Posts Tagged Serum

G.M. Collin Bota-Peptide Concentrate & Eye Contour

OMG. I’m still here. I know, it’s been ages! I picked up a few things today from Sephora in light of the 15% discount and it got me in the mood to post. Let’s do this!

Back at the end of November, I showed you guys my current skincare routine and mentioned a handful of products I had been trying from G.M. Collin. At that point, I gave you a quick overview of their Bota-Peptide Eye Contour, but I hadn’t yet tried the Bota-Peptide Concentrate. Today I wanted to give you a more in-depth review of both of these items since I’m long overdue!

GM Collin Bota Peptide

First, a quick primer on peptides and why they’re important in the fight against aging skin. Peptides are amino acids that help bind moisture to the skin and help the skin to repair itself. More importantly, peptides applied topically to the skin encourage collagen production, which helps reverse some of the natural breakdown of collagen we experience over time (from age and external factors like sun and stress). Since collagen is what keeps our skin supple-looking and youthful, it’s a great idea to regularly use a product that boosts it’s production.

OK. So, the name ‘Bota-Peptide’ in both the eye treatment and serum is probably an indication we’re on the right track, yes? And indeed, both the Eye Contour and Concentrate are packed with a host of different peptides to battle the appearance of expression lines and wrinkles; the Eye Contour also is designed to reduce dark circles.

The Eye Contour ($96CAD) is a light eye serum that is somewhat hydrating as well (likely due to the Sodium Hyaluronate), as I can get away without any additional eye cream after using this (though note my undereye area isn’t particularly dry). Now that I’ve been using this daily for over 4 months (and wow, I just realized how long this has lasted!!!), I can confidently say that it has reduced any fine lines I’ve started to develop under my eyes – the area just looks so much smoother. I don’t know if my dark circles are reduced – I mean, they’re REALLY DARK so I have a long way to improvement – but the ingredient list boasts some badass circle-lightening ingredients (such as Vitamin K, caffeine and Haloxyl) that make me think they probably are lessened and I just haven’t been paying attention (oops).

Ingredients: Water, Phytonadione (Vitamin K), Phospholipids, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Arachidyl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Acetyl Hexapeptide-3, Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone, Steareth-20, Dipeptide-2, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, PEG-6 Isostearate, Hesperetin Laurate, N-Hydroxysuccinimide, Chrysin, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Polysorbate-20, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3, Squalane (Vegetal), Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat Germ) Oil, Hydrolyzed Hibiscus Esculentus Extract, Dextrin, Soybean (Glycine Soya), Caffeine, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Octyldodecanol, Irvingia Gabonensis Kernel (Wild Mango) Butter, Hydrogenated Cocoglycerides, Ethylhexylglycerin, Dimethicone, Propylene Glycol, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Chlorphenesin, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Disodium EDTA, Triethanolamine, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A).

GM Collin Bota PeptideTop to bottom: G.M. Collin Eye Contour and Concentrate

The Concentrate ($132CAD) has a very similar texture to the Eye Contour, which feels neither silicone-y nor *too* thin, and has a clean scent that I don’t even really register when using (which is my preference). I use this in the evening and apply a facial oil over top, though in the summer I could probably get away with using it on it’s own as it seems to provide a very light veil of moisture (dry skins will still need a moisturizer though). It dispenses easily from an airless pump mechanism; generally I use 2 pumps and this covers my face and neck sufficiently. As I rotate my skincare, alternating with a retinoid product, I use this every 2nd evening, and I always notice in the morning how soft and smooth my skin feels after using this. As I have few wrinkles I didn’t notice any drastic results, but I will say that the expression lines in my forehead have decreased since using this, and I honestly just feel like my skin looks more youthful.

