Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Mask Review | Suck EVERYTHING out of your skin (in a good way)

dermalogica charcoal rescue mask

As anyone who's been reading this blog for awhile will know, I'm a huge fan of Dermalogica and I'm a huge fan of clay masks, so put those together and I'm in masking heaven! Although I've used lots of clay masks, I've never tried a charcoal one and so I was thrilled when Dermalogica kindly sent over a tube of their new Charcoal Rescue Masque.

Charcoal is so fetch right now, to quote Mean Girls, and it's easy to see why: over the years, researchers have learned that this humble wood by-product is in fact super beneficial for the air and your skin. You may have seen those charcoal air filters? Well, the same principle applies to your skin. You see, charcoal has a high factor of adsorption, the ability for one substance to adhere to another. Basically, charcoal acts like a magnet to impurities, toxins and dirt, drawing them to itself and thus, out of your skin.

The Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque contains charcoal, but not just any ol' charcoal! The Dermalogica charcoal is made from the Japanese Binchotan tree, which has long been used for its purifying properties. The Binchotan wood is super-heated to 1000 degrees Celsius, then quickly cooled; this process creates a vast network of micropores that increases the resulting charcoal's adsorption properties by more than 1000 times its weight! With regular use, the Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque claims to give you clearer, more radiant skin free from environmental damage and needless to say, dirt!

The Guts
The main ingredients in this mask are:
  • Water
  • Kaolin clay - a natural detoxifier that draws out impurites and dirt. One of my fave ingredients!
  • Bentonite - another natural clay that does the same thing as kaolin
  • Maris limus aka sea silt, extract - a deep sea mud that has natural moisturizing properties
  • Sulfur - helps increase skin's radiance by increasing cell turnover and has antibacterial properties
Other good stuff in this mask include lactic acid (a chemical exfoliant), niacinamide (anti-inflammatory and fights hyper-pigmentation), witch hazel (astringent), volcanic ash (exfoliant), bamboo stem extract (exfoliant), phytic acid (chemical exfoliant), tea tree oil (astringent) and Chilean wild mint (astringent). The star ingredient, charcoal sits midway through the list. 

Price & Packaging
Like most masks, the Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque comes in a plain tube with a flip-top lid. A 75 ml tube costs $60 from Dermalogica retailers. 

dermalogica charcoal mask review

Effectiveness
As you can see from its ingredients list, the Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque is chock-full of powerful exfoliants, both physical and chemical, as well as a variety of clays, so it's pretty much guaranteed that this mask is going to suck out every single thing trapped in your pores. 

To use, apply a thin layer to your face after cleansing and leave on for 5-10 minutes. If applying this in dry air, then I can only stand to keep this on for 5 minutes as it dries down super tight. If you use this in the shower though, the moist air helps make this mask more comfortable and then I can stand it for the longer recommended time. 

A nice twist to this mask that I really like is that as you rinse it off, you can use your wet fingers to gently massage off the mask, giving yourself a nice physical exfoliation as well. Like all Dermalogica masks, the grains in this one are super-fine and don't feel harsh at all. 

Rinsing off this mask is pretty easy and DAYUM those results! I have never had such deep-cleaned skin in my life. Ever. Seriously, this mask is amazing. My skin felt crazy tight while wearing it, but oh my goodness, I could actually see a difference in the refinement of my pores! I don't have blackheads or overly large pores so it can be hard for me to judge a real difference when I use a mask, but the Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque had me gaping at how good my skin looked! 

Now, gushing aside, there are a couple of things I didn't like about this mask. Firstly, that smell - this mask just smells gross! Now I'm all for natural smelling products, but this mask just stinks of sulfur and rank things from the earth. It's a bit too natural if you know what I mean, so don't breathe too deeply while wearing it. The second thing I wasn't a huge fan of with this mask is that it does leave your skin really dry, so you'll want to deeply moisturize right after and I would only recommend using this once a week, unless you have really oily skin. 


Final Verdict
Buy - another winner from Dermalogica! This mask is extremely deep-cleaning and noticeably tightened my pores.




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Pure Hazelwood Moisturizing Lotion Review | Fusing traditional remedies with modern efficacy

pure hazelwood body lotion review

Pure Hazelwood is a Quebec beauty and lifestyle brand started by parents Genevieve Lagace and Patrick Lafond. Seeking a remedy to calm their teething baby, they turned to a hazelwood bracelet they had been gifted which claimed to have soothing powers and to their surprise, it really worked! From those accidental beginnings, the couple began researching into the healing powers of hazelwood and began making their own hazelwood jewelry and now skincare. Now, I'm pretty skeptical about the "healing powers" of wooden jewelry and healing gemstones, but a lotion? That I can get behind.

The Pure Hazelwood Moisturizing Lotion is a light-weight, non-greasy body lotion containing hazelwood extract. Traditionally, hazelwood was used by First Nations in a variety of ways, such as a cure for heart disease, toothache, eye disease, and intestinal issues. Topically though, hazelwood is mainly an anti-inflammatory and moisturizer.

Pure Hazelwood's hazelwood is harvested locally and each branch is individually inspected and dried before it is processed for use.

The Guts
The main ingredients in the Pure Hazelwood Moisturizing Lotion are:
  • Water
  • Sunflower seed oil - an emollient
  • Corylus cornuta extract aka hazelwood - a skin conditioner
  • Glycerin - a moisturizer
  • Sorbitol - a humectant and thickener
  • Cetyl alcohol - an emollient and emulsifier

Price & Packaging
A single 100 ml tube costs $7.99 and is available direct from Pure Hazelwood. Although 100 ml might seem like a lot, I would really like to see a 200 ml version of this cream as it's only taken me a few weeks to use up most of this tube!

