Me Encanta Espana Part 2: San Sebastian

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Last week, I wrote about my time in Barcelona and this week I'll share with you my journey to the coastal city of San Sebastian. Located a few hours train ride north of Barcelona, San Sebastian is small, chill and absolutely beautiful. It's a coastal city renowned for its flat sand beaches and for having the most Michelin star restaurants per capita of anywhere in the world - even my favourite food critic, Anthony Bourdain was blown away by San Sebastian cuisine!

Transportation
To get to San Sebastian, we opted to take the train. You could fly, drive or bus there as well, but we thought the train would be more relaxing and scenic. You can purchase tickets in advance online through Renfre, which is Spain's main train carrier and the train station is easily accessible via the metro. One thing to note is that it's kinda confusing which gate to go to once you get to the train station as the number on our ticket didn't actually correspond to the gate. Pay attention to the train dashboards and don't be afraid to ask for help from station staff!

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A cool pedestrian tunnel along the walk to downtown - it's meant to model being within an ocean wave!

Accommodation
We opted to stay in an AirBnb while in San Sebastian. The city is very walkable, so you don't have to worry too much about being too far away from everything, but it would help if you bike or bus. We stayed just west of the main beach, La Concha in a new residential/commercial area. Our AirBnb was definitely cozy as it was a loft and had a crazy slanted roof, but it was close to a bunch of restaurants, shops, transit and was a half hour walk to the city center.

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Sights
Attraction-wise, you only need a couple days to see all there is in San Sebastian. There's a really nice half-hour walk up a "mountain" to an old military fort with excellent views of the city and ocean. As well, there are other hikes along the coastline that offer stunning views and interesting sculptures. My favourite thing though was to walk along San Sebastian's beautiful beaches. There's La Concha which is the main one - it's super flat with soft white sand and aquamarine waters. Oddly enough, it's never crowded and those who do sunbathe there are all of the over 60 set. To find younger people, you'll have to wander over La Zurriola beach, which is more known for its surfing, but it's also a nice sandy beach to relax on.

San Sebastian also has a decent downtown shopping area with lots of little shops and cafes, but beware that they really do all close mid-afternoon!

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Waiting hungrily for dinner!

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Look at that stunning beach... full of retirees!

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Food
The biggest attraction for ourselves and everyone else who comes to San Sebastian though, is its renowned food scene. I was tempted to book us at one of the many Michelin stars, but the wait list I heard was usually months, so I figured hey, if the competition is this stiff, then even cheap places must be decent? Well, I was right! The food here was a highlight of our trip. Think super fresh seafood and classic Spanish tapas.

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Clockwise from top left: Stuffed red peppers with spicy eggs and topped with a padron pepper all on a baguette with ham; mussels with salsa; smoked salmon topped with fresh anchovie and salsa on baguette

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3 types of fish on baguette, warmed brie with pine nuts and sweet balsamic vinegar

I loved the tapas scene in San Sebastian's old historical district. Consisting of a few blocks of tightly woven lanes and alleys, the area is full of cafes and tapas bars, and extends outwards along the pier with restaurants selling the daily catch.

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Clockwise from left: Blood sausage with ham croquette; smoked fish with brie, jam and tomatoe on baguette; fried cod, cod with anchovie and salsa on bread

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Eating tapas here is not for the shy. You must find the busiest bar on the block, wade in and look at the spread of tapas along the counter. Ask for a plate and pile food on just like a buffet. Then get the attention of a server behind the counter, show them your plate and ask for drinks to match. Any beer and wine we chose was excellent and the sangria here was mind blowing - so fresh and sweet and just a hint of sparkle thanks to the lemon Fanta. I have no idea how the servers keep tabs on all their customers as you don't even need to pay upfront!

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Grilled monkfish with garlic chips and potatoes - AMAAAZING. This was the meatiest fish ever, with a texture unlike any I've had before

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A unintentionally Japanese-style cheesecake in Spain at La Vina

We spent our time in the city taking it easy, strolling bar to bar and eating and drinking our way. Each bar had similar, yet different twists on dishes and by the end of our 2 day trip in San Sebastian we were actually growing tired of seafood and craving meat! Who would have ever thought that could happen!

