Bdellium Maestro 987 Face Blending (Contour) Brush Review | A hidden gem

Bdellium Maestro 987 brush review

Although one might think that eventually you could have talked about everything under the sun when it comes to beauty, this is not actually the case. There are always new brands, new formulas and new products to talk about! Case in point: this Bdellium Maestro 987 Face Blending Brush. I haven't seen many reviews on this brand at all, so I'm thrilled to be able to share this line with you all today.

Bite Beauty #TheLipPencil Review + Swatches

Bite The Lip Pencil review and Influenster

By now, you probably feel inundated with Instagrams and reviews of the Bite Beauty lip pencils. Well here's another one, but I think what I have to say may surprise you. These classic, ultra-pigmented, creamy lip pencils are Bite's answer to the often overlooked lip liner. Although I'm not a big lip liner person myself, I do think they're an essential in every lipstick lover's kit, so how do these ones from my beloved Bite stand up?

Lipsticks For Feeling Good: My Lipstick Collection Part 2

plum lipstick collection

In this multi-part series, I'm sharing a peek into my "active" lipstick collection. Right now I have 2 pencil cases (like the kind you use in elementary school to hold pencils and school supplies) full of lipsticks and these make up my go-to daily rotation. This series will feature those products and hopefully will inspire you to try a new lippie yourself!

Last week, I kicked off the first installment of my lipstick collection series, starting with reds, or the lipsticks I wear when I want to feel confident and bold.  This week, I'll be sharing the lipsticks that I wear just for me.

Skyn Iceland Brightening Eye Serum Review | It's time to destress.. starting with your eyes

skyn iceland brightening eye serum review

Stress. It's a standard of everyday modern life and it can drastically affect your mental and physical health, as well as your outward appearance. The founder of skyn ICELAND learned this the hard way, when she was forced to detox her life after stress became too much. To do so, she escaped to Iceland, where she was inspired by its pristine landscapes and laid back lifestyle to create a lifestyle and beauty company focused on encapsulating Iceland's pure natural benefits into a line of skincare products.

I've always wanted to visit Iceland, so why not start with some skincare inspired by it?

Lipsticks For Feeling Bold: My Lipstick Collection Part 1

red lipstick for yellow undertones

If there's one weakness I have regarding makeup, it's eyeshadows and lipsticks! I can never seem to get enough and I tend to go through phases where I'm obsessed with a certain type of shade for months before I get sick of it and move on to the next thing.

In this multi-part series, I'm sharing a peek into my "active" lipstick collection. Right now I have 2 pencil cases (like the kind you use in elementary school to hold pencils and school supplies) full of lipsticks and these make up my go-to daily rotation. This series will feature those products and hopefully will inspire you to try a new lippie yourself!

red lipstick shades
Left to right: Clinique Pop Lip in Peppermint Pop, Bite Amuse Bouche in Beetroot, Sonia Kashuk Velvety Matte Lip Crayon in Raspberry Nude, NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Monte Carlo, Clinique Pop Lip in Ruby Pop, Annabelle Stay Sharp Lip Liner in Glam Red, Sephora Collection lipstick in 04 Red, Annabelle TwistUp in Monroe, Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy in Empowered

First up, are the reds, or as I affectionately call them, the confidence makers. Red isn't for wussies. It's not for no-fuss, minimalist hippies. It's for glamourzons, seductresses, femme fatales and no-nonsense takers. It's that most classic of shades, yet it retains an air of mystery and sauciness. Have you ever met a boring person who wears red? I rest my case!

I always wear reds when I'm either feeling really lazy to do my makeup, or when I want to feel stronger than I am, say for a big work meeting, or a meeting with an ex, or just a party where I want to look good and feel more extroverted than my natural self.

My favourite types of reds range from true reds to deeper, moodier territories. Right now I'm lusting for a true oxblood shade for winter, but in summer I'll even venture to slightly orange-reds to match the season. There's a red for every skin tone, but for mine, I think it favours neutral-to-cool reds more.

red lipstick for when you want to feel powerful
Left to right: Clinique Pop Lip in Peppermint Pop, Bite Amuse Bouche in Beetroot, Sonia Kashuk Velvety Matte Lip Crayon in Raspberry Nude, NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Monte Carlo, Clinique Pop Lip in Ruby Pop, Annabelle Stay Sharp Lip Liner in Glam Red, Sephora Collection lipstick in 04 Red, Annabelle TwistUp in Monroe, Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy in Empowered