Effectiveness
As promised, the Pure Hazelwood Moisturizing Lotion offers a light-weight texture with lasting hydration. After a hot shower, this lotion felt very pleasant and cooling on my skin and it absorbed easily while leaving my skin with a slightly tacky velvety softness. I also really enjoyed the fresh, slightly floral scent of this lotion. I have no idea what hazelwood smells like, but if it smells like this, then sign me up for more!

Overall, I thought Pure Hazelwood Moisturizing Lotion would make a fantastic summer lotion, but for Canadian winters I think it's a bit too light. While I have no complaints about this lotion, there wasn't also anything that made me go "wow" and so I don't think personally I'd bother seeking this out for repurchase. There are just too many just as good options out there and this one is just run-of-the-mill, even though it does work.


Final Verdict
Buy - a hydrating, light lotion that smells good and isn't too expensive.




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Happily Ever Ava All Natural Scrubs Review | So good you want to eat them!

happily ever ava natural body scrubs

I'm pretty religious about exfoliating my face, but when it comes to my body, I'm surprisingly lazy. Just as your face needs regular TLC, so too does your body. After a long day at work, few things are more relaxing than a nice hot body scrub and it's something I really need to pledge to do more often.

Recently I got just the chance to do so when I was approached by Happily Ever Ava to try out their all natural scrubs. I was immediately intrigued to check them out as the owner, Ava, is also from Vancouver! Here's a little more about Ava, in her own words:
Happily Ever Ava is a Vancouver based company. I started making scrubs and selling locally about 3 years ago, and decided to start up an Etsy shop about 2 years ago. I've always loved making my own beauty products (I'm allergic to almost everything found in popular products, so had to learn to make my own moisturizers, toners, scrubs, and soaps awhile ago!) Each scrub is made by hand using natural, locally sourced ingredients, and are vegan and cruelty-free. I make sugar, coffee, and salt scrubs, and add various tailored ingredients to improve circulation and enrich your skin, such as papaya extract, ginger, dried orange peel, ground walnut, coconut milk, green tea extract, pink Himalayan salts, etc.
Unlike most sugar scrubs that have a single oil base, our scrubs are made with whipped shea butter, mango butter, kokum butter, coconut oil, and aloe, creating a beautifully rich body butter to nourish and moisturize. Our scrubs gently polish your skin to perfection, leaving you silky smooth and lightly scented. Whether you're getting ready for a big date, a night out with friends, a day at the beach or even just a dentist appointment, we'll help you look and feel great. 
THE GOOD STUFF!  We donate 10% of our profits to various charities, so you can look good AND feel good about your purchase! Our current recipients are listed on our website, www.sweetscrubs.ca

Sounds so amazing right!? Ava makes a wide variety of scrubs in all kinds of delicious flavours like thai coconut, strawberries & cream, and lime. It was so hard to choose which to try, so Ava was kind enough to send me two!

happily ever ava body scrub review

The first I tried was the Lemon Vanilla Sugar Scrub. Made to smell just like a meringue pie, this delectable treat contains shea butter, mango butter, kokum butter, aloe butter, and pink Himalayan salts as well as sugar, to scrub away dead skin and impurities while coating the skin in a comforting moisture layer.

happily ever ava lemon vanilla body scrub review

As I love anything lemon-scented, I was totally on board to try the Lemon Vanilla Sugar Scrub. I wish there was a way to transmit scent through the computer screen because honestly, this scrub smells DIVINE. The Lemon Vanilla Sugar Scrub is a heavenly mix of lemon and creamy vanilla and it just elevates your shower into a relaxing, yet so refreshing, stall of amazingness. Although it may sound odd, I really like using energizing scents like lemon before bedtime as they just soothe me and make me feel relaxed, yet don't wake me up like a grapefruit or orange could.

happily ever ava lemon vanilla body scrub

As a scrub, I found the Lemon Vanilla Sugar Scrub to be very gentle and it had a really nice grainy consistency that spread evenly over my body. It rinsed away easily and left my skin feeling super soft, thanks to all the natural oils. I love using this on the rough patches on my feet and elbows and it's great for delicate areas like the chest. I cannot rave enough about this scrub!

happily ever ava review of the passion fruit coffee scrub

The second scrub I got to try was the Passion Fruit Coffee Scrub. I was really curious to try a coffee scrub after seeing a lot of my blogger friends try some last year. Ground coffee is supposed to be an excellent exfoliator and the Passion Fruit Coffee Scrub contains copious amounts of this, as well as ground bamboo to exfoliate and French green clay to detoxify, plus mango butter, kokum butter, shea, coconut oil, and aloe butter to moisturize.

happily ever ava natural body scrub from vancouver

Unlike the Lemon Vanilla Sugar Scrub, I found the consistency of the Passion Fruit Coffee Scrub to be a little lacking. While the former had an even, grainy texture, the Passion Fruit Coffee Scrub spread a little patchy across my skin. It was also a little harder to scoop out of the jar and much runnier when it came in contact with water, which I guess is not unexpected since sugar granules are much hardier. The Passion Fruit Coffee Scrub did however have the same smooth, balmy texture as the Lemon Vanilla Sugar Scrub and left my skin feeling very soft, even though I didn't get the same "deep-down" exfoliation.

happily ever ava coffee body scrub review

As well, I was really disappointed that I couldn't smell any passion fruit at all in the Passion Fruit Coffee Scrub. Coffee is just such an over-powering fragrance that I guess it was naive of me to think otherwise! That being said, I do love the smell of fresh coffee and the Passion Fruit Coffee Scrub smelled just like a fresh cuppa - so intoxicating!

