It's Skin Power 10 Formula GF Effector Essence Review | An easy step towards a KBeauty skincare routine

It's Skin Power 10 Formula GF Effector Essence Review

The trend towards multi-step, multi-product skincare routines has been all the rage among beauty aficionados for years. The idea behind this vigorous regime was pioneered in Korea and focuses on layering carefully applied, light layers of moisture so that all levels of the skin are hydrated and treated. This trend has since spread across Asia and to North America, but us North Americans, well, we're lazy. Not everyone has the time and patience to dedicate to a 7-10 step routine! I certainly don't, so I love it when I come across products that allow me to easily incorporate it without adding more time to my morning routine.

Enter in the It's Skin Power 10 Formula GF Effector Essence. This lightweight gel ampoule style essence is part of a whole series of essence/serums targeted for different skin concerns. Designed by Korean skincare brand, It's Skin, the It's Skin Power 10 Formula GF Effector douses skin with immediate hydration and improves skin's ability to retain moisture with its special GF-Biopolymer and natural extracts.

The Guts
So just what's in this essence-style serum? The main ingredients are thankfully humectants, which help skin retain moisture (grifola frondosa mycelium ferment filtrate extract, glycerin, polyglutamic acid) and then texture enhancers, which help give this product its light, gel consistency (butylene glycol, dipropylene glycol.

it's skin power 10 review

Price & Packaging
Although stores like Sephora have started carrying some Korean brands, most are still tricky to find and the Power 10 Formula GF Effector is no exception, but you can find it online at stores like Q Depot. Each 30 ml bottle sells for $16.20 USD/$21.27 CAD, which isn't too bad as far as specialty products like essence/serums go, and is akin to something you'd find in a drugstore here.

Like most serums, the Power 10 Formula GF Effector comes in a clear glass bottle with a medicine dropper dispenser. The dropper in the Power 10 Formula GF Effector is a bit odd in that it has this small bend to it right near the tip. I'm not sure the purpose of this bend at the end, as it makes it so you have to tilt the wand a bit to get it out of the bottle.

The essence itself is a transparent watery gel, flecked with minuscule blue specks that match the color of the bottle. These presumably, are the ampoules that contain It's Skin's GF-Biopolymer.

With its light texture, the Power 10 Formula GF Effector is perfect for morning use. I apply the Power 10 Formula GF Effector right after cleansing and toning, using 3 drops for my neck and 5 for my face. As opposed to spreading it between my palms and pressing it into my skin, as I would with an oil-based serum, I prefer to spread the Power 10 Formula GF Effector between my fingertips and then softly spreading it across my face. I feel this method works better so that I get more product distributed across my skin's surface as opposed to just being absorbed into my hands. It's Skin also suggests applying the Power 10 Formula GF Effector to a cotton pad as well. Now 8 drops per application may seem like a lot, and I've managed to use up half of the bottle already after a month, but this essence is so light, you really do need a substantial amount to see any effect.

Immediately upon application, the Power 10 Formula GF Effector has a refreshing, cooling effect. You know how your face feels on a hot day when you splash it with some cold water? That's exactly how it feels to apply the Power 10 Formula GF Effector. I really feel like this essence does help invigorate and liven up my skin, which is particularly nice in the mornings.

Now the cons. If you're looking for something heavy-duty and life-changing then the Power 10 Formula GF Effector definitely won't be enough. Although Q Depot lists this as a serum, on It's Skin it's officially listed as an essence and I would agree with that description. Serums are meant to penetrate your surface skin layers to deeply moisture and I don't get that feeling or see that type of effect from this product. Instead, I feel that the Power 10 Formula GF Effector is more suited to provide surface hydration and to prep the skin for your moisturizer. For those unfamiliar with essences, you could think of them as a stronger toner, or a super light moisturizer.

it's skin gf effector review

Given these pros and cons, is the Power 10 Formula GF Effector worth it? I still think so. My skin has been really parched this winter and I do need that extra moisture layer day and night, so the Power 10 Formula GF Effector has been really helpful in helping my skin stay supple and flake-free. I like how the Power 10 Formula GF Effector is quite light compared to most serums, but is still able to get the job done. I'm tempted to see how this essence would layer with an additional serum, so I might try that next! One can never have enough hydration right?

Final Verdict
Buy - an affordable essence that immediately invigorates skin with a lightweight layer of moisture

* This post contains PR samples

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Jill Stuart Crystal Lucent Face Powder Review | A more affordable Guerlain Meteorite powder?

jill stuart crystal lucent face powder review

You know you have a good friend when they buy makeup for you while on their own vacation. Sheila is one such friend and I was thrilled when she bought the new Jill Stuart Crystal Lucent Face Powder while in Japan last year for me.

