Hand Chemistry Intense Youth Complex Hand Cream Review | Can a hand cream turn back the clock?

Hand chemistry intense youth complex hand cream review

We all lavish lots of attention on our face, but did you know that your hands can age you as much as an errant wrinkle can? Just like your face, your hands are always exposed to the elements and over the years that can result in age spots, sun damage and yes, even wrinkles!

Beauty super think-tank Deciem has a solution with their revolutionary Hand Chemistry line. One of the only skincare lines out there focused just on hands, Hand Chemistry focuses on reversing back the clock to give you the best looking hands of your life.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to try Hand Chemistry's  Intense Youth Complex hand cream. This concentrated cream is made up a mix of potent active concentrates to target eight signs of aging hands. In just a matter of days, Hand Chemistry claims that hands will:
  • have increased brightness
  • greater evenness of skin tone
  • greater elasticity and firmness
  • feel smoother and more hydrated
  • have increased suppleness and elasticity

The Guts
The primary ingredients in this cream are:
  • Water
  • Caprylic/capric triglyceride - an emollient (helps seal in moisture)
  • Propanediol - a humectant (draws moisture into skin) and solvent
  • Cetearyl glucoside - an emulsifier and moisturizer that gives skin a silky finish
  • Cetearyl alcohol - an emollient
Other interesting ingredients include plukenetia volubilis seed oil (aka mountain peanut, moisturizing), plantago lanceolata leaf extract (aka ribwort plantain, antimicrobial properties), pseudoalteromonas ferment extract (a bacteria that has powerful anti-aging properties), tremella fuciformis sporocarp extract (a fungus with antioxidant properties), tocopherol (vitamin E).

Price & Packaging
A single 30 ml tube costs $7 and is available direct from Hand Chemistry, and also at Hudson's Bay, Rexalls and Shoppers Drug Mart

30 ml isn't huge for a hand cream, but it does this make this a convenient size for putting into your purse or for storing on your desk at work. 

While most Deciem products are pretty nice, I find that they're also over-hyped. There are a LOT of claims about this cream and it's biggest one is to have a noticeably visible effect in just 11 days. Now, maybe this is more apparent on older hands where you can easily see damage being reversed, but any changes on my hands were quite subtle. 

After using this hand cream everyday both morning and night for the last few weeks, my hands do feel smooth and hydrated, but not more than they have with any other hand cream. What is promising though, is that I can tell that my hand's skin tone is more even and the slight sun damage on my hands is improved. 

My favourite things about this hand cream is that it feels light and absorbs quickly, with a refreshing citrusy scent that is very invigorating. Often hand creams have really heavy, headache-inducing fragrances, but this one faded quick enough, so you just enjoyed it and then it was gone before it wore out its welcome. 

If you need something heavy-duty, then this cream will probably be too light for you, but for me, it was enough for our mild winter weather.

Final Verdict
Buy - if you are seeking a lightweight, pleasantly scented hand cream then this is for you. This cream left my hands feeling hydrated all day and it helped improve my skin's tone. If you do try this hand cream, I'd recommend splurging on the 100 ml version for $20 so you won't have to replace it so quickly!

Update Feb 29: I had the wrong pricing put down for this hand cream, which has now been corrected. As such, I had to review my original verdict for the product to take into account the correct pricing. 

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Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm Review | A spa treatment for the lips

nuxe reve de miel ultra nourishing lip balm review

Life can be harsh on lips, especially in winter. Between the wind and cold, dry office heating and the sun, lips take a beating, so why not pamper them a bit by using something like Nuxe's Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm?

Composed of over 78% natural ingredients, the Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm is a rich lip balm that claims to heal the driest of lips and make them supple, soft and youthful again. As a chronic lip chewer when I was younger, I tend to have dry lips which I keep in check by constantly slathering them with various products, so you can imagine just how excited I was to try the Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm.

Like all Nuxe products, the Rêve de Miel line contains a variety of natural plant oils, but what makes the Rêve de Miel line different is that all the products also contain a healthy dose of honey. A natural antibacterial agent and moisturizer, honey is always a welcome addition in my mind to any skincare product, especially one for the lips.