Here's the details on the reds featured here:
  • Clinique Pop Lip Matte Lip Colour + Primer in Peppermint Pop - a bold scarlet that's high impact in just one swipe and lasts all day (see how it looks here)
  • Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Beetroot - maybe I say this a lot, but trust me when I say that Bite makes some of my favourite lipsticks! I recently got Beetroot, so I'm still getting used to it, as it's so bold looking, but I really really love it. These are super creamy and never drying. Bite lipsticks are a little pricier at $30 each, but so worth it and they're made from food grade ingredients!
  • Sonia Kashuk Velvety Matte Lip Crayon in Raspberry Nude - this one always makes me sad that Target left Canada because Sonia Kashuk is so good! These lip pencils offer as much pigment and lasting power as a higher end lipstick, but at a much cheaper price. This shade is very wearable despite its brightness, with a soft velvet finish that gives you that flushed lips look
  • NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Monte Carlo - this one is quite similar to Raspberry Nude, but in a cream liquid lipstick finish. I'm such a sucker for a good cranberry red!
  • Clinique Pop Lip Matte Lip Colour + Primer in Ruby Pop - I always get the name of this one mixed up with Peppermint Pop as rubies just imply a darker tone to me for some reason. Ruby Pop is a brighter, more cheerful version of Peppermint Pop, with just the slightest hint of orange
  • Annabelle Stay Sharp Self Sharpening Lipliner in Glam Red (review) - reds can be notoriously tricky to apply and keep intact, so a creamy lip liner should be a staple in your pocket. This liner is not only super red and works great as an all-over color, but it also will literally last you from sun up to sundown AND you can even sharpen it on the go! 
  • Sephora Collection Rouge Cream Lipstick in 04 Red - one of my first red lipsticks. This tried and true red is super bright and the boldest of the bold 
  • Annabelle TwistUp Lipstick Crayon in Monroe - I reviewed these AGES ago and I still haven't used this up! The original TwistUp shades were my favourite of the line. Monroe is what I call a "beginner's red" as it's not too loud, but still packs some decent pigmentation. As a recall, I said this was a "wear it and call it a day" type color as it's really all you need to look put together
  • Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Lipstick in Empowered (review) - another fantastic scarlet from another fabulous lipstick line. I love this lipstick as it has a really pretty glossy finish, leaves my lips feeling moisturized, and packs some great color payoff. Out of all the reds featured here, this one is probably the sheerest, but I actually like that as sometimes you just want a little something and not a lot of something. Plus the packaging here is the best of them all with a sleek navy and gold bullet and the most satisfying clicking magnetic lid. Seriously, you have to play with it in person to get what I mean!

As you can tell, a lot of these are oldies, but goodies in my collection and the fact that I've been wearing these for so long just tells you how versatile and essential they are! I would certainly repurchase any of these anytime.

What is your favourite type of red lipstick?

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Burberry Liquid Lip Velvet Review + Swatches | Burberry does it again!

burberry liquid lip velvet

2016 was the year of the liquid lipstick. You could not get anywhere, especially on Instagram, without seeing that ultra-pigmented, matte liquid lipstick look. While admittedly gorgeous, I just didn't find myself jumping wholeheartedly onto the liquid bandwagon, namely because liquid lipsticks are notoriously tricky to apply, take too long to set and most importantly, leave my lips feeling like Death Valley.

With the debut of the Burberry Liquid Lip Velvets though, was it finally time for me to step into the liquid lipstick camp?

The Burberry Liquid Lip Velvets are ultra-pigmented liquid lipsticks with a unique whipped texture and a matte-cream finish. Designed to offset the worst characteristics of the category, the Burberry Liquid Lip Velvets claim to be non-drying, lightweight and comfortable for all-day wear. The collection is available in 14 stunning shades, ranging from a pale nude mauve to a vibrant fuchsia and  a deep black cherry - and lest we forget, there is of course an oxblood shade!

Burberry was kind enough to send me 2 shades from the line to try and they are just the ones I would have picked myself!

Fawn is described as a nude rosy brown, although straight out of the tube, it looked more like a pink mauve. On me, the color is true to description. Fawn is a beautiful brown rose MLBB that makes my lips look like a refreshed version of their natural color. If you want something more mauve, then Fawn Rose would be your pick, but the warm brown undertones of Fawn suit me perfectly!

burberry liquid lip velvet fawn rose
Burberry Lip Velvet in Fawn

The other shade I received was Brilliant Violet and it's described as a soft purple. On the Burberry site, Brilliant Violet is a gorgeous magenta purple that's a cross between a deep mulberry and phlox. On me, my lips seem to bring out more of the red tones in this color and it appears more like a amaranth than a purple.

burberry liquid lip velvet brilliant violet
Burberry Lip Velvet in Brilliant Violet

Both shades apply with one swipe full color, which is what I'd expect out of any liquid lipstick. The texture is probably the most unique part of the Burberry Liquid Lip Velvets. It truly comes out of the tube like a whipped mousse that applies softly and evenly across the lips. Although you don't need to, I like to swipe back and forth across my lips with the wand to really pack on the color; I found this the best way to make the color last without fading, whereas a single swipe tended to fade slightly over time.

The Burberry Liquid Lip Velvets mousse texture makes this lipstick a lot easier to apply than other liquid lipsticks that lean more gloopy and sticky. The Burberry Liquid Lip Velvets' creamy texture melts into lips and can be blended easily with the Lip Velvet's tapered doe foot wand. I found the tip of the wand especially handy for creating a precise outline on my lips.

