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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Yüli Skincare: An introduction and review {plus a story}

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I’m going to preface this post first with a disclaimer – it’s going to be a review, yes, of some wonderful products from Yüli, an organic brand that I’ve fallen head over heels for. But I am going to share a little story with you first that is personal and a bit sad, and I don’t want anyone to feel duped or like I lured them in with a promise of review only to drag you into something else entirely. These products have a close link to my story, and I can’t share one without the other. I hope you don’t mind! (if you do, that’s completely OK – just scroll down till you start seeing pictures to get the scoop on the products!)

Back around Christmastime in 2013, Ryan and I made a huge decision to start trying to have a baby. We had been talking about it for some time, but were trying to wait until ‘the time was right.’ Of course, most of you know that there never really is a right time for these things, so one day I told him that I thought we should just go for it, and of course he was 100% on board (I think he was just waiting for me to make the call lol). I went off the pill right away, mid-pack (stupid!) and off we went. We figured it would take some time before anything happened, and so we weren’t feeling any pressure or stress, which was great. It was just exciting to know that we were taking this next step in our lives together.

To our complete surprise, in early February I started feeling a bit different leading up to my period that month. I was having some cramping, which never happened to me pre-period, and I was dead tired every night, falling asleep by 9pm. When the date my period should have started came and went, I had Ryan grab a pregnancy test from the nearest pharmacy, and with a bit of trepidation I took the test the next morning alone before he got out of bed. I was nervous because I was hoping hard for a positive result, but felt that it was too good to be true. Amazingly, it was positive. I bounded into the bedroom, woke him up, and cried ‘We’re pregnant!’ Sleepy and stunned, Ryan took a second to recover, before he broke into a huge smile. It truly was one of the best days both of us had ever had.

Over the next couple weeks, we shared the news with our families and reveled in our future. We planned, we chose names (seriously!), we basked in the excitement. I would ride the bus home and daydream about how I was going to be a mother soon. It was a time of bliss and contentment.

Two weeks into the pregnancy (which seemed like ages, especially when most people didn’t know our secret), I started having some mild spotting. Immediately I was googling what that could mean and hoping that it was nothing. The second time it happened, Ryan called the Nova Scotia nurses line, and they walked us through some questions. Naturally, they didn’t default to panic mode, but they suggested I see a doctor or go to the hospital in the next couple days to be sure.

The next day, a Monday, I went to work feeling fine. After about an hour, I went to the bathroom, and was stunned to see blood streaming out into the toilet. In shock, I left work without speaking to anyone, and called Ryan and my mom in a tearful panic, saying I was heading to the hospital Emergency unit, where they met me a short while later. After waiting hours to be seen, and having my hope rise when one doctor told me after her preliminary examination that things seemed fine, only to have it plummet when I had an internal ultrasound, after which I started bleeding profusely, the crushing results were that I had had a miscarriage.

If any of you have had bad shit happen to you in your life (which is likely all of you), you can imagine our heartbreak. Without going on and on about it, it was a tough time, made especially tough because you’re falling from such a high. But, life throws you a curveball sometimes. Ryan was extremely supportive, and we got through it, as you do. I’m not trying to minimize it, because it was one of the hardest things I’ve endured in my life, but miscarriages are common – probably more common than some realize – and of course now being pregnant again and with things progressing nicely at 25 weeks, it all seems hazy and the pain has dulled considerably. However, I know that its not as easy to move past for some, and to you my heart truly feels for your pain. I hope if you’re in the early days of that experience, that you feel hope that things usually work out eventually.

So. The REASON I’m telling you all this is because after the miscarriage, my skin went completely whack, and I had to pull out the big guns to do some damage control. First, let me show you what happened after my hormone levels spiked and then came crashing down in such a short time frame:

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I know that for anyone who has struggled with acne, this may seem like small potatoes. First, let me say that it was worse in person – and also understand that when you go from having essentially unblemished skin your entire life, to this, the frustration and dismay is considerable. This occurred one month after the miscarriage, almost overnight. For about 6 weeks afterward, nothing I did to my skin seemed to work on these breakouts – though I was very gentle with my skin (I don’t think bringing out heavy artillery when your skin is reacting like this is helpful), I was diligent in cleaning and hydrating with a simple moisturizer, and wore little makeup, to no avail. And my skin was just a small piece of the body breakdown – my hair fell out in copious amounts, my periods were different (I have always been a 28 day gal to a T), and my mental state was off (I felt angry a lot). For someone who is quite healthy, I found the physical ramifications almost more difficult to deal with than the loss itself.