The Guts
The Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm primarily contains
  • Beeswax - a thick, pliable wax that acts as a natural emollient
  • Olus/Vegetable oil - an emollient (seals in moisture) 
  • Lecithin - an emollient that helps bind water to skin
  • Behenoxy dimethicone - a silicone that provides a moisture-retaining barrier on the lips and gives it a smoother, plumper appearance
This lip balm also contains sweet almond oil (emollient), honey (antioxidant), shea butter (moisturizing), grapefruit peel oil (fragrance) and lemon peel oil (fragrance). 

Considering honey is the star ingredient, I was disappointed that it wasn't in the top four ingredients, but I'm still happy that this lip balm contains a hefty amount of emollients and not a lot of other unnecessary fillers.

Price & Packaging
A 15.4 ml jar retails for around $20, making it likely the most expensive lip balm I've ever owned. Considering the price, the jar packaging, and its texture, I would not use this lip balm as my everyday lip balm. Instead, I've been using this as my overnight lip treatment which I apply as the last step in my nightly beauty routine. This way, I can extend the life of the product and then the sting of that $20 receipt won't hurt as much! 

nuxe ultra nourishing lip balm

I'm going to be straight with you: I love this lip balm! It's so awesome and totally worth the $20. Okay sure you can probably find lip balms that feel similar, but I think the ingredients, the texture and its heavenly scent make it worth the splurge.

The Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm feels so good on my lips. It takes a little bit of effort to warm up the lip balm enough to apply, and it's not as spreadable as a more oil based balm, but it's that thick texture that actually makes me love it and how my lips just feel so protected and hydrated immediately after applying. I have to really stop myself from just applying more and more and the mix of honey and grapefruit is so delightful to smell! 

Since using this balm, my lips feel noticeably softer and smoother than before and it makes applying matte and long-wear lipsticks much easier. I can even skip lip balm in the morning!

nuxe reve de miel lip balm review

Final Verdict
Buy - this has become a must-have in my daily routine. More than a balm, the Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm is a lip treatment that will hydrate and rejuvenate your lips.

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Marcelle Ultra Gentle Moisturizing Cream Review | What's the difference between a cream and a lotion?

marcelle ultra gentle moisturizer review

As an everyday consumer, it's pretty tricky deciphering the various lingo that gets thrown around when it comes to beauty products and it's one of the reasons why I started blogging product reviews. Although I know a lot more now than when I first started blogging, I wouldn't call myself an expert by any means as there is always something new to learn, especially with skincare! Case in point: TIL that there actually is a difference between a cream and a lotion!

While researching into the Marcelle Ultra Gentle Moisturizing Cream, I found that although Marcelle markets this product as a cream, most reviews seem to categorize it as a lotion. Does it really matter you ask? Well, it kinda does, but only if you're slightly anal retentive.

What I learned was that lotions and creams do serve the same purpose, which is providing moisture, and the best way to separate the two are by their differences. Lotions are thinner in viscosity and contain less oils, so they are suitable for more skin types and can come packaged in a variety of formats like pumps. Creams on the other hand, are typically thicker and more oil-based. Creams are best for those with more extreme dry skin, or for people who live in especially dry climates; since they're so thick, you typically see creams packaged in jars, although lotions could also come in a jar as well. Probably what most of us call face creams are actually face lotions, and while Marcelle is calling this a cream, by all criteria, the Ultra Gentle Moisturizing Cream is definitely not.

Now that we've got that cleared up, let's get back to the actual product! The Ultra Gentle Moisturizing Cream Lotion is described as a comforting moisturizer that protects skin from external stressors that can dry out and age skin. Compared to a lot of other products out there, the Ultra Gentle Moisturizing Cream is pretty straightforward and I appreciate the simplicity of its approach. A lot of other products make a ton of claims that basically all mean "hydration" so I like how Marcelle just cuts the crap and tells it like it is.

The Guts
The Ultra Gentle Moisturizing Cream is primarily made up of
  • Water
  • Isopropyl myristate - is a synthetic emollient that helps increase the penetration of ingredients into skin while reducing the oily texture of a product caused by other emollient ingredients. Unfortunately, those with oilier skins should beware of this ingredient as it is known to clog pores!
  • Glycerin - a common humectant (draws moisture into skin)
  • Glyceryl stearate - an emollient (seals moisture in skin) that creates a surface level barrier to lock in moisture, while also giving it a smoother appearance
  • Hydrogenated polyisobutene - an emollient that is commonly used as a substitute for mineral oil

Price & Packaging
For $18.95 you get a very sizable 50 ml squeeze tube. I like how the tube is very sleek, which makes it perfect for travel and the simple coloring and font is reminiscent of Marcelle's other skincare products.