As the Burberry Liquid Lip Velvets aren't really wet, I thought they would set quickly and they do set somewhat, in that they don't feel slippery, but I didn't find them to ever truly set like a liquid lipstick should. Basically these transfer as easily as any other lipstick, i.e. onto cups, napkins, skin, everything! The color does however last very well throughout the day and I didn't notice either of mine fading to a dreaded ring over time.

burberry liquid lip velvet swatches
Left to right: Fawn, Brilliant Velvet

Besides the fact that the Burberry Liquid Lip Velvets don't truly set, my other major gripe with these is that they are not moisturizing. My lips right now are drier than they've been for months thanks to the weather and indoor heating and these lipsticks show every single dry patch. Looking at these photos just makes me cringe because I can see every line and wrinkle clearly. Both shades show dryness equally, though I imagine the palest shade in the line could probably show this even worse. Exfoliation and lip balm are definitely needed with these.

At first I was super hesitant to use any balm with the Burberry Liquid Lip Velvets, but unlike many liquid lipsticks, these didn't seem to melt off with lip balm; just be sure to use a beeswax based one and not an oily one to be safe.

Despite these lipsticks not resolving my biggest dislikes with liquid lipsticks, the Burberry Liquid Lip Velvets are still a winner in my eyes. The colors are gorgeous and I love the truly velvet finish it gives. If my lips were more moisturized, then I think the velvet finish would make them look so pillowy and lush and who doesn't want that?

You can purchase these lipsticks from Sephora and Burberry counters for $38 each.

Final Verdict

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A Dinner Party Makeup Look Ft. Clinique Lid Pop in Willow Pop

just j makeup look

Happy Valentine's Day! Today's post is a day late from my usual posting schedule as yesterday was Family Day in BC so I had the day off.

Green eyeshadow isn't something people would normally call a neutral, but I beg to differ! There's green and then there's green. Basically, one cannot write off a whole color just because some aren't one's cup of tea! Unless it's grey and then I am very biased. Anyhoo, if you're not a green makeup lover, then I beg for you to give Clinique's Lid Pop in Willow Pop a try.

Willow Pop is a beautiful olive green color that is super flattering for many skin tones, particularly if you have yellow undertones like me. This is the only Lid Pop shade I own, but if Willow Pop is representative of this line, then I'd say it's awesome. Willow Pop is pigmented, but easily sheered out and has a really soft satin finish that is great if you hate in your face shadows.

clarins iridescente eyeshadow makeup look

To demonstrate its wearability, I created this look featuring Willow Pop and my favourite grey shadow for a dinner banquet this past weekend. I'm such a fan lately of soft, smoky eyes, and this look could be worn for any number of everyday or special occasions.

Here's how to create this look!

  • Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer in Creamwhip (review)
  • Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid in Pink (review)
  • Algenist REVEAL Concentrated Color Correcting Drops in Pink (review)
  • Make Up Forever HD Pressed Powder
Every good look requires a solid base and nothing makes my skin look as flawless as my go-to Clinique foundation concealer. I have a couple of blemish scars at the moment, so this was a necessity. Then to brighten things up as I wanted a lit, but not super dewy, glow I applied some pink color correcting under my eyes and to the center of my forehead. Finally I set everything off with some translucent powder.

  • Urban Decay Primer Potion
  • Tarte Tartelette in Bloom palette 
  • Clinique Lid Pop in Willow Pop
  • Clarins Ombre Iridescente Eye Shadow in Silver Grey
  • Stila Extreme Lash Mascara
First prime your lids with your fave primer. I always prime as it just helps my eye colors lay down more pigmented and last longer. Primer also helps to smooth your eye lid surface. Now for color! I like to lay down my transition and base shades first. I wanted something slightly cool but mostly neutral, so I opted to first lay down the shade Flower Child from my Tarte Tartelette in Bloom palette all over my lid; it's a fine yellow-cream shade that perfectly matches my skin. Next, I highlighted with Charmer, a matte bone white, and then went over my lid and crease again with Jetsetter, which is a slightly ashy light brown.

clinique willow pop makeup look

With my transition down, it was time to apply color. Taking a medium stiff shadow brush, I dipped it generously into Willow Pop and then applied that across my lid with patting motions, concentrating the color on my outer lid and keeping it beneath my transition area. 

I could have stopped things there, but I always like a bit of shimmer to draw light to my eyes, so I picked up my Clarins shadow and with a tapered shadow brush (the Sigma E30S is perfect for this) I lined my top lash line with a shimmery grey. Now you might think that a warm tone like olive wouldn't go well with a cool grey, but somehow it does! 

Lastly since I was skipping any further eyeliner, I wanted full lashes, so I applied 2 coats of a voluminizing mascara.