Jill Stuart is an American fashion designer, but I had only ever heard of her for her makeup line, which is quite well known throughout Asia; in fact, I didn't even know she made clothes, but those are also very nice too haha. If I had to describe Jill Stuart's cosmetics, I would say it's very Japanese style, which means girly, super-pretty packaging, with sparkly, sheer washes of color and an emphasis on bright, innocent looks.

The Jill Stuart Jill Stuart Crystal Lucent Face Powders came out early in 2016 and are a finely milled face powder designed to give skin a soft focus finish while absorbing excess oils and providing SPF 20 protection.

There are 3 shades to choose from: natural (a matte blend of beige and soft pinks to even and provide warmth), lucent (a combination of color correcting pigments to impart a flawless glow without shimmer) and petal shower (a pink based palette that gives skin a rosy innocence). Out of the three, I chose lucent as it reminded me the most of the famous Guerlain Meteorites Illuminating Powder Compact and the color correcting aspect really appealed to me. Whose skin doesn't need a little correcting right?

jill stuart crystal lucent face powder

When I received the compact from Sheila, I had a little squeal of delight. From the gorgeous glossy box to the contents inside, Jill Stuart products never fail to give pleasure at the attention to details. The compact is housed in a silver plastic compact covered in a faceted design that mimics a crystal and it actually contains a tiny Swarovski crystal on the lid! Inside, the compact is split into 2 compartments: the first houses an interior mirror and a brush, while the second contains the powder itself.

The included half-moon brush has very soft white bristles and fits comfortably in my hand. I love how it contains its own little plastic envelope to keep it clean. Usually I just chuck included brushes right away, but this one is so nice that I've actually been using it!

The lucent shade contains a spectrum of colors: green to reduce redness, pink and blue to illuminate dullness and yellow tones, and pale gold and white to illuminate and add color.

jill stuart crystal lucent face powder in 02

The powders are fairly hard packed, so swatching with a finger won't pick up much product, but I had better success using a brush. If you have dry skin, I think you could use this as your main setting powder, but for me, I use this as a finishing powder over foundation. This shade doesn't offer any coverage, but it just seems to seal in everything as a last step and gives my skin a beautiful satin and airbrushed finish. It also does a pretty good job at keeping oil at bay, although I'm fairly dry right now anyways with it being winter.

Compared to the Guerlain Meteorites, I would say the Crystal Lucent Face Powder has a pretty similar effect. Both powders just smooth and gently brighten the skin. My pores appear minimized and the texture of my skin just looks different, as if it were more youthful and silky and less... just textured in general! I find these types of products super hard to describe and to photograph, well just forget that. These types of powders must be tried and seen IRL to be believed. Now, I still think the Guerlain does a much better job at this where sometimes I'm just wowed by my own reflection (#narcissist), but the Crystal Lucent Face Powder is no slacker either.

The Crystal Lucent Face Powder is also much cheaper than Guerlain, at $44 USD ($58 CAD) vs. $74. Neither products are what I'd call "must-have" but dang when you do see their effects, it's hard to not just say treat yo'self!

jill stuart lucent face powder

Final Verdict
Buy - I adore this finishing powder's super cute packaging and it works really well as a mattifying, yet illuminating powder that will make your skin look like you just had a facial.

PS. Happy Lunar New Year this weekend! I'll be celebrating the year of the Rooster with family and a facial!

Life lately: Anyone know where I can find Google Pixel phone cases that aren't super masculine and ugly looking? I've been searching everywhere it feels like and not a cute case to be found. On the other hand, this one continuously amuses me. Poor Zayn.

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Foodies Adventures: What I've Been Cooking Lately

Just a quick foodie post lately about 2 recipes I've made lately that I wanted to share! Oftentimes I like to take recipes or flavours I've eaten recently as inspiration in the kitchen, instead of as literal things to recreate. Playing with ingredients and testing my ability to mix flavours is what makes a potentially boring chore a fun occasion every time! 

This dish below is what I'm christening a "hot pot" dry noodle dish. I had a bunch of leftover ingredients from NYE where we had friends over to make Chinese hot pot. I was really craving the savory, meaty and spicy flavours of the hot pot sauces, but I didn't feel like making a whole hot pot, so I opted to try mixing everything into a dry noodle dish and the result was awesome!

easy chinese cooking at home

To make this, I took:
  • udon
  • cilantro
  • minced garlic
  • ground pork
  • enoki mushrooms
  • soy sauce
  • sa cha sauce (or satay sauce depending on preference)
First, I cooked the udon in boiling water until soft and chewy. Then in a wok, I sauted the ground pork with a bit of salt, white pepper and chopped garlic. Once the pork was cooked, I threw in the enoki mushrooms, tearing the bundle into smallish chunks, and the noodles, and tossed them all together until the mushrooms were nice and soft. In a small bowl, I then combined some generous tablespoons of sa cha sauce with a bit of soy sauce and stirred to combine until the resulting paste turned to a slightly runny sauce. To serve, I simply poured the contents of the wok into a bowl, liberally sprinkled it all with chopped fresh cilantro and a hearty heap of sauce! 