Finally, it has to be said that if you've never used a coffee scrub before, beware! The Passion Fruit Coffee Scrub will get EVERYWHERE in your tub and turn it brown. Thankfully it rinses away easily, but bring a small bucket into the shower with you to make life easier!

Overall, I was super happy with my experience with the Happily Ever Ava scrubs. Both scrubs I tried felt so amazing on my skin and smelled heavenly, which is just what I'm looking for in an at-home spa treatment.

Both scrubs come packaged in cute little glass jars that contain around 118 ml of product and cost $24-25 each (it's $1 more for the Passion Fruit Coffee Scrub). I love being able to support my community and to promote natural beauty products, so this was a total win-win for me. I hope I've inspired you to check out Happily Ever Ava because you definitely won't regret it!


Final Verdict: Buy


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Canadian Beauty Blogger Love Part 3: C is for concealer and D is for DD cream

Canada is of course a huge place and it's so full of creative people. This is part 3 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!

First up, representing the prestigious letter C, is Chic Canadian! I've only lately discovered Samantha's blog via the #bbloggersca hashtag on Twitter (check us out!) and I've really enjoyed reading her reviews on Canadian natural beauty brands. Of course we're all always on the hunt for HG products, but when they're locally made and naturally sourced, it just makes that sweet find even sweeter - kinda like finding a great new Canadian blog to read!

Image: Chic Canadian

Next is Christine of Chrissie Reviews. I'm such a sucker for well photographed blogs (aren't we all?) and Christine's photography is so on point. Her photos are just so soothing to look at and I enjoy how she covers a mix of Korean and Western products. Since we're able to get so many Asian beauty lines here in Vancouver, this is especially helpful!

Image: Chrissie Reviews

Of course going through the CBB, I have to give a mention to Do Want Makeup by one of my closest friends, Angela. The thing I really admire about Angela's blog is her attention to detail. Her skincare reviews are top notch and includes really helpful ingredient analyses. She also inspires me everyday with her creative nail art, like this Ponyo inspired art!

Image: Do Want Makeup

And that covers letters C & D! Don't forget to check out past segments of this series:





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Introducing: THEFACESHOP Hwansaenggo Escargot Collection

Snails and gold - such an obvious combination right? Mmmmm yeah, not so much! Well, leave it to the innovative brains behind Korea's THEFACESHOP to figure out a way to make women everywhere want to spread snail mucus all over their face and call it luxurious!

If you pay attention to K-beauty trends, then you'll know that snail mucus has been all the rage the last couple of years. Renowned for its natural anti-aging properties, snail mucus can be used in all sorts of products to give its wearer rejuvenated, glowing skin. THEFACESHOP decided to take things up a notch even more by pairing snail mucus with pure 24k gold to amplify your glow even further and that is how the new Hwansaenggo line was born.

So just why snails and gold? Here's a mini breakdown of the benefits of both:

THEFACESHOP's special snail mucus extract is full of moisturizing and anti-aging ingredients:
  • Snail mucin - helps improve and maintain skin's natural moisture barrier and regenerative powers
  • Allantoin - is a known moisturizer that helps to improve skin's texture and minimize pores
  • Collagen and elastin - helps improve skin's elasticity and bounce
  • Glycolic acid - accelerates skin's renewal process and helps it shed excess impurities
And the benefits of putting gold on your face instead of in the bank? Well, according to THEFACESHOP, gold naturally helps detox skin, by drawing out impurities, while simultaneously encouraging it to regenerate itself for healthier, more radiant skin. 

In accordance with such high-end ingredients, the Hwansaenggo line comes packaged much more stylishly than regular THEFACESHOP products, with a price point to match. Although very glamourous and elegant looking, I do wish THEFACESHOP had invested in glass packaging versus plastic, but other than that very minor complaint, I thought every product in the Hwansaenggo line was gorgeous to behold.

THEFACESHOP went all in with the Hwansaenggo line, providing products for every step in your beauty routine.

THEFACESHOP hwansaenggo foaming face wash

The Hwansaenggo Escargot Golden Firming Cleansing Foam ($30) is a light foam cleanser that gently cleanses away dirt while hydrating it with snail mucus, ginseng and mushroom extracts.

THEFACESHOP hwansaenggo toner

The Hwansaenggo Escargot Golden Firming Toner ($50) is a hydrating toner that's meant to rebalance the skin after cleansing and prep it for your other products. This one is extra special as it contains snail mucus, black ginseng and hyaluronic acid.

THEFACESHOP hwansaenggo serum

The Hwansaenggo Escargot Golden Firming Serum ($75) is a powerhouse of snail mucus extract, black ginseng and 24k gold to nourish and repair skin from environmental damage which can increase the effects of aging. 

THEFACESHOP hwansaenggo eye cream

The Hwansaenggo Escargot Golden Firming Eye Cream ($75) provides concentrated moisture to your delicate eye area while still feeling lightweight enough to use both morning and night.

THEFACESHOP hwansaenggo face cream

The Hwansaenggo Escargot Golden Firming Cream ($69) is a luxurious cream that helps to firm up sagging skin while repairing and protecting against environmental damage. 

THEFACESHOP hwansaenggo hydrating face masks

The Hwansaenggo Escargot Golden Firming Gel Eye Mask ($6) is an extra boost of moisture for when your eyes are especially tired. I've never used an eye mask before, so I'm excited to see how this fares!