  • KISS Pro Top Brow Fine Precision Brow Pencil (review)
  • Marcelle Perfect Brow Gel (review)
Normally I'm all for defining and filling in my brows, but for today's look I wanted something softer. This combo of pigmented brow gel + brow pencil has been my go-to for weekend soft brow looks. First, I outlined my brows using this super-fine brow pencil, just gently filling in the tail ends of my brows, which are always too short. Then I filled in everything using this awesome Marcelle tinted brow gel; seriously this gel is the best as it's so pigmented and the brush is angled so it's really easy to work with! 

  • Clarins Contour Visage Palette
Again, keeping things light here. I just took a small blush brush and swept my T-zone and cheekbones with the cream toned highlight from this palette and the rose-pink shade across the apples of my cheeks. No contouring today!

  • Bite Lip Pencil in 020
  • Burberry Lip Velvet in Fawn
I'll be reviewing these two items soon, but I'll just gush now about how much I love the combo of these two. They both look really pink-mauve in person, but I suppose my lip color brings out the rosiness in them way more. This is the perfect type of lip color for pairing with a green as it just gives a very fresh-faced, romantic finish.

gray and green makeup look

What did you think of this look? I hope I've convinced you to give greens, or at least olive greens, a try! 

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A Jem Doll Inspired Makeup Look Ft. Lancôme GRANDIÔSE Bendable Liquid Eyeliner and Extreme Wide-Angle Mascara

lancome grandiose bendable eyeliner makeup looks

Happy Friday everyone! I'm celebrating the long weekend here in BC by bringing to you today a fun makeup look inspired by the Lancôme GRANDIÔSE Bendable Liquid Eyeliner and Lancôme GRANDIÔSE Extreme Wide-Angle Extreme Volume Mascara. 

I am so excited to review these two Lancôme GRANDIÔSE items for you. I've always been a huge fan of the Lancôme GRANDIÔSE mascara and this new version, which came out last fall, is designed to give you even more volume than the original. Also new, is the Lancôme GRANDIÔSE Bendable Liquid Eyeliner, which comes in 3 long lasting shades (blue, black and brown).

lancome grandiose bendable eyeliner
Left to right:  Lancôme GRANDIÔSE Bendable Liquid Eyeliner, Lancôme GRANDIÔSE Extreme Wide-Angle Mascara

So what's so cool about the Lancôme GRANDIÔSE line? Well, that unique bend to the wands! Both the mascara and the eyeliner have the ability to bend their applicator wands to a maximum 35 degree angle, which makes these so much more ergonomic and easy to apply. The mascara especially is a game changer as you now only need to use a single angle to apply mascara to your lashes - no more awkward arm twisting to get your left eye!

I absolutely adore the Lancôme GRANDIÔSE mascara formula. It's is wetter than others, but it's not heavy, so it doesn't weigh down my lashes and it gives them a true falsie-like volume and length.

The Lancôme GRANDIÔSE liquid eyeliner was new to me and the ability to bend the wand was, I felt, a bit gimmicky. Did it make application way easier? Maybe. I could see this helping with beginners, but it wasn't so significant an effect as I found with the mascara.

lancome grandiose swatches
Left to right:  Lancôme GRANDIÔSE Bendable Liquid Eyeliner, Lancôme GRANDIÔSE Extreme Wide-Angle Mascara

lancome grandiose mascara review

I received both these products in a stunning blue sapphire shade. The Lancôme GRANDIÔSE mascara was actually tinted enough to be subtly visible if you looked at my face on an angle, but not so colorful as it wasn't appropriate to wear out to work. The Lancôme GRANDIÔSE eyeliner is a beautiful peacock blue with a shimmery, almost metallic finish.

With such bold, fun colors, I was inspired to create a look to match! As a kid growing up, the TV show Jem and the Holograms was a bit before my time, but what I do vividly remember is playing with my sister's Jem dolls, particularly Aja. With her Asian-American ancestry, Aja was the first toy I'd played with that actually looked like me - if you ignore the blue hair and neon makeup - and she was definitely my favourite. I think I've always had a thing for rainbow hair and makeup ever since because of her and so this look is a little homage to that time.

makeup look with lancome grandiose mascara

Here's how to create this look!

  • THEFACESHOP CC Intense Cushion Foundation in Pure Beige (review)
To start things off, I wanted a very luminous, dewy look, so this cc cushion from THEFACESHOP fit the bill. I applied it all over. Setting and finishing powder is optional.