My goodness, this dish is craving personified. It's an explosion of umami and salty goodness combined with the sharp tang of cilantro and the soft chew of udon. Definitely making this hearty, yet simple dish again!

kale and roasted vegetable soup

This next dish is definitely on the healthier side of the food spectrum, but just as delicious as the previous one! This healthy veggie based soup is based off this Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup recipe off Yummly. I'd never tried cooking butternut squash before, but I'm hooked! This mild tasting squash tastes so good in soups and is chock full of nutrients. The original recipe calls for lentils and is vegetarian, but I forgot to buy lentils so I threw in some leftover rice at the last minute instead. I also fried some pork loin in a saucepan separately as well and threw it in as well for some needed protein. I love these kinds of soups in the winter as they're nutritious, full of warm, soothing flavours and so easy to prepare. Plus you'll get lots of leftovers!

What have you been cooking lately? I'd love to hear your dish recommendations!

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Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Cream and Eye Gel Review | For super smooth under eyes

ole henriksen ultimate lift eye

Oh eye creams. The eternal quest for something that hydrates, smooths, brightens and generally gives one the skin of babies. In the latest installment of my eye cream journey, I try out the Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Cream and Eye Gel. Started by the brand's namesake, this Scandinavian brand first began in 1984 and is known for giving fans that signature "Ole glow" due to their use of natural extracts in skincare products and in treatments at their LA spa.

The Ultimate Lift eye creams are formulated to provide an instant lifting effect to tired eyes. Perfect for maturer eyes, the daytime cream and night-time gel are designed to smooth out wrinkles, eliminate puffiness and firm the skin for a more youthful appearance.

Ole Henriksen Ultimate lift review

Ultimate Lift Eye Creme 
Price: $52 for 15 ml

What it is: a lightweight day eye cream focused on providing a hydrated base for makeup and providing all day moisture and a refreshed appearance.

What's in it:
  • Water
  • Cyclopentasiloxane - a silicone that helps plump up wrinkles and a smooth feel
  • Glyceryl polymethacrylate - makes the skin feel smoother and firmer
  • Cetyl alcohol - moisturizes skin, but has potential to be irritating for those with rosacea or otherwise sensitive skin
  • Glyceryl stearate SE - another moisturizer
So far so good with the ingredients! I really love how this cream contains a skin firming ingredient right at the top of the list. Besides the above, this cream also contains healthy amounts of aloe vera, grape seed oils, vitamin E and hyaluronic acid, all of which are great moisturizers. Oat kernel extract also helps improve skin's firmness, while cucumber extract cools and reduces inflammation. 

My take: This is a pretty basic, lightweight eye cream, but it does the trick. Upon application, my eye area does feel instantly cooled and refreshed and even at the end of the day, my under-eye feels noticeably smoother and softer. In terms of dryness and fine lines though, I didn't notice much of a change and my eyes still had slight fine lines under them when wearing concealer. For $52 this eye cream is definitely on the high end and for some odd reason, the same price as the Ultimate Lift Eye Gel, but at half the size. While I did achieve nice results with this cream, the price really makes me hesitate at recommending it as it wasn't mind-blowing enough for me to consider repurchasing it.

Final Verdict: Ditch

Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel review

Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel
Price: $52 for 30 ml
What it is: A refreshing evening eye treatment with a unique thick gel texture. This eye gel contains a combination of hyaluronic acid and bio-peptides to combat puffiness and fine lines while you sleep. The Ultimate Lift Eye Gel is also vegan and cruelty-free!

What's in it:
  • Water
  • Glycerin - a moisturizer
  • Polysorbate 20 - a lubricant and soothing ingredient
  • Glyceryl polymethacrylate - makes the skin feel smoother and firmer
  • Carbomer - commonly found in gel products, this ingredient helps give it that thick, jelly texture
Unlike the day cream, the primary ingredients in the Ultimate Lift Eye Gel aren't quite as impressive, but this gel does also contain calendula flower extract, aloe vera and cucumber extract, all of which help condition skin and reduce inflammation. 

My take: I thought the eye gel was pretty neat as I'd never tried an eye cream with that type of texture. It's pretty fun to poke your finger into this little jar as the gel is quite squishy; unfortunately it's soo squishy that it can be a little tricky to scoop out the right amount of product to apply. Also, depending on what other moisturizers you use, this gel does tend to ball a bit. On the plus side though, it feels quite cooling, which can feel nice at the end of a long day. In terms of moisture, I'd say this eye gel is fairly light. After using this one for more than a month I don't think I've noticed much gains in moisture levels. My eyes aren't usually puffy so I can't report much on that and it didn't have much effect on my dark circles. However, if you did find this gel to work for you, it's a great deal as most eye creams come only in 15 ml sizes and this one is huge at 30 ml! 