Although other reviewers have all remarked that the Ultra Gentle Moisturizing Cream was very lightweight, I actually found this cream to be rather heavy. The first couple times I used the Ultra Gentle Moisturizing Cream, I applied it as I normally would, which is by applying a small dab to each cheek, forehead and then a larger dab to my neck, but I found that this was too much for me. Instead, what I found to work was to dispense a larger dab about half the size of my pinky fingernail between my fingers, then warm it between my hands before applying all over my face. Applying this way seems to keep my face hydrated all day without producing excess oil or shine. 

For the past few weeks, I've been using the Ultra Gentle Moisturizing Cream as a day cream, but I think I may actually prefer it as a night cream. This winter hasn't been that cold, relatively speaking, for Vancouver, so I haven't had to bust out the big guns when it comes to moisturizing and the Ultra Gentle Moisturizing Cream feels a tad too heavy for daytime, where I prefer lighter products that sit better under makeup.

As an experiment, when I went to Mexico recently, I tried using the Ultra Gentle Moisturizing Cream as my night cream since the weather was hotter there and I wanted something light, but hydrating, for the desert climate. When paired with a serum, the Ultra Gentle Moisturizing Cream was all I needed to keep my skin looking fresh and soft. 

marcelle face moisturizer review

The only downside to this cream is that having examined the ingredients, I'm now wondering if it's the culprit behind the recent breakout around my chin. If I get zits, it's usually around my time of the month and clogged pores can only exacerbate it. What's sucky about skincare is that it can be really tricky to isolate bad triggers, so I'm going to swap this one out of my routine and see if that has an effect. If it does, I will report back!

Final Verdict
Buy - the Ultra Gentle Moisturizing Cream is affordable, has good value and delivers on keeping skin hydrated and soft. I enjoyed the simplicity of this product and how it works well for both day and night-time use.

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A Book Devoured: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin

I think it's pretty safe to say that I'm a nerd when it comes to books, especially when it comes to certain series. Out of everyone in my social circle, I'm like 99% sure I'm alone in the fact that I've read all the Game of Thrones books (or as they're properly called, the A Song of Ice & Fire series), multiple times, plus watched all the seasons of the show and now I'm beginning to work my way through the ASOIAF novellas, such as The Ice Dragon and now A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.

Taking place a hundred years before the events of Game of ThronesA Knight of the Seven Kingdoms follows the tale of Dunk the Hedge Knight and Egg his squire, who later become the legendary Ser Duncan the Tall and King Aegon the Unlikely and Daenerys' great-grandfather. You may also recall that Egg is the brother of Maester Aemon of the Night's Watch!

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms consists of three previously published novellas that depict the beginnings of this unlikely pair's adventures. In the beginning, Duncan, or Dunk, is a the unlikeliest of heroes. As a hedge knight, he has barely anything to his name, including his knightly name. Desperate to make his mark, he enters a tourney, where he stumbles across Egg, a bald stableboy who, for whatever reason, decides to latch onto him. Unbeknownst to both, this tourney has some pretty aristocratic attendees, including several Targaryen princes, and wherever the three-headed dragon goes, drama and destiny is soon to follow. At the end of the tourney, several lords and a prince die, while a new knight arises - and this is just in the first part of the book!

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is not a prequel by any means, but is a fun and easy-to-read peek into the rich past of Westeros. The one thing I really love about George R. R. Martin's writing is just how layered he makes his characters' history and how deftly he ties the actions of the past to the present. In the time of A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, the Targaryen dynasty is securely in place, and although there's been a recent insurrection by a Targaryen offshoot, times are pretty rosy compared to the Westeros of ASOIAF. I love the haughtiness of the Targaryen house and there's just something so nostalgic about reading about them in their full power, spouting "blood and fire" everywhere, while knowing how far they will soon fall.

The only thing missing from this book are the Starks, as much of the book takes place in the South. One can only hope that maybe in the future George R. R. Martin (I don't know why I have to refer to him only by his full name) will write more about Duncan and Egg's travels. One thing is for sure: this has only made me all the more hungry to read more stories about Westero's rich past!