After about 2 months, my body started to come back to normal – or at least, a new ‘normal’, for me – but I was left with some ‘souvenirs’ of the experience:

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The scarring was almost more noticeable than the acne, as it was much darker in color and required a lot of work to conceal. IT SUCKED. As you do when you’re a beauty blogger (or an aficionado of beauty in general), I did a bunch of research to see what I could use against these unsightly remnants of my hormone roller coaster. Somehow, I came across the brand Yüli, an exceptional skincare line based on the use of cutting-edge green biotechnology. I’d seen a few posts particularly on a product called Cell Perfecto PM, a corrective serum designed to “fade hyperpigmentation, correct dark spots and discoloration, and heal acne scars and sun damage for a brighter, smoother, more even complexion,” where the user seemed to achieve great success – I was sold.

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Yüli products are not cheap. The Cell Perfecto PM set me back $98US for 1oz. But at this stage, I was desperate for anything to work. As the brand offers a shipping discount ($8 off) when you purchase $150 or more, I also picked up one of their Elixirs, Panacea ($68 for 3.4oz), a rebalancing, clarifying and hydrating toner mist suitable for normal, combination, oily or blemish-prone skin.

Yüli Cell Perfecto PM Yüli Cell PerfectoI’m not sure if you can see, but there are little bits of sediment in the serum, which is just some of the time-released actives – this does not feel gritty on the skin AT ALL.

As Yüli mixes their product fresh to order, it took about a month for my products to arrive – at the beginning of May, right before our trip to Florida. I was so eager to get cracking, I brought both with me, packing the beautiful miron glass bottles with care. Immediately, I could tell that these products were special – my skin was crazy-soft overnight, and felt supple and hydrated. As there were no essential oils used in either product (a rarity in the organic/green beauty world), I experienced zero irritation from either, and it gave me peace of mind every time I used them. The serum is of slightly medium density – it doesn’t feel heavy, but you only need a few drops to cover your face. I apply it especially sparingly to my forehead as if I use too much I can wake up with a slightly greasy feeling there.

Ingredient list for Cell Perfecto PM: Bioregenerating Botanical Infusion (Botanical Glycosides, Sea Minerals Complex), S. chinensis (Jojoba) oil*, M. integrifolia (Macadamia) oil*, O. ficus-indica (Indian Fig) seed oil*, C. inophyllum (Tamanu) oil*, H. rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) oil*, A. uva-ursi (Bearberry) extract*, H. italicum (Helichrysum)* extract, G. glabra (Liquorice) extract*, C. asiatica (Gotu Kola) extract*, Renew Minerals Complex (Methysulfonylmethane (MSM)* Derived from Pine Lignin, Phytosterols derived from Flax), A. linearis (Rooibos) extract*, B. carterii (Frankincense) extract*, D. carota (Carrot) seed extract^^, G. lucidum (Reishi) extract*, L-arginine, L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), L-Gluconic Acid (Derived from Kombucha Tea Ferment).

After using the two products for a month, I saw a visible difference in my skin. While the Panacea Elixir was refreshing and helped keep any new breakouts from forming (and quite honestly it just feels lovely), it was the Cell Perfecto that truly won my allegiance to the brand. After that mere month, my acne scars had faded CONSIDERABLY – so much so that using just a foundation covered them easily. After two months, my acne scars were completely healed without a trace. I know that acne scars do fade over time, but with darker skin like mine it usually takes about six months or so. The speediness in which I experienced this fading in unheard of for me! I wish I had taken photos of the evidence, but unfortunately (VERY fortunately), I got pregnant again at which point my brain kind of ~blipped~ and I completely dropped the ball. But if you look at some of my posts from that time [such as this one (six weeks after starting the product), or this one (two months after)], you’ll notice that there’s no scarring to be seen (and I’m fairly certain I’m foundation-less in both). HOO-RICKIN’-RAY.

Ingredient list for Panacea Elixir: D-Aloe barbadenis, R. damascena (rose) hydrolat*, H. italicum (helichrysum) hydrolat*, L. angustifolia (lavender) hydrolat*, H. virginiana (witch hazel) hydrolat^, H. italicum/L. angustifolia (helichrysum/lavender) hydrolat*, frequency enhanced water, vegetable glycerine, C. sativus (cucumber) extract, N. officinale(watercress) extract*, biodynamic fruit enzymes, trace minerals complex, colloidal silver.

