L'Occitane Aromachologie Relaxing Body Cream and Relaxing Shower Gel Review | The ideal fix for long work days

Work isn't called work if it doesn't get you down sometimes. The past few months have been intense at work for me. Although I don't have to do much overtime, my work days are usually jam packed with endless meetings, a million questions and a never-ending juggling of priorities. I like to feel busy and productive, but for an introvert, talking to so many people day in, day out, is quite exhausting. When your days are that intense, your nights become precious hours for unwinding. Lately, my weekday wind-down ritual has included these amazing body products from L'Occitane's Aromachologie line.

The Aromachologie line is a collection of bath and beauty products that harness the restorative powers of aromatherapy. The L'Occitane Aromachologie Relaxing Body Cream and Relaxing Shower Gel capture the rebalancing and soothing scents of eucalyptus, thyme, juniper berry, cypress and lemon to relax muscles and ease away tension. In studies conducted by L'Occitane's research team, the combination of these fragrances helped testers concentrate and report lower levels of stress when tasked with mental challenges versus other testers who went without. I found it fascinating reading up on how L'Occitane tested their essential oil formulations. It definitely makes these products feel more convincing!

Aromachologie Relaxing Shower Gel

l'occitane aromachologie relaxing shower gel

What is it: First up, let's talk about the L'Occitane Aromachologie Relaxing Shower Gel. This exfoliating and recharging shower gel contains tiny scrubbing beads (but not microbeads!) to softly scrub away skin impurities and dirt.
What's in it:
  • Water
  • Caprylyl/capryl glucoside - surfactant or cleansing agent
  • Decyl glucoside - a cleanser that's ideal for sensitive skin as it helps lock in moisture without irritation
  • Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate - a cleansing and foaming agent
  • Glycerin - a moisturizer
Other ingredients of note are olive seeds (moisturizing), lemon peel powder (absorbent), thyme oil (antioxidant and antibacterial properties), cypress leaf oil (astringent and healing properties), eucalyptus oil (antibacterial properties and commonly used to destress and relax muscles), juniper berry oil (antiseptic).
Price: $22 for 250 ml
My thoughts: I would say this shower gel is equal parts refreshing and relaxing. When I think of relaxing bath products, lavender and vanilla come to mind, but now I will have to add cypress and juniper berry to the list as the herbal-piney smell of this gel is so soothing to one born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. The Aromachologie Relaxing Shower Gel relaxes you in the same way that diving into a cool pond or walking outside after a rain storm does. After I shower, I feel invigorated and relaxed. Contrary to the ingredients, I didn't find this gel to foam up a lot, but that could be because I apply this with my hands instead of the usual loofah. The Aromachologie Relaxing Shower Gel contains loosely dispersed scrubbing grains that give a super gentle exfoliation. You could probably use this everyday and not ever over-exfoliate your skin. After showering, my skin feels soft and smooth, but really most bath products do that and the real benefit of this one is its recharging fragrance. This would be great for both guys and gals as the cypress makes it quite androgynous, while there's just enough hint of lemon for this to smell clean and citrusy, but not so much that it becomes obnoxious.
Final Verdict: Buy

l'occitane aromachologie relaxing shower gel

Aromachologie Relaxing Body Cream

l'occitane aromachologie relaxing body cream

What it is: Once you've showered up with the Relaxing Shower Gel, then it only makes sense to apply the matching Aromachologie Relaxing Body Cream. This luxurious body cream contains similar scent notes as the shower gel as well as sweet almond oil to moisturize. 
What's in it:
  • Water
  • Glycerin
  • Alcohol - not sure what the purpose is here, but I was surprised this was so high up in the list! 
  • Octyldodecanol - an emollient that helps thicken products and leave skin feeling silky
  • Coco-caprylate/caprate - an emollient
This cream also contains the same essential oils as the shower gel.
Price: $40 for 200 ml
My thoughts: I really love this moisturizer! It feels so rich and the cool apothecary-style packaging also ups the novelty factor. Surprisingly, even though it applies rich, it actually feels very light and almost watery on the skin; it's more like a gel than a thick cream, which makes it ideal for summer. The Relaxing Body Cream has the same heady herbal freshness as the Relaxing Shower Gel, but with a slightly stronger herbal twang to it. Maybe the eucalyptus or thyme is stronger in the cream as this one smelled way more medicinal. As a lover of Vick's Vapor Rub as a kid, I totally did not mind that - bring on the medicinal plant smell!! The only things I disliked about this cream is that I use up jar format creams way too fast, and after this cream absorbs, it leaves a very strange sticky film on the skin that lasts for a couple minutes. Not sure what is up with that, but it was kinda distracting as it didn't feel like your typical lotion tackiness, but more like I'd just slathered myself with a lollipop. If L'Occitane could get rid of that, then this cream would be perfect.
Final Verdict: Buy

l'occitane aromachologie relaxing body cream

Overall thoughts
Both the Aromachologie Relaxing Body Cream and Relaxing Shower Gel are fabulous spa-at-home products that have been a lifesaver for me lately. With their heady mix of eucalyptus, fresh cypress, juniper and lemon oils, these products help me recharge and reset before bedtime.

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Summer Lipstick Picks

Guys, I'm so sad. Summer is already half over and even though we've been having a frigging amazing summer weather-wise here in Vancouver, it's still not enough sunshine and blue skies for me. Let's savour it all and make every warm jacket-free night count!