Final Verdict: Ditch

Overall, my first experience with Ole Henriksen was "meh." Out of the two I think the Ultimate Lift Eye Cream was more worth it, although I found the format of the Ultimate Lift Eye Gel to be funner with its squishy texture, but I'm not paying $52 just to poke some jelly!

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Algenist REVEAL Concentrated Color Correcting Drops vs. NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12%

Brighter! More luminous!! Maximum glow!!! Yes, you could say I'm a little enamored with glowing, dewy skin; thus I have a plethora of highlighting and illuminating products in my makeup stash. On a recent work trip I just couldn't resist ducking into the local Sephora, where I picked up the Algenist REVEAL Concentrated Color Correcting Drops. Guys, I didn't even research this before buying it. All it took was trying out a couple swatches and I was convinced.

algenist color correcting drops vs niod photography fluid

The Algenist REVEAL Concentrated Color Correcting Drops are a series of color correcting fluids that can be worn solo or mixed into your foundation. There are four different shades: green (to combat redness), blue (to reduce sallowness), pink (to fight dullness), and apricot (to neutralize discoloration and dark tones). Besides color correcting, the REVEAL drops also contain green microalgae and alguronic acid to promote cell turnover and restore moisture. After careful consideration, I opted to try the pink shade for its illuminating properties.

Once back home, I realized that these drops served a similar purpose to my NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12%, which I've reviewed previously. The NIOD fluid acts as a primer or standalone base that uses nano-prisms to reflect light and trick it into appearing smoother, more even and youthful, while a mix of bio-complexes provide 48 hours of moisture.

So did I just buy two duplicate products or can I still justify owning both? Well, we'll see!

Both the Algenist drops and the NIOD fluid come in dropper-style bottles, but the Algenist wins here as it's contained in a frosted glass bottle whereas the NIOD fluid is plastic. As well, the Algenist also wins as its dropper dispenses much more neatly and precisely while the NIOD dropper is a big messy gloop, as I noted before in my review.
  • Algenist: 1
  • NIOD: 0

The Algenist drops retail for $50 for 14.8 ml of product. The NIOD fluid contains 30 ml of product for $30, so about twice as much for almost half the price. 
  • Algenist: 1
  • NIOD: 1

Both products are quite watery and do better with a good mixing in the bottle first, but the Algenist drops are slightly more watery. There have been a couple times when I didn't remember how watery the Algenist drops were and I'd proceed to get huge drops all over my face, but I found that if I shook the bottle thoroughly first, this didn't happen, so I'd say that the 2 apply equally well.
  • Algenist: 1
  • NIOD: 1

algenist reveal color correcting drops
Left to right: NIOD Photography Fluid, Algenist REVEAL drops

Pigment & Luminosity
Here is probably where they differ the most. The Algenist drops are a pure baby pink that sheers out when applied to a more pearl color. My skin is more yellow toned than pink, but these drops still work wonderfully on my skin. My face instantly looks more even and just brighter, but without any shimmer. The finish is actually pretty matte, leaving my skin looking almost velvet. It's almost as if these drops have somehow lightened my skin by a shade! I found the Algenist drops great to use around the eye area where I love to add a bit more brightening and to eliminate dark circles, as well as on my forehead where my skin is a bit darker.

The NIOD Photography Fluid on the other hand is decidedly more green and acts better at eliminating redness around the nose and cheeks. The main illuminating effects from this product come instead from its light-reflecting pigments. Lately I've been using the NIOD fluid over top of my foundation to add a dewy highlight wherever I want to draw some light.

I think the Algenist drops are ideal for neutralizing your skin tone and adding a soft luminosity to the skin. It's great for oily skin types as well, as it won't add any extra shine to your skin and it's lightweight enough that it shouldn't clog pores. If you're darker in some areas than others and you want to give your face that lit-from-within brightness, then these drops are the ideal way to do so.

On the other hand, if what you're looking for is that wet, dewy, just moisturized look, then the NIOD fluid is better suited for that purpose. You can apply as little or as much as you want and never look overdone. This fluid gives the most subtle wet highlight and it also helps even out your skin tone. Due to its light-reflecting properties, it also brightens the skin somewhat, although not as much as the Algenist does.
  • Algenist: 2
  • NIOD: 2
Overall I think I've managed to convince myself that these products really are different. Firstly they're actually different colors (although indistinguishable when applied) and they serve slightly different purposes. The Algenist REVEAL Concentrated Color Correcting Drops are perfect for adding brightness to the skin tone, while the NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12% helps to cancel redness and give it a dewy highlight that never emphasizes pores.

