End of Year Reader Survey and Giveaway!

It's my last post of 2016 before I take my usual holiday break from blogging to enjoy the snow, sleeping in and copious amounts of mulled wine and cookies! This year I'm doing something a little different and am reaching out to YOU my amazing readers to invite you to give me some feedback on how I'm doing as a blogger.

Everyday that I work and obsess over this little corner of the Interwebz that belongs to me, it's always hard to know whether it means anything or that anyone even cares. I want to make sure that this is a safe, happy and fun space not just for me, but also for you! I really really appreciate from my heart every person that chooses to follow me and I hope that you will continue to do so in 2017!

Now, to thank you all, all you have to do is fill out this short little survey I put together and you'll be entered to win a $25 CAD Sephora gift card! The prize is open for sure to all my Canadian and American readers. For my non-North American readers, I'll try to see if I can send you it through the US side or I'll make up a prize pack for you!

Thanks so much for another fab year and I'll see you all in 2017!

Love MizzJ

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Best of 2016: Makeup

In part 2 of my round off of 2016, I take a look back at my favourite makeup posts of the year, using some of the best products for your eyes, lip and face!

clinique pretty easy eye palette
Clinique Pretty Easy Eye Palette

Kicking things off is beautiful eye shadow palette by Clinique. This was actually my first post of 2016, so it's fitting that it helps wrap up the year too. I have a weakness for rose-toned and mauve palettes, so of course I was immediately drawn towards this one. Although none of these colors are super pigmented, they are very easy to work with and quite foolproof. If you love soft eye looks like me, then you'll be a fan!

Read my full review of the Clinique Pretty Easy Eye palette here.

stila stay all day foundation
Stila Stay All Day Foundation

Like boyfriends, sometimes you have to give them a second chance before saying goodbye forever; such is the case with this newly revamped foundation by Stila. To be honest, I'd never actually tried this formula before, but I know it's been a mainstay at Stila for quite awhile. The old packaging was rather blase, but this new sleek packaging, with its innovative pump and side window so you can see the actual shade and level of foundation inside is just utter genius! I wish more brands would pay attention to details like this. The foundation itself too is just perfection; it gives me flawless, all-day coverage that effortlessly erases unevenness, redness, scars and any other imperfections. If you hate that feeling of full coverage, this one can be easily applied thinner for a more medium finish. I love this one so much, I even labeled it as a HG product!

Read my full review of the Stila Stay All Day Foundation here.

bite beauty luminous creme lipstick bold trio
Bite Beauty Luminous Creme lipsticks

Besides foundation and eyeshadow palettes, my other big makeup weakness is lipstick and when I find a great lipstick formula, I just want to get them all! Case in point: Bite Beauty. I was initially blown away by the Amuse Bouche lipsticks, but I'm almost equally as impressed with the original Luminous Creme lipsticks. They are pretty much the same formula, with some slight differences that only lipstick afficionados will detect, and they come in a stunning array of gorgeous colors. I purchased 6 of these during a Sephora sale and against my better judgement, I am keeping 5 for myself!

Read my full review of the Bite Beauty Luminous Creme lipsticks here.

One thing I'm always going on about on the blog, is pledging to do more makeup looks. In 2016 I think I did slightly achieve that goal, but it's still a work in progress to find time and good lighting to do more of them!

I am quite happy though with how the following 2 makeup looks turned out:

makeup look with nyx gunmetal glitter
NYX Face & Body Glitter makeup look

The above look was the first time I tried posting a makeup look featuring loose glitter pigment. I'm not makeup expert, so this was quite an accomplishment for me and I'm pretty happy with how it came together. I'm also still waiting for a party invite that I can wear this out in public for :(

Read how this look was done here.

guerlain meteorites carousel review
Guerlain Meteorites no-makeup makeup look

On the other end of the spectrum, I was really into fresh-faced, no-makeup looks as well. Winter is all about glowing, fair skin and flushed cheeks, so this look I created with the amazing Guerlain Carousel Meteorites perfectly captures that wintry feeling. I was really floored by the incredibly soft, lit-from-within glow I was able to achieve with these pearls. They're truly worth all the hype!

Read how I created this glowy look here.

I hope you enjoyed this recap of my favourite makeup posts of 2016! Please let me know what your favourites were in the comments!

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Best of 2016: Skincare

So my original plan for December was to be all keener with blogging and post actual gift guides this year, which I normally never ever do. Well guess what? As per usual, as soon as December hit, I became an utter lazy ass with the blog and those gift guide ideas just went out the window! This week though, I'm going to make up for it by posting my usual roundup of the best things I tried out in 2016, starting with skincare!