Things that I have yet to check off this summer:
  • liming with a BBQ and friends at the beach
  • watching the annual summer fireworks downtown
  • going to the Asian summer night markets in Richmond
  • drinking copious amounts of fruity summer beers
  • painting my toenails
One thing I have been sure to do is to switch out my winter makeup for lighter summery picks. For me, summer makeup is all about "dat glow" aka "strobing" the crap out of my face and pairing that with a fun, bright lip.

This summer, I'm all about pink lips in all its forms; peach, coral, magentas, baby pinks and regular pinks. If it's in the pink family, then bring it on!

Here are some of my heavy rotation summer lip picks:

Left to right: Clinique Pop Lip Color + Primer in Poppy Pop, Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Plushest Punch, Annabelle Twistup Lip Crayon in Sorbet, MAC Cremesheen Glass  in Richer, Lusher and The Body Shop Colour Crush Lipstick in Innocent Pink

Clinique Pop Lip Colour + Primer in Poppy Pop (full review): so I know I just said my summer lip picks are all pinks, but this one is the solo outlier as it's actually a vibrant red-orange. Whatever, it's my blog and I can be inconsistent if I want to right? This one is a great red lip alternative during the summer months as an orange-red feels more light-hearted and flirty, whereas a red comes off as much more drama-queen and formal. The priming formula of this lipstick makes it last for hours and the color pigmentation is superb. I would recommend you apply this one to bare lips. If you apply over top of balm, then you'll find the wear time decreases a bit.

Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Plushest Punch: wow two Clinique lipsticks in one roundup! I can't help it though as this one is another hit for me. Chubby Sticks are so easy to apply and give you true one-swipe color. Plushest Punch is one of those colors that makes a look. All you need is this color and some mascara and you are ready for anything!

Annabelle Twistup Lipstick Crayon in Sorbet (full review): I am always sharing my love for the original TwistUps. Sorbet is my #1 summer color. It literally is the color of fresh watermelons and what says summer more than that? Nuff said!

MAC Cremesheen Glass in Richer, Lusher: this is my newest acquisition out of this group. I picked this up during my last Hawaii trip after falling in love with during an impromptu MAC makeover event that my wedding planner and I went to. Compared to the regular Lip Glasses, the Cremesheen Glass is less sticky and more pigmented. You could wear this solo for a sheer hint of peachy color, but as I love saturated everything, I prefer to top this over a base color, usually Sorbet, or a pinky-nude.

The Body Shop Colour Crush Lipstick in Innocent Pink (full review): this one is perfect for an everyday, apply-with-your-eyes-closed hit of color. The creaminess of the Colour Crush lipsticks moisturizes lips and gives them a healthy sheen. While you might think that would make these too sheer to show up, they do build up nicely and give my lips a very healthy glow. 

These are just some of recent summer faves - now tell me yours!

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The Face Shop Brow Master Eyebrow Kit Review | Upping my brow game

the face shop eyebrow shadow kit

Did you know that The Face Shop is only 12 years old? I didn't and it's so impressive how expansive they've become in such a quick time. I've mainly known this Korean brand for their affordable, gentle and nature-based skincare products, but recently I've been venturing into trying out their makeup lines too, starting with this mini eyebrow kit that I was sent awhile ago to try.

The Face Shop Brow Master Eyebrow Kit is an eyebrow shadow duo that contains all you need for that perfectly lush Korean brow look. Ideally sized for travel, this kit contains 2 complimenting colors that can be mixed together to create a natural look as well as a shadow brush for applying color and a spoolie to brush out and blend.

I got to try out the shade 02 gray brown, which contains a cool toned ash-brown and a medium brown. When it comes to brows, I would decidedly rate my brow game as amateur. I didn't start plucking or grooming my brows until university and I only started using a brow pencil a couple years ago, so it's safe to say I was a little intimidated by this kit! Nevertheless, I've been wanting to progress into brow shadows and gels as they seem to give a much more polished and controlled look than what one can achieve with a pencil. Plus, I just seem to love complicating my makeup unnecessarily. Why use just 1 tool or product when one can use 5? @__@

the face shop eyebrow shadow kit in gray brown

To apply this shadow, I run the end of the slanted brow brush in the shadow pan and then brush it gently through my brows, running it in the direction of my hair growth. I like to point the longer end of the brush downwards; no particular reason why except that it feels right to do it that way and I imagine it lets you draw a longer line. My main brow issues are that my total brow length is very short and while my hairs aren't sparse, they definitely need more definition. I prefer to use the darker tone in this kit first to fill in the bigger gaps of my brows, as well as to extend the outer line of my brows to frame my eye. Then, I'll go over my brows again with the lighter shade to tone it down a bit and to fill in any remaining gaps. Lastly, the spoolie works really well at blending it all out and to brush my brow hairs upwards for even more volume. The end result is nicely defined, but not scary, brows. Although I'm still nowhere near Cara Delevigne/Grumpy Cat amazebrows, for me, this still looks pretty good!

The only things I don't like about this kit is its teeny size and the hardness of the shadows. I would love this kit a lot more if the shadows were a tad softer and more pigmented, but maybe that is a good thing, since that would make it much easier to go overboard.

the face shop eyebrow shadow kit in gray brown
Left to right: cool ash brown, cool medium brown

If you're curious about trying out The Face Shop Brow Master Eyebrow Kit, you're kinda in luck. You see, this kit only comes in 2 shades - gray brown and beige brown, which is a warmer version of gray brown. In most cases, unless you have really blond hairs, then you *should* be good to go. For us Asians, I would recommend going with gray brown in most cases as beige brown looks too warm and light.