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Canadian Beauty Blogger Love Part 2: B is for bath bombs

Canada is of course a huge place and it's so full of creative people. This is part 2 of a blogging project of mine where I'm working my way through the Canadian Beauty Bloggers network directory in search of awesome new bloggers to follow. In this series I'll share some of my new and old favourites in hopes that you too can gain a new appreciation for all that our community has to offer!

Kicking off the letter B (and there are a LOT of bloggers under B) is The Bambi Eyes. I just found her blog thanks to this series (woot!) and I'm already hooked. First off, Stacy is drop-dead gorgeous, but her posts are also thoughtful and beautifully photographed. She does a great mix of lifestyle and beauty posts and always seems to have a sunny attitude.

The Bambi Eyes on CBB love
Image: The Bambi Eyes

Next, I've gotta mention my fellow CBB team member, Jenn of A Beautiful Zen! Jenn is one of my favourite bloggers because her personality and voice comes through in her writing so much more than a lot of others. I always enjoy reading her posts, and now watching her videos, because she really seems like someone you could just hang with and eat copious amounts of chips while binge-watching Netflix. Plus, she says dude a lot which I find very endearing :)

CBB love for A Beautiful Zen
Image: A Beautiful Zen

When I look for blogs, I'm always drawn to clean layouts, great photos, and spot-on writing. I hate blogs that are all photos and just captions, so when I found Beauty Reflections, it was like a throw back to the old days of blogging when words were dominant over photos. Tracy's posts are always funny, to the point and full of good information. She's got strong opinions, but again, I kinda like that sort of thing, y'kno? Plus, and she may not like me for saying this, she's older which means that skincare actually does something for her. There's really no point in reading a skincare post by a 20 year old. It's like, oh uh.. yeah it didn't give me wrinkles? Yeah, thanks for the insight!

Image: Beauty Reflections

Last, but not least, is Janella of Ma Belle Vie! Reading Janella's blog is like sitting in a cozy, bright kitchen and listening to her chat about her favourite products and her life. What really drew me to her blog was her amazing food photography. Janella features easy to prepare and healthy recipes that she makes for her family, interspersed with her makeup reviews, so that I left feeling hungry and also wanting to shop. What gives!

Image: Ma Belle Vie

This is it for me for the next week or so as I'll be partying and tanning it up in sunny Mexico for my friend's wedding, so see you all when I get back! I hope you're enjoying this series so far and I can't wait to start on part 3 when I return!

Also, don't forget to check out the previous segments of this series:

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SST Cosmetics Powerplay Powerstay Collection Review | I have the power!!

A good day for me is when I can start a makeup post with a cheesy reference, like this:

How could SST Cosmetics not think of this when naming their Powerplay Powerstay collection? Gawd, I hope it's not because none of them are old enough to get it! Anyways, I digress.

SST Cosmetics is a new brand to me, but one I've been hearing about over the last year from other bloggers. They're a Canadian makeup company started by Sharon Sharpe-Titus (thus, the SST), who is a makeup artist with over 16 years professional experience. Desiring a line of products that were safe for the environment and for clients, Sharon came up with SST Cosmetics.

The Powerplay Powerstay collection was created to provide a fast, easy and beautiful option for women on the go and for travel. The collection consists of just five pencils for your eyes, lips and brows. SST was kind enough to send me part of the collection to try and after a few weeks of use, I'm ready to report back with my thoughts!

SST shadow and lipstick crayons review

The items from the Powerplay Powerstay collection that I received were the Power Stay Highlight Stick in Glisten and the Power Stay Lipsticks in Euphoric and Willpower. Each item retails for $27.95

SST powerplay powerstay collection review
SST Cosmetics Powerplay Powerstay collection. Top to bottom: Glisten, Euphoric, Willpower

Glisten is a sparkly, medium opacity, white highlighting stick that can be used on your eyes, cheekbones and anywhere you want a little glow. I've never tried the famous NYX Milk pencil, but I imagine the texture and color payoff is similar to Glisten, except that Glisten is chock full of glitter. As I have a slightly warmer skin tone, I usually stay away from stark white highlights like this. As expected, Glisten was a bit too dramatic for me and the sparkles didn't help things either. This pencil would be great for more dramatic party looks, and it does work nicely along the lash line for a bit of extra shine, but I would never dare this use this anywhere else on my face. If you have a cooler skin tone though, and you enjoy creating more colorful looks, then this would be really handy to have in your collection. The wear time is pretty decent and it wasn't too hard to blend out, which is a plus as often I find shadow sticks difficult to blend.