Jem doll inspired makeup look

  • Morphe 35F palette
  • Teeez Cosmetics Spectrum of Stars eyeshadow in Magical Fuchsia (review
  • MAC Pro Longwear Waterproof Colour Stick in Madly Sunny
  • Lancôme GRANDIÔSE Bendable Liquid Eyeliner in blue
  • Lancôme GRANDIÔSE Extreme Wide-Angle Extreme Volume Mascara in blue
The eyes are the centerpiece of this look! First I applied a shimmery white-gold base from my Morphe 35F palette (LOVE THIS!!), then laid down a layer of a shimmery magenta pink all over my lids to just above my crease. Next, I took a warm medium-purple shade from Teeez and applied that generously on the outer third of my lid and into the crease. Then, I mixed it up a LOT by applying a thick layer of this crazy citrine MAC color. The only problem I had with this (and the problem was not with these mad color combos) was the mix of textures. The MAC Colour Stick is creamy and thick, while everything else is a soft powder; thus, it was difficult to blend things out properly, as you can see in my photos. I'm not sure how to alleviate that next time; perhaps I should reverse the order of application?

lancome grandiose mascara makeup looks

Anyways, once I was satisfied with my lid colors (I also applied the citrine to my under eye), I then gave myself an extended cat-eye with the Lancôme GRANDIÔSE liner and finished off with a couple coats of the Lancôme GRANDIÔSE mascara.

Bold eyes means bold brows, so I filled in my brows quite darkly. Sorry, but I forget what it was that I used! 

Nothing! I took these photos during a super fun epic girls day with Sheila and Angela and so I had schlep everything over for my blogging to Sheila's and forgot anything for my cheeks. I highly recommend some crazy shimmery, could-cut-glass highlight for this though if you were to recreate this. 

  • Revlon Ultra HD lipstick in Orchid
Lastly, a fun look deserves a fun lippie and nothing's so fun as matchy matching. A few generous swipes of this purple magenta lipstick and this look is done!

lancome grandiose bendable eyeliner makeup looks

This makeup look is way out of my comfort zone, but I really had a lot of fun putting it together! With my hooded lids, it didn't even look that crazy in the photos. I love how the Lancôme GRANDIÔSE eyeliner gives such a metallic blue pop, even among all the other colors I've got going on. If you're interested in checking these out, I highly recommend heading to your nearest Sephora!

Life lately: This long weekend is also Valentine's Day weekend! As per usual, Mr. Artist and I eschew the mushiness and instead gorge upon yummy food and revenge movies. Even after 8 years together, I can still surprise Mr. Artist, as I did when he asked me what revenge movie I wanted to watch this year and my reply was a big grin and in my best little girl voice, "one with lots of violence!" Single or no, what will you be doing for Valentine's Day?

*This post contains PR samples

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NIOD Mastic Must and Myrrh Clay Masque Reviews | Looking back to move forward

Niod mask review

As soon as I'd heard about NIOD's yesti collection last year and it's commitment to paying homage to traditional medicines and remedies, I was intrigued. NIOD's parent company, Deciem is more known for their hyper-scientific approaches to skincare, so yesti's decidedly historical outlook seemed like a big departure for the brand.

NIOD, which stands for Non-Invasive Options in Dermal science, is a line of hyper-specific skincare products for the sophisticated consumer. The yesti collection consists of 3 products, all masque based, 2 of which I'll be showing you today: the Mastic Must and the Myrrh Clay.

NIOD Mastic Must Masque
Price: $37 for 90 ml
  • Deep cleans
  • Minimize pores
  • Priming
Star ingredients: Sustainably sourced mastic tree sap
  • Doesn't leave my skin feeling tight
  • Smoothing 
  • Leaves my skin feeling cleansed
  • Gentle
  • Takes too long to use
  • Natural smell might be off-putting to some
Final verdict: Ditch

niod myrrh clay review
Left to right: Mastic Must, Myrrh Clay

The Mastic Must is a pretty unique masque in my experience. Containing sustainable sourced mastic tree sap from trees in Greece, this ingredient supposedly binds to dirt and bacteria to deeply cleanse and tighten pores. I love how the star ingredient is high up in the ingredient's list - in fact, it's number 3! As well, this masque contains a healthy dose of moisturizers (glycerin and centaurea cyanus flower water), as well as cleansers (stearic acid, sapindus mukurossi fruit extract), detoxifying clay (bentonite) and antibacterial/anti-inflammatories (honey).

The Mastic Must is meant to be used 2-3 times a week. Simply apply in the mornings for 10 minutes then gently massage off with a damp washcloth and warm water. You can also use this with a cleansing brush for some extra exfoliation, which is how I used it. Since time is of the essence for me in the mornings, I'd apply this mask while I brushed my teeth and put on my contacts, and then used my Clinique cleansing brush to gently wash it off. It's hard to say whether I was ever able to wear this masque for the whole 10 minutes as I move fairly fast in the mornings, but that's not where the magic happens anyways. 

Between my brush and splashing water on my face, this masque rinsed away easily and cleanly. My skin felt cleansed and refreshed, but not tight. My pores are already pretty small, so I couldn't tell if this masque had any effect that way or not, but I can remark that it didn't seem to have any effect on my skin texture - that is, until I tried the blowdry trick. 