Final Verdict: Buy

What's your preferred method for doing your brows: pencil, shadow or gel?

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Annabelle Blushon Blush Review | A possible cheap dupe for Exposed?

While I don't think my blush collection is anywhere close to resembling massive, or even that comprehensive, I think it's still safe to say that I've accumulated 200% more blushes than I had last year. Somehow I keep finding hidden niches in my blush collection that "must" be filled - such is the joy and sickness of being a makeup lover!

One such niche that was aching to be filled was to have a rosy, kinda pink-brown-ish, kinda contour, kinda blush type of tone. You know - one of those blushes you can slap on eyes closed and wear with anything because it literally is like your skin, but better. You know, like an Exposed.

Anyone who is a fan of makeup or a reader of blogs know what I am referring to. Tarte's Amazonian Clay blush in Exposed is one of the most popular blush shades on the market right now. It's renowned for being wearable by just about anyone and literally fool-proof to apply. This is the type of color that is impossible to over-apply, yet is pigmented enough to give your face color and life when all you're feeling is like death.

I wanted it bad people; however, I didn't want to buy it. Call me stupid, but for some reason I didn't want to shell out money to purchase the real deal at Sephora, so I set about finding myself a cheap dupe and after much google searching and agonizing, I think I may have found it.

annabelle blush rose fawn

The Annabelle Blushon blush in Rose Fawn is a dusky rose-pink and offers easy, blendable wear for under $10. Available in drugstores across the country, Rose Fawn was the cheapest Exposed dupe I could find and I love how it's from a Canadian brand too!

The Blushon blushes come in 10 shades, with Rose Fawn falling somewhere in the middle of the color range.

In terms of packaging, the Blushon blush is encased in your standard flip-top and contains 3 g of product. Compared to most blushes though, the pan size is fairly small and not much bigger than a MAC single eyeshadow compact, so you'll have to use your smaller brushes to apply.

annabelle blush in rose fawn

As well, the other annoying bit about this blush, but which also makes it foolproof, is that the pan is very hard so it takes a long while to build up color on your face. You'll want to use your stiffest blush brush for this and then swirl it very generously all along your cheekbones. While with most of my blushes, I have to gingerly tap it, with the Blushon, I literally dig into it with my brush as much as I can. Even doing so, the end result is very sheer and subtle; in fact, the color payoff of this blush is so soft that I couldn't even swatch it for you! Trust me though, that it's there. Like an Hourglass Ambient powder, the finish of Rose Fawn is something that can only be detected in person - and isn't that just the type of natural effect that Exposed is supposed to give?

annabelle blushon blush in rose fawn

For $7.95, I'm glad I got this dupe and would recommend the Annabelle Blushon blushes to anyone. Unfortunately, getting this one only made me want to try the real deal more! Guess who's going to hit up Sephora next VIB sale?

Have you found any good Exposed dupes?

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First Impressions: Almay Intense i-Color Party Brights Eye Shadow

Everyone who knows me, knows that I don't wear colorful eyeshadow. I am strictly a neutrals kind of girl, who occasionally ventures out into purples. It's not that I don't like bright eyeshadows, or that I don't find them fun to wear (check out my orange eyeshadow look for evidence!). It's just that I find bright eyeshadows tricky to wear - particularly blues and teals!

almay intense party brights eyeshadow

That is why I was so interested to try out the new Almay Intense i-Color Party Brights eyeshadows. This fun line of summery, bright shadow palettes is designed to illuminate your eyes and give you a fresh, fun look. Almay also takes it a step further by making this collection part of their i-Color series, which tailors each palette to a specific eye color. Generally, these kind of palettes focus on complementary colors to your eyes, so the brown eye palette focuses on purples tones, while the green has a gorgeous mix of warm coppers and purples. The blue palette though went the other direction with a mix of a blue colors, and the hazel eye palette features a tropical mix of teal and brown.

Each palette contains 3 different shades, and there are handy instructions on the back as well. I love how Almay seeks to make their products simple and easy for anyone to use, so I was eager to try out the palette I received, which was the one targeted for hazel eyes.

Almay Intense i-Color Party Brights Eye Shadow

The hazel eyes palette contains a highlight, lid and crease color. The highlight is a soft ivory tone, while the crease is a dark, chocolate. The star of this show obviously is the lid color, which is a gorgeous teal. I was immediately drawn to the shimmery teal and knew that was the one I had to try versus the usual boring purple palette assigned to us brown eyed girls.

To use, Almay states that you simply apply the teal to the lid, the ivory to your brow bone, and the brown to the crease, so that's just what I did.

almay party brights eyeshadow

Unfortunately, I have no idea how to apply teal shadows apparently and this is what I ended up with:

Not exactly what I had in mind. When swatched, these shadows had a lovely satin/matte finish and a fairly decent color payoff. When applied to the lids though, the harder texture made it difficult for my brushes to pick up anything, so the colors ended up being very sheer and more shimmery. I also think the instructions on the packaging are definitely more for western eyes, as it did nothing for my hooded Asian eyes. I also found these shadows to crease and fade a lot after a few hours, so I wouldn't wear them again without some sort of primer.

Almay Intense i-Color Party Brights Eye Shadow swatches

Despite these setbacks, I'm not about to give up on that teal! It's just too pretty not to figure out how to use somehow, so now it's off to Pinterest and the blogosphere for inspiration.

Anyone have any tips or tricks for me on how to wear teal eyeshadow?