I was really fortunate to try some pretty awesome skincare lines this year, many of which were totally new to me. A big theme looking back this year was the incorporation of chemical acids and green beauty lines into my routine. I really feel both of these have changed my skin for the better and given me more peace of mind when it comes to being conscious of how my consumption affects the planet.

Here are the top skincare items I'd recommend from 2016:

odylique super fruit serum and facial oil
Odylique Superfruit Concentrate Serum

I'm a big believer in serums, but not all serums are equal. Lately I've been using more oil-based serums and they have really helped improve the supplenes and texture of my skin. This Odylique serum is made of natural and 100% organic ingredients, such as jojoba oil, avocado oil, pomengranate, rosehip and rosemary extracts and sea buckthorn fruit. This oil serum is chock full of moisturizers and antioxidants and absorbs super readily into my skin, unlike a lot of the usual facial oils, which just sit there. This one is a little pricey as it comes from the UK, but it's green, handmade and oh so amazing!

Read my original review of the Odylique Superfruit Concentrate Serum here.

happily ever ava lemon vanilla body scrub review
Happily Ever Ava All Natural Scrub in Lemon Vanilla

When a product is all natural AND local AND amazing, it's a triple win and the ultimate no-brainer to buy. Such is the case with this incredible body scrub from Vancouver's Happily Ever Ava. Owner Ava handmakes her sugar body scrubs with luxurious shea and mango butters, coconut oil and aloe vera. There are multiple "flavours" of scrubs to purchase, but my favourite by far was the Lemon Vanilla, which smells exactly like fresh lemon meringue pie to me. All of Ava's scrubs are vegan, locally sourced and 10% of proceeds are donated to charity! You never have to worry about this scrub's harshness as the butters and oils will slough off dead skin cells and then replenish it with soothing moisture. Nothing keeps away scaly elbows and heels like these scrubs!

Read my original review of the Happily Ever Ava All Natural Scrubs here.

Eminence organics review
Eminence Organics Skincare

If you really want to see the effects of a skincare line, then it's always better to try out multiple products at once as they're usually designed to complement one another. A few months ago I got to try out these Eminence Organics products, all of which are aimed at replenishing moisture and preventings signs of aging. While almost all of these are stellar, the real star of the show for me was the Firm Skin Acai Cleanser. This purple cleanser smells like fresh berries and contains anti-aging blueberries, acai berries, co-enzyme Q10 and hyaluronic acid. It can be used day or night and is a great milky-style cleanser. As far as cleansers go, this is a little pricier than what I'd normally spend, at $38 per bottle, but it's so damn amazing I just can't help myself!

Read my original review of the Eminence Firm Skin Acai Cleanser here.

belif skincare reviews
belif skincare

Vancouver has been in an Arctic cold snap lately and the one thing I truly believe keeping my skin from flaking away into the winter winds are these 2 face creams from belif. This Korean apothecary-style skincare line is focused on delivering intense, immediate hydration to skin. Both the True Cream - Moisturizing Bomb and True Cream - Aqua Bomb are crazy moisturizing miracles. I slightly love the Aqua Bomb a bit more as its unique gel texture is a jolt of freshness to my skin in the mornings, while the soothing cream scent and light, yet rich, texture of the Moisturizing Bomb is a great way to relax at night. When I came back from Spain, my skin was shocked from the transition from hot, dry weather to instantly cold temps, and these 2 creams helped restore my skin's balance within a couple weeks!

Read my original review of belif skincare here.

origins drink up intensive overnight mask review
Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask

Another big winter win for me was this limited edition Origins hydrating mask. I love using sleeping masks and this one was such a refreshing addition to my mask arsenal. This mask contains rose flower water, aloe vera, rice extract and chamomile to soothe away redness and inject the skin with moisturizing softness. Again, this mask paired with the belif creams have truly been warriors for me against the winter chill.

Read my original review of the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask here.

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant Review
Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid

And last, but not least, is the Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. This chemical exfoliator uses salicylic acid to gradually reveal softer, brighter and more even skin. This is probably one of the products that really turned me onto the miracles of chemical exfoliants. Sure, they don't have that satisfying, instant gratification of a physical scrub, but my skin has really reacted well to chemical exfoliants. If you read my review, I noted at the time that after just a couple of weeks, my skin literally felt like silk and all my blemishes disappeared! This is magic in a bottle guys!

Read my original review of the Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant here.

I hope you enjoyed this roundup! Next up is my best of makeup for 2016!

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A Book Devoured: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Although touted as more "intellectual" than TV, books can be downright guilty pleasures just as much as any reality show and now that you can read your books on your phone or tablet, it's become even easier to read without worrying about an embarassing book cover giving you away!