The Hwansaenggo Escargot Golden Firming Gel Mask ($8) is pretty pricey for a face mask, but like all the other products in this line, it contains premium snail mucus extract, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to deeply moisturize skin for a renewed radiance.

Besides all of the above, the line also includes a brightening bird's nest face mask, an emulsion and a travel sized pack if you just want to dip your toes into the snail thing.


You can purchase the entire line in THEFACESHOP stores across Canada and online now!



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Odylique SuperFruit Concentrate Serum Review | Officially a game changer!

odylique super fruit serum and facial oil

Is the Odylique SuperFruit Concentrate a serum or a facial oil? Well, it doesn't really matter because I'm here to officially tell you that you need to get it right now.

Over the past year, I've been trying various products from organic skincare line Odylique and this is by far my favourite. Based out of the UK, Odylique is a small batch beauty brand that still operates out of their small Suffolk workshop. Handmade and containing mainly organic and naturally sourced ingredients, Odylique is making big waves in the eco-friendly beauty scene for their effective and homespun approach to beauty.

Their popular SuperFruit Concentrate is a serum/facial oil that promises smoother, more radiant skin and is made of 100% organic ingredients:
  • Avocado oil - a powerful emollient (seals in moisture) and antioxidant
  • Jojoba oil - a wonder ingredient that moisturizes, protects and repairs skin, while also being fast-absorbing and non-comedogenic
  • Pomegranate extract - encourages collagen production to fight wrinkles, regulates melanin production to fight hyper-pigmentation, and is also an antioxidant
  • Rosehip extract - contains high levels of vitamin C and beneficial fatty acids that fight signs of aging
  • Rosemary extract - an antimicrobial and antioxidant
  • Sea buckthorn fruit - a super fruit with antioxidant and AHA properties 
A 30 ml bottle costs £33.00 from Odylique's website, which comes out to $63 CAD. It's pricey, but for a serum of this quality, not unheard of.

I call the SuperFruit Concentrate a serum/facial oil because its consistency is just like a facial oil and you are only meant to use 1-2 drops of it for your entire face. It can be quite confusing to know at what step to use a serum or a facial oil and usually these two types of products come at different steps in your routine so needless to say, I was totally lost with how to use this product.

Odylique superfruit concentrate

Since I only read the bottle's label, which said serum, I took this to mean to apply it at the serum step, which generally is post-toner and pre-night cream. It was only after I looked again at the website, that I saw that Odylique instructs to use this as your last step! Oops, but oh well, it still works with either method I think. Using 2 drops as recommended, I spread the SuperFruit Concentrate between my fingertips and then massaged it into my skin before applying my night cream.

The texture of the SuperFruit Concentrate is like I said, very viscous, but unlike most facial oils I've tried, it is very difficult to spread. Partly this is due to using such a small amount, but also because this product doesn't contain any fillers which would help make it more slippery and spreadable. You have to work quickly to ensure that you can get full coverage when applying, so I like to concentrate it on my cheeks, smile lines and forehead. I also like to do a little facial massage when applying as I would with any oil, so that I encourage blood flow into my skin and I press out any collected toxins in my lymph nodes (don't quote on me this, but I've heard this works!).

Odylique super fruit serum review
So sad to waste such precious product for the sake of a swatch!

The SuperFruit Concentrate absorbed quickly into my skin, yet left it feeling soft and very very slightly tacky so that you still felt like you had applied something. Although you only apply very little, I did notice some slight yellow staining on my pillow that matched the bright orange color of this serum, so be forewarned to change your pillowcase often!

Thanks to the jojoba, the SuperFruit Concentrate didn't feel heavy on my face at all and it worked brilliantly on my skin. Since using this, my skin feels so soft and just downright supple. I love how it contains excellent ingredients and for a facial oil that is so key. With a lot of cheaper, lower quality oils, you'll see a lot of filler oil ingredients, which cause the oil to just sit on your skin not doing anything. With the SuperFruit Concentrate, I immediately feel my skin drinking it up and it truly moisturizes it instead of just being an occlusive layer; in fact, you could even use this one during the day, but I prefer to keep it as a special treatment at night.


Final Verdict
Buy - with all good stuff and none of the fluff, this serum oil means business and it makes my skin feel amazing. Worth every penny! 




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CLEAN Reserve Amber Saffron Perfume | CLEAN all grown up

Clean reserve amber saffron perfume

For years, I've been a huge fan of CLEAN perfumes. Unlike a lot of fragrance lines, I know I can always count on CLEAN fragrances to be fresh and never overpowering. Although I'm not a fan of all their scents, I am the happy owner of quite a few, so you can imagine how excited I was when I first heard that CLEAN was coming out with a whole new line of upscale perfumes.

The CLEAN Reserve collection is a huge departure from CLEAN's regular aesthetic. Designed for the eco-conscious, norm-core crowd, the look and formulations of the Reserve scents are decidedly grownup - it's kinda like drinking Starbucks frapps all your life and then suddenly discovering drip brew coffee!