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Rimmel Provocalips 16 hr Kissproof Lip Colour Review | Colour that can withstand anything... except fried chicken

rimmel provocalips in I'll call you and kiss fatal

I am so happy to be talking today about one of my favourite recent drugstore finds: the Rimmel Provocalips 16 hr Kissproof Lip Colour! That's quite the mouthful of a name, but it also describes these liquid lipsticks perfectly.

The Rimmel Provocalips are a long-wearing, super pigmented liquid lipstick that offers guaranteed transfer-proof color in 10 wearable shades. One end of these lipsticks holds the colour, while the other end houses a clear, moisturizing topcoat. My Provocalips collection consists of I'll Call You, a medium-bright rosy pink and Kiss Fatal, a deep brown plum.

When you first purchase the Provocalips, it can take a little getting used to as the application process requires a bit of patience. The first time I applied these I thought I could slick on the topcoat right away, but to do so will result in disaster! You absolutely have to let the lip color rest for at least a minute or two. If you don't, the color will turn streaky and slide right off with the topcoat. There are no instructions either on the tube telling you to wait, which is a shame. I almost threw mine right out thinking they were a dud until luckily, I checked out reviews online. If you do wait the allotted waiting period, then the color will dry down matte and the topcoat can then be applied to add moisture and a velvety sheen back to your lips.

rimmel provocalips swatches in I'll call you and kiss fatal
Left to right: I'll Call You and Kiss Fatal

Straight out of the tube, the color payoff of the Provocalips can't be beat. We're talking literally one-swipe color! The doe foot applicator is just the right size for my lips and allows me to get a really nice sharp lip line. As the color settles down, you can feel a very slight tightening of the lips. If you have dry or flaky lips, definitely exfoliate beforehand, but be sure to always apply the Provocalips to dry, bare lips, for reasons I'll explain in a bit.

Once set, the color of the Provocalips lasts all day through meals, drinks and whatever else you do during the day. The color doesn't fade, transfer or otherwise degrade whatsoever. By the end of the day, my lips still look just applied, although a tad dry. The Provocalips make the perfect lipstick to wear to events or for busy days when you just want to apply and go, but they're a bit too drying to make them doable for wearing everyday.

rimmel provocalips in I'll call you
Wearing I'll Call You

The only kryptonite for these lipsticks is oil. Whether it's lip balm, cleansing oil, or even just greasy foods, the Provocalips will melt and dissolve away as soon as it touches anything oily. This makes it easy to remove later, but also kinda annoying when wearing this out as you have to avoid foods like salad dressings or anything fried and greasy. It's a small sacrifice though for truly long-lasting color. This is the first liquid lipstick that has worked superbly for me without any issues of streaky application, excessive transferring, or fading and so I now want them all, especially Dare To Pink, a baby pink and Kiss Me You Fool, a bright red!

rimmel provocalips in kiss fatal
Wearing Kiss Fatal

Interested in trying these out? You can purchase the Rimmel Provocalips for around $9 from any drugstore, such as London Drugs, Shoppers Drug Mart and Walmart.

Final Verdict: Buy

What are your favourite long wear lipsticks?

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Sekkisei Lotion Excellent Review | Harnessing the power of traditional medicine for that youthful look

Sekkisei enriched toner with herbal extracts

Toner is often the neglected child of skincare. Most people misunderstand toners and deem it unnecessary, if they even know what it's really for. It's easy to understand the confusion. Toners don't have the same reputation as moisturizers or sunscreens, where anyone can understand what purpose they're for, but toners are one of those in-between steps that yes, may be optional, but really are so worth the investment.

Toners can be used for a variety of purposes, but generally fall into one of two categories: clarifying/cleansing or moisturizing/enhancing. The former is what Western toners generally fall into and are used for cleaning off leftover residue from the day, minimizing pores, and to restore skin's natural pH balance. Moisturizing/enhancing toners are more popular in Asia, where multi-step moisturizing regimes are very common. It's not uncommon for Asian women to use a variety of moisturizers, serums, emulsions, toners and essences everyday!

Recently I got to try a totally new (to me) brand from Japan which specializes in just this type of moisturizing toner. Sekkisei is a popular Japanese skincare line that is known for their use of herbal extracts to promote a "pure as snow" complexion. The Sekkisei Lotion Excellent is an intensive lotion that is applied after cleansing to rejuvenate skin with its proprietary mix of Chinese and Japanese herbs. The Sekkisei Lotion Excellent claims to drench your skin in moisture and to also fight signs of aging with its brightening compounds and powerful stew of antioxidants, such as Coix seed oil, Japanese spurflower, Bracket fungus, and Angelica extract.

The Guts
Since we're on the topic of ingredients, let's dive right in, shall we? The primary ingredients in this lotion/toner are:
  • Water
  • Alcohol - a common ingredient in Japanese skincare that helps give it that light feeling without drying out skin
  • Glycerin - a humectant
  • PPG-9 diglyceryl ether - an emollient
  • Dipropylene glycol - a penetration enhancer that helps other ingredients soak into skin and also helps give this lotion a slippery texture
Other ingredients of note are: angelica acutiloba root extract (aka toki, in Japanese, used for anti-aging and moisturizing), coix seed extract (aka Job's Tears or Ma-Yuen, helps moisturize skin), ganoderma lucidum stem extract (aka mushroom and acts as an antioxidant) and melothria heterophylla extract (antioxidant).