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Shrimp with mayo coleslaw on top of smoked salmon and baguette

Tips

  • Don't over order at any given tapa bar. Just get a couple with 1 drink then move on so you'll still have room to try more bars!
  • Although I think most places take card, it's better to pay in cash since tapas bars are busy
  • Take the bus. It's cheap and will save your feet from walking! There's only a couple of lines in the city so it's not too hard to navigate

I absolutely loved the easygoing vibe of San Sebastian. It's a super safe, charming city that's a great mix of traditional elements with modern amenities. I wish we'd stayed just 1 more day so I could have spent more time on the stunning beach!

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Join me next week as my trip heads south to the province of Andalucia and its capital, Seville!





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Me Encanta Espana Part 1: Barcelona Travel Guide and Recap

After months of planning, finally we were off! Last month, Mr. Artist and I took our first trip to Spain and Europe together. I had been to Europe ten years ago on my own, but I had never really explored Spain beyond a day in Barcelona. Our first stop: Barcelona

Definitely the top destination in Spain, everyone is familiar with Barcelona. All we had known about Barcelona before we went was that it was cosmopolitan, had great food and stunning architecture. By the time we left, we were love with this very livable, vibrant and fast-paced city.

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The stunning cathedral ceiling inside the Sagrada Familia - getting major LOTR elven tingles here!

Sights
The obvious thing to do in Barcelona is to just walk through its streets and soak in its sights, of which there are many.

The number one thing to do in Barcelona is immerse yourself in Gaudi architecture. This super famous architect and artist put Barcelona on the map with his inimitable style, which is imprinted on the city thanks to his various buildings, parks and his masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia.

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Outside the Sagrada Familia

A stunning ode to faith, the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) is dedicated to the story of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. To avoid the long lineups and ensure our entrance, we purchased tickets beforehand and purchased the audio tour, which is a must-have. The audio tour was excellent for giving us a detailed insight into the cathedral's design. Inspired by nature, the Sagrada Familia is full of immensely tall columns resembling trees and its gorgeous stained glass windows take advantage of the light and time of day to fill the cathedral with different mood lighting. From the materials chosen in every brick, to the shape of doorways and even how facades are carved - all of it has meaning and it was quite awe-inspiring to learn about the sheer amount of thought that went into this magnificent structure. If there is a higher being out there, then it truly manifests itself in great works of art like this!

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So begins my obsession with stained glass

If churches aren't your thing, there's still lots of interesting things to look at around Barcelona's many cool neighborhoods. Las Ramblas is a tourist must with lots of shops and restaurants; it's also a great hub to branch out to the main attractions downtown. All the cafes along Las Ramblas have outdoor patios ripe for people watching, but beware that food and drinks are marked up if you sit outside!

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Gothic Quarter at night

A highlight for us were the Born and Gothic Quarter neighborhoods. Full of twisting alleyways and unique tapas bars, we spent many an evening just exploring, following the sounds of laughter and clinking of glasses wherever they led us.

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Gothic Quarter

If you walk to the end of Las Ramblas, then you'll hit the marina and the famous statue of Christopher Columbus. Either way you walk from there you can explore Barcelona's lively pier, as well as relax on its white sand beach, the most popular of which is Barceloneta. Just be aware that Barcelona beaches are clothing optional... even and especially for older men! I literally saw an old man ride nude over to us on his bike, casually hop off and start washing himself with the public beach shower! For my Puritan North American eyes, this was soooo strange!

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Barcelona pier

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Barceloneta beach

For views, we hiked up the back of the hilly streets to Guelly Sandwich Park, where you can pickup lunch before heading to Parc Guell, another famous park designed by Gaudi. If you get tired, there are even escalators up the steep streets. As you walk up into the park from there, you'll be treated to a stunning viewpoint where you can see over the city to the ocean.

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View of the city, with the Sagrada Familia in the center

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Food
The main thing we were in Barcelona to do though was to EAT! There are so many interesting eateries in Barcelona. Our favourite spot was the Mercado de la Boqueria. This bustling daily market is quite like Granville Island here in Vancouver with its myriad stalls selling fresh seafood, meats, candies, breads, nuts, condiments and anything else that tempts the eye. There are also quite a few restaurant stalls and it's pretty fun to just hop on a stool, order a beer and chat with the vendors.

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Mercado de la Boqueria

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Padron peppers - very tasty and similar to green peppers, but be warned! Every 10th pepper is supposedly super spicy, which I belatedly realized. The best cure though for squashing spice if you don't have milk nearby? Salty fried anchovies!