Final Verdict
Buy both!

PS. There's still time to fill out my reader survey and enter to win a $25 Sephora gift card!

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Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer Review | A primer for the anti-silicone fans

too faced hangover primer

This winter my skin can't get enough moisture. Lately, in addition to my usual skincare products, I've been applying a hydrating primer everyday before my makeup for an extra hit of moisture. Hydrating primers are my favourite type of primer. I don't really need anything to minimize pores or smooth my skin, but I am perpetually dehydrated and lately my foundation hasn't been settling as nicely as it usually does due to the extra cold weather.

My go-to primer recently has been the ultra-hydrating Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer. So funny story, but I actually first tried this primer while hungover in Vegas on a girl trip. I had picked up a small sample from Sephora and wore it the morning after a night of partying. Coupled with the arid desert air, I wasn't expecting much from this primer, which I slapped on before heading out for brunch, but I was really surprised! The Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer immediately rejuvenated my skin, making it well, not super supple, but at least a lot better than where it started!

The Guts
The Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer is formulated without silicones, parabens and sulfates; instead it has a base of refreshing coconut water and natural extracts to hydrate skin and improve its radiance and elasticity.

The primary ingredients in this primer are:

  • Water
  • Lactobacillus/salix alba bark ferment filtrate - moisturizing
  • Propanediol dicaprylate - a solvent
  • Propanediol - helps improve the absorbency of other ingredients and imparts a dewy finish to skin
  • Ceteareth-6 olivate - an emulsifier derived from olive oil that provides deep hydration
The aforementioned coconut water is about halfway through the ingredients list as is olive oil, another natural moisturizer.

Price & Packaging
A 40 ml tube of the Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer costs $40, which isn't too bad as most foundations will often give you less for a higher cost. I'm not sure what to feel about the pump dispenser as generally a squeeze tube format is the best for ensuring you get maximum use of all the product in the package.

too faced hangover primer review

The first thing I noticed about this primer is its pleasant coconut smell. It really does smell like a fresh glass of coconut water! As well, the Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer feels really lightweight and silky. It spreads easily across my skin and leaves it feeling slightly tacky and damp - perfect conditions for applying foundation!

I'd definitely say the Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer is a great base for makeup. I've worn it with both light and full coverage foundations with no problems. Two pumps is enough to cover my face in a light layer of moisture that lasts all day and keeps my foundation in place. 

If all you're looking for is moisture and something to help your foundation apply easier and last longer, then the Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer is great, but if you're looking for something to significantly improve the texture of your skin, then this primer isn't formulated for that. It's a single purpose product and it fulfills its purpose well.

If I had to improve anything on this product, I'd actually wish that Too Faced would come out with a tinted version so I could wear this solo as my weekend base!

Final Verdict
Buy - hydrating and smells so refreshing!

PS. Enter my reader survey to win a Sephora gift card!

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Sunset Inspired MOTD featuring the Morphe 35F Fall Into Frost Palette

Morphe 35f palette makeup look

Guys, I think I'm in love. It took me a while to get into my first Morphe palette, but I get the hype now. These palettes are fricking genius!!

At 35 pans of color, the Morphe PRO makeup palettes are downright intimidating, but once you dive in, oh boy is it ever glorious. I'm talking smooth, buttery, minimal fallout, gorgeousness and for hella cheap at only $23 USD!

The Morphe 35F Fall into Frost palette debuted last year and I don't know what the numbering convention means, but F denotes I believe a more frost/metallic leaning palette, however I wouldn't say it's limited to just that by any means. I was originally hoping to get the 35O palette, which leans much more autumnal and matte, but I'm so glad that I opted for this spur of the moment choice.

morphe fall into frost tutorial

The Morphe 35F Fall Into Frost palette is a gorgeous mix of colors ranging from olive, to gold, orange, black and the most stunning range of reds, maroons and plums. It's the latter spectrum of colors that swayed me as these tones are so hot right now. As well, unlike the 35O, the finish of this palette is much more versatile as it ranges from metallic, to the softest satin and a whole row of buttery mattes.

Anyways, I'll have to do a proper swatch fest and review of this palette another time as this post is supposed to be about how to wear it! Over the holidays I started playing around in earnest with this palette and that's when I fell in love. Lately I've been obsessed with playing around with the more sunset/fiery tones of the palette, which is how I came up with this look here, that I've been wearing as often as I can.