Price & Packaging
A 200 ml bottle retails for $65 off Kose USA, or for up to $85 from Canadian retailers online. I absolutely adore the packaging of this toner. 200 ml is a super generous size and the gorgeous sapphire blue bottle really stands out on my counter. Although the packaging is plastic, the choice of that rich color paired with its gold rimmed lid makes this lotion look really special.

Sekkisei lotion excellent toner

The screw top lid comes off easily to reveal a small opening. To use, you simply overturn the bottle and shake a few drops into your palm. The opening is perfectly sized to only let out a few drops at a time, ensuring that you never over pour. 

The Sekkisei Lotion Excellent is supposed to provide 3 different benefits to skin: moisture, anti-aging and brightening. After four weeks of use, I'd say this lotion does a solid job at one of those things and inconclusive results on the others.

Sekkisei enriched lotion toner

I prefer to use this lotion in the mornings after my cleanser and before any other products. Using just 3-4 drops, I spread the Lotion Excellent between my palms and then lightly press or slap my hands along my face, concentrating on my cheeks and forehead area. I'll even apply some to my neck if there's anything leftover. 

I absolutely love the light, hydrating feel of this moisturizing toner. My skin instantly feels refreshed, more alive and plumper. You know when you see a plant spring back to life after a good rain? That's how my skin feels. This toner is packed full of emollients and humectants and I can verify that this product is a solid win on that front.

In terms of fighting signs of aging or brightening, I am quite a bit more skeptical. I didn't notice any difference in terms of a lessening of fine lines, or of my hyper-pigmentation. The antioxidants listed in the Sekkisei toner are commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine, but don't seem to be proven as effective anti-aging ingredients just yet when applied topically. I figure though that it doesn't hurt to use this type of product and who knows, maybe the effect will subtly build up over time! My other go-to moisturizing toner from Hadalabo is also supposed to be brightening, but I haven't noticed any effect from that either, so I can't really blame Sekkisei for not following through; however, the Hadalabo is significantly cheaper!

Final Verdict
Ditch - provides a generous dousing of hydration to skin and comes beautifully packaged, but with its brightening and anti-aging benefits unproven, this is a little too pricey for what it does for me to repurchase.

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L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Miss Manga Mascara Review | A fun concept that kinda fell flat

l'oreal voluminous miss manga mascara

When I received the L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Miss Manga mascara at the recent London Drugs #LDBeauty event last month, I was a little afraid. The Miss Manga mascara claims to give its wearer super-dramatic, super-black, "anime" eyes and with its gold and black packaging covered with panda-eyed faces, I was a little afraid of having lashes of that magnitude. Then again, wouldn't having super thick and crazy lashes be a little awesome? Hmm... *Mr. Burns hands*

I'm not sure how L'Oreal came up with a manga concept for a mascara as there is nothing remotely Japanese about this product. I suppose it's one of those "inspired by" things and they're trying to go for that popular full, defined and super long look that seems to be popular in Japanese magazines:

Something like this

but not this

The Miss Manga mascara boasts a unique 360 flexor brush that it claims voluminizes lashes 15 times greater than normal and which also has a soft precision cone tip to get at those pesky bottom lashes.

In terms of its formula, the Miss Manga contains the usual waxes and pigments as other mascaras do, alongside hyaluronic acid and jojoba oil for their conditioning properties. I can only guess then that it's the brush that is supposed to be the difference maker for this product.

l'oreal miss manga mascara

The Miss Manga comes in one shade, black, and can be easily built up with multiple coats. The one thing I find with voluminizing formulas is that they often weigh down my fragile Asian lashes and sadly, this was the case with me and the Miss Manga.

l'oreal paris miss manga mascara wand

The wand for the Miss Manga is quite thick and lined with small spikes that didn't quite grab onto my lashes. I also found that the formula of this mascara is quite wet. When first applied, my eyelashes looked great: very defined and blackened, with full, curly volume. After a few minutes though, my lashes would slowly deflate to a much more demure state. Considering that this mascara hypes itself up as a totally over-the-top mascara, I was really disappointed to find that this didn't do anything for me at all.

It's not all hopeless though. If you love Benefit's They're Real mascara, which I found had very similar results on me, then you may find this to work for you. My results may just be a case of my type of eyelash hair not being strong enough to support this weighty formula.

Wearing Miss Manga on the left and bare lashes on the right

l'oreal paris miss manga mascara
Wearing 2 coats of Miss Manga on both lashes
You can purchase the L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Miss Manga mascara wherever L'Oreal is sold for around $10 a tube.

Final Verdict
Ditch - a fun concept, but sadly lacking in much needed oomph.

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Guerlain Meteorites Baby Glow Foundation Review | Think I am sold off drugstore foundations forever

guerlain meteorites baby glow foundation

Want to look eternally youthful, well-rested and healthy? Well, you could eat properly, sleep lots and just not be old, but come on, sometimes we all need a little extra help. That's where base products come in and lately the trend in foundations seems to be all about illuminating and enhancing one's natural glow. It's out with cakey, thick, matte foundations and in with light, luminous, and sheer finishes! Perhaps this is again a result of the popularity of K-beauty? Either way, I'm on board.

Lately, I've been wearing out the Guerlain Meteorites Baby Glow foundation, which I received earlier this year. The Baby Glow foundation claims to lift fatigue, smooth away lines and leave skin looking fresher and more youthful, while having that "second skin" weightless feel. Available in three shades, the Baby Glow foundation is also infused with pigments of Guerlain's famous rainbow pearls, with ribbons of red, blue, green and gold throughout to color correct and illuminate. Oh and this foundation also provides sun protection with SPF 25! Yes, it pretty much sounds like the holy grail of foundation formulas.