Now this has got to be the weirdest thing I've been recommended to do with a masque, but after hearing other bloggers swear by it, I gave it a go. Right after rinsing off this mask and drying your face, NIOD recommends you blow dry your face with warm air for 10-15 seconds. Doing this helps charge up the effects of the mask and while it sounds downright silly, it does really work! Immediately after, my skin instantly felt and looked noticeably smoother, as if I'd just applied a smoothing primer. It almost felt a shame to apply my usual serums and moisturizers on top and if my skin wasn't so dry lately, I might actually have tried skipping those. 

Despite this neat effect, I'm not sure I'd repurchase this. The masque does cleanse well, but it hasn't proven life-changing yet and I don't like how I have to wait 10 minutes to use it. It seems like a lot of oilier skin types swear by this masque, so maybe I'm not the target user. 

niod mastic must

NIOD Myrrh Clay Masque
Price: $38 for 50 ml
  • Firming
  • Deep cleansing 
Star ingredients: Myrrh clay, strawberry leaf
  • Deep cleaning
  • Soothing
  • Jar packaging is hard to use
Final verdict: Buy

The NIOD Myrrh Clay masque is a traditional clay based masque that gives your skin a deep clean while providing a firming effect for a more youthful appearance. Although it sounds like your typical clay mask, the Myrrh Clay masque has some of the most unique ingredients that I've seen.

First off, the first ingredient in this masque is peat. Now, isn't that a type of moss? I'm not sure, but apparently it's also great for combating blemishes while improving your skin's texture and moisture! The Myrrh Clay masque also contains a bunch of other cleansing ingredients, like strawberry leaf and commiphora myrrh extract. Thankfully, this masque also contains some moisturizers to counteract all those harsher ingredients, like glycerin and evodia rutaecarpa fruit extract.

My biggest gripe with this product is its packaging. The tinted screw-top jar is totally in line with NIOD's branding, but damn is it a pain to use! With a slightly narrower neck, I'm already finding it a pain to scoop this masque out and I really wish NIOD had included a scoop if they were really committed to this apothecary-style format.

Other than that though, I really like this masque. It's very soothing, has a clean, natural smell, and while it does dry down, it doesn't feel unpleasantly tightening like a lot of clay masques can be. I use this once a week and my skin feels smoother, brighter and clean after. Now, it's not the most amazing masque I've ever tried, so I'm not sure I'm quite sold on it yet, but it's a solid one to try if you're interested in checking out something new.

Life lately: I'm so sick of snow! At the time of writing this post on the past weekend, it's snowing huge flakes outside. While beautiful to look at, I'm getting real tired of Vancouver city buses losing their shit over a few centimeters of the stuff. A woman's got places to be!

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Getting My Sous Vide On With The Complete Sous Vide Cookbook by Chris McDonald

The Complete Sous Vide Cookbook by Chris McDonald

Who would ever have thought that boiling foods encased in a plastic bag would taste so good? Sous vide, which means "under vaccum" in French, is a type of cooking where food is placed into sealed plastic pouches and cooked under a strict temperature controlled steam or water bath. The idea behind this technique is that by cooking foods this way, one can slowly control the exact textures and flavours that result. Foods that are baked or fried often are tricky to cook properly and run the risk of being burnt or tasting dry and overdone. Sous vide foods never come across this issue - all you need is lots of time.

Up till recently, sous vide cooking was usually reserved for gourmet restaurant kitchens, but thanks to technology, there are now tons of portable, small sous vide devices for home use. Mr. Artist and I purchased one months ago and it has literally changed how we eat meats! Now we can make perfect, juicy steaks that are superior to even restaurants!

Sous vide can be used for more than just meats though. Awhile ago I was sent a copy of The Complete Sous Vide Cookbook by Chris McDonald. This cookbook contains over 175 different recipes for meats, seafood, vegetables, and even desserts you can make sous vide, as well as a variety of sides and sauces to pair with them.

sous vide recipes

Some examples of the mouth-watering recipes contained in this book:

  • Rib steak with green peppercorn sauce
  • Buttermilk fried chicken
  • Herb crusted salmon with cilantro, horseradish and Dijon
  • Seared scallops with kimchi butter
  • Creme brulee
  • Pears in red wine
This cookbook is full of helpful information. Before each chapter, there's a detailed section outlining various cuts of meat and how to prepare, package and cook them. I normally prefer cookbooks with lots of glossy photos, and this one is very heavy on the text, which makes it a little hard to get into at first. I also wish there were dividers so you could easily jump between chapters, but these are minor preferences.

The first recipe I was eager to try was the Ribeye Steak with Chimichurri Sauce. I'd had chimichurri sauce before at my sister's and was so intrigued to try it myself as it's such a zesty complement to seared meat.

