Archive for category Moisturizers

Two more hits from Kypris Beauty: the Antioxidant Dew & the Beauty Elixir III

Several months ago, the lovely Chase Polan and her team sent along 2 products from her outstanding organic skincare line Kypris as a gift for me to enjoy. I was beyond excited to try more products from the brand, as I’d already fallen in love with the retinol alternative, Moonlight Catalyst (review here) and the newest addition to the family, the Body Elixir: Inflorescence (review here). However, I had skincare coming out of my ears at that point, and I didn’t want to open the bottles until I was ready to use them. In December, I finally had an ‘opening’ in my morning skincare routine, so I cracked open the Antioxidant Dew eagerly. Then, this month after finishing up another oil, I started applying the Beauty Elixir III in the evening as my final step, so now can talk about these products and share with you my experiences!

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The Antioxidant Dew ($67US for 47mL) is an extremely lightweight, milky serum that is designed to restore strength, vitality and radiance to skin. As the name suggests, it’s loaded with antioxidants such as ferulic acid to fight free radicals, while also soothing inflammation and hydrating the skin.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

There are many things to love about this serum: the beautifully light texture (SO perfect for layering!); how supple, calm and healthy my skin looks after use; how incredibly hydrated my skin feels with absolutely NO greasiness whatsoever. Though I generally use this sandwiched between a Vitamin C serum and a sunscreen, I’ve used alone on occasion and have felt no need for an additional layer of moisture. I also enjoy that this is free of essential oils so that all skins, reactive or otherwise, can use it without worry. Below is the ingredient list:

Water/Aqua, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Xylitylglucoside, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Algae, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Phospholipids, Phragmites Communis (Reed) Extract, Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey) Leaf Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Poria Cocos Extract, Xylitol, Anhydroxylitol, Waltheria Indica Leaf Extract, Panthenol, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Calophyllum Inophylum (Tamanu) Seed Oil, Lecithin, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Superoxide Dismutase, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Mannitol, Dextrin, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Levulinate, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Gluconate, Xanthan Gum.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

I think the biggest selling point for me is that I can wear this serum in the day – as many organic treatment products are oil-heavy, I find they can leave my skin a touch too shiny (though I suspect for the more dry-skinned out there that this isn’t a problem). I love that I can pair this with other products without feeling weighed down or suffocated. So beautiful!

Kypris Beauty Elixir III

The Beauty Elixir III – Prismatic Array ($150US for 47mL) is a face oil that is filled with actives like CoQ10 (antioxidant) and Vitamin C ester (boosts collagen), as well as phytonutrients and essential fatty acids, all without essential oils to accommodate especially sensitive complexions (like mine!). It’s designed to help repair signs of environmental stressors as well as softening, nourishing and moisturizing skin so it looks more luminous.

This oil is extremely nourishing – you can tell as soon as you press it into the skin that you’re getting a treat. It’s rich amber color gives it away, anyway! This is packed with awesome oils like grape seed, baobab, kukui nut, tamanu, pumpkin seed and prickly pear (aka barbary fig seed), as well as black raspberry seed and cranberry seed. So much goodness! I apply this at night as my last step over a peptide serum and it gives me the best glow. In the morning, I wake up with plump-looking, soft skin that doesn’t feel greasy (though I do avoid using this around my nose where I get the most oily). While I love oils, I don’t always find I notice their effects in the same way as a serum – the biggest factors in whether or not I will repurchase one are: Does it irritate my skin? (Nope.)  Does it have long-lasting hydration? (Yep.)  If it’s a blend, does it contain many of my favourite skincare oils? (Yep!). Check, check and CHECK.

Even though there are no essential oils in this mixture, I also love the way it smells! Like the best blend of natural oils with a hint of sweetness. It’s not your typical ‘earthy’ scent; you know, the kind that isn’t offensive exactly but it smells like dirt and trees and herbs? This is nothing like that – maybe it’s the inclusion of coconut oil. Which, while we’re on the topic, I was very nervous about (it’s why I hadn’t ordered this myself previously), but this serum hasn’t been a problem for my skin in the least, happily!

Les ingrédients:

Helianthus annuus (Sunflower Seed) Oil, Cocos nucifera (Virgin Coconut) Oil, Vitis vinifera (Grape Seed) Oil, Adansonia digitata (baobab) Oil, Aleurites moloccans (Kukui) Oil, Calophyllum inophyllum (Tamanu) Oil, Curcubita pepo (Pumpkin Seed) Oil, Ubiquinone (CoQ10), Opuntia engelmannii (Prickly Pear Seed) Oil, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Extract, Hippophae rhamonides (Seabuckthorn Bearry) Extract, Punica granatum (Pomegranate Seed) Extract, Rubus occidentalis (Black Raspberry Seed) Oil, Vaccinium macrocarpon (Cranberry Seed) Oil, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate (From Licorice), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C Ester), Non- GMO Mixed Tocopherols.

Kypris Beauty Elixir III

Clearly, I need to add these 2 fantastic products to my regular roster. There are just so many things to like about them, and about Kypris in general – Chase seems to be one of the loveliest people (she always sends hand-written, personalized notes with her packages); they consistently use one of my favourite oils, tamanu, in their formulations; and I appreciate their ethos on so many levels (some of which I talked about here). And, a newly important factor for me is that they’re cruelty free!

Though I do try and avoid essential oils when I can, the other 2 Beauty Elixirs (versions I & II) sound so appealing; I’ve never really tried any products where rose oil was a predominant feature (as it is in the Beauty Elixir I) so I think that’s next on my list! I will mention that though the Elixirs feel a bit cost prohibitive (upwards of $150US), you do get more bang for your buck as general oil blends are only 30mL – and I just discovered that they offer seasonal pairings on the site which give you a discounted price (for example, right now you can get the full sizes of the Beauty Elixir I and the Antioxidant Dew for $265US, which would normally cost you $292US). And recently I heard a tip from Sugar Mamma that resonated with me – if you truly love something, you won’t mind paying full price. I have a habit of sometimes trying to find alternatives for items that I love, and always feeling dissatisfied (and sometimes spending more in the process!). Don’t do it! Of course, you don’t know if you love something before trying it, so Kypris kindly offers ‘mini’ sizes of their products for a fraction of the price 🙂

Have you tried Kypris products before? 

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Skincare Heros: My current routine and fave products

Do you remember when Elena was first born and I complained about barely being able to shower, let alone take care of my skin? It feels like forever ago that I was struggling to take care of myself in any way, shape or form; thankfully, those days are (mostly) past and though I don’t have much time for myself, I have made a point to dedicate some time every morning and evening toward my skin. In fact, I think I’ve never treated my skin better! I think the combination of products along with maintaining a solid routine has made all the difference. Lately I’ve been placing a heavy emphasis on brightening products that help even out the skin tone, and tailoring my application according to what my skin needs in specific areas. This AM I looked in the mirror and was like ‘DA-AMN girl, your skin looks good!’ …So I figured I should share with you my skincare ‘secrets’ 🙂 Here’s what my routine looks like, morning and night:

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MORNING

Cleanse with NUDE Perfect Cleanse Clarifying Cleansing Oil ($45CAD). The reason I picked up this cleanser in the first place was because it contains grapeseed oil as the 2nd ingredient, which is great for oilier / clog-prone skin as it’s high in linoleic acid (see my post on skincare oils and their compositions here). I’ve been searching for a grapeseed oil-heavy oil cleanser but they’re hard to come by for some reason, so when this came on the market a few months ago I snapped it up ASAP. Happily, it was a great purchase as I absolutely love it. It doesn’t contain a host of fragrance or essential oils to potentially irritate my skin (which it doesn’t), and it cleanses beautifully without drying my skin out at all. Though you can use it as a first cleanse to remove makeup etc., I actually use it as my morning cleanser on it’s own as I want my skin to benefit from the good oils and ingredients, rather than washing them away in a second cleanse. It’s a perfect beginning step to prep and protect my skin for the colder weather outside. I’ll be repurchasing it without hesitation.