Luckily things went better for me with the lipstick crayons! The lipsticks contain vitamin E and beeswax, so they go on smoothly without dragging and have a just shy of matte finish. Willpower is a classic deep red that is quite neutral so I think this would look good on both warm and cool tones. Euphoric is a bright, in-your-face magenta that is a lipstick lover's (aka me!) dream.

SST Cosmetis lipstick crayon swatches
Left to right: Glisten, Euphoric, Willpower - sorry no lip photos today as I'm getting over a breakout!

I've been wearing Willpower on its own and well blotted out to make a great daytime stain, while Euphoric has become my favourite base to pair with my browny nudes like ColourPop's Lippie Stix in Choker. Both lipsticks set in minutes and wear well for hours, although you should expect some transfer when eating and drinking. Since they're crayons, they're also very easy to apply and are great for getting into those lip corners. The only downside is that these lipsticks are not self-sharpening, so after awhile it gets trickier to get that really crisp lip line, but since most crayons have this downside, it's kind of par for the course.

Overall, I'm kind of on the fence with this collection. I would pass on Glisten as I don't think the target audience for this collection, who I'm assuming are people who just want easy wearable options for travel and the office, would not appreciate a sparkly highlight. The lipsticks too are a bit dramatic for office wear, but I still love them as I think they can be blotted out and they are such pretty, pigmented colors. Overall though, I think that the price point of almost $28 per stick is pretty steep considering the competitiveness of this market and I didn't see anything exceptional about this collection to make it stand out over the numerous other, more affordable options out there.

Final Verdict: Ditch

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Creating a Signature Scent with the Demeter Foolproof Blending Trios | #CBBFoolProofBlend

Demeter review of the foolproof blending sets #CBBFoolProofBlend

I had so much fun trying out my previous Demeter fragrances that when the CBB started another campaign with Demeter featuring their Foolproof Blending Trios, I knew I had to join in again!

In case you're not familiar with Demeter already, they are a fragrance company that specializes in offering customers an affordable way to build their own personal "fragrance library." Unlike most fragrance brands, almost all of Demeter's scents consist of a single note that are designed to be blended with other notes or worn solo. Out of all the perfumes I've tried, Demeter's are definitely the most unique as they seem to be literally trying to catalogue every scent experience into a bottle! Among Demeter's expansive catalogue, you'll find such unique fragrances like Clean Skin, Sunshine, Leather and even New Zealand!

This time around, Demeter offered to let us CBB members all try their Foolproof Blending Trios. Designed as starter kits for amateur perfumiers, the Foolproof Blending Trios contain a trio of fragrances plus an empty bottle with small pipettes to allow you to blend together your own signature scent. As a bit of a science nerd, the chemistry aspect of this challenge definitely intrigued me!

It can be quite the process to choose your Foolproof Blending Trio as there are so many options, but Demeter tries to help by segmenting scents into two basic groupings: the Classic Catalogue and the Winter Nights Catalogue.

The Classic Catalogue contains your classic scents, with a heavy focus on light and medium florals and a couple of cleaner options thrown in like Baby Powder and Laundromat. The Winter Nights Catalogue on the other hand, is a spice lover's dream as it is full of heady, spicy and woodsy scents like Sandalwood, Fireplace and Incense. Oddly enough, some scents, like Gin & Tonic appear in both!

As soon as I saw Jasmine was one of the options, I immediately selected it as my chosen scent. I absolutely LOVE lush tropical florals like Jasmine (it, as well as Plumeria and Pikake being among my favourite scents) so I was eager to see what Demeter would send me to pair with it.

Demeter jasmine and lavender fragrance #CBBFoolproofblend

A few weeks later, my package arrived! Turns out, Demeter thinks Lavender goes with Jasmine. Not a combo I would have chosen, but I was game to try. As well, they also sent over their Vanilla Foolproof Blending Trio, which contains Angel Food, Hawaiian Vanilla and Gingerbread.

To blend your scents together, the rule of thumb is to mix a base + mid + top note. Base notes are usually earthy/woodsy/musk/vanilla scents, while mid notes are floral/spicy/green and top notes are citrusy/creamy/fruity/clean.