Ingredients: Water, Acetyl Hexapeptide-3, Glucose, Xanthan Gum, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Cyclomethicone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Extract, Glycerin, Carbomer, Polysorbate-20, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Butylene Glycol, Laureth-3, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Acetyl Di-Peptide-1, Cetyl Ester, Bambusa Vulgaris Extract, Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract, Glucosamine Hcl, Saccharomyces/Xylinum Black Tea Ferment, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Extract, Polydodecanamideaminium Triazadiphenylethylene Sulfonate, Polyvinylalcohol Crosspolymer, Dimethicone Cosspolymer, Thermus Thermophillis Ferment, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Polyacrylamide, C13-C14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Dimethiconol, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Sodium Hydroxide, Ammonium Acrylate-Acrylamide Copolymer, Polyisobutene, Fragrance, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil. 

One other note: the PR person who sent this to me cautioned that as I have sensitive skin around my mouth, I might not want to use this in that area as it’s a powerful treatment product – however, after using it for the past several months, I’ve starting using it in that area anyway and have had absolutely no issues.

GM Collin Bota Peptide

The final verdict? I really, really like these two products! I’m surprised at how much so. Though it pains me and my wallet, I actually think I’ll pick both of these up again when I run out – I just feel like they proof is in the pudding, both in my results and in the stellar ingredient lists. I mean, who doesn’t want their skin to look like this again?:

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Have you tried any G.M. Collin products? Do you use any peptide-based products?

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derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum with Vitamin C {review}

I guiltily admit that sometimes I have a mental block when it comes to cosmetics – though more expensive definitely doesn’t mean better, in my head for some reason I can’t truly appreciate a beauty product’s value unless it costs me an arm and a leg. Why? I dunno what it’s all about, but I am trying to change that – when it comes to skincare at least (with makeup, I don’t mind so much as my expensive taste keeps me from buying EVERY DAMN THING IN SIGHT). And right now in particular, there are some amazing skincare products that are actually affordable (check out Tracy’s post on Deciem if you don’t believe me)!

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum with Vitamin C ($29.95) is one such product. I’ve used a couple derma e products in the past and liked them a fair bit, but in general I often passed by their offerings because…well, I guess my snobby self found them too accessible and affordable lol. Shame, shame, double shame. After trying out the Brightening Serum, I can say absolutely that I have learned from the error in my ways.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum w/Vitamin C

Designed to brighten skin by addressing uneven pigmentation and age damage (ie. sun spots), this treatment serum has a whole host of active ingredients in its formulation to fight discolouration and help to achieve more evenly toned, luminous skin. A quick scan of the first handful of ingredients reveals that it contains: niacinamide, an anti-inflammatory that enhances skin’s barrier function and helps erase discolourations; licorice root, anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps improve dark spots and pigmentation by inhibiting the stimulation of an enzyme that activates melanin production; sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a stable, water-soluble form of vitamin C that helps slow down the aging process; and bearberry & alpha-arbutin, both natural skin brighteners with lightening properties.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum with Vitamin C ingredientsApparently the serum has been reformulated – this is the new, accurate ingredient list

Happily, all of those good ingredients don’t go to waste and lose potency in a jar formulation – the serum is in a bottle with a nice pump, which dispenses the perfect amount of serum in one press.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum w/Vitamin C

Also handy is the fact that they’ve printed the expiration date of the product right on the bottom of the bottle itself.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum w/Vitamin C

One thing to note however, is that date shows the product being good for almost 3 years. The serum does contain preservatives – namely, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, and Ethylhexylglycerin. These are considered safer alternatives to parabens (of which this serum is free), but I still wanted to give a heads up to those of you looking for an entirely preservative-free formulation.

The texture of the serum is like a gel, but without any stickiness or slippery, filmy feeling whatsoever – it glides on and absorbs within a minute, and leaves my normal-oily skin feeling comfortable and soft. I have been using it as both my treatment and hydrator, and I don’t need a separate moisturizer at all (though dry skins will likely need something additional to hydrate).

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum

I’ve been using this regularly each morning for just over 6 weeks and I quite like it. I had the presence of mind to take before and after shots (considering the fact that I have ‘mommy brain’ AND taking into account my severe lack of sleep due, this is highly impressive) so you can see the results (sorry for the difference in lighting):

BEFORE (June 25)

Before derma e brightening serum Before derma e brightening serum Before derma e brightening serumSee those gray hairs poking out!??