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Tone with Algenist Hydrating Essence Toner ($30CAD). Because I am a beauty junkie, I’m susceptible to any new fad on the market, and I became determined to find and use an ‘essence – essentially a hybrid between a toner and serum, and which is used in between those two steps. Algenist’s Essence Toner has high rating on both Sephora and Paula’s Choice (though I don’t think she knows it ALL, I do appreciate the research done on that site and use it to cross-reference product research often), AND it’s affordable for a high-end brand, so I picked it up back in October. I can’t tell for sure how hydrating it is, as my skin isn’t particularly parched, but I do prefer to keep my skin as moist as I can anyway (seems to keep me from over-producing sebum) with lightweight products, and this can be used all over my face, even in my sensitive areas like around my mouth, without any issues at all. That in itself makes this a total winner in my books!

G.M. Collin Oxygen Puractive+ Treating Mist. I was kindly sent the Normalizing Travel Kit ($42CAD), among a couple other products, from G.M. Collin and I was so keen to try them out once they arrived. Having mostly normal skin with some oiliness in the t-zone, the Normalizing kit is perfect for me as helps keep skin balanced. The Treating Mist is designed to enhance the effectiveness of your other skincare, much like other facial mists, and leaves skin with a matte finish. I spray this on my t-zone only after using the Algenist Toner and it really does keep that area less shiny throughout the day. The nozzle is a bit powerful so I make sure to spray it about a foot away from my face to get a more even misting.

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G.M. Collin Bota-Peptide Eye Contour ($96CAD). I was most eager to try out this eye treatment from G.M. Collin as it’s been on my wishlist for years now, but I could never bring myself to buy it. It gets amazing reviews and is purported to reduce the appearance of dark circles, expression lines and wrinkles, and is de-puffing. I’ve only been using it for about 2-3 weeks now, so I can’t report major changes to my undereye area just yet, but I do find that it looks smoother and incredibly hydrated, and I feel like I’m less concerned about my perpetual darkness. The texture is PERFECT, thick enough to be hydrating but not at all greasy or heavy, and it absorbs extremely well and quickly so it works fantastically under eye makeup. My concealer has never looked better or more natural.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum w/Vitamin C (see full review) ($39.99CADnow on sale at Well.ca for $29.99!). Still totally digging this serum! It is the perfect consistency – more like a gel than a silicone-heavy serum, so it feels lovely and lightweight and I am entirely comfortable layering additional product over it. It really does help lighten any dark spots and even out my skintone, and as a bonus it contains niacinamide to also protect my skin from environmental aggressors. I love this stuff!

Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion SPF 30 ($15.49CAD). After searching high and low all summer for the Neutrogena Pure & Free liquid that sound right up my alley, I scoured the drugstore aisles at Shoppers for another facial sunscreen alternative that wouldn’t break the bank (the higher the cost, the more I want to skimp on application, and that’s counter-productive, no?). I ended up choosing this SPF lotion from Eucerin as it contained physical ‘screens (my preference) as well as chemical. I was a bit wary as some chemical sunscreens aren’t friendly to my sensitive skin, but I’ve had zero issues with this – in fact, I actually think it might be the best facial sunscreen I’ve ever used on my skin! It leaves my skin looking moisturized and with a lovely, healthy glow, minus ANY shine or greasy effect. Though it’s of medium viscosity, it blends in easily and absorbs quickly. Fragrance free with an SPF of 30, at a totally great price point…you kind of can’t go wrong with this.

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EVENING

G.M. Collin Oxygen Puractive+ Mild Cleansing Gel. Another step in the Normalizing Kit, I use this gel as my second cleanse after oil cleansing (currently I’m trying to finish a bottle of pure Pumpkin Seed oil). I am surprised at how much I enjoy using this – I’m not one for gel and/or foaming cleansers, as they often leave me feeling drier than I’d like; this, however, truly IS mild as I feel absolutely NO tightness after use and my skin feels incredibly soft. Definitely the nicest gel cleanser I’ve tried!

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Joe Fresh Refresh Facial Toner ($12CAD). I picked this up on a whim when I needed a new facial mist/toner-type product, and I fell for the clean, classic packaging of the Joe Fresh skincare line. Honestly, I’m not a total beauty snob, I just like great packaging – if something is cheap but looks luxe, I’m all for it! On top of the fabulous bottle, the product itself is great – the ingredients are simple (such as glycerin, aloe and green tea & cucumber extracts) and it’s effective at toning my skin in an incredibly soothing way. I will be buying this again and again, no question.

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G.M. Collin Oxygen Puractive+ Cream. The final step in the Normalizing Kit, this cream is formulated to purify and hydrate the skin while also refining it’s texture. As it’s essentially winter now, I only use this in my t-zone as that is my ‘trouble’ area, and so far it’s been doing a great job at refining the pores on my nose and inner cheeks. This would make an excellent moisturizer for someone looking for a product to mattify and keep any oiliness or large pores in check.

Kahina Giving Beauty Brightening Serum ($95CAD). I’d read a review on No More Dirty Looks awhile back saying this was excellent at evening out the skintone and ever since it’s been on my radar. When it popped up on Petal & Post months ago at a  considerable sale discount – down to something like $54! – I scooped it up, even though I was flush with other brightening products (I’m kind of obsessed). After using up another serum, it was time to give this a shot, and I am beyond pleased at the results – aside from making my skin feel baby soft upon waking in the AM, it truly has evened out my skin significantly; it’s the best it’s looked in years. I rarely wear foundation now as it’s just an extra, unnecessary step and I feel I look a lot better without it, truth be told. This is another *repurchase* product for sure (buuuuut…maybe when it’s on sale, yea?).

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G.M. Collin Bota-Peptide Eye Contour. Lather, rinse, repeat. I use this day and night 🙂

There are a few other products I didn’t mention (namely, a face oil that I add to my sunscreen if it’s particularly chilly out; a hydrating mask and a purifying mask I use when needed; and two different exfoliants, one manual, one chemical) – mostly because, as much as they seem to be working for me, they’re aren’t game-changers in my books and I’ll probably replace them with something new when the time comes. Otherwise though, this is it – and I gotta say, I can’t remember a time when there were so many products in my arsenal that I plan to repurchase (and with so many of them reasonably affordable too)! I’m a fickle beast and even if I like something, I usually am keen to try something else out of boredom – but these products are working so well for me that I’m not sure if making a switch is wise! Maybe I’m just getting too old (erm, or not OLD but just lacking an excess of time in which to spend the energy researching new products to try)…either way, I’m really happy with my routine, and if it means I’m boring – so be it!

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Palmer’s new Skin Therapy trio & a giveaway!