The CLEAN Reserve collection consists of nine new fragrances:
  • Blonde Rose, a subtle light rose inspired by a warm rose petal bath with notes of rose, peony and jasmine
  • Sueded Oud, a dynamic blend of incense, birchwood, white magnolia and black amber
  • Skin, a revamp of the pre-existing Skin that is inspired by an intimate embrace and has notes of musk, tonka and praline
  • Smoked Vetiver, a smoky unisex blend of bamboo, bergamot and vetiver
  • Rain (my fave CLEAN fragrance!) is reimagined with bergamot and patchouli for a refreshing fruity floral
  • Warm Cotton, another revamp, is a sophisticated evolution of the original fan favourite with notes of mint, pepper and incense
  • Terra Woods, a unique combination of zests, woods and creams to create an original unisex scent ideal for blending
  • Velvet Flora, an intoxicating floral mix of bergamot, jasmine and saffron
  • Amber Saffron, a dichotomy of seductive saffron and light lily
I previously smelled all of the scents at my local Sephora, with the standouts for me definitely being Terra Woods, Amber Saffron and Smoked Vetiver. The revamps of Warm Cotton, Rain and Skin were too similar to their originals to be worth investing in and I think if you are going to splurge on that $125 price tag, then you should choose the most complex and interesting ones to try. 

In the end, I chose to try Amber Saffron as I was looking for a good base note to blend with my lighter florals and also to see how this compared to my beloved Aerin Amber Musk

new clean reserve perfume

Although pricey, I absolutely think it's worth it as the Reserve bottles are just stunning to look at. It's obvious that CLEAN put a lot of time and care into the new packaging. Like the old bottles, the Reserve bottles are very minimalistic and clean, but Reserve takes it to another level with their "farm to bottle" approach to packaging. The bottle is 100% recyclable and the wooden cap is made from sustainably managed wood from Spain. Besides the packaging, many of the ingredients in the Reserve line are ECOCERT certified, and produced in a factory using 100% solar energy! Even the box it comes in is made of biodegradable corn. I absolutely applaud CLEAN for their dedication and how they've managed to be so successful at pairing style and sustainability.

As for the scent itself, Amber Saffron is made up of:
  • Top notes: Bergamot, artemesia and mandarin orange
  • Mid notes: Rose, lily and raspberry
  • Base notes: Musk, saffron and amber
Despite the name and notes, I actually found Amber Saffron to be light and wearable, almost perhaps to its own detriment. Compared to the Aerin Amber Musk or the L'Occitane Arlesienne, Amber Saffron has a very subtle spiciness and warmth to it. On me, I actually felt like the floral notes came out more and the hint of raspberry just made it even fresher. If you're just getting into headier fragrances as I am, then this is a great introduction into the "darker side" of fragrances.

Clean Reserve perfume review

Amber Saffron is very easy to wear and it's an amber you can actually spray on liberally without worrying about gagging your coworkers. Wear time is pretty decent too since it's an eau de parfum, but I think if you wanted this to last all day and night, then you'd need to respray before leaving the office.

Overall I am super happy with Amber Saffron. The bottle is huge, I love the scent and I can't wait to try more of this line!


Have you tried any CLEAN fragrances before?




* Please note that unlike my other reviews, I will not put a Final Verdict on this product. Fragrances are highly personal, more so than other beauty products, and therefore definitely take these thoughts as reflecting my own experience only. Always try out samples of perfumes before purchasing as different scents will wear differently on each person.


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Elephant in the Valley | My experiences as a woman in tech

I don't normally talk about my offline life here, but I felt compelled to share this one. I've spent my whole career working in the technology sector and before that, I went to school to train as an engineer, so needless to say, I'm used to working in a male-dominated space. While there are some benefits, like casual work environments and flexible hours, there are definitely some downsides.

Lately, more and more women are speaking out online against the stereotypes they face. Hearing these stories are simultaneously depressing and comforting. It's gratifying to hear my experiences being echoed by others and knowing I'm not alone or crazy for how I feel, but at the same time, the pervasiveness of the sexist attitudes out there are so ingrained that it feels hopeless that it could ever change.

I don't have any answers either, but I hope by reading this, maybe it might make people think and see things from a different perspective. And if you know anyone who does this kind of offending behaviour, maybe this will help you change their minds.

The inspiration for this post came from a recent survey done in Silicon Valley, the heart of tech culture, chronicling the experiences of women in the industry. I encourage you to read all the results and stories from the survey, but for now I'll just touch on the ones that affected me the most.


I've never been accused of being too hard, but across the board I've been called too soft. I naturally have a soft voice and combined with my small stature, I've been told a lot that I lack "presence" or even that I spend "too much time working with others" - however, many of those opinions are changed after actually working with me and instead change to compliments of how "competent" and "efficient" I am. I'm definitely a quiet person, but quiet can be powerful. You can't listen if you don't shut up once in awhile.

I would also agree that women are often tasked the "menial" tasks of organizing and basically babysitting their male coworkers - scheduling meetings, booking lunches, sending out meeting notes. C'mon guys, you are just as capable of opening your calendar as anyone else and isn't this just more proof that women are just as, if not more, capable if we can do your menial shit as well as being kick-ass at our own jobs, all in the same hours of work?


This one is tricky to argue with, but I've definitely felt excluded from social activities at work. Whether it's from Mortal Kombat or NHL tournaments, football pools, or playing sports, there is just a lack of activities that I'm interested in participating in, or even worse I'm never even asked as it's assumed I won't be. I can understand that HR needs to plan according to the majority, but if encouraging women is really a focus of companies, introducing a greater variety of activities would help with inclusiveness.


This one is also very common. I've interviewed potential employees and been in countless meetings where there is always someone who avoids eye contact with me. Even when I'm the one asking the question, very often the answer is addressed to my male colleague beside me. Am I invisible? Am I emanating some ethereal light that makes it hard to look at me? Maybe it's too much highlighter!


These are just some of the small incidents I've come across and there are big incidents which I won't get into, but even the smallest things can wear you down. Have I considered leaving it all? Oh yeah, lots of times, but maybe it's stubbornness or just the fact that I do enjoy what I do, that makes me keep at it. You can't be the change if you quit. You can't show those idiots what you're made of if you disappear.