The Guts
The primary ingredients in this foundation are:
  • Water
  • Cyclopentasiloxane - a silicone that gives this foundation its slippery texture and helps plump up lines to give skin a smoother surface
  • Glycerin - a moisturizer
  • Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate - aka octinoxate, a common chemical sunscreen
  • Isododecane - provides a slippery texture and gives this foundation its light feel
Other ingredients of note are other silicones (dimethicone, silica), vitamin E (anti-aging) and even diamond powder! 

Price & Packaging
A 1 oz tube retails for $54 wherever Guerlain is sold. The Baby Glow's packaging is very sleek and elegant, which aligns well with Guerlain's reputation for stellar packaging. I love the feminine blush pink of the tube. It fits well in the hand and the pump dispenser combined with a squeeze tube format is clever and easy to stow away for travel. In terms of size, 1 oz is equal to approximately 30 ml, which seems to be standard for foundations of its price range.

My only quibble with the packaging is that the pump tends to have a little leftover bead whenever I use it, which gets smeared all over when I put on the lid.

Swatches: Medium, Light

To apply, I use 1-2 pumps to cover my face, starting with the center and then moving outwards. The texture of this foundation is similar to that of a thinner BB cream; it's definitely not watery, but not super thick either. Thanks to the silicones, I found the Baby Glow to be easily spreadable. You could apply the Baby Glow with your fingers, a sponge or a brush, but my preferred method is with a fluffy buffing brush as this allowed me to really buff the foundation into my skin and spread it over a wider area. When applied with fingers, I found that I used more product, resulting in a thicker finish and when I used a flat foundation brush, my application was slightly streaky.

Once applied, my face would feel slightly tacky as if I'd just applied moisturizer, so you should be careful not to touch your face with too heavy a hand for a minute or so. There's also a slight floral scent to the Baby Glow, but surprisingly, it's quite subtle so I don't even notice it unless I try to actually sniff the bottle.

In terms of coverage and wear, the Baby Glow gives me just the amount of coverage I need to last me all day long. Coverage is definitely light, but it does an amazing job of evening out my skin tone and eliminates any and all redness. It also does a pretty decent job of covering up minor acne scars and dark circles, but couldn't defeat the generous hyper-pigmentation sprinkled across my cheeks. This foundation can be built up a little bit, but it tends to also look slightly cakey if you try to do so.


wearing guerlain baby glow foundation

The shade I'm wearing, Light, seems to match perfectly with my NC 20/25 skin, although it does have a very very slight pink undertone. I've been getting a bit of sun lately with all the hot weather in Vancouver, so the Baby Glow gives me a bit of a brightening effect as well as a soft, luminous finish. Sadly, and this has got to be the hugest minus against the Baby Glow, it only comes in 3 shades: Light, Medium and Golden. Medium is also a very close match to my skin, so for pretty much most of the population, you're SOL for finding a match!

Compared to my other go-to foundation lately, the Burberry Fresh Glow, the Baby Glow doesn't provide as obvious a glowing effect, but does excel at providing greater coverage, which is why I've been picking this one up more often. My skin definitely needs some evening out and I have a lot of minor spots I like to cover, so I love how the Baby Glow provides that without feeling heavy or fading throughout the day. On those days where I do want a dewier finish, I will reach for the Burberry Fresh Glow, but otherwise, it's Baby Glow all the way, baby!

wearing guerlain meteorites baby glow foundation
Closeup: a silky super subtle glow. Not dewy at all, but rather just luminous

Final Verdict
Buy - beautiful all day wear packaged in a slim, elegant package. If you can find your shade match, then you have try this one out for sure!

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How To Do Engagement Photo Makeup | Soft smoky eyes and red lips

Whether you use makeup everyday or never ever, planning out your wedding makeup can be a little stressful. You want to look perfect, but natural. Polished, but not like you're wearing a mask. You want your makeup to show up in photos, but you don't want to appear like a drag queen to anyone in person. So what's a girl to do? Well, most of us leave it up to professionals and hire a makeup artist, but what about your engagement photos?

In a way, putting together your makeup for your engagement photos can be even trickier than for a wedding. You have to consider location, your outfit, time of day and come up with something to match. Some questions to ask yourself are:
  • what is the feel that you want to achieve with your photos? Romantic? Glamourous? Playful? 
  • what time of day are you taking your photos? Will the lighting be cool, or warm toned or at night?
  • what will you and your partner be wearing?
  • what colors will dominate the scene you'll be shooting in?
Once you know the answers to the above, then you should have a good idea for what kind of makeup you want to do. If you're shooting in a more playful, cute setting, then light, natural makeup colors is idea. If you're dressing up to the nines, or shooting at night, then glam it up.

For our first engagement shoot, Mr. Artist and I shot at a local lake in the late afternoon. The light was still pretty bright and there were lots of trees and tall grasses. Our outfits were semi-dressy, so I opted to use my bridal makeup look, which had lots of pinks and neutrals to create a very soft, natural look. I wanted look really glowing with all that light, so I used more shimmery tones and highlighter to really amp it up. With the bright sunlight as well, piling on more color will help counteract the sun washing you out.