Here's how to get the look!

fall into frost palette morphe

  • Dermalogica Sheer Tint SPF 20 Moisturizer (review)
  • NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12% (review)
Now, red toned eye looks can make you look tired, so it's important that your skin looks as hydrated and luminous as you can. To achieve that, I skipped the setting powder and went for a "wet" look with a tinted moisturizer and then a generous dose of an illuminating fluid along my temples, cheekbones, center of forehead and bridge of my nose. Also, using a damp makeup sponge helps to really set these base products into skin while also imparting a dewy finish.

morphe 35f fall into frost look

  • Morphe 35F Fall into Frost palette
  • Essence Forbidden Volume mascara
  • Urban Decay Primer Potion (original)
I picked up a trick lately from watching Nikki Tutorials and this has really changed my shadow game. The trick is to lay down a matte base and transition shade first before applying your colorful and shimmery shadows on top. The result leaves you with a much more natural transition and depth and when you discover this, it's a literal light bulb moment, because now you'll know why all good palettes must have matte shades!

Anyways, to start, I laid down my base with a primer and then shade 1, a light, slightly beige-orange shadow all over my lid. This color is basically my skin color with a bit more orange to it, so if you're quite pale, this will show up way more. Ideally you want a color that's close to your natural lid color. 

Next, I applied shade 2, a shade that's a couple shades darker than #1 down where you'd place your transition color, namely the middle of the lid for me. 

Taking a small outer corner brush, I then darkened the outer corner of my eyes with a matte ash brown shade (shade 3). 

You don't have to apply your brow highlight at this step, but I just like to because then I can just spend a moment gasping at how incredible this shimmery, frosty highlight (shade 4) is. It's a pure white gold and it is everything.

morphe 35f makeup looks

Now into the fun parts! I took shade 5, which is a bright satin pink and swept that over my lid from lash line to crease with a flat shadow brush. Since this particular shade sheers out easily, I used patting motions to really layer the color. 

With the same brush, I then dipped into shade 6, a dark magenta-plum and applied it over the same area where shade 3 was. I then kept layering it on until I had the effect I wanted, which was a nice late sunset gradient. 

Lastly, to balance and define my eyes, I took a small liner brush and shaded the bottom half of my eyes with shade 3 and lined my top lash line with a matte black shadow. 

I think this look would be fantastic with falsies, but for everyday wear, I just slipped on 2 coats of black mascara.

  • Tarte emphasEyes Amazonian Clay Brow Mousse in Rich Brown
With such strong eyes, I needed my brows to also be strong so they didn't disappear. Lately I've been using this Tarte brow mousse all the time as it fills in my brows instantly, doesn't fade, and is easily blended. The only downside is it can be easy to overdo it!

morphe 35f fall into frost palette

  • Tarte Pin Up Girl Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush palette
  • Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow
  • Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Incandescent 
At this point, I was looking rather washed out with my bright pink-red eyes and no contour! Thank goodness for my go-to, all year, bronzer. I quickly brushed bronzer into the hollows my cheeks and then brought some flush to my face by generously applying the shade Embraced from the Tarte Pin Up Girl blush palette, which is a plummy rose, to my cheeks, concentrating the color closer to my hairline. Then to finish everything off and give myself a frosty finish, I generously brushed the tops of my cheekbones and temples with a pink-white highlight. In winter, I'm all about pink-white highlights as they just look so good with pale skin and winter's cool light.

  • MAC Cremesheen Glass in Richer, Lusher
Finally to top things off, I opted for a "pretty girl" gloss in a pink-peach tone. I wanted something that was nude, but not too nude as I still needed some color elsewhere on my face to balance my dramatic eyes. 

morphe 35f review

I hope you enjoyed this look! I think this would be a great evening makeup look for someone who's more low key. Personally I'd wear this out in the daytime and then layer on more color, glitter and liner for evening. Needless to say, I'm in love with this palette and can't wait to try out more color combinations!

Life lately: This post was also partly inspired by my favourite 90's grunge band, Nirvana. The 90's were really angsty weren't they? We all thought we were so complicated and anti-authority. I remember definitely feeling that way then. I was a straight-A student with a rebel's heart who thought she was better than everyone. Grunge was my saviour back then as it could express the anger I was too shy to ever express to all the jerks at school. What music described your teen years?

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THEFACESHOP Nokyong Collagen Contour Lift Gold Capsule Cream Review | A foray into luxury Korean skincare

As I grow older, my fascination with skincare grows as well. There's always new innovative formulas to try and I've always been curious to try a capsule cream. Unlike regular creams, capsule creams consist primarily of small pearls or beads of concentrated ingredients suspended in a moisturizing base. The idea is that you burst these capsules upon application, for a super-charged hydrating effect. Ever the innovator, Korean skincare brand THEFACESHOP recently launched their own capsule cream, the Nokyong Collagen Contour Lift Gold Capsule Cream and I was eager to check it out!

nokyong collagen contour lift cream review

This anti-aging cream can be used solo or as a booster to your regular evening moisturizer. The Nokyong Collagen Contour Lift Gold Capsule Cream contains powerful natural extracts, niacinamide for brightening, and collagen to lift and firm the skin. The end result according to THEFACESHOP is a youthfully glowing and renewed visage.