Now, the Outlander novel series by Diana Gabaldon is far from being a tawdry romance novel, but it's no Charles Dickens either. After all, it's got brawny men in kilts, sex scenes happening everywhere (literally) and time travel! This is literary entertainment at its best, but hey there's still some learning too! I now know more about 18th century Scotland than I ever would have before, so that's something right?

Anyways, this series follows the story of WWII combat nurse Clare Randall, who mistakenly travels back in time to the rugged highlands of Scotland in the 1700s. There she meets and falls in love with Jamie Fraser, a man who draws as much trouble as he does sidelong glances at his striking good looks. There's rarely a peaceful moment for these two as they navigate Scottish rebellions, war, countries, oceanic journeys and murderous sadists who look eerily like the protagonist's husband that she left behind in the future!

I've only read up to the third Outlander novel (I believe there's 8 in total) and I'm hooked. The sex scenes are pretty crazy, but there's also lots of other drama that ensues to keep you interested in between the sex. Thankfully Gabaldon does a good job at not trying to be too technical with the time travel and manages to dance safely along the line between good historical drama romp and cheesy book porno.

If you're looking for a fun read over the holidays then pick this one up, or download the show! I'm now considering how to get Mr. Artist to download this for me, although I'm not sure whether it's worth all the eye-rolling and sighing I'm sure to receive!

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Paula's Choice Radiance Renewal Mask Review | An easy everyday mask, even for those who don't like masking!

paula's choice radiance renewal mask review

Lately I can't get enough of masks, particularly overnight hydration masks, or "sleeping masks." With the recent cold snap here, my skin always feels parched and dull. Thank goodness then for masks like the new Paula's Choice Radiance Renewal Mask.

This lightweight, yet deeply hydrating mask is new to Paula's Choice and is specifically designed to combat winter dullness and turn it from a sad, dry, mess to a silky, new, more refined you! This mask can be used by all ages and skin types, and contains no fragrances or irritants.

The Guts
Paula's Choice is well-known for her vast ingredient encyclopedia, so of course there's lots of handy info on the ingredients in her own products, which I love! The Radiance Renewal Mask primarily contains:
  • Water
  • Butylene glycol - a moisturizer
  • Glycerin - a moisturizer
  • Dimethicone - a silicone that temporarily plumps skin, fills in lines and provides a moisture-capturing barrier
  • Niacinamide - a skin brightener that also helps repair skin damage from environmental stressors
This mask also contains olive fruit oil (moisturizing), arbutin (skin brightener), bearberry fruit extract (antioxidant) and willow bark extract (anti-inflammatory).

Price & Packaging
Unfortunately Paula's Choice products aren't the easiest to get as you can only purchase them in Canada online as far as I know. A 50 ml bottle retails for $36.

Like most Paula's Choice products, the packaging is pretty simple and clean, with a white plastic exterior and a removable cap that reveals a simple metallic pump.

paula's choice radiance renewal mask

I think the Radiance Renewal Mask is so widely appealing as it has a very light gel texture that spreads easily over skin, covering it in a silky layer. Unlike many heavy creams and sleeping masks, this one feels super light and absorbs readily, provided you use the right amount. If you did a full pump, you'd have enough to cover your whole face and neck with a generous layer.

The coolest thing about this mask is you can use it everyday and on your eye area too! The eyes have the most delicate skin on your face, so it's a special treat to have a mask that isn't too heavy for that area.

As it's so light, I'd say you could probably wear this solo if you have oily to combination skin, but as someone with persistently dehydrated skin, I actually like to pair this with my night cream. Since I want the beneficial ingredients of this mask to hit my skin as close as possible, I usually apply serum, then this mask and then a light layer of my usual night cream, or a facial oil, over top to seal it all in. Now, this is totally a personal preference thing as I really really enjoy a thick moisturizing treatment at night and the air in my bedroom is fairly cool and dry as I sleep in a basement, so this may not be the method for everyone, but I've worn this mask this way and solo, and for me at least, the former definitely has better results.

The effects of this mask are quite subtle, so it's one of those products that you need to use continuously over a long period of time to see results. As it's so gentle, I've been using it a couple times a week, alternating with a thicker sleeping mask. I do notice that my skin feels slightly smoother and softer afterwards, but compared to my recent trial of this Origins sleeping mask, I'm not super "wowed." The biggest thing this mask has going for it, is its featherweight texture, which absorbs quickly and could even be used during the day actually if you have really dry skin.

Final Verdict
Buy - As an overnight mask, the Radiance Renewal Mask didn't excite me, but it does work well as a way to step up your nightly moisture routine and it's light gel texture means this one could work just as well during the day as in the evening!