Demeter foolproof blending instruction pyramid

Looking at my options, it seemed that they fell into these note groups:
  • Base notes: Hawaiian Vanilla
  • Mid notes: Jasmine, Lavender, Gingerbread
  • Top notes: Angel Food
Demeter foolproof blending fragrance set review #CBBFoolProofBlend

And here's how I'd describe the scent of each of these solo:
  • Hawaiian Vanilla: a sweet more than creamy vanilla that has just a hint of floral freshness. I really enjoyed wearing this one solo as well as using it as a room fragrance!
  • Jasmine: definitely my favourite Demeter perfume of all time!! Easy to say as I only got into Demeter since last year, but hyperbole aside, this fragrance is amazeballs! So lush and such a strong floral. It's definitely bold and not for everyone.
  • Lavender: I'm probably one of the 0.01% of people who hates lavenders so I didn't have high hopes for this one. It smells like lavender, so if that appeals to you, you'd probably like it. To me, it's just weak sauce.
  • Gingerbread: probably my second favourite after Jasmine! This one smells just like my memories of comfy winter nights when the house was filled with the scent of baking. I never thought I'd be one to wear gourmand fragrances but I've been wearing this one out lately as it's just so comforting!
  • Angel Food: I was really surprised at how well this one captured the scent of a freshly baked angel food cake! It's super sweet with hints of vanilla and cream. This one smells really yummy, but is not something I'd use regularly.
Over the last few weeks, I've tried pairing these fragrances up and maybe I'm just more into simple scents, but I actually prefer wearing these solo more than in combination. Jasmine is just perfection on its own in my opinion, so it was tricky to find partners that elevated it any higher. Lavender definitely is nowhere strong enough to show up with Jasmine and the vanilla trios are a bit too sweet for my nose to work with Jasmine either. The only one that comes close is Hawaiian Vanilla as it's a bit tropical too, which kinda works with Jasmine. 

Other combinations I've been enjoying though are Gingerbread + Hawaiian Vanilla and Gingerbread + Tangerine. The floral and creamy notes of the Hawaiian Vanilla are quite interesting with Gingerbread and makes me smell like a delicious cake; while Tangerine adds a dash of fruity freshness to Gingerbread that is nice and energizing in the mornings.

Demeter fragrance review

Although my blending experience didn't quite work out for me, I'm definitely curious to keep on experimenting. Looking at the other catalogue scents for the Foolproof Blending Trios, I think Jasmine would pair quite nicely with Wet Garden (top note) or perhaps Oud (base note). The best thing about perfumes is that there really is no wrong answer and it's such an incredibly fun journey to find what suits you best. 

If you're curious to try out Demeter then visit them online to find out more. You can also find them in stores at Real Canadian Superstores across the country!

What would you choose for your Foolproof Blending Trio?

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Foundation Basics with Make Up Forever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation

make up forever hd foundation review

The eyes may be windows to the soul, but good skin is the first sign of beauty. In this age of photo filters and airbrushing, that standard for "good skin" is even higher now, so thank goodness for makeup!

Learning how to use foundation is one of the fundamentals of makeup. It's also probably one of the reasons why we hated our skin growing up! We've all had experiences with cakey, thick foundations that just clogged our pores and trapped us in a cycle of poorer skin requiring more coverup, which clogged our skin even more. Well, thankfully modern foundations are eons better than before and there are tons out there to choose from for every skin type.

For today's post, I want to share my technique for applying foundation and introduce you to a product I've recently fallen in love with, the Make Up Forever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation.

If you've never heard of Make Up Forever, they're sold primarily in Sephora and are known for creating super-pigmented, long-lasting products for makeup artists. The super-popular Ultra HD foundation has been flying off shelves since it debuted because of its amazing texture that is designed to work with HD cameras. This hydrating, semi-matte foundation comes in 40(!) different shades and the range is split between "Y" shades for warmer/yellow tones and "R" shades for cooler/pink tones.