I'm thinking with such a concentrated product, that this cream is likely targeted to an older consumer, but as I'm in my 30's now, I'm all about age prevention, so I figured I could still review this legitimately.

nokyong collagen cream review

The Guts
Besides the aforementioned ingredients, the Nokyong Collagen Contour Lift Gold Capsule Cream primarily contains:
  • Water
  • Glycerin - a moisturizer
  • Dipropylene glycol - a solvent commonly used in beauty products. As it's in such a high concentration in this cream, there's a slight possibility for irritation
  • Denatured alcohol - another solvent common in Asian skincare that helps other ingredients penetrate skin more easily, but which can be too drying for some
  • Propanediol - another helper ingredient for other ingredients to be absorbed more readily and also moisturizes skin
and in lesser amounts also has more moisturizers (panthenol, velvet extract, silk extract, betaine, nutmeg, green purslane) and antioxidants (peony root extract). On the bad side, it does contains silicones (cyclopentasiloxane and dimethicone) and the touted hydrolyzed collagen is far down in the ingredients list, implying that it probably won't do much.

nokyong collagen contour lift gold capsule cream review

Price & Packaging
A single jar of the Nokyong Collagen Contour Lift Gold Capsule Cream comes in a large cardboard box which is quite elegant looking and the jar itself is a fancy plastic material with an included spatula for spooning out the capsules. Everything is shiny and gold, to fit with the branding. I love the box as it contains a slot for you to store the spatula, which so many brands don't think of. Those little plastic spatulas are way too easy to lose! 

Each jar of the Nokyong Collagen Contour Lift Gold Capsule Cream contains 50 g of product and once you unscrew the unnecessarily large lid, you'll see that 50 g is not that many pearls, so you can tell that this is a treat yo'self product, not a slather all over one!

Price-wise, this product could set you back anywhere between $60-80+ depending on where you purchase it. I couldn't find it on the THEFACESHOP Canada site, but on an American one, it's listed as $89!!

nokyong collagen contour lift serum review

If you're mixing the capsules in with your usual night cream, then scoop out 2-3 pearls into your hand and squish them before mixing in your cream. I tried using the Nokyong Collagen Contour Lift Gold Capsule Cream mixed in with my night cream and solo, and I prefer the latter as it's really quite messy to apply. If wearing this solo, you can use 3-4 pearls.

Contrary to the elegant feeling using gold pearls on one's face may imply, it's actually quite messy and awkward in practice. My pearls were fairly hard and slippery from its carrier fluid, so it was really hard to squish the little buggers as they kept slipping away! I basically had to jam my fingers down quickly onto each one and mash it into my palm until it became a gold colored paste. Hardly lady-like and luxurious.

Application issues aside, the Nokyong Collagen Contour Lift Gold Capsule Cream is definitely more of a serum than a cream as it's not hydrating enough to wear solo, especially in the winter. I found it hydrating, but if I just wore it alone, then after a few minutes my skin would start feeling dry again. It's also really sticky, so I know that's a deal breaker for many people. 

the face shop nokyong collagen

I've been alternating the Nokyong Collagen Contour Lift Gold Capsule Cream as a night serum with my other serums and generally, I feel meh about this one and have to force myself to remember to use it. This cream/serum is definitely one of those okay, does the job I guess, but nothing to write home about, products and for the price, it's so not worth it. 

Final Verdict
Ditch - pricey and its tricky application made this product all hype and no substance for me.

PS. Thanks everyone who has entered my reader survey so far! If you haven't yet, there's still time to enter for a chance to win a Sephora gift card!

* This post contains PR samples

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Foodie Adventures: Asian-style Braised Ginger Chicken with Portabello Mushrooms

It's been forever since I posted about my cooking, but here ladies and gentlemen is a MizzJ original! I've been on a braising kick lately with all the snowy weather, and this is a dish that I tried out the other week using ingredients I happened to have. Apologies ahead of time as the ingredient amounts are estimated as I made this up as I went!

Braised chicken with portabello mushroom

Winter time just means ginger to me. Ginger can be a bit too strong and pungent if overused, but when tempered with a rich broth, its spice becomes tempered into mild, rich sauce. Alongside some meaty, juicy portabello mushrooms, this fungi is a hearty complement to tender chicken. I really love how the braising results in such fragrant, juicy chicken and it's quickly become my favourite way to eat chicken lately. This dish tastes great with the sauce dribbled over some steamed rice and crunchy green veg like gai lan.