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Anchovies in vinegar and garlic - SOOOOOOOOO GOOOOD

Tapas is by far the favourite meal for tourists in Barcelona and locals alike. We tried a couple places that were just delicious:
  • Cerveceria Catalana - order the tapas platter for a hearty introduction to Barcelona tapas and the potatoes bravas, which is a spicy mix of potatoes and eggs in hot sauce. Don't worry, spicy food doesn't seem to be a thing with Spanish food, so these are pretty mild! Also the creme catalan here (Spain's answer for creme brulee) is to die for!
  • Ciudad Condal - another tummy pleaser! Get a seat at the bar so you can order all the daily tapas right off the counter, Spanish-style. The seafood is so fresh and thoughtfully prepared. This place was easily a 100 Euro meal, but so worth it! 
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Ciudad Condal

Top things we ate in Barcelona:
  • Seafood everything!
  • Anchovies in vinegar and garlic
  • Cafe con leche - basically a latte, but WAY better!
  • Anything with potatoes - Spaniards know how to cook their potatoes till they're silky smooth, melt in your mouth and deliciously buttery
  • Bread rubbed with tomatoes instead of butter and topped with sea salt - so simple and so tasty!
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Brunch at Cafe Capri: ham with paprika with potatoes, fried squid and coffee

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Tapas platter at Cerveceria Catalana: clams, padron peppers, shrimp, squid croquette and deep fried anchovies

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Spicy fried potatoes with fried egg

Activities
We didn't have time really to do much shopping in Spain, but there definitely is a lot. Get off at the Passeig de Gracia station and you'll be surrounded by boutiques and high-end shops. El Corte Ingles is the Spanish version of Nordstrom with floors of food stuffs, accessories, clothes and designer goods. There's also Zara and Mango stores everywhere, including a large Mango outlet!

Besides shopping, we also did a Spanish cooking class through Stokes Travel. This cooking class was one of the cheaper ones I could find and it included a market tour and lessons on how to make tapas, paella and sangria. We had a great time learning new cooking techniques and making some surprisingly delicious sangria! We also met an American working in Barcelona and learned a little more about what it's actually like to live and work there (short answer: pretty damn good).

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Accommodation
We stayed in a rental apartment fifteen minutes walk from Sagrada Familia and close to two different metro lines. Our apartment was sparse but very spacious; about the size of a one bedroom apartment in Vancouver. The only downside was that there weren't a ton of places to eat, although we were lucky enough to stumble on a surprisingly good and cheap donair shop, as well as a cafe for lunch! 

Tips
  • Buy entry tickets for sights at least a day beforehand as most sights will only let in a certain number of visitors per day
  • Pay extra for the audio tour!
  • Cafe seating usually means higher food and drink prices
  • Take a nap after dinner so you'll have stamina later for Barcelona's super late nightlife
  • Buy a day pass for the metro so you don't have to continuously buy tickets. The default is a 1 trip ticket only
  • Make sure that you don't have to exit and walk to a different station during a single trip as this will actually cost you two metro tickets


Stay tuned for next week where I recap our next stop, the scenic San Sebastian!




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Skin Authority Beauty Infusion Turmeric and Blueberry Serum | Can super foods improve your skin?

Skin Authority Beauty Infusion Turmeric and Blueberry

Eat good to look good. It's a simple philosophy that makes common sense, but does the opposite work as well? That's the premise Californian beauty line Skin Authority is making with their line of anti-aging, hydrating and repairing products.

One of my biggest skin concerns is preventing dullness and hyper pigmentation. As you age, your skin gets thicker and no longer looks as luminous or supple. Products like serums then, are your best friends as they penetrate the skin deeply to provide longer lasting results.

Skin Authority's Beauty Infusion line is a targeted collection of power serums that uses different natural ingredients for different skin concerns. The Beauty Infusion Turmeric and Blueberry Serum in particular is formulated to combat dark spots, scarring and for overall brightness. You can mix this serum into your other moisturizing or foundation products, or wear solo; it also doubles as a primer.

The Guts
None of Skin Authority's products contain parabens, dyes or fragrances AND they are cruelty free! The main ingredients in the Beauty Infusion Turmeric and Blueberry Serum are:
  • Caprylic/capri triglyceride - an emollient derived from coconut oil that helps seal in moisture
  • Ethylhexyl palmitate - a solvent and emollient
  • Cetearyl ethylhexanoate - an emollient
  • Butyloctyl salicylate - derived from berries, this is a pH balancer and natural preservative
Other interesting ingredients are turmeric root oil (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory), blueberry fruit extract (anti-inflammatory, antioxidant), meadowfoam seed oil (moisturizing), jojoba seed oil (moisturizing), avocado oil (moisturizing), sea whip extract (soothes redness), vitamin C (brightening antioxidant), vitamin E (antioxidant), and squalane (moisturizing).