The Complete Sous Vide Cookbook's chimichurri recipe is pretty simple. All you need is:
  • Garlic
  • Jalapeno pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Dried oregano

sous vide steak with chimichurri sauce

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and serve! After seeing how easy this was to make, I'm now obsessed with eating this sauce with everything. We ate it on the weekend with lamb chops instead of the aforementioned ribeye since they were on sale at Costco and they tasted so good! We sous vided the lamb chops for about an hour according to the steak recipe, with olive oil, fresh rosemary and salt and pepper. Then we finished it off by searing it with some butter on the stove. The meat was perfectly medium-rare and so tender and juicy. Sorry vegetarians, but with meat this good, how can a carrot ever compare!

sous vide lamp chops

If you haven't thought to try sous vide yet, then what are you waiting for! And if you do, then this comprehensive cookbook is all you need for meals upon meals of inspiration.

cooking with the complete sous vide cookbook

Happy eating!

*This post contains PR samples

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The Results Are In!

makeup swap

Well the results are in from my first reader survey and I'm so grateful for the 100 people who provided their feedback! I wasn't sure what to expect response-wise as I'd never done this before and I was asking quite a few questions. The responses came in from old and new readers, and there were so many interesting insights that I thought I'd share them today!

Who you are

  • 100% female - no surprises there!
  • 46% of you are ages 21-30, but what really surprised me was the 14 responses from women greater than 40! When I first decided to switch from fashion to beauty blogging with the creation of Just J, it was with the thought that the beauty community was more open and accessible to anyone of any age and looks like that is in fact true!

Where you come from

Sure, I can see in Google Analytics that Google is my biggest referrer by far, but I wanted to see if that was actually a source of readers dedicated enough to respond. What I didn't realize before was that I should have put the Canadian Beauty Bloggers as a poll option! There were so many responses caught up in "Other" that mentioned the network! If you haven't considered joining a blog community like the CBB, then I hope this will convince you to join us!

Another interesting source of readers was from comments I had left on others' blogs. I always try really hard to visit other blogs and interact with those who visit me, so it's gratifying to see that actually does pay off!

Sadly nobody mentioned Instagram as a source for finding me, which makes me wonder why I bother! 

How you follow me

With the previous question and this one, I was really surprised that Twitter was such a major option! Apparently a lot of you found and keep up with my blog via Twitter! Blog newbies take note!  

What you like about my blog and what you want more of

Now this was the meaty part as it deals with content. Here I was hoping to understand what you all wanted me to keep doing and what I should quit investing in. Not that I'm just here for the likes, but I think it's super helpful to be aware of what people enjoy and find useful.

Thankfully, what you like, I also like! A variety of topics was the top pick, but there was also a strong demand for more makeup looks/tutorials, which is great because I needed the motivation to do more! They're definitely the funnest and most creatively challenging type of posts to do, so I'll be making it a resolution to do more this year. 

Canadian brands also had a healthy number of responses; I've always tried to promote Canadian brands on my blog, so I'll have to see how I can incorporate even more into my content.

I'm also going to try and keep doing more cooking related posts, although I do need to figure out my photography situation with cooking as it's really hard to cook and take good photos at the same time!

According to this, nobody wants to see me do videos -__-

What to say "Bye Felicia" to

Tired as it is, I just had to bring that reference in as I actually know someone named Felicia and so I take every chance to say it. Sadly, I guess you all are pretty meh on the book reviews. I had thought to bring them in something different to add to my content and especially since I'm always reading when I'm not blogging. Even though I was a little sad to see this result, I realize that it's a legit conclusion as I myself actually tend to skip over book reviews on other blogs, sooo yeah, hypocrite much? I guess it's "Bye Felicia" to the books!

Overall impressions
This exercise was super useful, particularly the written comments. I deeply appreciate each of those as I know you had to take that extra bit of time to write those. As you can tell by the new blog template, I've taken that to heart and invested in a fresh look that is more mobile responsive. There's a weird glitch I can't figure out at the moment where if you go to directly, it doesn't switch to mobile, but if you go to, it will. If anyone has some tech skillz with custom hosting please let me know! 

Your feedback has also charged me up with renewed energy and creative direction! One comment was to lay off the PR samples, which I can say is fair. While I can't forgo PR opportunities entirely because let's face it, blogging is expensive and trying new free things is FUN, I am going to try to be more judicious on what I do accept and as always, be completely transparent on my opinions and disclosure.

Thank you again to everyone who answered my survey or even bothered to read through to the end of this! If you're a blogger, I hope this was insightful for you as well, and I encourage you to do the same with your own readership!

As for the giveaway, check your inboxes soon as I'll be reaching out to the winner this weekend!

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Falling in Love with Clarins Makeup | Clarins LE Face Contouring Palette and Ombre Iridescente Eye Shadow

Clarins limited edition face contouring palette

As I get older and more experienced with makeup, my expectations rise. It's rare now for me to go "oh wow" when I try something new, so I was pleasantly shocked when I had just such a moment recently when I tried out these new (to me) Clarins items.