How to select your shade match

Selecting the right shade of foundation can be a very tricky business. Google helps to check out swatch photos and to see how others look with various shades, but I'd also recommend going to Sephora and getting a consultant to run you through their Color IQ test which will shade match you to multiple brands. For reference, I am a 4Y07 last time I checked.

make up forever ultra hd foundation swatches in natural beige
Make Up Forever Ultra HD in Y345

Foundations are generally split between "warm" and "cool" shades, which are then split into ranges of light to dark tones. There are various ways to tell if you're a "warm" or "cool" toned person, but one method that I use is to look at the veins of your inner arm. If your veins look more blue, then you're "cool"; if they're more green, then you're "warm". If you're neither, then you're neutral. I'm more neutral with slightly yellow undertones, so I tend to look for shades that say "honey" or "beige" or "sand" in them. This seemed to work out well for me as I chose the shade Y345 Natural Beige from the Make Up Forever Ultra HD line.

Step 1: Prep your skin

So fresh and so clean!

To start things off, I like to ensure that my skin is prepped for makeup; namely this means ensuring it's well hydrated as moist, slightly tacky skin helps bond to makeup better. Apply your usual moisturizer or primer and let it sit for a minute or two. If you apply your foundation too soon, the oils of your moisturizer could slide your foundation right off, but if you wait too long, then you won't get that magic moment when your foundation can melt into your skin.

Step 2: Pick your tools

how to apply foundation

Depending on the texture of your foundation, you'll want to use different tools. I like to use:
  • fingers when using a super watery and light foundation like a foundation-serum
  • a foundation brush when using cream foundations
  • a buffing brush for everything else
In case it's not obvious, my tool of choice is a buffing brush as I find they just give me the most natural finish while spreading product the most efficiently. 

Step 3: Dot skin with product


Now it's time to finally apply something! I always apply 1 full pump of product to the back of my left hand and then use the middle finger of my right hand to dab foundation wherever I need it, which is generally to the cheeks, nose and chin areas. I like to use my fingers on this step as I can more easily control where and how much foundation I apply to each specific area. 

Step 4: Blend it out

Then using my tool of choice, I blend and spread the foundation out, ensuring to remove any telltale lines so nobody can tell where my skin begins and the foundation ends. I always work my way from my nose outwards as that's the area where I experience redness the most. 

Step 5: Repeat on areas where you need more 

Lastly, I then go over any specific areas of my face that need more coverage with another layer of foundation, using the same technique as steps 3 and 4. 


And that's it! I like to use my foundation to primarily even out my skin and cover up any red marks and blemishes. It can be really tempting to build up your foundation until you're absolutely poreless and flawless, but for everyday use, I really try to resist that. It just looks more natural to let some of your skin's natural imperfections peek out and it tricks people into thinking you're wearing nothing at all!

Hopefully this mini-tutorial helped if you're just getting into wearing foundations. I highly recommend checking out the Make Up Forever Ultra HD line. This foundation lasted all day on me with no fading or creasing and it gives my skin a beautiful satin glow. Definitely worth every penny!

Do you have any tips & tricks to applying foundation? Share in the comments!

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My Bedtime Routine

just j bedtime routine with saje wellness

Sleep is something I take very seriously. As in, I will put my phone on silent and avoid making morning plans just so I can ensure I get ample sleep time. Sleep is something I think is a truly underrated activity, as it's so essential to functioning properly. A lack of sleep can leave you mentally inefficient, it can hurt you physically by lowering your body's ability to repair itself, and it can affect your relationships due to you feeling irritated and impatient. Last year with all the wedding and job stress I was going through, I was having a lot of trouble unwinding enough to get to sleep, but after reading The Happiness Project, I changed up my bedtime routine entirely. Now, I'm able to drop to sleep in less than hour whereas before it wasn't uncommon for me to lie in the dark for two or more hours!

So how did I do this change? Well, it's mainly about changing perspectives I guess and focusing on activities that helped me relax and to also create an environment that facilitates that. For me, that meant removing any bright overhead lights in my room and installing a nebulizer, like this AromaOm Deluxe from Saje. Ever since I received this last year, it's been a game changer and I've become fully on board with the powers of aromatherapy. I just pop in my favourite bedtime nebulizer blends and turn it on for two hours while I shower and get ready for bed and it turns my bedroom into a mini spa. Best. Thing. Ever.

My favourite scents to create a sleepy-time environment are varied. First up, is the Tahitian Vanilla aromatherapy blend from Escents. This soothing blend is Mr. Artist's favourite as he loves anything vanilla. Unlike some vanilla scents that have a bit of sharp sweetness to it, this one is softened by a touch of ylang ylang - so soothing!