AFTER (August 10)

After derma e brightening serum After derma e brightening serum After derma e brightening serumPlease excuse the weird, flat shape of my hair, I’d just washed it – I give it some oomph once its dry 🙂

As you can see, my skin is definitely more even-toned, with most of the scarring from the small postpartum breakout I had considerably faded. Now, I do exfoliate regularly, in a variety of ways (exfoliating serum every 2nd night, exfoliating mask 1x/week, acid toning pads 1-2x/week, manual scrub 1x/week) so take that into consideration too, but I’m confident that with that stellar ingredient list, derma e’s serum definitely plays a part in the change in my skin. The niacinamide and stable vitamin c alone have sold me on this; because the niacinamide boosts skin’s barrier function, it’s perfect for use during the day to protect skin from environmental aggressors, and vitamin c’s antioxidant power helps fight off the sun’s potentially damaging free radicals. FABULOUS.

I am definitely impressed by this serum, and the fact that it’s affordable yet still has effective, mostly ‘clean’ ingredients makes it a complete YES in my books. It’s also easy to find – derma e products can be found at Shoppers, or you can buy from their online store if you’re in the States (or from Well.ca in Canada).

derma e products are 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten free, GMO-free.

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Collective reviews: new skincare goodies!

Though my makeup wearing days have been minimal of late (and when I do wear it, its a quick slap-dash affair – concealer, mascara, blush, gloss), and as such, my makeup buying is next-to-none, I have been indulging in some skincare splurges to keep my beauty habit alive. The benefits are two-fold: having great products to look forward to using means I make the (often challenging) effort to keep good skincare habits; and maintaining a routine means my skin needs less makeup anyway (thankfully!). Last month I stumbled across e-tailer Integrity Botanicals – which has several brands with products on my wishlist – and as I needed replenishment on a few things, I went all in. *I’ve included links below (non-affiliate) to each brand’s website if you’re interested in learning more, as these may be brands you’ve not heard of before!

Organic skincare

Kypris Moonlight Catalyst ($70USD) is a refining and exfoliating serum that is designed to ‘deliver all the cosmetic benefits of retinoid preparations without any harsh chemicals, redness, peeling, or thinning of skin’. It boasts fermented pumpkin enzymes to exfoliate, Hawaiian sea algae and Xylitylglucosides to hydrate, and supercritical extractions of rosehip seed and sea buckthorn to repair irritated or chapped skin.

Kypris Moonlight Catalyst

The evening-only serum is very lightweight and spreads easily over the skin, and is completely non-greasy (though it does leave it a touch tacky). The scent is lightly fruity and pleasant. I apply about a half-dropper full (they recommend 1-2 but I don’t find I need quite that much) all over my face & neck and let it absorb for about 5 minutes before applying a treatment oil on top (Pai’s rosehip oil). Guys, this stuff is GOOD. After using it just once, my skin felt so smooth in the morning, and subsequent uses has helped clear up the bit of hormonal acne I’ve had (likely due to the inclusion of willowbark extract, which acts similarly to salicylic acid) and refine the areas where I’ve got scarring from said spots. I am particularly pleased that it contains no essential oils, which I tend to avoid – despite their ‘natural-ness,’ they still have the potential for skin irritation. I am LOVING this product and it will be a definite repurchase for me (very rare)!

Kypris Moonlight Catalyst Kypris Moonlight Catalyst

For the past six months, I’ve been using either plain, organic grapeseed or pumpkin seed oil to remove my makeup, and they’ve worked well, but lately I’ve been feeling like picking up something a little more…interesting. African Botanics Pure Marula Cleansing Oil ($60USD) is an emulsifying cleansing oil (meaning you can just wash it off with water) that gently exfoliates while removing makeup and purifying the skin. Marula oil’s antioxidant properties help cells renew and resist damage, aid in stimulating microcirculation and minimizes redness and irritation.

