the sun or after a workout. It instantly cools and moistens skin.
  • Toning - I used the Pivoine Sublime Skin Perfecting Mist in place of my usual morning toner and I think it does a decent job of toning my skin before moisturizer and makeup, however I think this actually works better as a later step in my morning routine as opposed to being used as a traditional toner.
  • Redness reduction - this mist does a decent job of reducing redness, but I wouldn't say it's a knock-out compared to any other toner.
  • Makeup setting - where this mist does rock out is with its makeup setting properties. I love to use this spray as the final step after makeup application. It causes my powder products to melt into my skin and give my skin a final hydrated sheen. I really do feel that this mist helps my makeup last longer throughout the day as I noticed that my blush didn't fade nearly as much after 8 hours wear and my skin didn't seem as shiny either. I'm not sure if this is a real workhorse of a setting spray as I wasn't testing it in any extreme conditions, but in terms of an everyday product, it's great.

Final Verdict
Buy - decently priced and provides a refreshing hit of moisture that refines your skin and helps your makeup to last longer.

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Clinique Pop Lip Color + Primer Review | Can the Clinique Pop line do no wrong?

Clinique pop lip color and primer in poppy pop

Although I at first associated Clinique with skincare, in recent years, it's really been their makeup that's been taking all the spotlight. While not all of Clinique's releases have been hits for me, there are some clear winners out there. One of their most popular lines in recent years have been the Clinique Cheek Pops, which are super popular for their affordability and broad range of fun, flattering colours. Now Clinique has expanded on that popularity by branching into lipsticks with their new Pop Lip Color + Primer lipsticks.

Combining pigment and priming features, the Clinique Pop Lip Color + Primer promises up to 8 hours of rich, never-ending color. Allergy tested and fragrance-free, these lipsticks will stay put while keeping lips moist and crease-free.

There are 16 shades available that cover a broad range of colors, from muted pink nudes, to classic reds, oranges and deep grape. Available at Sephora and Clinique counters, there's sure to be a shade to suit everyone!

Recently I got the chance to try out 2 shades from the line: Beige Pop, a "light pinkish nude creme" and Poppy Pop, a "mid-tone orange creme."

Clinique pop lip color and primer in beige pop
Clinique Pop Lip Color + Primer in Beige Pop

Price & Packaging
Each lipstick comes packaged in a rectangular plastic tube with a reflective cap and costs $21. I love the packaging of the Pop Lips as it's so useful. The cap is quite ingenious as it can double as a decent mirror and the tubes are also color coded so no guessing what you're grabbing from the depths of your makeup drawer!

One odd thing that I noticed about these lipsticks is that for some reason, the caps slide very tight, so they go up and down kinda slowly, but this also makes them feel sturdier and oddly sexy. After all, who doesn't love a good slow reveal?

Clinique pop lip color and primer in poppy pop
Clinique Pop Lip Color + Primer in Poppy Pop

Texture & Pigmentation
I wasn't sure what to expect with the Pop Lips as they're a primer and lipstick in one, but I was pleasantly surprised. Both of my shades felt very solid, but creamy - almost balmy in texture. They were soft enough to apply smoothly without tugging on my lips, but not so soft as say, a Revlon Lip Butter so that I was still able to get a defined line.

Color payoff was also stellar with both Beige Pop and Poppy Pop. One swipe was all I needed for instant color, but because the creamy texture felt so nice, I often would run this around my lips a couple of times anyways.

Clinique pop lip color and primer swatches
Left to right: Beige Pop, Poppy Pop

Both colors were true to tube; Beige Pop was a soft nude pink on me while Poppy Pop was a vibrant orange-red. Of the two, I love Beige Pop more as I'm having a moment still with nude, pink lips and it's quite tricky to find a nude that fits my skin tone. Beige Pop has just enough pink in it to not wash me out, but also brown undertones that keep it from looking sickly pink. Poppy Pop is also very pretty as well and flattering on my skin tone, but as I have other similar colors, I'm not as enthralled with it as Beige Pop. That being said though, I would highly recommend getting Poppy Pop as it's great statement color that you can easily wear solo.

Longevity & Wear
As far as the 8 hours claim goes, I did find that each shade lasted quite long with minimal fading. In fact, I'd say they did actually stay pretty much set throughout the day - provided you just leave it there and don't eat or drink. The color does wear off after a meal if you're eating something greasy or tend to lick your lips a lot, but compared to most lipsticks, I'd say the longevity of these are pretty good! They may not be budge-proof or fade-proof, but they also did not dry out my lips or settle into my lip lines.

Final Verdict
Buy - I loved these and now want them all alongside their accompanying Cheek Pop blushes!