Slowly catching up on all my posting…last week Elena’s naps were of the 30 minute variety, which means mama was on point pretty much all day long! I’ve been experiencing sleep issues for the past few months (and I don’t mean the kind of ‘issues’ that are baby-induced lol), so once she goes to bed I start the wind down process too, to help myself along – that means no staring at a computer screen after about 8pm (so that means no blog posts being written then either). I don’t know if my hormones are still wacky or if I went without a good night’s sleep for so long my body no longer knows how to ‘do it’ right, but I was lying awake most nights with severe insomnia for weeks on end, so I finally was prescribed low-dose sleeping aids and they’ve been a godsend. They aren’t very hardcore, so I’m still super-receptive to Elena throughout the night, but they help me fall asleep and if I’m woken up by her I’m able to fall back asleep again (which was the real issue) so HOORAY! I have a doc appointment on Monday to discuss my sleep problems (since I don’t want to have to take meds forever) so here’s hoping we can find a more natural solution!

ANYHOW, a couple weeks ago I received the new Skin Therapy line from Palmer’s to check out and Elena’s sleep sched is back to ‘normal’ for this week, so I now have a chance to tell you about it!

Palmer's Skin Therapy

As it often seems to happen for me, I’ve been on the hunt for a good, economical face oil to remove makeup at the end of the day – I still use the African Botanics one I bought awhile ago, but for that price I hated using it to take off my makeup only to then second-cleanse all those good ingredients down the drain. Palmer’s Skin Therapy Cleansing Oil FACE is a facial cleansing oil that deep cleans the skin while brightening and balancing it’s pH. Even better, it’s priced at $7.99CAD so I don’t feel guilty for using it as my first cleanse! It’s chockfull of various oils, such as soybean, sweet almond, grape seed (my fave for oil cleansing!) and sesame seed, as well as a few others (rice bran, jojoba seed, and argan). It also contains Palmer’s trademark cocoa seed butter, of course, and a bit of Vitamin C to help brighten the skin (though it’s far down the ingredient list, as ascorbyl palmitate) .

Ingredients: Soybean oil, Laureth-7 Citrate, Laureth-4, Sweet Almond Oil, Sorbitan Oleate, Grape Seed Oil, Sesame Seed Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Cocoa Seed Butter, Tocopherol Acetate, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Rosehip Seed Extract, Jojoba Seed Oil, Argan Oil, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Isopropyl Myristate, Fragrance, Benzyl Benzoate, Citronellol, Geraniol, Butylphenyl Methypropional.

Because I’m an ingredients nerd, I would like to highlight the 2nd & 3rd ingredients for those who are concerned with that sort of thing: Laureth-7 Citrate is a surfactant / cleansing agent and Laureth-4 is a surfactant / emulsifying agent; note that the former scores very low on the EWG scale (=1), while the latter scores a bit higher (=2-3) and is a polymer composed of lauryl alcohol and polyethelene glycol (PEG). It appears that the real concern with these two ingredients is their purity, and Laureth-4 can be an irritant. I can’t speak to the purity of this product, but I’ve been using it for about a week now every evening and I haven’t noticed any irritation whatsoever (though as mentioned I do use this as a first cleanse and follow up with a separate cleanser afterward).

Palmer's Skin Therapy

All geekery aside, I’ve found this cleanser very good at getting all my makeup off at the end of the day, and it rinses away well. Really, the only thing I don’t like about this is the scent: it’s supposed to smell like rosehip, but it reminds me of public washroom soap – you know, the standard dispenser kind? Yea, like that. It’s not terribly offensive, but I don’t find it very pleasant, and if I’m not careful when rinsing it can get in my mouth a bit and it even tastes soapy. No bueno. But for $7.99? I’ll put up with it!

There are two other products in the Skin Therapy line – the Skin Therapy Oil Rosehip ($9.97CAD) for body, and the Skin Therapy Oil FACE ($8.97CAD) (for…the face, obviously!). I haven’t used the body oil as fragrance is quite high on the ingredient list, but I’ve tried the oil for face and you know what? It’s nice! – very light and perfect for these humid days and nights we’ve been having lately, where my skin is perpetually shiny if I put much of anything on it. There’s even retinol in the formula, so that’s an added bonus!

Ingredients for both are below if you’re curious:

Palmer's Skin Therapy Oil ingredientsSkin Therapy Oil ingredients

Palmer's Skin Therapy Oil Face ingredientsSkin Therapy Oil FACE

Now on to the REALLY good stuff! Palmers Canada has graciously offered to send three lucky Canadian readers a beauty package with all 3 of these products (that’s the Skin Therapy Cleansing Oil FACE, the Skin Therapy Oil FACE and the Skin Therapy Oil Rosehip! [$30 value]). You must be a Canadian resident to enter – just click on the Rafflecopter link below (which will take you to the widget…for some reason WordPress never lets the widget show up on my actual post ~weird~). Entry into the giveaway is open until September 18th, 12:00am ET.

Good luck to all who enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Palmer’s Skin Therapy products can be purchased at Walmart.

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In honour of Earth Day: A skincare trio by affordable (and Canadian!) eco-brand Graydon

So…I’ve been going a little bit skincare crazy since being on maternity leave. Yep. What can I say? I get bored and I need to indulge my beauty habit somehow, and hoards of makeup just doesn’t make sense right now (though I did pick up a few things during the Sephora sale…purchases to be revealed once I receive them all [I made a last minute 3rd order late last night :S]). I actually purchased the products in this post before the ones I wrote about last week; I was trying to get my fix in a more economical way…clearly that didn’t work. But what, ho! – the brand Graydon is a sweet little homegrown eco-conscious brand (based out of T.O.!) that I think deserves some attention, and what better day to do it than on Earth Day?!

Graydon skincare

First, a quick primer. Graydon’s tag line is Clinical Luxury by Nature – quoted as such because: 1) their products contain bioactive ingredients that work to nourish the skin, such as antioxidants, linoleic acids, and vitamins and minerals; 2) they aim to create products that not only work but feel lovely to use and look great on your vanity; and 3) they utilize ‘plant powered’ ingredients and ‘choose to source organic plant based ingredients from Canadian growers and manufacturers such as broccoli and berry seeds oil.’ They do not use any nut-derived ingredients due to the potential of allergies, and do not use any mineral oils, chemicals, parabens, sulfates, artificial dyes or synthetic fragrance. They’re also gluten-free!

Ok, now that you’ve got the background scoop, here we go. I picked up 3 products so I could form a somewhat well-rounded idea of the brand – a facial mist, a moisturizer, and a facial oil. To begin, let’s start with the Face Food Mineral Mist.

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The Face Food Mineral Mist ($29CADis an elemental mineral mist that boosts hydration in the skin via minerals copper, silver and zinc. Copper is purported to help the production of collagen and elastin, while silver is said to kill bacteria and help neutralize the harsh sodium-fluoride in our tap water. The 3rd mineral, zinc, has been noted to decrease inflammation by helping stop bacterial infection which can make one’s face look red and blotchy.

It’s hard to say much about the effectiveness of this mist I’m used to using facial mists with aloe or glycerin, which leave a trace on the skin – but I do appreciate its simplicity. I don’t have a lot of redness which would be the one way I could judge its efficacy, so I just have to trust that this is in fact doing something! If you’re looking for a no-frills mist however, this is a good option.

Ingredients: ionic copper, silver and zinc infused in purified water and nothing else!

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The Super Sensitive Skin Stuff ($29CAD) moisturizer was created for ‘people with skin that reacts to everything’. Though this hasn’t been an issue for me lately, my skin can be finicky at times so I wanted to have an option for when that situation arises. It has a high aloe content so it is very soothing; it has a medium-heavy consistency (likely due to the plethora of oils such as evening primrose, pomegranate seed and rosehip seed) which sinks in fairly well, but which might be a tad heavy for oilier skins. If I have time, I’ll put this on and let it sink in before doing my makeup so I don’t have a problem with greasiness. I actually love the texture for body though, and often apply a touch to my hands as well.