For our second engagement shoot last weekend, we decided to approach it differently. This shoot took place in the early evening in downtown Vancouver. We were shooting near a waterfront and so our backgrounds were ocean, concrete and trees with tons of warm, golden light. For this look, since we were dressed up for an evening out, I knew I wanted a look that was more dramatic and sensual. What could possibly work better for that then a bright, glossy red lip? As I wanted to put all the attention to my lips, I kept my eyes soft and smoky and used matte shadows to create depth without drawing too much attention.

makeup look with estee lauder lipstick in empowered

Recreate this look

Prep your face with a moisturizing primer and a mattifying primer. The moisturizing primer helps products adhere to your skin, while the mattifying primer helps reduce shine. I'm using Paul + Joe Moisturizing Foundation Primer in 03 Creme and Revlon Prime + Antishine.

Apply foundation over your entire face to create a smooth, flawless base. I love to use Clinique's Beyond Perfecting Foundatin + Concealer as it's long-lasting and covers up all my imperfections. My shade match is Creamwhip.

Set your foundation with your favourite setting powder. Since I wanted a subtle glow with the warm sunset light, I used my Hourglass Ambient powder in Dim Light for a candlelight, lit-from-within glow.


urban decay naked 1 basics

From the Naked 1 Basics, apply WOS, a soft peach-pink shade, all over lid to brow bone. Then apply Naked 2 from lash line to above the crease, blending and fanning out the color so it's a beautiful wash of color all over the eyelid.

Take Sugar Cane, a glittery white, from the A Black Honey Affair palette to highlight the brow bone and the inner corners of the eyes.

Line the outer third of your lower lashline with Naked 2, smudging it out with a soft, narrow brush.

Draw a thick, smudgy line along your top lash line, winging it out past the corners of your eyes with a golden brown eye pencil, such as the Aerin Cool Gel Eyeliner in 02 Essential Brown. Using your fingers, a q-tip or a stiff brush, smudge the liner upwards to blend into your eyeshadow. 

Use the same eyeliner to line under the outer third of your eyes where you applied Naked 2 before.

Take your thinnest black liquid eyeliner and draw as thin a line as possible along your top lash line.
Curl and apply two coats of mascara and fill in your brows.



With a red lip, having a strong eye and strong cheeks can be too much, but you still want some color otherwise you'll get washed out in photos. A pink-coral shade always looks natural and goes well with red lips. With a big blush brush, swirl a coral shade, such as Coral Pink from the Sephora + Pantone Shimmering Marsala Cheek Trio over the apples of your cheeks, sweeping and blending it up through the hollows of cheeks towards your temples. Don't be afraid to look a little clownish with your blush! Trust me, in photos it will all work out. 

With a fan brush, generously apply highlighter along top of cheekbones, arch of brows, cupid's bow and, here's the key, to the base of your nose bridge with a small shadow brush. I recently learned this trick off Youtube and it's been LIFE CHANGING. This small highlight is super flattering and really ups your glow factor. My favourite highlight powder lately is the highlight shade from the Make Up Forever Pro Sculpting Duo.


Last, but not least, are the lips! The lips are the stars of the show, so choose your most flattering red and SLICK IT ON. My favourite shade of the moment is Estee Lauder's Pure Color Envy in Empowered.

Then finish everything off and make it last by spritzing with a setting spray, such as L'Occitane's Pivoine Sublime Perfecting Mist.
estee lauder lipstick in empowered

And voila! A polished, classy, but dramatic makeup look. This look makes me feel sexy and confident, which is just want you need to look your best in photos! I hope this helps inspire my fellow brides out there. Be sure to share your makeup tips for photos in the comments!

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Sneak peek: Annabelle Smokey Nudes Eye Shadow Palette

annabelle smokey nudes eye shadow palette

Last month I attended my favourite event of the year, the London Drugs beauty preview. At this AMAZING event, attendees get sneak peeks at all the upcoming launches from the beauty brands at London Drugs. All the major brands come out to represent, including some of my Canadian favourites! One of those Canadian favourites is of course, Annabelle Cosmetics. You've probably seen Annabelle (and their sister brand, Marcelle) at your local drugstores, but if you've never tried them out before, then I highly recommend you do. My favourite products of theirs are their Stay Sharp eyeliners and lip pencils, but they also offer a full range of other makeup products, which were on full display at the event.

For me, the highlight of the Annabelle display this year was not their Stay Sharp products, but their new release of yes, a nude smokey eye palette. Contouring, eyebrows and eyeshadow palettes were everywhere at this fall beauty preview and this palette from Annabelle is especially topical as it debuts right on the heels of the Urban Decay Naked Smokey palette. Both palettes do contain a similar range of colors, however, unlike Urban Decay, Annabelle's version will cost you a fraction of the price!

Color Comparison
Based off what I can see online, the Urban Decay Smokey Nude palette has 12 shades ranging from:
  • High, a shimmery taupe
  • Dirtysweet, a shimmery gold
  • Radar, a warm shimmery brown with gold flecks
  • Armor, a medium tone grey
  • Slanted, a medium tone grey with blue undertones
  • Dagger, a matte dark grey
  • Black Market, a matte black
  • Smolder, a deep shimmery purple
  • Password, a soft brown grey
  • Whiskey, a dark warm brown
  • Combust, a matte light pink
  • Thirteen, a matte creamy white
While the Annabelle Smokey Nudes palette has 8 shades ranging from:
  • a pale pink
  • a slightly darker pink
  • a light grey
  • a light grey-blue
  • a matte navy
  • a white
  • a gold
  • a rose gold
  • a deep plum
  • a matte dark grey
smokey eyeshadow palette annabelle makeup

Most of the shades in the Smokey Nudes have various levels of shimmer, except for the noted matte shades. The UD palette does have more brown options, but other than that, the Smokey Nudes covers the same basic tones and offers a gorgeous navy to boot.