Asian-style Braised Ginger Chicken with Portabello Mushrooms

Recipe by MizzJ
Spicy ginger and rich mushroom broth combine in this Asian-inspired braised chicken thigh dish.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Yield: 4 servings of 2 thighs each

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 Portabello mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, 1 tbsp slivered while the other in large slices
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in warm water
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 green onion stalks, chopped into finger long pieces
  • salt and pepper (black and white), to taste
  • ginger powder, to taste
  • 1/3 cup water for mushroom stalk
  • pinch of sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Start by boiling the water. Add in half of the portabello mushrooms and a couple of the large ginger slices and lower heat to medium to make a mushroom stock.
  2. Prep the other ingredients. Season the raw chicken with salt and black pepper. Heat a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add 1 tbsp cooking oil and the chicken. Cook the chicken till seared golden-brown on both sides, about 5-7 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape up the browned bits in the pan.
  3. Add in the ginger, garlic and mushrooms (including the ones you used for stock) to the pan and saute for a minute. Use a spatula to scrape up the browned bits in the pan.
  4. Pour in your stock, a pinch of white pepper, a pinch of ginger powder and the sugar. Pour in the cornstarch and stir till it's dissolved.
  5. Lower the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes until chicken is tender.
  6. In the last minute, sprinkle the top of the dish with the green onion. Serve with rice.

Braised chicken with portabello mushroom

I hope you enjoyed this return of my Foodie Adventures! I've been trying out different recipe apps, but I haven't found any good ones for Asian/Chinese cooking, so if anyone knows any, please let me know!

PS. Enter to win a Sephora gift card just by filling out my reader survey!

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The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil Review | A revelation and revolution in skincare!

the ordinary skincare deciem

Okay, call me unpatriotic, but if you had told me one of the most innovative skincare companies outside of Korea was Canadian, I would have scoffed, but people, Deciem is the real deal and they have struck gold once again.

Launched last year, The Ordinary is far from it. Tired of seeing shelves of meaningless mumbo-jumbo and pseudo-science crowding skincare aisles and leading to overpriced products, Deciem decided to take action to make a brand that is as much about honesty as it is efficacy.

Described as "clinical formulations with integrity," The Ordinary is a line of serums, treatments and oils targeting various skin needs ranging from hydration, pigmentation and anti-aging. Each of the formulas are made with only the purest ingredients, with no fillers, parabens, or animal oils; plus they are cruelty-free!

The most astounding thing though about The Ordinary is their pricing - most everything is available for under $10!!! When I first heard about this, my jaw had to be picked up off my keyboard. This kind of pricing for this level of quality is unheard of. I immediately had to have some, so of course I sent in an order (Deciem is primarily available only online).

The first product I tried was The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil, which is exactly just what it says and nothing more.

the ordinary rosehip oil

Available in a 30 ml tinted glass bottle for only $9.90, this rose hip oil is a potent evening serum. Rose hip oil is well known for its potent moisturizing properties, due to its incredibly high levels of linoleic acids and vitamin A. Rose hip oil is a great all-around product as it's hydrating and anti-aging, while also helping to repair sun damage for more even skin tone and it's gentle enough for most anyone to use.

As it's so pure, I was interested if the Rose Hip Seed Oil had any scent, and yes, it does smell a bit green and more earthy than actual rose flowers. The oil is a medium amber color and of medium viscosity. Each night after cleansing and toning, I apply 3 drops to my neck and 4 to my face - as you age, don't forget to treat your necks ladies as they wrinkle too!

I found the oil to be very soothing and rich. It absorbs super quick and leaves behind a slightly sticky, but almost velvety feel to my skin. My face immediately feels softer and plumper upon application. Combined with the rest of my evening skincare, my skin appears brighter and feels more silky. After a month of use, I've noticed my fine lines are literally gone... well, except under my eyes, but unfortunately this is probably too heavy to apply there.

Based on this one product, I'm absolutely sold on The Ordinary. The products can be really intimidating to get into as they have very scientific names, but this rose oil is a great intro. Deciem also publishes a handy guide on when and how to apply each The Ordinary product and even sample regimens to use for various skin concerns. I also purchased their Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, so perhaps I should just round my collection with the rest of the anti-aging regimen and why not when the entire 5 product regimen would cost the same or less than a single serum from most brands?

Seriously, why are you still reading this review? Go buy this already!

the ordinary rosehip oil review

Final Verdict
Buy, duh - deeply moisturizing and super cheap, this pure rose hip seed oil is a great all-rounder anyone should add to their routine.

PS. Don't forget to fill in my reader survey to win a Sephora gift card!

What are your New Year resolutions? Mine include journaling for at least half an hour each night, and drinking more water! 

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