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Ingredients: purified water (aqua), aloe vera juice (aloe barbadenis), cetyl alcohol (coconut product), stearyl alcohol (mixed plant), black currant seed oil (ribes nigrum), evening primrose seed oil (oenothera biennis), pomegranate seed oil (punica granatum), rose hip seed oil (rosa rubiginosa), vegetable glycerin, sodium chloride (mixed plant), vitamin e (mixed tocopherols), grapefruit seed extract (citrus grandis) and nothing else!

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Finally, we have The Serum ($46CAD). Graydon states that ’50 pounds of fresh Canadian berries go into this [serum],’ and the array is what drew me to the product (and actually the brand itself) in the first place. Cold-pressed blueberry, cranberry, and red raspberry seed oils (the latter which contains natural SPF and is also great at combating blemishes) are mega-antioxidant powerhouses, and are high in linoleic acid (which if you recall, my skin favours) and alpha-linolenic acid. A serious source of Vitamin E by the way of tocopherol, as well as Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, rounds out the blend nicely.

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The color of this oil should tell you just how concentrated and pure it is – it smells faintly of blueberries. The viscosity is a touch thick but not too much so, though the oil spreads much more easy with a damp face. Though the brand suggests mist the skin after application (?), I recommend misting first then applying the oil straight away. Sometimes I will mix the oil with the ‘Skin Stuff’ for a lighter application (though either way, I like to leave it to soak in for a bit before applying makeup). It leaves my skin feeling plump and well-protected. I tend to use this oil in the daytime to take advantage of the natural SPF benefits of the red raspberry seed oil. EDIT: I forgot to mention that this has a pump dispenser that gives you the perfect amount to apply to your face. Droppers are all well and good, but give me a pump that keeps me from over-applying any day of the week! GENIUS.

Ingredients: cold pressed blueberry seed oil (vaccinum myrtillus), cold pressed cranberry seed oil (vaccinium macrocarpon), cold pressed red raspberry seed oil (rubus idaeus), meadowfoam seed oil (limnanthes alba), grapefruit seed extract (citrus grandis) and nothing else!

Overall, my foray into the Graydon brand has been quite fruitful – though the products are quite simple in design, they still feel well thought out and are a nice addition to my routine. I like that they don’t compete with my more aggressive treatment products but rather support them without being too plain. If you’re looking to try some eco-conscious products but don’t want to break the bank, this is an excellent brand with which to start!!

FYI I bought the trio from Clementine Fields.

Have you tried Graydon products? Is your skincare routine more basic or very involved?

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La Bella Figura Barbary Fig Seed Oil {A Review}

That’s kind of a dull title, true, but honestly what I wanted to write I didn’t think would reel you guys in (“La Bella Figura Barbary Fig Seed Oil….smells bad but it works!“). Was I right? 😉

To put it plainly, yes, this oil doesn’t smell the best – I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I want to say it’s like stinky feet LOL. Not quite that, but its one of those smells that isn’t nice, but that isn’t so bad that you’d run screaming, you know? Tolerable, I guess. Anyway, my point is, I don’t want that to sway you from trying it out (at least a sample!), as it’s a nice oil and it’s particularly ideal for this time of year when the weather turns cool and you need a little something extra to comfort and hydrate your skin.

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Here are some reasons why LBF’s Barbary Fig Seed Oil ($99CAD for 1oz) is lovely:

1) It contains only pure organic barbary fig seed oil (also known as prickly pear seed oil) – no essential oils or other ingredients that can cause irritation to sensitive skin

2) It’s high in vitamin E (protects against free radicals – is particularly great to use pre- and post-sun exposure!) and linoleic acid (remember my previous post on fatty acids?)

3) It helps stimulate new cell growth, calms inflammation, and helps gently treat hyperpigmentation and aging or wrinkle-prone skin

4) Wonderful for hormonal skin types

What sold me on this oil when I bought it back in late winter last year was the fact that it had no essential oils in it (oils that have a ton of EOs freak me out a bit) and that it was high in linoleic acid, which seems to agree well with my skin type. Later, I was also thankful to have this in my arsenal, as it’s claim to be great for hormonal skin came in handy when I had my miscarriage, and my skin completely went bat-shit (evidenced here). Though it didn’t ‘fix’ my skin, it seemed to minimize further breakouts, which at that point was all I could ask for.

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Since my skin has calmed down, I’ve found a new appreciation for this oil, as it has a medium viscosity and feels slightly heavy going on, but sinks into skin really nicely without being too greasy. Though I could only use this sparingly during the summer, I think it will be perfect now that the temperatures have dropped and my skin isn’t an oil factory as much (though that ‘pregnancy glow’ seems to persist, so I still need to be careful).

I find the best way to use this is to apply to slightly damp skin, by either not patting skin dry fully after washing, or by using a facial mist (my preference) and then applying a few drops straight-away. It glides over the skin so silkily this way, and leaves my skin perfectly hydrated and protected.

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Oh, and about the smell? While I don’t wear this much when Ryan is home (lol), I do find that the scent dissipates quickly and it doesn’t linger at all on my skin. ENTIRELY bearable, for anyone who is put off from trying it for that reason (I completely understand, but give it a shot via a sample at least!).  Though the price is quite high, I purchased this when Clementine Fields had a promotion to ease the blow – I would suggest holding out for something like that too (they often do promos for LBF products), if you try it and love it!

Have you tried La Bella Figura products before? Would you consider using a product that didn’t smell great, but that worked?

PS: I know there haven’t been any holiday posts around here, and for that I apologize – but honestly, I haven’t had the time! I had this and the Yüli post in the works for ages, and I’d rather get *something* up than just have radio silence. I had all these grand plans for themed posts and the like, but it seems I’m in a weird nesting phase where I just keep doing crazy things like mailing out 50 Christmas cards (no joke), and spending all day baking for a dessert party I had last week, and essentially just being like Super Mom without actually being a mom yet LOL. I’m in training, I guess! It’s too bad, because I’ve done some really fun makeup and nail looks for the season – I made a promise to myself to wear some form of shimmer/ glitter every single day this month, and I have 🙂 Plus, I’ve even been doing some minor nail art! Ryan gets home tomorrow for the holiday, so it’s unlikely I’m suddenly going to find MORE time to put up a few fun posts, but I will try my best before Christmas! I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday to the max!

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Amie *Naturally Kind* Skincare – Now at Shoppers Drug Mart!

I know Tracy just reviewed this brand, but that’s what happens when you’re a blogger in Canada – there is bound to be overlap! And I always feel that each person can offer a different take on products, due to different skin types etc. A well-rounded view of a product is always a bonus 🙂

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In this neck of the woods, I’m loving all these new skincare brands landing at Shoppers these days! Launched in Canada on August 11th, the newest kid on the block is Amie Naturally Kind Skincare, which is an award-winning, gentle skincare line that uses high-quality, naturally-derived plant and botanical extracts in their formulas. They have a range of products, from cleansers, to masks, to moisturizers – and a few things in between (toners, exfoliants, and even a makeup remover!).