Price & Packaging
A 30 ml bottle retails for about $50 from Skin Authority. You can also purchase this product through spas or specialty stores. Like most serums, the Beauty Infusion Turmeric and Blueberry Serum is housed in a glass bottle with a medicine dropper dispenser. It would be nice if this bottle was tinted to prevent the antioxidants from dissipating, but since my bathroom has no windows, it's not a huge concern for me.

Skin Authority Beauty Infusion review

Effectiveness
Skin Authority claims that the Beauty Infusion Turmeric and Blueberry Serum is a non-greasy oil that won't cause your foundation to pill and will moisturize and brighten. Based on the ingredients list, I'm inclined to agree that will definitely hydrate and help improve my skin's general condition, but I found nothing in the ingredients to indicate any brightening specific functions. 

I've been using this in the mornings and have found it to be a lightweight, yet moisturizing, addition to my morning routine. I have normal-dry skin and my face just drinks up this serum gladly. I usually put 4-5 drops in my palms then warm it between my palms before pressing and massaging it into my skin. This serum is definitely on the oilier side, but it doesn't leave me feeling greasy or congested at all. Yes, the top ingredients are all carriers, but I think it's pretty impressive still how the rest of the ingredients are all pure oils.  This serum works well with my watery and thicker foundations and though it does make my moisturizer slide a bit, after a couple minutes everything is absorbed nicely.

I had meant to use this while on vacation, but I forgot it, so I've only been using this serum for a couple weeks, but my impressions so far are mostly positive. My skin feels comfortable, but I have noticed a little bit of dry flakes showing up near my hairline, so I may need to pair this with a heavier moisturizer now that the weather is chilling.


Final Verdict
Buy - Nothing mind blowing and I don't see how this serum is brightening at all, but it's a pretty decent moisturizing serum with lots of soothing ingredients and antioxidants.


* This post contains PR samples




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My Burberry Black vs. My Burberry Review

burberry black perfume

Earlier this year, Burberry released a bold new addition to their popular line of My Burberry fragrances. Called My Burberry Black, this new eau de parfum is like the sexier, older version of My Burberry (MB). In this new version, My Burberry Black (MBB) takes the sweet, lush inspiration of the original and layers over it with warm, sensual notes for an added level of spice and allure.

I was thrilled to receive a new full size bottle My Burberry Black and today I'm sharing my thoughts on how it compares to the original.

Description
Both fragrances are inspired by someone wearing the iconic Burberry trench in an English garden after a rain shower. You could think of the main difference being that the MB is a garden fresh in the morning, alight with dew and raindrops, while MBB is that same garden cloaked in the embrace of moonlight, where the shadows taunt you with mystery and desire.

Packaging
Design-wise, the two are meant to be very similar, except that MBB uses darker tones, such as a black ribbon instead of the taupe/khaki one used in the original. I would say even the color of the MBB is a more golden-amber color. Both use the same font in their labeling. I received mine as a personalized edition with my initials, which is very cool!

Price
Both fragrances come in the same sizes and price, according to Sephora: a 1.6 oz for $102 and a 3 oz for $138. Pictured here is the 3 oz.

Notes
As noted in the my original review, the MB contains sweet pea, lemon flower, peony, rose and musk, whereas the MBB contains:

Top notes:
  • Jasmine
Mid notes:
  • Rose
  • Peach
Base notes:
  • Patchouli
  • Amber

burberry black perfume for her

My impressions
While many tout the MB as a fresh, floral scent, I found it too overpowering and heavy for my taste. My nose picked up mainly on MB's floral notes and didn't detect any of the aforementioned freshness. While I don't mind florals, I really dislike musky floral ones maybe as the musk or something strong came out quite immensely on my skin.

Unfortunately, the MBB wore similarly on me. I'm thinking maybe it's my skin as I really really liked this one sprayed on a fragrance swatch. My first impression of the MBB before wearing it, was that this one actually smelled lusher and lighter to me than the MB. My nose picked up on the jasmine and amber the most in this one, although the patchouli does come out after a few moments to add some spicy sexiness. The peach here is probably the saving grace of this one for me as it adds some much-needed sweetness to an otherwise heavy, overly sexed up fragrance. 