Despite its downsides, working in tech can be incredibly rewarding and it's a place that truly aims to honor creativity and intelligence - maybe even more so than other industries I've heard about. I hope that as more men and women engage in these conversations and be open to truly examining the uncomfortable truths, that life for both sexes will improve and what we can do together get even better!



I'd love to hear your stories - does this happen to you in your work or school? How do you deal?




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A Smokey Eye MOTD | My kinda-sorta attempt at a halo eye

smoky halo fotd

It was really sunny day out last weekend so what did I decide to do? Play around with my makeup and take advantage of the perfect blog photo taking conditions! What started off as an idea to do a soft and pretty date night look turned into a full-on clubbing look. Yeah, it happens sometimes.

One technique I've been trying to master lately is the perfect halo eye. The idea of a halo eye is to darken the inner and outer thirds of the eye, leaving a lighter colored or blank space in the very middle, which you fill in with a lighter color that is usually glittery or shimmery to better draw light to the eye, resulting in the illusion of larger, brighter eyes.

smoky eye tutorial with tarte tartelette palette

To create this look,
  1. Prime with an illuminating primer like the NIOD Photography Fluid (review here!)
  2. Apply foundation to entire face. I'm using the Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer in Creamwhip
  3. With a medium blending brush (I'm using my MAC 217), apply a light plum shadow across the entire lid. Here, I'm using the shade Natural Beauty from the Tarte Tartelette palette
  4. From the same palette, I then took the shade Best Friend, and using a smaller shadow brush, applied it generously to the outer and inner thirds of my eye, connecting the two in a thin arch above my crease. Your eye's going to look really weird with a bald patch in the middle!
  5. To help lighten the center more, I dabbed a bit of Super Mom from the Tartelette palette onto the center
  6. Then I took my MAC 224 brush and blended out the edges with more of Natural Beauty as a transition shade and then topped that with Trick from my Urban Decay Naked 3 palette on the brow bone and inner corners
  7. Then with either a stiff precision brush or your fingers, dab on a gold glittery shade to the center of lid until you've got a nice shiny center. Use your blending brush to blend any harsh edges. I'm using THEFACESHOP's Glitter GL01 shade, which is a beautiful shimmery, glittery gold
  8. Line eyes with a black liner to pull everything together. I'm using my standby Annabelle kohl eyeliner
  9. Apply 2 coats of mascara. I'm using the L'Oreal Voluminous Power Collagen mascara
  10. If you've got a lot of fallout from your glitter, erase it from under your eyes and get crisper outer edges to your shadow by brushing on some concealer to your under-eye area. I'm using the yellow shade from the NYX Color Correcting palette (review here) as its creamy texture and color brightens up my eye area and conceals any dark circles. 
  11. Set your under eyes with some powder (I'm using Paul & Joe's Pressed Face Powder). Leave the rest of your face unpowdered for extra glow. If you're oily skinned though, you could use some blotting papers
  12. Next, contour and highlight with a bronzer like the Charlotte Tillbury Bronze & Glow palette
  13. Fill in your brows thicker and darker than usual to balance your smoky eyes with your favourite brow shadow. I'm using the Tarte emphasEyes Waterproof Amazonian Clay Brow Mousse in Rich Brown here. I like to make my brows a little more dramatic for looks like this as otherwise your brows will just fade away against such dramatic shadow. 
  14. Lastly, fill in your lips with a glossy magenta lip color. I don't have the right shade in my rotation right now, so I mixed ColourPop's Lippie Stix in Choker with my Revlon Super Lustrous gloss in Berry Allure

IMG_1784
Left to right: Tarte Tartelette's Natural Beauty, Best Friend, Super Mom; Urban Decay Naked 3's Trick and THEFACESHOP Glitter GL01

IMG_1797
Left to right: ColourPop Lippie Stix in Choker, Revlon Super Lustrous gloss in Berry Allure

The end result of my attempt was a pretty good smoky eye, but with my hooded lids, it was super hard to really see any halo effect. I think next time, I would actually dampen my finger when applying the gold glitter for better color payoff. Still, I think it was a decent attempt and worth recreating the next time I go out!

smoky halo makeup look

how to do a smoky halo makeup




What are your tips for creating the perfect halo eye?



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NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12% Review | One step to maximum glow

niod photography fluid highlight and prime

2016 is the year of the glow. Strobing is super hot right now and every brand has been releasing a plethora of glow enhancing foundations, powders, highlighters and blushes. Today I'm here to let you know of yet another illuminizer that you absolutely need to get your paws on right now.

NIOD, or Non-Invasive Options in Dermal science is a child brand of Deciem, a Canadian family of innovative makeup and skincare products. NIOD's Photography Fluid, Opacity 12% is part makeup, part skincare and is an all-in-one product that hydrates, brightens, blurs pores, color-corrects and can be used under, or instead of, foundation.

How it works
The NIOD Photography Fluid uses multiple proprietary technologies to do everything it does:
  • Bio-silica prisms reflect light to create the illusion of more even, brighter skin
  • Nano-prisms blurs out fine lines and smooths over pores
  • Nano-prismatic gold flakes and a special dragon fruit complex gives skin a healthy luminescence
  • Ultra-fine yellow-red corrector eliminates inflammation and sallowness
  • Oil-free bio-complexes offer lightweight 48 hours hydration that lets skin breathe while feeling comfortably moist

niod photography fluid review

The Guts
The primary ingredients in the NIOD Photography Fluid are:
  • Water
  • Hexamethyldisiloxane - an emollient (seals moisture in skin)
  • Titanium dioxide - a mineral sunscreen that is often used for its brightening capabilities
  • Hylocereus undatus fruit extract - protects and conditions skin
  • Methyl methacrylate/PEG/PPG-4/3 methacrylate crosspolymer - forms a film over skin and helps absorb excess oils
Other note-worthy ingredients are mica (shine enhancing), sodium hyaluronate (moisturizing), polypodium vulgare rhizome extract (moisturizing), cetraria islandica thallus extract (soothing, moisturizing), allantoin (moisturizing), urea (exfoliating, hydrating).