African Botanicals Pure Marula Cleansing Oil

The cleanser has a thicker viscosity (compared to say, One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil), and requires 3-4 pumps to enable you to massage it into the skin. The scent (this DOES contain essential oils, but since its a rinse-off product I’m not as concerned) is a fruity-vanilla blend that is quite nice if not a touch sweet. Though you can just add water to emulsify after massaging it in for 1 minute, I still prefer to remove it with a microfiber cloth, though for traveling and whatnot I do appreciate that this can be rinsed away easily.

As I haven’t been wearing much makeup lately, I haven’t used this too much yet, but from what I’ve seen so far its a nice option for makeup removal/as a first cleanse. I have used it a couple times on its own with no issues, but I’m not sure I would make a habit of it with my clog-prone skin.

African Botanicals Pure Marula Cleansing Oil African Botanicals Pure Marula Cleansing Oil ingredients

I’ve been reading raves about Josh Rosebrook products for a while now, particularly for his Deep Nourishing Shampoo and the Active Enzyme Exfoliator ($60USD), the latter which I added to my online basket at the last minute. I’d been wanting to get an exfoliating mask, as I have a good purifying one (Yüli’s Pure) and a nice hydrating option (Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Rapid Radiance Mask) and I like a good trifecta.

Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator

The mask is designed to ‘stimulate skin cell growth; ignite collagen and elastin production; reduce fine lines, age spots and sun damage; tighten, tone and shrink pores; and improve overall radiance.’ Seems like tall claims, but I think any exfoliating product essentially will have these results – thats why exfoliation is so key 😉  Its the method of exfoliation that lured me in – the mask uses both ‘chemical’ (plant, herb and fruit enzymes) and manual (via very finely ground walnut shells) exfoliants to get the job done.

I put this mask on one day when my mom was over and holding the baby (gotta capitalize on those opportunities when you can!) and she said it looked like I wiped the baby’s poop all over my face, hence this post on Instagram:

A diaper change gone wrong, or @joshrosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator? 😉

A post shared by Latoya Rose (@xbeautyobsessed) on

I like this mask – its non-irritating, and you can leave it on from 10 minutes up to an hour – the kind people at Integrity Botanicals suggested 45 mins in a sweet personalized note they left in my package. After I rinsed off my mom said that I was looking pretty glowing, so sounds like it works! The exfoliating effect is gentle but thorough.

I somehow misplaced the box this came in, but here is the ingredient list for reference:

Ingredients: Organic honey, organic vegetable glycerin, organic lecithin, organic herbal extracts of neem leaf, yucca root, sage, stevia leaf, eyebright, coneflower (echinacea), fennel powder, horsetail, bilberry, chickweed, comfrey, slippery elm, peppermint, bladderwrack, lavender flowers, calendula flowers, white willow bark, skullcap, ginkgo leaf, green tea, alfalfa, hawthorne berry, gotu kola, marshmallow root, st. john’s wort, yerba mate, solomon’s seal root, rosemary leaf, papaya enzyme, walnut shells, certified organic xanthan gum, organic essential oils of lemon, cypress, fennel.

Finally, I needed a new facial mist/toner and though I was very tempted to buy yet another bottle of one of Yüli’s Elixirs, I noticed the new MUN No.11 Anarose Toner ($68USD) on the site, and decided to try it instead (same price & size as the Yüli too). It also does not contain essential oils (only a hydrosol and a few extracts), and the overall ingredient list is lovely: rose blossoms to hydrate and soothe; antioxidant-rich prickly pear (opuntia ficus-indica) and goji berry for environmental protection and anti-aging; hyaluronic acid to bind water to skin; and willow bark extract to smooth and refine.

MUN No.11 Anarose Toner

I’m really enjoying this toner – I can actually feel it soothing and softening my skin, and the rose scent is beautiful and calming. I’m also a sucker for anything in a miron bottle. Though my bottle requires the use of a cotton pad to apply, it’s since available with a spray-nozzle attachment, which I would prefer. Definitely a contender against the Yüli!

MUN No.11 Anarose Toner ingredients

I’m super-pleased with all my purchases, and excited to have found a few gems that I’ll actually add to my permanent stock (the Kypris serum and MUN toner are must-haves); I’m also really impressed with Integrity Botanicals as an online retailer and I intend to purchase again from them very soon! I still have a few more products on my list that I plan to buy in the next little while ~wallet backs away screaming~  and I have three products from affordable Canadian eco-brand Graydon to still show you as well (yes, I have gone a bit crazy since being on maternity leave)….so though posts are infrequent, I promise they’ll be worth the wait 😉

Have you come across any standout skincare products lately?