To say that I’m a Yüli convert is probably an understatement. Since trying those two products, I’ve picked up a few more from the brand – a replenishment of the Panacea Elixir, plus a 1.7oz of the Cocoon Elixir ($36US) and a jar of the Pure Treatment Mask ($65US). The Cocoon Elixir is just as lovely as the Panacea, and perfect for winter with it’s soothing, healing and hydrating qualities. The Pure mask is your typical powdered clay mask which requires you to add water or your medium of choice to activate it’s detoxifying and repairing properties. I use this every couple of weeks to really clarify and refresh my skin, and it’s quite lovely. As it’s so finely milled, you need only the smallest amount to cover your whole face, so this will last me ages I’m sure.

Yüli Pure MaskYüli Pure MaskClose-up shot of the Pure mask – yikes, look at the gunk coming out of the pores on my nose!

I’ve already got my next purchases planned from the brand – a full-size of the Cocoon Elixir (I’m in love!) and their Halcyon Facial Cleanser, as I’m in need of a new face wash. I’d also like to try another serum – I’m *just* finishing up the bottle of Cell Perfecto after using it almost every single night for the past 7 months (!!!) – and I’m considering buying Liquid Courage, a concentrated antioxidant serum (though the price is a little terrifying at $125 for 1oz). I’m fully committed to trying every single product from the brand, which is entirely possible given it’s perfectly-sized capsule collection.

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Yup, I definitely have an addiction.

Have you tried anything from Yüli? Have you ever experienced a severe hormonal breakout?

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Pampering rituals for mommas-to-be

I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while, but er…it’s been busy. Story of my life! All I want for Christmas is some downtime before the baby comes – guess I’ll have to make that my New Years resolution :)  I’ve been feeling fairly energetic so right now being busy isn’t a huge problem, but because the pregnancy has been pretty easy so far, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop – in my mind thats feeling bone tired, swelling up like a balloon, and having a bitch of a time getting off the couch. It’s coming for me, I just know it O_o

IMG_1347If you were curious…this is me today, at 25 weeks along :)  No face shot or full body shot because a) I’m not great at taking these, and my face is always blocked by the camera anyway, and b) I don’t have pants on, because EFFORT.

There are a lot of things that I wanted to do throughout my whole pregnancy – walk every day for 30-60 minutes, do exercises for my back to strengthen it and my for my hips to stretch them out and prepare me for labour, etc. etc. etc. – that I haven’t been diligent with at all, sadly. However, unsurprisingly I have been pretty good at looking after my skin (face & body), and I enjoy a good pampering session every week in some way or another. These rituals haven’t changed drastically from what I did before I was pregnant, but I do luxuriate in them a bit more and really try to relax and indulge myself more than usual.

1) Give good face

Ever since watching this video by Lisa Eldridge, I’ve been trying to do a longer facial massage once or twice weekly when removing my makeup. I use organic grape seed or pumpkin seed oil to take off my makeup daily, and both of these are awesome for giving my facial skin a really good pamper.

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When I do these longer ones, I usually pop on a TV show or a youtube vid (I use to really hate these videos – never could take the time to sit down and watch them – but now that I always seem to have only moments at home, I often throw a video on and do the dishes, or wash my face/brush my teeth, whatever – multitasking at it’s best :)), and gently rub the oil into every nook and cranny in my face, relieving any tension in my forehead, jaw and around my mouth, and just really ‘get in there’ for about 10-15 minutes. Just as I do with my daily oil cleanse, I remove everything with a microfiber cloth that I’ve soaked in hot water, and do this several times (tip: I bought a few giant-sized microfiber cloths from the Dollar Store that were designed for cleaning around the house, and just cut them up into smaller sizes. Super-cheap and super-effective!).

Next, I use my regular cleanser (which right now is still the Refresh Foaming Cleanser – still really loving it’s simple and gentle formula!) to ensure there is no trace of oil left, and then I apply a mask. Right now I have a multitude of masks in my arsenal, so I have to assess what my skin needs and go from there. I’ve been trialing the Peter Thomas Roth masks I picked up during the Sephora sale, and so far I like them – one is for soothing and hydrating dry skin (green), one is for revitalizing and antiaging (pink), and one is exfoliating (burnt orange). If I’m feeling really keen, I’ll do an exfoliating mask first (I also have a sample of Fresh’s Sugar Face Polish) and then apply one of the more hydrating/soothing ones. I also still have two powder masks which I use every couple of weeks (Yüli’s Pure Treatment Mask and Purple Urchin’s Chocolate Facial Mask).