When I sprayed this on though, I fell out of love with it. Like the MB, the MBB is SUPER fragrant. One spray on my arm made me feel like I was drowning myself and everyone else around me. I wore this while riding to work in a crowded, stuffy bus and felt like gagging and had to immediately wash myself off when I got to my office. My skin just seems to pull out ALL the base notes and it drowns out the sweetness. MBB fared better for me if I sprayed a couple times in the air and then twirled my way through it.

I'm torn on whether to keep this as the bottle is so beautiful and I love how its personalized, but I cannot see myself reaching for its contents ever. Alas, will a Burberry perfume ever find its way into my heart?


* 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.

This post contains PR samples.





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FOTD: All-over Peach Makeup Look

One of the biggest fall makeup trends that I can't get enough of, is to do a monotone look featuring peach tones on the eyes, cheeks and lips. This look is perfect if you just aren't ready to let go of dat summah glow and you want to stand out from the horde of basic gals sporting vampy lips and smoked eyes alongside their PSL's (*please note that this blogger is one of those basic bitches!).

I really love this trend as it's butt-easy, requires minimal products and is just plain pretty. I've come to terms that my face just doesn't have that edgy sex-goddess structure to it, so girly trends like this are right up my alley.

peach makeup tutorial

Here's how to get this look...

Base
  • Guerlain Meteorites Baby Glow Foundation in Light (review)
  • Make Up Forever HD Pressed Powder
This look desperately requires a glowy base, so glow it up with your dewiest foundation, then tamp things down to a more fall-appropriate velvety glow by dusting on a generous layer of your go-to translucent or tinted powder. 

Eyes
  • Stila The Natural palette
  • Lise Water Rivages palette (review)
  • Sephora Pantone Universe Shimmering Marsala Trio (review)
  • Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner
  • Stila Huge Extreme Mascara
  • KISS Top Brow Fine Precision Eyebrow pencil (review)
To do the eyes, all you need is a fluffy blending shadow brush like the MAC 217. First, apply all over lid a muted pink-taupe like the shade Linen from the Stila The Natural palette. Then warm things up a bit by applying over top of the first shade a satin gold shade, like the one in the Lise Watier Rivage palette. I want to emphasize the use of a satin shade, as a glittery or super shimmery shade will just look too harsh and over done in this type of look, which is all about subtle prettiness. 

Next, load up your brush with a warm peach shade. Here I'm using the coral shade from my Sephora Pantone Universe Shimmering Marsala Trio, which is actually a blush palette. I like using blush shades whenever I want a pink tone on my eyes as the pink shades in blushes are so much more diverse than what you usually can find in eye shadows; just be sure that your blush color is safe for use on eyes. Apply your chosen peach accent to the crease if you have more Western eyes and in an all-over wash of color if you have monolids. My lids are hooded, but I have a slight crease, so I like to apply my peach slightly above my crease so that I have a lighter spot right next to the lash line. In terms of choosing your peach, the rule of thumb is that the darker your skin, the brighter the peach you can go with. Apply the peach as strong as you like.

Lastly, line your eyes with a thin line of eyeliner along the top lash line to give definition and generously apply mascara and brow pencil to further make your eye area pop. 

peach makeup products

Cheeks
  • Sephora Pantone Universe Shimmering Marsala Trio
Using a kabuki or fluffy blush brush, generously apply the same peach color as your blush to apples and cheekbones. 

With a fluffy eye shadow brush, apply a gold highlight (I like the one in my Marsala Trio for this) to the tops of cheekbones, bridge of nose, cupid's bow of the lips and brow bone. The idea here is to apply targeted, micro-highlighting for a subtle glow. No crazy strobing!

Lips
  • Kiko Milano 3D Hydra Gloss in 08
Finally the inspiration for this look, my new fave peach gloss that I picked up in Spain! I looove this Kiko Milano gloss and really regret not going back to buy all the shades; this gloss is so pigmented, doesn't settle into lines and smells yummy. This shade in particular is a great coral for my lips, but has a titch bit of brown in it that keeps it from being too too summer, y'kno?

peach makeup look

And that's the whole look! I hope you enjoy these types of everyday, and accessible, makeup looks. If you have requests or ideas for other looks you'd like to see me too, please suggest it in the comments!