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Toeing the ‘natural skincare’ line with Boscia

For whatever reason, the last couple months of 2014 saw me researching and wish-listing non-green beauty products, though I’ve been dedicated to ‘clean’ skincare for well over a year now. I think the combination of interesting new releases plus just getting bored with my current routine (I am a fickle Gemini, after all) led me to this phase; even so, I scrutinized every ingredient list and in the end turned down a lot of potential products that just didn’t pass my ruthless inspections. One brand did make its way into my routine was Boscia, which toes the line between conventional and more ‘natural’ skincare, due to the fact that it doesn’t contain preservatives in it’s formulas. It’s also botanically-based, but that doesn’t really mean much to me – there are a ton of cosmetic lines that make the same claim (Clarins comes to mind) but they still contain fragrance and a few other ingredients of which I usually steer clear. In any case, Boscia does have some nice products that do not contain such ingredients, and so I felt confident in picking up a couple of items from the brand during the Sephora VIB sale, namely the All-In-One BB Eye Brightener w/SPF 20 ($47CAD) and the Cool Blue Hydration Essence ($60CAD).

Boscia Skincare

The BB Eye Brightener was a planned purchase, as I needed a new eye cream and was keen to pick one with an SPF. The fact that this claimed to also brighten the eye area optically (as it’s tinted, and provides sheer coverage due to the physical SPF titanium dioxide) as well as over time (via wakame, which is purported to brighten skintone and diminish dark circles) made this an easy choice for me – sleep can sometimes be elusive in pregnancy, for various reasons (finding comfortable positions, thoughts about the future, peeing every few hours, etc.), so I’ve been battling my dark circles more than usual of late.

Boscia All-In-One BB Eye Brightener

I’ve been using the Brightener regularly every morning and I like it; the texture is perfect – not too thin, but not too thick that it’s hard to smooth around the eye. It does lighten up my undereye area because of it’s BB/tinted properties, and it sinks in quickly while leaving the skin around my eyes lightly hydrated (I don’t suffer from dry undereyes). It’s not a miracle worker, however, and I don’t suddenly look fabulously rested from using this – I find most of the brightening effect comes from the tint of the cream and not from the formula itself improving my eye area over time. But honestly – what does? I have yet to find that elusive treatment that will actually lighten up my eye darkness long term (however, if you know of a product that does this – SHARE, PLEASE!!).

Ingredients: 1,2-Hexanediol, Algae Extract, Allantoin, Alumina, Arginine, Bakuchiol, Butylene Glycol, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, Caprylyl Glycol, Caprylyl Methicone, Carbomer, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Extract, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dipeptide-2, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Epilobium Angustifolium Extract, Glycereth-26, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone, Hydroxyethylcelluose, Iron Oxides (CI 77491), Iron Oxides (CI 77492), Iron Oxides (CI 77499), Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate, Lactobacillus Ferment, Methicone, Mica, Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprate, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Panthenol, PEG/ PPG-20/15 Dimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Polypropylsilsesquioxane, Polysorbate 20, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Silica, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Extract, Sodium Chloride, Sodium PCA, Steareth- 20, Tocopheryl Acetate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Undaria Pinnatifida Extract, Water.

The Cool Blue Hydration Essence seems to be something of a mystery to many. Designed to ‘create lasting moisturization and firmness while calming and cooling the skin,’ I picked this up on a whim – I always love a good serum, and as winter was fast approaching I figured I could use a little extra boost in the hydration department, without going overboard on my normal-oily skin. At first glance/use, this reminds me a lot of Indeed Labs Hydraluron – it sort of seems like it’s not doing anything, but I suspect it’s getting to the dehydration in a deeper, less visible way (or so I tell myself).