For those who are sensitive to silicones, be forewarned as this product contains several types of silicones like dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane. 

Price & Packaging
A 30 ml bottle of the NIOD Photography Fluid retails for $30 direct from NIOD and is also available at Hudson's Bay

Keeping in line with NIOD's scientific branding, the NIOD Photography Fluid comes in a small medicinal looking bottle with a rubber dropper dispenser. I'm always a fan of apothecary-style packaging, but in this case I actually wish NIOD had gone with a pump dispenser instead. The NIOD Photography Fluid is a bit thick and a lot of it gets stuck to the wand so it's difficult to control how much you use. The first couple times I ended up with way too much on my hands, but now I've learned to never squeeze the dropper and instead I just scrape what I need off the sides of the wand. 

Also, you have to be careful when placing the dropper back into the bottle that you don't hit the edges of the opening or else you'll get a huge glob of product spilling messily over the edges.

Niod photography fluid primer

Effectiveness
If you've been looking for a lightweight skin enhancer to wear on weekends as an alternative to foundation then you may find the NIOD Photography Fluid just the thing. 

To use, I spread the fluid between my fingers and apply it like a primer across my entire face, concentrating on the areas where I have dryness and redness. 

The NIOD Photography Fluid makes an excellent priming base as it absorbs quickly and leaves behind a nice, hydrated tackiness that helps my makeup adhere better. It also gives my skin an instant, youthful glow. If you've ever wanted to look as shiny and moist as a Korean skincare ad, then this is the product for you! A minute after applying, I instantly notice my skin is brighter and more even, thanks to the enhancers and I'm guessing the mica and titanium dioxide's whitening properties. 

The NIOD Photography Fluid helps cancel out minor redness around the nose and mouth, but has little effect on blemish scars or hyper-pigmentation. It does reduce their obviousness though, thanks to the skin just being more reflective.

Once foundation is applied, the glow is lessened, but still remains. I don't own any super matte foundations so I couldn't test if the glow would still peek through, but I think it did give my foundation a modest illuminating boost. I didn't feel any heaviness on my skin at all from the NIOD Photography Fluid and it didn't clog my pores or cause breakouts at all.

Niod photography before and after
Left to right: bare skin, wearing NIOD Photography Fluid solo, wearing NIOD Photography Fluid under Clinique Beyond Perfecting foundation

I would say the NIOD Photography Fluid is like a more showy version of my favourite Paul & Joe Moisturizing Foundation Primer. Both have a pearlescent sheen and help to moisturize, prime, color-correct and illuminate skin. You can also wear both alone or under foundation. The only differences is that the NIOD Photography Fluid gives way more glow and it also contains silicones, which means I won't be using this as my weekend no-makeup base.


Final Verdict
Buy - get the glow of your dreams with this lightweight primer that also helps correct redness and blurs pores.




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Paula's Choice Resist Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner | My first experience with Paula's Choice

Paula's choice Resist Advanced Repairing Toner review

After hearing countless rave reviews about Paula's Choice skincare, I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to try them myself, beginning with the Resist Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner. This "super-charged" toner is designed to visibly revolutionize your skin; its claims include tightening pores, eliminating acne scars, controlling excess oil, and increasing skin's firmness and suppleness with a mix of powerful antioxidants. Formulated for combo to oily skin types, this toner is quite unique as it doesn't contain any emollients, yet helps to cleanse, balance and hydrate skin.

The Guts
With such a cool sounding product of course the first thing we have to do is dive into the ingredients! The primary ingredients in this toner are:
  • Water
  • Glycerin - a humectant (draws moisture into skin)
  • Ethoxydiglycol - a solvent
  • Niacinamide - helps fade hyper-pigmentation and acne scars, protects skin from UV damage, and improves skin texture
  • Resveratrol - an antioxidant 
Other ingredients of note are sodium hyaluronate (aka hyaluronic acid, moisturizing), acetyl glucosamine (fights hyper-pigmentation), epigallocatechin (antioxidant), licorice root extract (anti-inflammatory), and willow bark extract (anti-inflammatory).

Price & Packaging
A 118 ml bottle costs $23 USD direct from Paula's Choice. It's a bit steep for a toner, but I can see why as it is really marketed as a skincare treatment and not just a regular toner whose main functions are to balance and hydrate skin. 

In terms of packaging, I thought the Resist Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner was very slick. It has a handy small opening at the top that helps dispense product easily but not excessively. The bottle itself is opaque as well, which helps preserve the antioxidants within, but does have the downside that it makes it hard to tell how much you have left. 

Effectiveness
After reading the claims for this toner and knowing Paula's Choice reputation, I was really really pumped to use this. Paula's Choice is one of my go-to guides for ingredient advice and their reviews on products do not pussyfoot around calling out other brands' claims, which I admire. Even their own review for this toner has a line of skepticism in it about the effectiveness of its niacinamide levels! 

Lately, I've been looking for something that would help tone down the excess oils my skin has been producing and the claim to reduce pores and fade marks all made this toner sound like the product of my dreams.