Life Lately: I can't believe Christmas is coming up so soon!! I'm just about finished my shopping, but most of it I bought online this year, so here's hoping Canada Post comes through and I get everything on time! I'm still pondering whether or not to make some DIY stocking stuffers, but I've been pretty lazy, as evidenced by the total lack of posts last week! All I want to do lately is watch holiday cooking shows and snuggle up in a blanket.

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L'Oreal RevitaLift Bright Reveal Peel Pads Review | Glycolic acid comes to the drugstore aisle!

l'oreal bright reveal reviews

I received these ages ago as part of an Influenster campaign and while I'm too late according to that campaign's timeline, this review is not too late to help you out if you're shopping for stocking stuffers!

It's practically a tradition in my family for my mom, sister and I to give each other beauty products as stocking stuffers. Since I became a beauty blogger, I feel they've benefited quite a bit with my vast knowledge of various brands! One new product I'll be telling them about this year is the new L'Oreal RevitaLift Bright Reveal Peel Pads.

The new L'Oreal RevitaLift Bright Reveal Peel Pads are part of L'Oreal's RevitaLift Bright Reveal line, which is a full line of products targeted around brightening and all containing various levels of glycolic acid.

Glycolic acid is a common ingredient in skincare these days and is a great alternative to physical exfoliating scrubs. If you have sensitive, dry, or aging skin, sometimes physical exfoliants can be too harsh, leaving your skin red and if you use the wrong type of scrub you can even cause wrinkles! Chemical exfoliants are a much gentler alternative. Common chemical exfoliants are glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and lactic acid. Chemical exfoliants can be categorized as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and have similar, but slightly different purposes (see my guide here).

Unlike a physical exfoliant which you should only use 2-3 times a week, a chemical exfoliant is generally gentle enough to be used everyday and its results are cumulative. The L'Oreal RevitaLift Bright Reveal Peel Pads contain 30 pads presoaked in solution. Over time, these treatments pads are designed to refine your skin's texture, brighten your complexion and reduce wrinkles.

l'oreal revitalift bright reveal peel pads review

The Guts
These pads consist primarily of:
  • Water
  • Denatured alcohol - designed to help beneficial ingredients penetrate skin, this ingredient is also quite controversial as it can irritate and strip skin of its natural oils. Paula's Choice in particular damns this ingredient with claims that it will destory your skin's ability to retain moisture altogether
  • Hydroxyethylpiperazine ethane sulfonic acid - a chemical exfoliant, that according to Paula's Choice could also be damaging
  • Propylene glycol - a moisturizer that also helps other ingredients penetrate skin
  • Glycerin - a moisturizer
  • Glycolic acid - a chemical exfoliant

Price & Packaging
A container with 30 pads retails for around $15 and can be found in most drugstores. 

To use, apply the pads to your face in the evening, after cleansing. I've swapped in these pads for my usual evening toner as they're pretty refreshing and good at cleansing off any remaining residues on my face. 

The pads are large and circular and have a slight acidic smell. They're generously presoaked, but try to keep the container closed as much as possible to prevent any evaporation. I also read a tip on another blog to store these upside down, which seems to help! 

Like most glycolic treatments, when I first started using these pads, it stung a teeny bit, but after a few days that sensation went away. The L'Oreal RevitaLift Bright Reveal Peel Pads contain 10% glycolic acid, which is pretty strong actually, so I'd recommend gradually ramping up your usage from 1-2 times a week to everyday. As I've used a lot of glycolic treatments in the past, I went straight to using these every other day to everyday. I also paused any other exfoliating treatments that I'd usually do, except my weekly deep cleansing mask.

l'oreal revitalift bright reveal pads review

In terms of skin refinement, these pads work pretty well. My skin feels refreshed and much smoother. It even looks brighter in the past few weeks of using these. Unfortunately though, I've had to scale back using them as they definitely were drying out my skin, particularly around my cheekbones and jawline. I actually was instructed by Influenster to use the entire RevitaLife Bright Reveal line all at once for my review, but I'm so relieved I didn't as I'd already read over reviews of how drying these products were. The pads seemed to be everyone's favourite out of the line, so I thought I'd try these by itself. Given that these were already drying, I think it's safe to say I averted a huge disaster!

Although I was really excited to see such a huge brand as L'Oreal come out with an affordable glycolic acid line, I actually wouldn't recommend these. I just found these too drying and that's unusual for me as I've used fairly generous amounts of glycolic acid before and don't normally find denatured alcohol drying either. Personally, I'd rather spend a bit more money and get better options that really help to refine and brighten skin, like Neostrata or Jouviance.

Final Verdict
Ditch - these pads do help smooth and refine skin, but are too drying for everyday use.

Life Lately: I'm heading to Seattle for work tomorrow morning until Thursday! Anyone have any recommendations for restaurants near Pike Place Market?

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