Boscia Cool Blue Hydration Essence

Quite honestly, I’ve been using this for about two months now, and I don’t see any huge changes in my skin – but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it! Though our winter for the most part so far has been quite mild, I’ve found that using just this and a light moisturizer on top has been sufficient to keep any flakiness or dry skin entirely at bay. It feels lovely going on – it’s quite thin and spreads easily over the skin, and leaves just a hint of a cooling sensation behind (it lasts only briefly). Leaving it to penetrate for a minute or two, I follow up with my moisturizer, and I’m good to go. I DO find that without moisturizer on top, it can leave my skin feeling a touch tight (which likely attributes to the negative reviews of this on Sephora about it being drying – but people, the instructions say to use it PRIOR TO MOISTURIZER. Cam on!).

One thing to note about this product which I found particularly interesting, is that the star compound in the essence, Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate (fermented yeast filtrate), is the same top ingredient found in the cult-favorite SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. The SK-II is $131.25CAD for 2.5oz, or $52.50/oz…while the Boscia product, sized at 1.7oz, works out to be $35.29/oz. Additionally, the SK-II contains parabens, while the Boscia does not. Something things to consider, anyway!

Ingredients: Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Methyl Gluceth-20, Dipropylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol,Glycerin, Lactobacillus Ferment, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Sea Whip Extract, Beta Vulgaris (Beet) Root Extract, Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Caffeine, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Rose Flower Oil, Rosmarinus Offinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Water, Menthyl Lactate, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Citrate, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Acrylates/Vinyl/Isodecanoate Crosspolymer, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Hydroxide.

Overall, I kind of like this step in my routine, buuuuut…I’m not sure if I’d repurchase. It’s just so hard to quantify the effectiveness of these kinds of products, truthfully!

As for the eye BB, I would potentially repurchase; I’ve been into these tinted eye creams for day for the last while (I’ll take all the help I can get), as I think that’s about as much lightening as I can expect to receive from any eye treatment, and this one does that job well, with the added benefit of protecting my eye area from the sun.

Have you tried any Boscia skincare products? What tricks or products do you use to help you look rested?

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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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Score Lusciously Long Lashes by New Years with Xlash

Every so often as a blogger you get approached to try some really outlandish or gimmicky items.  A lot of the time you ignore those emails; every so often you think ‘why not?’ and give it a go.  Sometimes what you receive is a dud, like you expected – and sometimes, it freakin’ CHANGES YOUR WORLD.  If you haven’t guessed yet, I have one of those products to show you today 🙂  Hang on to your hats, guys; this one’s a DOOZY!

IMG_0780Xlash Eyelash Enhancer

About two months ago I received a sample of Almea’s Xlash Eyelash Enhancer, an eyelash serum designed to give you longer, thicker, more beautiful lashes in 4-6 weeks.  Developed in Sweden, it’s touted as a ‘natural treatment,’ with a formula that will grow your lashes up to 30-40%.   Though my lashes are of reasonable thickness and length, I am always game to PUMP UP THE VOLUME, and as my lashes are so curly often times the look of length suffers.  I was eager and excited to try this out and see how my lashes fared.

IMG_0784Xlash brush

The method of treatment is really simple.  Every night before bed, after cleansing my face and eyes thoroughly of any makeup etc., you just sweep it on the base of the top lashes with the skinny brush – quite similar to applying liquid eyeliner.  I found it easy and quick to apply, and it became the last step in my nightly skincare routine.  I was a bit nervous at first because in the past some eyelash enhancer have been found unsafe, but the only side effects noted are eye and eyelid redness, itching, irritation, eye dryness, or hyperpigmentation – none of these which I experienced, despite having somewhat sensitive eyes that tend to leak and react to certain mascaras.  Not that the above side effects are nothing mind you, but it’s not gonna change your eye colour or anything drastic LOL.

Here’s the ingredient list so you can see just what you’d be putting on your lashes:

IMG_0790

So here I am, faithfully applying the lash serum and waiting for results.  After a month, I was disappointed – no change in the thickness nor the length of my lashes.  However, after 6 weeks I started to notice that when I applied mascara, my lashes were noticeably longer – REALLY long, in fact.  And now two months in, my lashes are so long that only a touch of mascara is all that’s needed to give them a boost.  The thickness hasn’t changed as drastically, so I don’t have the eyelashes of my dreams or anything, but the difference between then and now is still remarkable.