Now, everyone knows Clarins as that ubiquitous department store staple with the red packaging, but when you think of amazing makeup brands, Clarins doesn't exactly jump to mind. The brand has always been associated with the type of woman who's often older and more interested in looking tasteful than trendy, but that's no reason to not give this brand a try. I haven't tried too many Clarins makeup items, but of what I have tried, I've had zero complaints!

Case in point, the Face Contouring Palette (LE) and Ombre Iridescente Eyeshadow. When I first received these, my reaction was "oh great, another contouring trio and grey shadow. YAWN," but I was so wrong.

clarins face contouring palette review

The Face Contouring Palette is on the surface your typical contouring kit. There's a golden beige highlight, a neutral medium toned bronzer and a petal pink blush. This trio is designed to target light-medium skin tones and has been dermatologist tested to be suitable for all skin types. Each shade is matte and has a really fine, silky texture that just loves to be blended in with a brush.

The Face Contouring Palette also comes with special contouring brush, but dump it as it's rubbish. This mini brush has a unique sickle shape that supposedly is designed to help carve our your cheekbones. I gamely decided to try this one out as I assumed maybe Clarins would make a nice brush, but nope, as soon as I touched this brush to my palette, I got a crumbly, powdery mess and I put that brush down instantly. Time to call in my tried-and-true brushes!

After that I fared much better. As I mentioned, these powders just love to be blended. I decided to try out Clarins' enclosed instructional pamphlet, and first took my contouring brush to apply bronzer to the hollows of my cheeks and hairline. My mouth immediately dropped when I first took my contouring brush to the bronzer as this bronzer is so pigmented. The texture of these powders are so fine and satiny and just ugh, so nice! If you use a gentle hand to slowly build up color and apply liberal blending motions, then the colors of this trio are just perfection.

clarins face contouring palette

I always find blending bronzers a pain, but with the Clarins Face Contouring Palette, it's a breeze. The bronzer looks amazing as it's not orange or cool toned, but pink toned so it wears almost like a brown blush. When paired with the blush, my skin just looks more alive somehow, as if it were lit from within. Even though the powders look matte in the pan, somehow when on my skin it just becomes illuminated, as if it had some Guerlain Meteorites magic baked into it. My skin looks almost airbrushed and so different that I couldn't stop squinting at my cheek in the mirror as I couldn't figure out how this effect worked.

The only, not dud, but least exciting shade out of this palette for me was the highlight. It's a cream matte that's exactly the same color as my skin so it doesn't really do much for me, but it does work well as an overall powder with light coverage. I'd definitely use this as a finishing powder!

clarins face contouring palette swatches
Swatches of the Clarins Face Contouring Palette and Ombre Iridescente Eye Shadow in Silver Grey

Now this post is getting quite long already and I haven't even touched yet on the Ombre Iridescente Eyeshadow! Again, I was very skeptical about this shadow as it's a cream-to-powder shadow, which are notoriously finicky for me, and it's grey, the one color I rarely ever touch.

The shade I received to try was Silver Grey and it's a shimmery mid-tone steel grey. Made with bamboo powder and vitamin E, the Ombre Iridescente Eyeshadows come in 7 different neutral colors and all have a shimmery, pearl finish with a unique creamy texture designed for all day wear.
I usually avoid cream shadows as they tend to crease and are streaky on me, but the Clarins Ombre Iridescente Eyeshadow felt quite buttery and with a dense shadow brush, was super pigmented and definitely on par with my Urban Decay shadows.

I should have recorded myself applying this shadow as I'm pretty sure my reaction was just a series of "ugh, so beautiful!", "ahhh I love this!" and other incoherent mutterings. The shimmer on this shadow isn't sparkly per se, as there's no visible glitter, but it's as bright and glistening as a true glitter.

Despite all the shimmer, this shadow also has a decently pigmented base of color, which I often find lacking in glitter shadows. Overall the Ombre Iridescente Eyeshadow are a great grown-up version of sparkly eyeshadows and perfect for a smoky eye, a sheer wash of color, or just as a shimmering liner.

clarins ombre iridescent eyeshadow review

Even though both of these products are quite pigmented and high impact, they are actually very wearable and natural looking on. I created this makeup look using both products and I love how soft and yet defined my features look. I can't wait to try these out with more looks in the future!

The Face Contouring Palette retails for $42 USD ($56 CAD) and the Ombre Iridescente Eyeshadow for $25 USD ($33 CAD) and are available at Clarins counters everywhere. While definitely high-end price-wise, this is one of those occasions where I'd vote that these are worth investing in. There are many other contouring trios at similar prices that aren't anywhere as great and this one I'd say is comparable to my beloved Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow, but at half the price! As for the eyeshadow, the Ombre Iridescente Eyeshadow is only slightly more expensive than the Make Up Forever singles and again, at comparable quality.

clarins makeup tutorial

If you're curious about expanding your makeup horizons, then get thee to a Clarins counter as there are some real diamonds in the rough to discover!

Final Verdict

* This post contains PR samples

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