The first few days of using this toner though were a bit of a trial and error. Having never used anything with niacinamide in it before, I was surprised at how it left my skin stinging. After two weeks, that stinging sensation went away, but I had to gradually work this toner into my routine and be careful about how much I used at a time. 

The combination of niacinamide and acetyl glucosamine is supposed to be a powerful fighter against melanin production that will result in more radiant, even skin. It's only been a month, but I am rather skeptical about these claims. Perhaps I need to use this toner twice a day and maybe for longer, but I haven't noticed any significant change in my skin's texture or radiance.

Judging by PC's own review, the concentrations of the niacinamide may not be high enough to have an effect (studies indicate you need at least 2-5% concentration) but since it is so high up in the ingredients list, that would lead me to think that it is in fact, present in high enough concentrations; and if not, then that would imply the rest of the other antioxidants, moisturizers and anti-inflammatories are in such low concentrations as to be useless. I'm hoping that it's just my skin not reacting yet to this toner and that with longer use, I'll start seeing more significant results. 

Another thing to watch out for is that you need to wear a good SPF while using this product. Like many brightening products, while they help repair sun damage, they also make your skin more sensitive to it.

Where the Resist Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner fared better was in cleansing and oil control. Since using this toner, my skin has felt less oily and although I still get shiny by the end of the day, it's definitely less than before. 

And as for reducing pore size? Well, Paula's Choice should know better and know that it's pretty impossible to change your pore size! However, it did do a good job at keeping them clear and removing any leftover dirt and residue. 

Final Verdict
Ditch - the Resist Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner has an impressive ingredient list and I don't doubt its quality; however, based on my results so far, the significance of its effects did not match to its price tag and therefore it didn't wow me enough that I would repurchase. 




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Clinique Pretty Easy Brow Palette Review | My go-to method for filling in my eyebrows

clinique brow palette review

We should call this decade the decade of the brows because if you haven't noticed, eyebrows are kind of a big deal. Lately the trend has been pretty much anything goes brow-wise so long as they're bold and beautiful. I've seen super sculpted, razor-sharp brows, thick, au-natural brows and everything in-between.

I'm still what I would consider a brow noob, but I'm fully hooked on the importance they make for a look. Doing my brows has now become an essential part of my beauty routine, right up there with foundation and mascara. Can't leave home without it!

Up till recently, I'd only ever used brow pencils to fill in my brows. Pencils have the advantage of giving you a really precise shape and ability to draw in fine hairs, however they do have drawbacks. Firstly, I hated having to sharpen the damn things all the time. Plus, they're easy to overdo and it can be tricky to find the right shade, as many brow pencils come too light or too red/warm toned for me.

That's when I discovered brow shadow. Unlike pencils, brow shadows have a more natural finish and are easier to build up in color. Also, you can often get them in palettes that include two shades that you can mix together to create your perfect color, or which come packaged with other brow-related items like waxes, gels, or highlights to finish off your look.

A while back I was kindly sent over the new Pretty Easy Brow Palette from Clinique to try. This all-in-one brow kit contains everything you need to get your brows, dare I say, on fleek.

clinique pretty easy brow palette swatches
Swatches: the Clinique Pretty Easy Brow palette powder, highlight and tinted wax
The
Clinique Pretty Easy Brow Palette contains a brow powder, tinted brow wax and powder highlight, as well as two double-ended brushes. The brushes are really handy if you don't have any tools yourself and consist of a sponge applicator, a synthetic angled brush, a spoolie for blending and a synthetic shadow brush.

If you look closely at the included applicators you'll notice they contain numbers on them that I assume correspond to the numbers beside each pan, but when you actually use them this way it doesn't make much sense. The only ones that actually useful in my opinion are the spoolie (critical to have to brush out any excess powder) and the angled brush for applying powder. In any case, I found all of the included brushes too soft and I only ever use the spoolie. Instead, to fill in my brows I use a Sephora brand eyeliner brush which is much stiffer and picks up the brow powder better.

before and after with the clinique pretty easy brow palette
Left to right: before and after

Sadly, the Clinique Pretty Easy Brow Palette only comes in one shade and they seem to have chosen us Asians as their target audience because this brow powder is perfect for me. I have warm brown-black hair and the dark warm ash brown is a spot-on shade match.

The brow powder is soft and easily blendable if applied with a gentle hand. I usually go in first with the powder, filling in any gaps in my hair line and thickening the top of my arch to give the illusion of fullness. Then, I'll go over my brows again, particularly at the tail end, with the brow wax to tame any stray hairs getting out of line. Lastly, I'll use a small eyeshadow brush to apply some highlight to my brow bone. The highlight shade is a super subtle ivory that gives just a hint of light on my NC20/25 skin. On weekends, this might be the only thing I do to my eyes alongside mascara in order to give just a hint of "doneness" to my face.

Just to illustrate the difference even more, here's a full face shot of my face with and without filled in brows:

clinique pretty easy eyebrow shadow review

clinique pretty easy brow palette review

See how much more defined my features look and how they make my eyes pop out more? It's a subtle difference but oh so effective!

At $43, this palette is not cheap, but is one of those instances where I say "take all my money!" because I love this product so much. Seriously, I'm not tempted by any brow pencil no matter the hype on the blogosphere because this palette has sold me on the virtues of brow powders. Using a brow shadow may seem trickier than a pencil, but at least for me, I found the two to be equal in terms of difficulty but I much more prefer the look of shadow over pencil.


Final Verdict
Buy




How do you do your brows? Share your tips & tricks!



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