The other scents I like to have on nebulizer rotation are Mountain High and Liquid Sunshine. Odd choices I know, but I'm not a lavender fan at all so these ones appeal to me more. Mountain High contains spearmint, which is great for when I'm feeling under the weather as it helps clear sinuses, while Liquid Sunshine just makes me feel happy and relaxed!

Besides creating an inviting environment, I also like to take the time to prime my face and body for some overnight renewal. Your body repairs itself while you sleep, so it's the best time to pile on the skincare treatments. My skin has been very happy with this Nivea Sensitive Night Care cream, which I've reviewed before; it's formulated to soothe redness and it just leaves my face feeling super soft and silky. I also like to specially treat my hands and lips at night by coating them in extra-thick versions of my daytime creams and balms. I'm almost done working through the Burt's Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Cream which is my HG night hand treatment. It's super thick and smells just like almond pudding! My hands feel like they've undergone a massage every time I apply this. Finally, for the lips, I've been enjoying the Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm. Made with almost 80% natural ingredients, this honey-based lip balm literally coats my lips in moisture. I can now wear long-wear matte lipsticks with no problems!

Now, where were we: inviting environment - check. Pampered skin - check. Now the last piece is to quiet the mind. It's funny how little things can really help and there are two things in my bedtime routine that have really helped me. The first is to layout my outfit before I go to sleep; it shaves off a couple of minutes in the morning and it eliminates that nagging worry in my brain about what to wear. The second is to keep a daily journal. I've always loved to write and journaling is such a great outlet for all those random thoughts and emotions that you put off processing through the day. I'm still not into a good routine with journaling yet, but I try to do it at least a few times a week.

And that's my routine! Since changing things up, I've felt much better in the mornings and better able to deal with the day ahead. Now I'd love to know what your night-time rituals are, so please share in the comments!

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Valentine's Day Roundup | Pamper yourself in style

Valentine's Day is admittedly a pretty silly and exclusionary holiday, but I have to admit that I get caught up in it just like everyone else. Mr. Artist hates Valentine's Day so we don't usually do the whole flowers and chocolates thing, but I do enjoy using it as an excuse to doll myself up a little and eat somewhere nice!

For this year's Valentine's season, I thought it would be fun to roundup a few products that have inspired me to get into that "loving feeling." Whether you're single, coupled, or on the prowl, I think there's something here for everyone!

Lush Yes Yes Yes massage bar, $10.95

Nothing feels better than massaging out sore muscles after a long day. Lush has a great line of luxurious massage bars that can also double as body moisturizers. Yes Yes Yes is totally VDay appropriate with its cheeky name and its intoxicating mix of jasmine, rose, cocoa butter and vanilla. Simply use the warmth of your body to melt this into skin!

Odacite Pure Elements facial oils

Once your body is all nicely relaxed, it's time to start on the face and nothing feels more relaxing than a beautifully scented facial oil. Facial massage is supposed to work wonders on the skin and I love the idea of using only the best ingredients to do so. Recently I met up with Odacite to learn more about their brand and was really impressed by their commitment to creating pure, simple oils that don't contain any fillers. Whether you use these solo or as a booster to your other products, there is an oil out there to suit any skincare need. I'm particularly interested in the hyperpigmentation one!

Niod Photography Fluid, $30

If you do plan to go out on Valentine's Day, whether with a date or with friends, then be sure to look your best with the Niod Photography Fluid. I am so so excited to try this product out! It's kind of like a primer, but it can also be worn solo as your base, and is designed to subtly perfect your skin with an array of light-reflecting particles and tone-correcting ingredients.

Papyrus Date Night Idea Cards, $14.95

One of the reasons why I think guys hate Valentine's so much is because all the pressure is on them to step up and meet our crazy romantic expectations. Thanks to Youtube and Instagram, that pressure is higher than ever! Mr. Artist deals by opting out entirely, but perhaps something like these fun date night idea cards from Papyrus will help inspire both of us to do more than just usual dinner and a movie.

Luz de la Riva Lulu edible massage oil, $40

And if not... well, there's always this! Get your inner cougar on with this glam and tasty? edible massage oil from Luz de la Riva. This fragrance, cosmetics and accessories line specializes in products that promise to turn your ordinary Ikea bedroom into a sexy boudoir! Rawr!

How do you plan on spending Valentine's Day?

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