Clinique pop lip color and primer in beige pop
Wearing Beige Pop

Clinique pop lip color and primer in poppy pop
Wearing Poppy Pop

Clinique pop lip color and primer in beige pop
Wearing Beige Pop with Annabelle TwistUp in Sorbet in center - been loving this look and wearing it everyday!

PS. During the week of June 8-13th, Clinique will be offering a special series of workshops and one-on-one consultations at the Hudson Bay Granville location in celebration of the World Congress of Dermatology conference being held in Vancouver!

Clinique fans can register for their complimentary consult by calling the Clinique counter at Hudson Bay Granville. Besides getting expert advice from Clinique consultants, you'll also receive a goody bag of samples to try. Here is a list of the types of consult sessions you can sign up for:
  • InstaglowHow to get vibrant, selfie-ready, radiant skin
  • Daily DetoxExpert advice on how to protect skin against the effects of pollution and the environment
  • Eye-DosHow to get brows that wow, and how to wear the latest eye makeup trends
  • Clear SkinExamining the real causes of acne and how to get on the path to clear, unblemished skin
  • Flawless FastExpert tips on finding the perfect foundation match, and application tricks to making it look flawless
  • Pick Your PoutLet the experts show you how to use the power of lip colour to make teeth look brighter, lips fuller, creating the perfect nude lip or the trendy ombre look
  • Jump StartWhat are the common causes of skin aging? The science of looking younger and how to create smooth, contoured and even toned skin


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Saje Pocket Pharmacy | A therapeutic oil power kit for life's everyday trials

Saje pocket pharmacy

It was just a short time ago that I would have scoffed at you if you had gushed about how the powers of aromatherapy had changed your life. I would have thought you a silly hippie, a schmuck who fell for marketing speak and foolish group-think. Well, I guess call me a sucker because I get it now.

I too have fallen for the powers of aromatherapy and therapeutic essential oils and it's all the fault of Saje Wellness.

Saje pocket pharmacy

When I attended my first Saje Wellness event a short while ago, I was fortunate to receive in my swag bag a full sized set of their popular Pocket Pharmacy. This kit of 5 essential oils are specially selected to combat 5 common everyday ills that afflict us humans: indigestion, sickness, headaches, muscle pains and stress. Get afflicted with any one of these and your entire day can go down the drain!

Each oil in the kit is a blend of essential oils and comes packaged as a mini 6 ml rollerball, which are then encased in a handy fabric zippered pouch. This pouch fits easily within my purse, which makes it perfect for bringing along anywhere. It also comes with a handy booklet that lets you know where to apply and when to use each blend:

Saje pocket pharmacy

Peppermint halo 
Purpose: to relieve headaches and relax the neck and shoulders
Contains: peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lavender
Apply to: hairline, sides of neck and jawline

Saje pocket pharmacy

Purpose: an immune boosting blend that can be used to prevent and treat colds
Contains: tea tree oil, eucalyptus, pine, geranium, rosemary, peppermint and cinnamon
Apply to: sinuses, lymph nodes, throat and chest

Saje pocket pharmacy

Eater's digest
Purpose: fights indigestion and promotes a balanced system
Contains: peppermint, fennel, chamomile, black pepper and myrrh
Apply to: stomach area

Saje pocket pharmacy

Stress release
Purpose: soothes mild anxiety
Contains: lavender, orange, chamomile, vetiver, sage and myrtle
Apply to: across forehead, behind ears, throat, feet and wrists

Saje pocket pharmacy aromatherapy

Pain release
Purpose: anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant
Contains: lavender, marjoram, rosemary, cajeput, peppermint, eucalyptus and chamomile
Apply to: anywhere with muscle pain

So far, I've had the "pleasure" of trying out Stress release, Immune and Peppermint halo. With work being so stressful and busy, Stress release and Peppermint halo especially have been my mid-afternoon saviors. Immediately upon application, I can feel the cooling sensation of the peppermint and eucalyptus oils within these blends.

Each oil has a very distinct smell, that while not unpleasant, does smell a bit "yoga-studio" if you know what I mean. I felt really self-conscious at first applying this at my desk as it's open concept, but after awhile I just stopped caring as these oils really did make me feel good.

When I was sick, Immune helped drive away my dry throat and Peppermint halo cleared my brain when I first started feeling that dreaded ringing coming. I also love to apply Stress release right after or before a long series of meetings and at the end of the day when I need to relax and shrug off work stress before heading home.

Saje pocket pharmacy

At $59.95 a set, this isn't the cheapest remedy around, but unless you're applying these every hour, this kit should last you a long time. In case you really do need that little bit more though, Saje also offers the Peppermint halo, Immune and Eater's digest in 10 ml rollerballs as part of their Rolling Pharmacy kit!

Final Verdict
Buy - conveniently sized and super effective, I can't get enough of my Pocket Pharmacy and am no longer anywhere without it!

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