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After all that masking, I spritz my face with Yüli’s Cocoon Facial Elixir, which is soothing and smells lovely, and then apply an eye cream (trying to use up all my samples…I finished a Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream deluxe sample, and now I’m onto Clinique’s Repairwear Eye) first, then follow up with a facial oil. I only have two right now in rotation – Yüli’s Cell Perfecto PM, and La Bella Figura’s Barbary Fig Seed Oil (reviews on both to come) and they’re both almost finished (eep!).

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Happily, my skin hasn’t caused me any grief at all this whole pregnancy – whether it be this routine, or luck, or both, I couldn’t say, but I certainly feel like keeping on top of things can only be a good thing!

2) Maximize the Good Hair Days

Though I haven’t been looking after my hair as well as I should have since getting pregnant (ughhh, effort), recently I’ve been trying to put in that extra work, because it takes my hair from ‘good’ to ‘GREAT!’ with just a bit more dedication. For many pregnant women, your hair falls out slower than normal so it often appears fuller. My hair in particular sheds a lot on a normal day because it catches and breaks easily with all those curls to contend with, but in the past month or two I seem to hardly be losing any at all and I’m LOVING it.

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As such, I’ve been giving it that much more TLC, and my once-weekly routine starts with a good rinse, followed by a liberal coating of coconut oil from root to tip. I know for oily-prone hair types this is probably a no-go, as when I shampoo it 12 hours later (or the next day if I’ve left it overnight), it doesn’t all completely rinse out – but for my chronically dry hair, it’s a perfect way to retain a bit more moisture than normal. And on top of all that, after the wash I put in a deep conditioning masque (right now I’m using Kerastase Oleo-Relax, as it was on sale at a local salon for 50% off!!), which I leave for about 30 minutes or so before rinsing out. Et voila! Beautifully soft, hydrated hair that is super-touchable, with ends that don’t feel rough and knotted like they usually do by the end of the week. <– Hopefully this ‘ratty ends’  business will be rectified tomorrow after I get my hair cut – first time in like, 5-6 years! 

3) Take a nice bath

I hesitate to say ‘take a long bath’ because with my eczema, soaking in a bath for ages probably isn’t the best idea. But I do take a couple baths a week for about 20 minutes at a time, and it really helps me relax and sort of connect with the baby – can’t ignore a growing bump when lying prone like that! I always throw in a pile of Epsom salts and aim to have the water quite warm but not hot, so that it really gets into the bones and lets me feel quite tranquil. It’s especially good in assisting in a good night’s sleep, which can sometimes be hard to come by – sometimes I just can’t get comfortable (whether due to back pain, my hands ‘falling asleep’/going numb – a common symptom in pregnancy – or just general discomfort), other times my mind is just filled with too many thoughts (and not all about baby, just a stream of random stuff), and still other times there’s no rhyme or reason, I just can’t sleep. It comes and goes in phases, and the past week has been a crappy one. Let’s hope it goes away again soon! Anyway, the bath definitely helps to chill me out and encourages a better sleep overall.

IMG_4008My mini oasis (and I do mean mini…I desperately need a bigger tub :S)

4) Moisturize like crazy

I’ve always been huge into hydrating my skin, since it’s an absolute necessity with eczema, but since I’ve gotten pregnant I’ve really taken the time to work in my moisturizer of choice (for the past few years now, it’s been coconut oil) and give my body a good massage after every shower or bath (I also add a touch of my fave Lina Hanson Global Body Serum to the mix after one of my bath sessions). In particular, I make sure to give my legs a good rub to help prevent too much fluid retention (thankfully something I haven’t experienced much of yet) and ease any extra strain due to weight gain (which has been slow and steady, to my surprise and pleasure). Obviously, I also dedicate some time to my abdomen – though I’m not terribly worried about stretch marks, I figure there’s no harm in putting in a little extra effort to avoid them, and I just picked up a neat little massage bar from Lush in ‘Therapy‘ yesterday to assist in my endeavours. Its composed of Cocoa and Shea butters, as well as Sweet Orange, Lavender, and Neroli essential oils, and I’m quite enjoying it so far! (Side note though: the Lush sales asssociates are terrifying! They’re so ON IT, it’s really kind of off-putting. YIKES.)

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5) Get regular monthly massages

This was something I was determined to do once I got pregnant, and I’ve really stuck to my guns. I have a fantastic massage therapist at Spirit Spa (where I get all of my spa treatments in Halifax) who specializes in prenatal massage, and it’s such a treat that I look forward to every month. My work covers $300 worth of massage therapy in a calendar year at 80% a shot, so it’s not been as hard on the bank account as it could be. Honestly, I don’t even care anyway because I figure – I’m growing a damn human, the least I can do is treat my hard-working body to a little something special here and there.