Of course, I have photographic evidence 🙂

Lashes before XlashBare lashes before Xlash

IMG_0799BAM!!  Bare lashes after Xlash

Significant difference, right!?  No gimmicks here, folks!  Just straight up AWESOME.  And with mascara on, the effects are even more noticeable – I find the tips of my lashes are a bit fair so once you slap some of the good stuff on there, POW!!  It’s really crazy – even my bf noticed my lashes were looking extra long and luscious lately.  Oh, and also?   My lashes seem super-healthy too, soft and with less shedding then I had before.  I am just totally amazed at the effectiveness of this product!

Of course, anything this good comes with a downside, and here it is: this stupendous serum ain’t cheap.  Ringing in at $59 online, it’s a serious investment, and the effects will likely wear off once you stop using it, so it’s not just a one shot deal.  However, I’ve been using this product consistently every night since October 1st and I think there’s still enough left in the tube to last me till the end of the year.  $236 a year ($59 x 4) isn’t exactly a drop in the bucket, but compared to eyelash extensions at a salon (upwards of $100 plus $50 a pop for upkeep) it’s not half bad.  Undoubtedly, it’s a luxury item – but if you’re budget can afford it, I say GO TO TOWN.  It’s frickin’ amazing and I just might buy myself another one (or two!) when I run out.

Oh, and just to entice you even more – right now online they have a $10 discount code until November 23rd with the code XLASH2013, so you could grab it for a cool $49!  That’s only $15-20 more than some of your fave mascaras, right? 😉

What say you?  Would you spend the big bucks to have big, buxom lashes?  How do you feel about lash serums in general?

*Product was provided by the PR company/brand for my unbiased consideration.

 

 

 

 

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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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Favorite Product of the Month: Kate Somerville Quench Oil-Free Hydrating Serum

Ok, so I’ve totally been holding out on you guys (not on purpose, I promise!) regarding an absolutely stellar product I’ve been using for the past month: Kate Somerville’s Quench Oil-Free Hydrating Face Serum.  I’ve begun packing for the move (which is a month away, but I get excited! and I’m nothing if not prepared), and while cleaning out old boxes from products I’ve purchased, I came across the box for this and realized that I NEED to tell you all about it!


Kate Somerville’s Quench line is all about providing intense hydration in order to rejuvenate and reveal healthy, glowing skin.  The original Quench Hydrating Face Serum is touted as a ‘red-carpet favorite’ designed for normal to dry skin – since that’s not my deal, I picked the oil-free version to check out.  My original reason for trying the serum was because it contained retinol, which if you recall I’m hoping to incorporate into my regime.  However, the oil-free serum does not contain retinol, unfortunately – however, I’ve still been reaping the major benefits from this product!


The description of the Oil-Free Hydrating Quench Face Serum states that it is ‘a lightweight antiaging serum that delivers an incredible glow without looking shiny’. I’d say that is bang-on – I use this all over my face and neck (including the eye area) and my skin looks luminous and healthy, feeling very hydrated without adding any extra greasiness to my skin.  During these warmer months, I can use just this as my moisturizer (I use it in the evening) and I don’t require any other hydrating product.  I also like to use it before going out for an occasion, as it is water-based and gives me a little radiance and a hydration boost without any added shine.


This is just one pump above – I find two pumps are required to cover my entire face and neck.  As it contains peptides, I’ve noticed a big improvement in any dryness around my eye area, which was a problem earlier in the year and was causing me to look older than I’d like.  It also has collagen in it, which firms the skin – though admittedly I don’t notice the benefits of that.


The formula contains no parabens or synthetic fragrances, and high levels of glycerin which I think is what helps keep the skin moist.  I still want to add some sort of retinol product to my regime, so I might switch to the original version in the Winter, and then just add a retinol serum in the Summer and use this oil-free version as my ‘moisturizer’.  I really don’t want to stop using it, I can’t tell you how much I love it!  It’s been the difference-maker in my regime of late – my skin hasn’t looked better!