I received a nice array of products to test out, and unsurprisingly I got right to it! Here’s what I received, with it’s description along with a few of my thoughts:

IMG_3608Radiant Dawn Exfoliating Daily Wash and Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask

Radiant Dawn Exfoliating Daily Wash

“Gentle enough to use every day. Contains green apple, lemon and exfoliating blueberry seeds. Soap-free, oil-free.”   This daily wash is exceptionally gentle on the skin. I’m not sure how truly ‘exfoliating’ it is through the blueberry seeds so just a heads up if you’re looking for a nice scrubby feeling – but I guess the inclusion of green apple offers some chemical exfoliation through it’s acids. It foams up quite a bit, but I found that it left my skin feeling really nice – clean but not stripped in the least. The only real issue I had was that it didn’t rinse away too easily; the gel sort of stuck to the skin a bit so it took a bit of elbow grease to wash it all off.

IMG_3597Itty bitty scrubbies

IMG_3611Ingredients

Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask

“A wonderfully refreshing deep-cleansing treatment that draws out dirt, oiliness and impurities leaving skin feeling clear, clean and smooth.”  The first time I tried this mask, I was terrified – a minute after application, there is this SERIOUS cooling sensation that bordered on burny-tingly, and I worried I was going to have a terrible reaction. However, after a few more minutes, the sensation dulls considerably and it’s just nice and refreshing. When I rinsed it away after 10 minutes, my skin felt lovely – fresh and smooth. I didn’t experience any adverse reaction to it at all, despite the scary-intense feeling at the beginning.

IMG_3600Thick clay texture

IMG_3612Ingredients

Morning Dew Matte-Finish Moisturiser

“Controls oiliness and shine, while hydrating and keeping skin soft. With rosehip, bilberry and Vitamin E.”  A beautifully light moisturizer, that absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave the skin feeling sticky or greasy. I found that this minimally controlled oiliness and shine on my combo-oily skin, but honestly – nothing has been working on my skin to keep the oiliness at bay on my t-zone, so I wasn’t surprised. If nothing else, it’s a great light hydrator that would work particularly well with combination to normal skins. And I gotta say, I love that rosehip is included in the ingredients!

IMG_3593Texture was somewhat gel-like – and beside the swatch, I rubbed some in; you can see how it didn’t leave my skin shiny or greasy

IMG_3614Ingredients

Morning Light Hydrating Daily Moisturiser

“Keeps skin soft, smooth and nourished all day long. Rich in rose extract, rosehip seed oil and mallow.”  As this sounded a bit heavier than the Morning Dew moisturizer, I used this in the evening. Again, it was nice and moisturizing without being heavy at all. It didn’t dry as ‘matte’ on my skin as the Matte-Finish moisturizer, but I still think it would be ideal on combo-normal to even slightly dry skins.

IMG_3595Slightly richer texture – and you can see it has a bit of sheen on my skin where I rubbed it in

IMG_3613Ingredients

I’m going to be up front with you: these products are all quite scented. It’s a wonderful scent – clean and fresh and quite pleasant, truly – but for this scent-adverse gal, it freaked me out A LOT and made my testing of these products somewhat limited. With the exfoliating wash and deep cleansing mask, I didn’t mind too much because they washed off, but I felt very uncomfortable wearing the two moisturizers, the scent of which I could smell on my skin all day long.  I only tested them a couple times each, because I just could NOT get past how scented they were. If you’re into scent in your skincare, or if it doesn’t bother you, I’d say these are great products to check out – affordable and free of paragons, sulphates, mineral oils and animal extracts. I don’t know if I’d recommend them for sensitive skins, as they say, due to the fragrance – but not all sensitive skin is sensitive to fragrance, so if scent doesn’t seem to irritate you, you should be fine.

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Have you seen Amie Skincare in Shoppers yet? How do you feel about scented products?

*Products were provided by the PR company/brand for my unbiased consideration.

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Miracle in a Bottle: Marie Veronique Organic’s Treatment Oil

Ever since I converted to organic skincare, I have been obsessed — OBSESSED I TELL YOU!  It’s so much more interesting to read ingredient labels when you can actually attribute a purpose to (as well as pronounce!) every single ingredient listed in a product, and you can easily fall down the rabbit hole learning about what each one does for the skin.  One of my biggest research time-sucks (though…there could be much worse uses of my time, to be sure!) are on facial oils and which ones are most suitable for my normal to slightly oily skin.  Last month, I stumbled upon one oil that truly blew my mind with all the potent and *perfect* combination of oils that seemed to be designed just for me: Marie Veronique Organics (MVO) Treatment Oil.

MVO Treatment Oil

Marie Veronique Organics is a California-based company that relies heavily on natural, organic and fair trade ingredients wherever possible, and uses 100% recyclable materials in their packaging.  ‘Intelligent Ingredients’ is their tagline, and it is the overriding principle which guides each formulation.  They carry a basic line, as well as an advanced anti-aging ‘Pacific’ line.  The Treatment Oil I purchased is part of the basic line, and targets clogged pores, oily skin and adult acne.  Though I don’t suffer from acne, I do find I get clogged pores on my nose and cheeks, and can get oily in my t-zone.  Mostly though, I was swayed by the amazing ingredients, which boasts borage oil (high in Gamma-Linoleic Acid which restores the skin’s barrier function to protect it from external aggressors), cranberry seed and acai oils (antioxidants), tamanu oil (aids in the treatment of eczema), watermelon seed oil (dissolves sebum), and tea tree essential oil (effective at combating acne).

MVO Treatment Oil Ingredients

I’ve been using this oil for about a month now, alternating it with my Pai Rosehip Oil, and I find it really makes a difference in my skin tone and texture.  Aside from instantly eliminating any redness, it leaves my skin soft and glowing yet not greasy, as it’s first ingredient is jojoba oil – which mimics our natural sebum and is beautifully lightweight – and both cranberry and borage are astringent, dry oils.  When I use this, it transforms my skin so much so that I feel good enough to go without any other makeup at all – I look like one of those preternaturally youthful ladies in those Biotherm ads (or at least I like to think so ;0) ).  And when I use this overnight, in the morning I wake up with less noticeable pores and smooth, radiant skin.  CAN I HAVE SOME MORE, PLEASE?

Marie Veronique Organics Treatment OilI didn’t notice until I took these photos, that the bottle has an expiry date on the bottom of it – SO handy!  I wish all my oils had that (matter of fact….I should really double-check).  

The scent is softly herbal; mostly I get a whiff of tea tree but overall it’s not obtrusive or offensive in any way.  I actually had to sniff the bottle to remember, as it didn’t leave any kind of lasting impression on me one way or another.  It doesn’t smell as gorgeous as say, Mun’s No.1 Aknari Nighttime Dream Youth Serum (OMG the rose scent is TO.DIE.), but it doesn’t smell strongly of much of anything.

Overall?  I’m a HUGE fan.  Though it’s primary design is for those suffering from acne, I find it highly beneficial to my skin nonetheless as it keeps the pores clear and my t-zone under control.  It’s all sorts of LURVE here, guys.

Are you using facial oils in your skincare regime?  Which ones have wowed you so far?

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Green Beauty Regime, Take One – Pai & Stark Skincare

So it’s been almost a month since I started using nearly all green / organic beauty products and guys – it’s been sort of KICKASS.

This could get really rambly, really quick – so I’m gonna jump right in because otherwise we’ll both be here all night.  First, let’s start with the cleansers that have been keeping my skin fresh and clear over the past little while.