Pigmentation & Wear
Unfortunately, the shades on the top row of the Smokey Nudes palette were nowhere near as fun to swatch as the bottom one. Most of the top row shades apply very sheer and the highlights are pretty subtle. Since subtlety may not be what you're going for with a smokey eye palette, this is a bit disappointing. Although the navy shade swatches kinda patchy, I didn't find it too hard to work with on my lids and it made for a nice outer corner and liner shade.

annabelle smokey nude eyeshadow swatches
Annabelle Smokey Nudes top row shades

I had far greater success with the bottom row of colors. Each of these applies much more easily, with richer color payoff in just a few swipes. The shades of plum, golds and white suit my normal makeup tendencies just fine as well. After all, I could never tire of a beautiful gradation of these colors paired with a peachy nude lip!

annabelle smokey nude eyeshadow swatches
Annabelle Smokey Nudes bottom row shades

Wear time on these shadows without primer is pretty standard for me, which means good for a few hours, but creasing like hell after and fading away to nothing by the end of the day. Even in the look photos here, you can see the navy shadow wandering up from my lashline to my crease, and this was taken just after I applied it.

annabelle smokey nudes eye makeup look

makeup look with annabelle smokey nudes

Overall Thoughts
Back in the day when I would go clubbing a lot, I would probably have found this palette to be really useful as it has a nice mix of warm and cool toned colors, but now that I rarely party, I find it more difficult to fit into my life. 

As well, the packaging of this palette really threw me off as it's very cheap feeling plastic that feels like it could break each time I open it. I really wish Annabelle could have invested in something slightly better as the packaging is just flimsy and makes it feel like a very discount product.

annabelle smokey nudes eye palette
Handy tutorials on the back of the palette

That being said, I still think the Smokey Nudes palette is a great alternative if you are looking for something you want to use for those girls' night out and you don't want to splurge on a more expensive option. The color range of Smokey Nudes will cover you for a variety of looks and if you use a primer, then they should last longer than you will in heels!

Final Verdict
Buy - a cheap drugstore option to create club-ready, smoldering looks

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Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-Wrinkle Serum Pearls Review | Kinda like wrinkle fighting tapioca pearls!

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that is the philosophy I try to apply when it comes to my beauty and health regime. Although I don't, thankfully, have any wrinkles yet, I really believe it's my skincare routine that has helped prevent me from developing any too soon. There are plenty of anti-aging products out there, even for younger people, eager to hold off those first signs of aging and one such product is Nivea's Q10 Plus Anti-Wrinkle Serum Pearls.


The Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-Wrinkle Serum Pearls is a creamy serum that can be used for all ages. It is designed to be used before moisturizer, both morning and night to help combat signs of aging with its rich formula of Nivea's special coenzyme Q10 and hyaluronic acid. While Nivea is especially known for utilizing coenzyme Q10, research has shown that it is a naturally occurring vitamin-like substance that can be used to strengthen your heart, lungs and general immune system. Coenzyme Q10 is also said to be a powerful antioxidant, thus its presence in skincare products, but there doesn't seem to be substantial evidence yet that it does work in the long run. It certainly can't hurt though to try!

The Guts
The primary ingredients in this serum are
  • Water
  • Cyclomethicone - a silicone that helps other ingredients get absorbed by skin and which provides this serum its slippery texture
  • Glycerin - a moisturizer
  • Polymethylsilsesquioxane - a silicone that acts similarly to cyclomethicone
  • Propylene glycol - a moisturizer and helps give this product a creamy texture
This serum also contains sodium hyaluronate (moisturizing) and creatine (fights wrinkles and increase elasticity).

Price & Packaging
A 40 ml tube retails between $15-20 at most drugstores, such as London Drugs and Walmart. The serum comes in a transparent plastic tube with a simple pump dispenser. The use of a pump actually is good in this case as coenzyme Q10 evaporates in air, so the pump ensures that none is lost needlessly. I also really like the how the tube is clear so you can see how much product you've used and it also happens to show off the most unique feature of this serum, which are the little pearl capsules. 

The Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-Wrinkle Serum Pearls is quite unique in that it contains two separate components that get combined once you press the pump. The pearls contain the coenzyme Q10 and the highest amount of Q10 of any of Nivea's products in fact, and they are surrounded by a special hydro-gel composed of creatine and hyaluronic acid. When the two are mixed together, they become the perfect carrier of moisture and anti-wrinkle ingredients.


Since I don't need super strong wrinkle fighting capabilities, I opted to reserve the Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-Wrinkle Serum Pearls for night time use only. To use, I softly massage 1 full pump between my fingers, then apply all over my face, workingit in gently. I then use another pump to apply to my neck, because hey, necks get wrinkly too!

After 4 weeks of use, my skin feels noticeably softer and more radiant. I've even gotten a few compliments on how good my skin looks, which is a sure sign that something is working! With all the hot weather, I was worried that this serum would make my skin too oily. I have noticed that my skin seems a teeny bit shinier, but not significantly so. 


The serum comes out as a buttercup yellow and feels very similar to a mousse. It absorbs and spreads readily and doesn't leave my feeling sticky. 

I've generally had good experiences with Nivea products and this is just another one to add to that growing list of recommended buys. The Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-Wrinkle Serum Pearls are affordable, attractive and straightforward to use. It's a great anti-aging product to use for those who are wanting some light anti-aging products, but don't want to break the bank to get them.

Final Verdict
Buy - effective, easy to use and the pearl gimmick is one that actually works.

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