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Achieving a Healthy Scalp for Healthy Hair with Elence 2001

elence 2001 TWIN SCALP EX-2 GIFT SET (FINE HAIR

Created after 2001 attempts to find the ideal formula to give Asian women healthy hair, Japanese haircare company Elence 2001 was born. Based out of Tokyo, Elence 2001 focuses on repairing and revitalizing hair products that combine science and natural ingredients to help women achieve longer, thicker locks.

The basis of the Elence 2001 approach is the belief that a healthy scalp equates to healthy hair. Using thirty unique plant extracts, Elence 2001 seeks to undo the damage more conventional products wreak on your scalp and aims to gently restore it to its natural state so that new hair can grow more freely.

As someone with lifelong fine hair, I'm all for trying something to give me thicker, lusher locks so I've been trying out the Elence 2001 Twin Scalp EX-2 system ($83.97) the past couple months and am now here to report back to you with my results!

The Elence 2001 Twin Scalp EX-2 system consists of three products:
  • Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Shampoo EX-2 to gently cleanse 
  • Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Hair Pack EX-2 to deeply hydrate and repair
  • Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Essence EX-2 to encourage hair growth

The first step is to use the Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Shampoo EX-2 ($26.94). To use, shake the bottle and massage into damp hair. The Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Shampoo EX-2 has a light floral scent and consists mainly of:
  • Water
  • Sodium laureth sulfate - not to be confused with the maligned sodium lauryl sulfate, this coconut derived cleanser is much gentler and less prone to irritation
  • Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate - a foaming cleanser
  • Ethylhexyl palmitate - an emollient (seals in moisture) and solvent
  • Cocamide dea - a foaming cleanser, that does have some warnings (like an EWG score of 7) but is deemed safe for use in rinse-off cosmetic products
as well a variety of thirty natural extracts such as evening primrose oil (moisturizing), panax ginseng root (improves hair condition) and mallow extract (moisturizing).

I found this shampoo to be super watery, so I usually need a couple handfuls to cover my head thoroughly. It's also a low-foaming shampoo, so if you're used to a ton of soap bubbles then it will take some getting used to. I found this shampoo to be gently cleansing and sufficient for my needs as I wash my hair every couple of days. If you regularly use a lot of hair products, I'm not sure whether this will be strong enough for you and you may need to do a repeat wash.

After the shampoo, the second step is to generously apply a layer of the Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Hair Pack EX-2 ($32.19) to the scalp and tresses for at least five minutes. This hair mask is designed to hydrate and stimulate your scalp to generate new growth and volume. The Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Hair Pack EX-2 contains primarily:
  • Water
  • Cetyl alcohol - thickens products and acts as an emollient
  • Glycerin - a humectant (draws in moisture)
  • Ethylhexyl palmitate
  • Cetearyl alcohol - an emulsifier
This hair mask also contains a similar mix of plants extracts as in the shampoo. I really love using this mask to hydrate my perpetually parched scalp. Although this conditioning mask is very hydrating, it doesn't feel heavy at all and rinses away cleanly so you don't need to worry about buildup. My hair feels softer and more nourished without being weighed down, and my scalp feels comfortable, although after a couple days it starts to itch again.

elence 2001 TWIN SCALP HAIR PACK EX-2 (FINE HAIR)

Lastly, after cleansing and conditioning, the final step in the EX-2 system is the Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Essence EX-2. This spray on essence can be used to increase volume and encourage growth. Simply shake and then spray on to problem areas. The Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Essence EX-2 contains:
  • Water
  • Denatured alcohol - likely to help ingredients penetrate more easily, but could be potentially drying
  • Glycerin
  • Butylene glycol - moisturizing and is a solvent
  • Laureth-9 - an emulsifier and also helps reduce irritation
as well as twenty-four different natural extracts, such as swertia japonica extract (moisturizing), tussilago farara leaf extract (moisturizing), achillea millefolium (anti-dandruff) and celery extract (moisturizing). Despite all these cool sounding ingredients, most of them seem to be moisturizers and I didn't see anything overtly designed to help stimulate hair growth. 

As I used all three products together, it's hard to judge their effects separately so I'll give my opinions based on the system as a whole. After two months of regular use, I would say that I like these products, but I'm skeptical that they are life-changing or super-effective. During my time using these, I haven't noticed any significant change in terms of my hair's volume, thickness or rate of growth. What I do like about this line is its use of plant extracts, lack of artificial fragrances and how gentle is on my hair. You could definitely use these products safely with colour treated hair and these would be great for damaged hair as well. Besides the EX-2 line for fine hair, Elence 2001 also offers products for thick and curly hair. 