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Stark Skincare’s Grapefruit Cleanse + Hydrate Balm ($40CAD) was the first full-on green purchase I made back in September.  I ordered directly from the brand’s site, as they were having a promo I think, and also picked up my konjac sponge at the same time (though, I don’t use the sponge with the balm because I worry that the thickness of the balm will gunk it up <– obviously not a scientific determination).  I was nervous at first because it smells REALLY GOOD, kinda citrusy (but not in a fake way, in a MMMMMMMmmmm way), and you know how scared I am of fragrance – but, awesomely, I’ve had ZERO problems with this product.  I even took it on a trip to Newfoundland a few weeks ago as both my cleanser and moisturizer (as it is designed to handle both tasks) and was pleasantly surprized at how great my skin was the entire time, which is a feat in itself (travel can be rough on my touchy skin).

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The balm itself is quite lovely – it has a smooth, buttery texture, with little bits of raw cocoa butter that sort of get massaged in with everything else.  Truth be told, I don’t love these little bits, only because they don’t dissolve as fast as I’d like, and sometimes fall in and around my sink – but that’s just me being nitpicky.  In fact, they’re the ONLY thing I don’t love about the balm – everything else is fan-freakin’-tastic 🙂  You just massage a small amount into the skin, wash it away with a soft cloth, and voila!  Clean skin (that truly does feel clean) which also feels hydrated and cared for.  I use it mainly for this purpose – as a cleanser – and I am exceptionally impressed that this creamy balm removes all traces of makeup, dirt and oil AND hasn’t caused one breakout or reaction.  SOLD.

Ingredients of Stark Cleanse + Hydrate Balm: Shea fruit butter, virgin coconut oil, cocoa seed butter, soybean butter, candelilla wax, camellia seed oil, sweet almond oil, arrowroot powder, orange peel wax, vitamin E, pure essential oils.

Pai’s Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser ($50CAD) was a freebie I received when I put in my Fresh Faced order for a few other Pai goodies late last month.  I wasn’t interested in it as my skin isn’t really dry (as this seemed best suited for), but figured I’d try it out nonetheless.  Winter is coming, after all.  Surprizingly, I quite enjoy it, and similarly to the Stark balm, it’s thick, creamy texture – that feels a bit heavy, like it might not cleanse and then wash away properly – is actually quite effective.  I have been using this as my second cleanse after the Stark balm (also wiping it away with a washcloth), and again, I’ve had no breakouts whatsoever – and in fact my pores are more cleaned out than ever!  Interestingly, it contains castor oil, which in my research I’ve discovered is anti-bacterial and a great humectant (binding water to the skin), and despite being a thicker oil is almost entirely non-comedogenic.  So that’s probably why I haven’t experienced any breakouts!

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Overall, it’s a great gentle cleanser that great for all skin types, even despite it’s thickness.  The only drawback I’ve found is that it doesn’t quite remove tenacious eye makeup – but for that, we have removers, right?

Oh, and it smells divine too – faintly like lemons (I think that’s the geranium in there!) 🙂

Ingredients of Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser: Organic rose water, water, organic camellia oil, organic castor oil, organic sweet almond oil, coconut- and corn-derived emulsifier, organic shea butter, organic vegetable glycerin, natural vitamin E, corn extract, basil extract, organic lavender oil, organic geranium oil, organic may chang oil, organic rose oil, natural lactic acid (from sugar beet).

Next up, we have the hydrators.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I still have a few non-organic items I need to get through, but overall these are my go-to items that I have been wearing daily.

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Pai’s Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream ($48CAD) was seriously designed for me.  It’s formulated to clear and rebalance oily and combination skin, and my goodness does it ever do it well!!  This is the perfect day cream for my often ‘glistening’ skin – it absorbs quickly, leaving a velvet-like finish, and I don’t see any shine until nearly the end of the work day (when normally I’d need to blot by about 11am).  It contains Borage oil, a dry oil loaded with antioxidants that is one of the best oils for barrier repair, and which also helps reduce collagen destruction (woot!).

IMG_0496IMG_04972nd picture – after being rubbed in.  No shiny!

It also seems to give me that elusive glow that I’ve been trying to achieve all summer in vain (glowing goes quickly to greasy when you’re an oilier skin type), which is awesome.  Again, I’ve had absolutely NO adverse reactions to this moisturizer – it hydrates perfectly without being too heavy for day, and I haven’t had a single bout of eczema since I started using it.  BAM.   The scent of this one doesn’t blow my socks off – it’s kind of earthy with a slight lemony twist (again, the geranium)- but it’s not offensive in the least so there’s no problem there.  I would (and will) repurchase this in a heartbeat.  That is a rarity ’round these here parts – even great products usually get replaced for shiny new ones – so that’s saying something!

Ingredients of Pai Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream: Purified water, organic jojoba oil, coconut- and corn-derived emulsifier, organic thistle oil, organic borage oil, natural vitamin E, organic vegetable glycerin, corn extract, manuka oil, basil extract, organic geranium oil, organic juniper oil, organic lavender oil, natural lactic acid (from sugar beet).

Another product that is HIGHLY worth the repurchase is Pai’s Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil ($35CAD).  Rosehip oil is a dry oil notorious for its ability to heal and repair the skin; it also contains trans-retinoic acid, which is converted to vitamin A in the skin to boost the healing process.  The function is similar to retinol, but with less irritation.  The oil is supposed to help improve the appearance of scars, sun damage, and fine lines.

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Now let me tell you.  I had two rather large pimples sprout up on my right cheek a few weeks back – they started as tiny clogged pores, and I stupidly tried to squeeze them ~d’oh~.  I was bummed that they were going to leave a scar (as acne usually does for me), especially as I was going to a wedding in a couple weeks.  Well lo and behold, no word of a lie, but not only did those full-on pimples run their course in record time (I’m talking like, three days MAX), but the scars also significantly faded before the day of the wedding – so much so that all I needed to cover them was a bit of foundation.  Truly, I was shocked at how quickly the turnover was, as it usually takes months before my acne scars disappear.  Miracle product?  I’m thinking YES.

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On top of all that fabulosity, I find that this oil is, again, perfect for my oilier skin, and I can use this as my sole hydrator each evening without requiring an additional moisturizer.  It sinks in fairly quickly, and the scent – which to me smells sort of like green tea – dissipates within minutes as well.  And again, no breakouts, only great skin!  What’s not to love?  I haven’t noticed any anti-aging effects yet, but I mean…I don’t really have a lot of ‘aging’ to fix just yet, so…yea.  But overall, I absolutely love this oil and will repurchase in a heartbeat.  And at $35??  Ummmm it’s kinda the cheapest one around guys!

Ingredients of Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil: Organic rosa canina (rosehip) seed extract, organic rosa canina (rosehip) fruit extract, mixed tocopherols (natural vitamin E).

So Pai is sort of knocking it out of the park for me.  Both the moisturizer and the oil were also Beauty Award Winners according to Bazaar magazine in 2011.  I usually take those ‘award’ thingys with less than a grain of salt (editors are basically paid to talk up certain products), but turns out in this case the awards were well justified!