The oil-free serum retails for $65CAD (online – in-store I paid $78 for whatever reason, which is the same price as the original).

Have you tried any Kate Somerville products?  What is your go-to serum?

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Healthy Skin Ahead: A Review of Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum

For the past month, I have been revamping my skin care routine, trying to streamline it so it addresses exactly what my skin needs – hydration but oil control, with a focus on anti-aging – while being gentle enough to not cause irritation and eczema flare-ups. I think I’ve gotten it down, and my skin for the most part is happy and healthy, which I am beyond happy about.  One of the products to contribute to my issue-free skin is Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum Collagen Booster ($60CDN for 1 oz).Before I get to the review, let me first detail what this product is designed to do (as per the website and Sephora):

Like a daily vitamin for your face, this high powered vitamin C complex helps smooth out lines and wrinkles and prevents further damage. Loaded with antioxidants to fight off environmental aggressors and moisture-binding ingredients to keep your skin nourished and protected, this aromatic serum is absorbed instantly and penetrates to the deeper layers of the skin to provide long term results. Sensitive skin prone to irritation will benefit immensely from the calming properties of this oil-free serum.

Ingredient Benefits
Grapefruit and orange extract – Purifying, astringent, brightening
Green tea extract – Protects against damage with antioxidants
Licorice extract – Evens out skin tone
Rosehips extract – Repairs and strengthens with concentrated vitamin C
Sodium hyaluronate – Binds moisture to the skin
Vitamin C – Calms, heals and strengthens collagen
Vitamin E – Heals, restores and nourishes

Ingredients:
Water (Aqua), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Calcium Acerbate, Sorbitol, Glycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Euphrasis Offinalis Extract, Rosa Canina Fruit Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Oleth-20, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Benzophenone-4, Sodium Hyaluronate, Thioctic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Limonene, Linalool, Citral, Fragrance (Parfum), Yellow 6 (CI 15985).

Designed for all skin types, this ten-percent vitamin C skin booster is an anti-aging treatment that smoothes and firms the skin, as well as increasing brightness and hydration (yay!) and offering antioxidant protection (double-yay!).  It’s oil-free, weightless, and has calming properties that are beneficial to sensitive and irritation-prone skin types (ME!).So there’s the low-down.  I’ve been using this serum every morning for the past month after cleansing and before applying moisturizer (I usually try to wait as long as I can so the good stuff has ample time to penetrate), and I’ve been pleased with the product thus far.  I am in love with the orange scent it imparts, and how quickly it absorbs into the skin.  I really wanted to find a ‘supplemental’ product that I could wear underneath a sunscreen/moisturizer combo without making my skin too greasy, and I think I’ve succeeded!  It has the slightest sticky texture, but it dissipates within a minute and just leaves my skin soft and smooth. One pump is enough to cover my entire face and neck, but the bottle is on the small size (which is standard for serums), so we’ll see how long it lasts.  As far as effectiveness goes, it’s hard to say as I don’t really have an issue with dullness – and unfortunately, I find that because these types of products are mainly preventative, as such you don’t see many *results* per se, because it works over time to keep the skin looking young and at it’s best.  On the upside, I haven’t had any adverse effects (though, to cover the bases, please read Liz’s comments about the serum to see another side of the story), and for me that’s worth it’s weight in gold with the trials I’ve been having with my eczema.

I’m pretty excited that I’ve found a serum that addresses several of the items on my skincare wishlist – when this bottle runs out, I’ll be definitely shelling out the funds for a new one.   I feel good about the ingredients, and I’m so pleased to see that fragrance is at the bottom of the list – that’s my number one criteria for any products I buy now (that or lacking fragrance at all!).  I would recommend this serum to anyone looking for a little something extra to add to their regime to ward off aging and keep the skin smooth and supple.  This is my first Ole Henriksen product and it gives me a great reason to try some of their other items!

Are there any serums you’ve tried that you would/would not recommend?

*This product was received for consideration from the brand/company’s PR*

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