The Elence 2001 products are pricier than the usual drugstore options, but if you're looking for something a bit more high end than I think they're well worth the money. The Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Hair Pack EX-2 in particular gets my thumbs-up as it's a huge tub that will last you a long time. Out of the three, I would skip the essence as I don't think it does much at all. 


Final Verdict
Buy - an interesting alternative to Western hair products, Elence 2001 offers gentle yet effective products that would work well for all hair types.


To shop Elence 2001 products, head to their website.



* This post features PR samples


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Roundup: Best Body Lotions and Moisturizers

Hola, I'm back from vacation! I have so many thoughts and photos to share with you from my recent trip. Currently I'm wading through my hundreds of photos and planning to put together a series of travel recaps so I can share the best parts of my Spain trip. In the meantime, it's back to your regular programming with this roundup of my recommended body lotions!

It's kinda weird, but I'll always make sure to pack moisturizer, yet I get so carefree (a.k.a lazy) on vacation that I often forget to apply it and of course in the end, I regret it as I dry up into a scaly prune. One of the first things I did upon returning home was take a long shower and SLATHER myself in deep moisture. Nothing feels so good as freshly moisturized skin!!

Anyhoo, it got me thinking to put together a roundup of some of my favourite body moisturizers, as well as introduce you to some new ones I'm trying.

nuxe huile prodigieuse oil for hair, body and face

If you're planning your own sunny vacation, then you may want to consider packing a body oil in your suitcase. A nice dry oil is the perfect moisturizer in hotter months as they're not as sticky as heavy creams yet still deeply hydrating; oils also give your skin a beautiful glow and sheen that looks great in the sun! For sure, my favourite body oil is the Nuxe Dry Oil Huile Prodigieuse oil with its luxurious blend of six different plant oils, such as macadamia nut, hazelnut, camellia and sweet almond. It also smells heavenly with notes of orange blossom, magnolia and coconut milk. Check out my full review here.

ogx body lotions

Continuing along with the theme of good smelling things, is the OGX Sea Mineral Body and OGX Eucalyptus Mint Body lotions. These are great "medium-texture" moisturizers; they don't feel too heavy, spread easily, absorb quickly and smell fantastic! The OGX Sea Mineral Body lotion reminds me of the old-school The Body Shop Oceanus scent - so fresh, clean and beachy! On the other side of the spectrum is the OGX Eucalyptus Mint Body lotion, which, you guessed it, smells of mint and eucalyptus and really gives off that cleansing, spa feeling. Both lotions are widely available at drugstores everywhere and retail for around $10. I've been loving these as a refreshing perk-me-up in the mornings and they leave my skin feeling silky smooth.

l'occitane aromachologie relaxing body cream

Now, different scents can elicit different moods and while the OGX lotions are great energizers, it's nice to have something more soothing at night. One of my absolute favourite de-stressing lotions is the L'Occitane Aromachologie Relaxing Body Cream. Like the rest of the Aromachologie line, this cream has a real vintage flair with its apothecary-inspired packaging and use of essential oils that gives it a comforting, spa-at-home feel. Needless to say, this cream is quite moisturizing, but what really makes this one standout is its fragrance. Specially designed to help you relax and unwind, the Aromachologie Relaxing Body Cream contains notes of fresh cypress and juniper. When designing this cream, L'Occitane did studies to prove that these scents really do help users relax and focus better, so slap some on when you know you'll need to be extra-sharp the next day! Check out my full review here.

lush sleepy hand and body moisturizer

If cypress and juniper herbal scents aren't your jam, then Lush has got your back with their Sleepy Hand & Body Lotion. This light almond oil and organic Fair Trade cocoa butter based lotion contains lavender and tonka bean to soothe you into dreamland. Normally I detest lavender, but I actually really like this one! I've just started using this one, but I can already attest to its powerful hydrating skills - my hands just drink this one up!

dr. teals epsom salt lotion

Last, but not least, is my favourite heavy hitter for the depths of winter: the Dr. Teal's Pure Epsom Salt Body Lotion. This super rich and thick cream is chock-full of emollients and smells like a relaxing mix of bath salts and eucalyptus goodness. After just one application your skin will thank you! Check out my full review here.


What are your favourite body lotions and creams?




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