As you can order samples from Fresh Faced for $0.75 each, I put in an order a couple weeks ago to try out most of May Lindstrom’s line (quick synopsis: meh on The Youth Dew {which is great – saves me $125!!!}, enjoyed The Cleansing Dirt and The Problem-Solver…but not enough to purchase at the moment), as well as a couple products from One Love Organics (the Easy Does It cleanser is lovely and a multi-tasker for face, body, and hair – I MUST buy for travel; and the Active Moisture Vitamin C Serum is quite nice!).  I love this option, as I can decide just what I want items from my massive list I want to spend my money on….though truth be told I’d kinda like to own one of everything! 😀

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I’ve been having such a great time experimenting and trying out new products, more so than I ever have in the past.  It’s such an amazing feeling to be able to just jump right in with something new and not have to worry about how my skin will react.  So far, I haven’t had one set back in all the items I’ve tried, and my skin has honestly never looked or felt better.  Even in circumstances like traveling where I’m not in my usual surroundings (which means, bedsheets washed with fragrance free/dye-free-everything-free detergent; no pets; etc), I’ve found my skin’s resilience has improved ten-fold, and I have hardly had a blip on the radar in terms of skin’s reactivity.  I’m not knocking ‘regular’ products in the least – I think they have some great technology out there, and in some cases are more effective than organic skincare products – but for me, the reduction in inflammation (which additionally can speed up aging) and the freedom to try anything without fear, is an absolute dream.  Plus, I have been having more fun with my skincare rituals that I ever have, and washing and treating my face has never been so enjoyable 🙂

Aside from the brands I’ve mentioned, are their any other green/organic lines I should be investigating??

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Skincare and Sunscreen and Polish, Oh My!

In the past couple weeks, I’ve been picking up or receiving packages full of great treats which I’ve thoroughly been enjoying.  At the moment, I’m still in the testing phase for most of the products so no reviews quite yet, but so far everything has been really stellar.  I’ve also purchased a few new nail polishes, and hope to get some pictures up tomorrow!  For now, I’m just going to leave you with a few teaser photos and some quick thoughts.

Skincare

Skincare

Boscia Tsubaki Facial Oil – I picked this up during the Sephora sale in April but just opened it within the last month or so.  Even though the consistency is lighter than my beloved Tarte Maracuja Oil, I find it’s a little more oily somehow so I only need the smallest amount.  Otherwise, it’s quite nice and is a pleasure to use, though I’m not sure it gives me the same results as the Tarte oil.

Boscia Clear Complexion Treatment – Lately I’ve been breaking out here and there, which is very unusual for me.  I attributed it to something going on with my skin so I picked up this natural BHA product to see if it would help clear out my pores.  While it feels really great going on – lightweight and absorbs quickly – and leaves my skin feeling super smooth, I think the real reason for the breakouts was putting coconut oil in my hair every night; I think it was getting on my pillow and clogging my pores a bit. Since I’ve stopped doing that, the breakouts have been clearing up – but who know, could be this product too!

MD Formulations Moisture Defense Antioxidant Hydrating Gel – I needed a new antioxidant product and have read a lot of great this about this gel.  It’s excellent for oilier skin, especially in these warmer months, as it absorbs lightning fast with no residue yet still hydrates.  I am already in love with this!

Indeed Labs Hydraluron – I grabbed this on a whim as I needed to spend $50 to get 20x the bonus points at Shoppers last weekend.  It was on sale for $20 from $27 and I’d been wanting to check it out at some point, so I made the purchase.  I use this during the day when I want my skin to look plump and hydrated without the accompanying greasy look from many other moisturizers.  I can’t tell if this does much else to my skin just yet, but I’m definitely not noticing any issues!

Sunscreens

SunscreenI had to insert a photo of my new VS bikini somehow – I love it so much!  I have a purse, a pair of flats, and now this swimsuit in this neon lime-yellow color….I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

Vichy Capital Soleil Mexoryl XL Sheer Lotion SPF45 – this sunscreen is FANTASTIC.  I tend to steer clear of chemical sunscreens due to my eczema, but read a good point somewhere about Vichy and La Roche-Posay being great brands to try for broad spectrum sun protection because they are often formulated for sensitive skin.  Whatever the case, this really is excellent on my fussy skin and I’ve had absolutely no problems or irritation from it whatsoever.  It’s also incredibly lightweight and non-greasy, and doesn’t leave a whitish cast on my skin at all.  It actually makes me want to wear sunscreen all the time.  I adore it!  It’s not cheap at about $27CAD, but it does go on sale (I purchased it for about $18) and it’s well worth the cost.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF60 – I just purchased this last weekend along with the Hydraluron, and I haven’t opened it yet as I am *just* finishing my Clinique sunscreen now.  I have tried a sample of this however, and really liked how thin in consistency it was, how easy it spread on my face, and how it doesn’t leave a whitish cast.  I have high hopes for this one!

Polish

Polish

Dior Spring Ball – my first Dior polish!!  I wasn’t interested in these spring polishes at all, until I tried this one on at Sephora a few weeks ago and fell in love.  However, it was sold out everywhere by that time – but I persevered and ordered it online from Sephora (along with two shades of NARS’ Radiant Creamy concealers – which I LOVE).  Unfortunately, I’m a little disappointed in the shade – it’s not as beautiful as I remember, sadly.  But it’s still very pretty and wearable, and I don’t regret the purchase too much.

Essie Come Here! – I have so many polishes in this color vein…but I can’t help myself ~sigh~  I got a hankering for a pretty coral red and felt I *needed* to have one, but I probably have a bunch of shades similar to this.  However, I really do love it and I find this kind of tone works for just about every outfit.  But – NO MORE CORALS.  At least for a little while ;0)

a-England Sleeping Palace – the latest a-England release kind of crept up out of nowhere (as usual), and I ogled the beautiful shades along with everyone else.  I actually have quite a few of the brands polishes, and usually pick up one or two from each collection.  This was the stunner for me – a gorgeous dusty mauve with prismatic shimmer.  It doesn’t feel like a summer shade to me, but come fall I’m going to be all over this.  It’s really quite beautiful!

Zoya Robyn – I saw this on Lakeisha’s blog a couple weeks ago and decided I had to have it.  It looks better on her than I, but I still like it a lot and can’t wait to wear this as a pedi shade.  I had no colors like it at all so I’m pretty happy to add it to the collection.

As you can see, I have a lot of new things on the go!  I’m almost at a skincare utopia which feels pretty damn awesome – I’d just like to get an antioxidant masque (Kahina’s looks/sounds perfect), an exfoliator of some sort (the Pure + Simple Organic Vanilla Cleansing Powder Becca mentioned here is right up my alley), and a cleansing oil (maybe Tatcha’s??) when my Clinique Take the Day Off balm runs out.  In the sunscreen arena, I’m blissfully pleased with Vichy’s offering, and suspect I’ll feel the same about LRP’s too.  The polishes weren’t all ectasy-inducing, but I’m pretty happy with them as well.

What sort of products have you been buying lately?

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A Stupidly Large Empties Post (Prepare Thyself)

I’m just going to start by letting out a huge ~GROAN~ before beginning this post.  OMG dudes.  I’ve been putting this off for AGES and it’s going to get crazy.  I suggest getting comfortable with multiple snacks and a beverage of your choice.  Let’s get ‘er done.

Empties #1 2013 (2)Bustin’ out my empties bag!

Part of the reason I’ve taken so long to post this is because I have had so many products thisclose to being finished, and just when its used up, another takes it’s place.  I’ve got a handful sitting on my counter that are probably going to be done in a week or so, but I can’t wait any longer – and honestly, I’m in the business of entertaining you, not wasting all of your time and punishing your eyes and scrolling fingers.  So here we are!

Empties #1 2013

I’ve said this far too many times and not held my word, but seriously – I’m going to keep the wordiness to a minimum.  Let’s start with makeup this time, since that’s always what I find most difficult to finish:

Empties #1 2013 - Makeup

OK.  The good: I finished 4 eyeliners!  UD’s 24/7 in Crash (shimmering eggplant), Lise Watier’s Gold Eyeshine (which is so old that it kept smushing down into the pencil so I’m turfing it), and two black shades (Tarte Starry Night and MUFE 0L, both which were fine, but smudged more than I’d like).  I’ve since bought Chanel’s Noir Intense waterproof liner to replace the two blacks, and so far so good.  Also good is Clinique’s Bottom Lash mascara, which seems SO gimmicky but which is actually awesome.  The Chanel bi-phase remover is a sample and was good but nothing crazy.

The bad (or just OK): MUFE’s Star Collection gloss in S4 – smooth and not too sticky, but it has this weird cast to it that could make me look dead if worn to heavily.  The Revlon lip butter in Peach Parfait still has enough that I could eke out a few more uses, but I won’t.  HATED the gritty shimmer in this!  The white tube is a primer by Jay Manuel’s line (which I have no idea if it exists anymore or not), that I never used at all.  Toss!  Lastly, the MAC Haute & Naughty mascara I bought while en route to NZ.  For the first month, this was great, albeit a little clumpy due to so much product on the brush.  I found as time passed, it got worse, and ended up that the brush looked like this:

MAC Haute & Naughty (2)

ICK.  Pass!

Anyway, not bad as far as things go, eh?  Next, let’s look at facial skincare:

Empties #1 2013 - Facial Skincare

I’ve reviewed the 100% Pure eye cream, Pangea Organics masque, and Shiseido toner previously and my thoughts still stand on those (which is to say, overall good impressions), but I won’t repurchase.  The Clarins Sun SPF30 eye cream is my 2nd or 3rd tube, and as always I think it’s great.  I don’t know if I’ll repurchase, just because I might just start using sunscreen around my eye area (I use only physical sunscreens, like the ones in the Clarins, which cause less irritation I find), but you never know!  Speaking of physical sunscreens, this is also my 2nd or 3rd tube of the Clinique City Block Sheer SPF25, and I’ll continue to use it unless I can find something similar that doesn’t make oily in summer – I find this still *slightly* heavy.  The Clinique Super Rescue cream for combo-to-dry skin is a nice moisturizer, but I find it only gives hydration (and antioxidants – can’t beat that!), and I like something that will aid in smoothing my skin as well, as I tend to have slight roughness from my eczema. I have another tube but probably won’t open that till next winter.  The Boscia Make Up Break Up remover is nice enough and effective, but I probably wouldn’t get a full size, as I still use a cleanser afterward because I find it can irritate my skin a little otherwise.  The Clinique Even Better Lotion SPF20 is actually a lot nicer than I gave it credit for before I tried it.  It’s hydrating but not oily and it made my skin look really good while I was using it.  My skin is still doing well but I don’t think it’s AS nice as it was since using this up.  I might order this on my next gratis.

Some samples:

Empties #1 2013 - Samples

I bought a handful of these MaskerAide masques before Christmas and used one per week.  I really liked them – they were easy to use and gave great hydration without breaking me out or being too heavy.  I’d definitely buy them again.  The Elizabeth Grant Eye Power Pads were one of those random beauty items I get from my aunt, and I’ve had them for ages.  One day I decided to use them, and it was nice!  I didn’t notice a big difference in anything, as I don’t have much in the way of wrinkles yet, but it was a treat and they were hydrating.  The Kniepp muscle gel was great for tired legs after working a shift at Clinique or a hard run, and if I was feeling spendy one day I’d probably buy it to have on hand.

Almost done, are you still with me!?  Let’s move on to body products:

Empties #1 2013 - Body Cream

This is my most triumphant success in terms of empties.  The Hawaiian Tropic Aftersun and the B&BW Vanilla Bean Noel lotions I’ve had for SO EFFING LONG – the B&BW lotion was my very first swap EVER (back in 2008).  Because they’re so scented, I didn’t wear them often, or in very specific, less sensitive areas like my feet and chest (which isn’t sensitive somehow!).  I finally finished them both last month and I’m so stoked – I now have NO scented lotions kicking around, and I don’t plan to ever again!  I’ll just go the much safer route and just wear perfume.  Sweet 🙂

The iconic Kiehl’s Creme de Corps lotion is always a nice luxury to have, and it was effective as ever, though FAR too pricey for my needy body.  I would repurchase is my budget allowed it though!  Although in saying that, I’ve found my holy grail body moisturizer in Haus of Gloi’s pumpkin butter in Aether – honestly, I can’t see myself buying anything else.  It smells good for being non-scented, and it works like a dream on my finicky skin.  I love it with all my heart.  Aveeno’s Moisturizing Lotion used to be my go-to, but I’m SO over it now.  It just doesn’t work as well!  The Clinique Deep Comfort hand cream is quite nice and if you’re looking for a great moisturizer to tote around, this is a great option – hydrating, absorbs well after a few minutes, and lasts.   And it’s unscented 🙂

Empties #1 2013 - Shower

The last time I ordered a few Aether pumpkin butters, I also picked up a couple 2oz jars of Haus of Gloi’s Bubbling Scrubs.  This one in Satyr was lovely!  Its a sweet, warm, edible scent which some may not like but is right up my alley.  And it gives a nice light exfoliation on my sensitive skin, which I usually avoid, but which I can indulge in with these scrubs.  Yay!  The Hugo Naturals body wash smelled lovely (natural scents) but something about it I didn’t like, so I wouldn’t repurchase.  The star here is the Organix Macadamia Oil conditioner, which is absolutely PERFECT for my crazy-curly, mega-dry hair.  I hate that it comes in a smaller container, as I went through it pretty quickly, but I would repurchase even though it’s $8 and lasts only a month or so for me.  I usually buy jumbo sizes of conditioner because I need so much, but this is worth the cost, as it really hydrates, and is a bit heavy (so, those with fine hair steer clear) which is just what my hair needs.  LOVE.

Ok.  Wrapping things up, I have a couple fragrance samples!

Empties #1 2013 - perfume samples

I got Angel as a sample when I got my mom’s bottle refilled for her birthday last year.  I know it’s a hate it or love it scent for most, but for me I actually am in the middle.  I don’t think it’s ‘my’ scent, but I do like it – I think because of the associations with my mother.  It really works on her and when I smell it I feel cozy 🙂  The Lancome fragrance however, La Vie Est Belle, IS ‘my’ fragrance – it’s got the same tones with vanilla being predominant (I’m definitely a Gourmand fragrance wearer), and smells FANTASTIC on me.  Initially I wasn’t sure if I liked it enough to buy a bottle, but over the past couple weeks I had three men tell me I smelled good (in an almost surprized way, like “You smell really good” and looking sort of shocked like, ‘oh wow, yum’) so I’m taking that as a sign.  Its the first fragrance I’ve found in a while that really does it for me.  FYI the notes are: black currant & pear (top); iris, jasmine, & orange blossom (middle); tonka bean, vanilla, praline, and patchouli (base).  I think the reason I was initially unsure is that I’m not a huge fan of orange blossom in fragrance, but the inclusion of vanilla and iris (iris being in 3 of my favorite scents, interestingly) end up making it a winner.  I’m just finishing up my second sample of this and will buy a bottle as soon as I’m able.

So there you have it!  In the past three months, those are the products I managed to finish.  Not too shabby, huh?  My skincare for face and body particularly has been seriously streamlined, and I don’t have anything ‘extra’ in either.  Makeup of course is an ongoing battle to use up products I’m not madly in love with, but I’m getting there!  It’s an ongoing process, and you are all probably familiar with.  Moving forward I hope to post these monthly to keep on top of things!

Empties #1 2013 (3)

Have you tried any of these products?  What are your thoughts?  Any skincare products you’ve found to be absolute winners?

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