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BONUS RITUAL: Get my yoga on

I’ve mentioned before that I’m taking prenatal yoga classes but I haven’t really elaborated on them, and I love them so much so I want to highlight them properly. I consider these classes in the ‘pampering’ category because quite honestly, they are a retreat from the daily grind of life, and I look forward to them every single week. Aside from helping me look after my body in a gentle way, and helping to prepare myself for labour through controlled breathing and hip- and pelvic-stretching postures (the yogic squat is effing HARD, dudes…I hate it but love it at the same time), it’s also an awesome opportunity to connect with other soon-to-be-momma’s and air our fears, our excitements, and our milestones – good (“We’re having a ‘X’!”) or bad (“I’ve been constipated for two weeks!”) *That last one’s no joke…totally, totally shitty part of pregnancy (or…you know, NOT shitty. AHEM.)  I 100% recommend taking prenatal yoga if/when you get pregnant – honestly one of the best things ever. If you’re in the area, I go to Breathing Space Yoga, which has locations all over Nova Scotia. SO GOOD.


I haven’t really done much in the way of updating you all on my pregnancy journey – partially that’s because this is a beauty blog, and though a blog by nature is just a composition of one’s personal thoughts and experiences, if I want to talk babies I’ll just write a pregnancy/mommy blog; but also, the experience is really only relevant to me, Ryan and our families, ya know? I don’t share belly photos on Facebook for example, because I just don’t know if anyone really cares (haha) ~shrugs~ That’s OK, because I prefer to talk about it with other people who are just as excited about the news as we are :)  But, if you ARE curious, or want to hear more about it, let me know – I am not shy about talking about it at all, just don’t want to fill up this space with details no one is really interested in. But correct me if I’m wrong!

IMG_4012Rumparooz Cloth Diaper – is this not the cutest friggin’ thing you’ve ever seen?!?!

The short story about everything is: I love being pregnant, I’m so damn happy all the time I can’t stand it, and I’m super-excited to meet our little one in less than four months! I’ll be entering my third trimester next week and it’s all sorts of crazy how fast time has gone by. I’m starting to get a bit nervous about the whole ‘birthing’ thing – less about the actual labour itself, and more about my recovery after the fact – but I figure women do it all the time and survive (literally), and then go on to have more than one baby, so I’m sure I don’t have anything really to worry about (and please, moms – feel free to reassure me and not tell me just how traumatic/horrible/scarring it is – only nice stories, please! LOL).

So now, consider yourself updated (even if you didn’t want to be haha).

What kind of pampering rituals do you have (in general – not just soon-to-be-moms!)?

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Chanel Joues Contraste in Malice is just pretty enough

I’m just here, lying in bed willing sleep to come (I barely slept a wink last night), and I thought I’d throw up a quick post since I haven’t in a couple weeks. Pregnancy has been very good to me thus far – I’ve had very few symptoms from the beginning (zero morning sickness, hooray!), and the ones I’ve had have been mild – so I can’t really complain, but I’m trying to get in as much sleep as I can before the wee one arrives {for obvious reasons} and it makes me sad when it becomes elusive. Ah well, par for the course I guess.

Chanel Blush

A while ago, I got it in my head that I just HAD to own Chanel’s Joue Contraste in Malice, an obsession I 100% attribute to this post of Karen’s. I hunted it down on The Bay online (we don’t carry Chanel in our Hudson’s Bay store here in Halifax), and it was one of those purchases that I did in a bit of a frenzy, with little thought about it – I figured, it looked great on Karen, its gotta look great on me too, right?

Chanel Malice Blush

Well, yea, sure it’s nice. It’s a pretty peachy blush with a hint of pink, and I’m fairly certain it would flatter all skin tones. But quite honestly, I find it a little…boring. Interestingly enough, though it’s quite similar in tone to one of my fave blushes, MAC’s Early Morning Mineralize blush (an LE product from a few years ago) – which is another reason I bought it (I dropped Early Morning shortly after I purchased it, and there wasn’t much left in the end) – for whatever reason it just doesn’t WOW me the same way.

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It has a similar satin sheen to it as Early Morning does, but it doesn’t seem to give my skin that same healthy glow. There’s a fine shimmer in the blush that veers on sparkly in my books – though it’s not too obvious in natural light, I can see it plainly in the pan and it turns me off a bit.

Chanel Malice blush swatch IMG_3832 IMG_3836

I have been wearing this blush with some regularity since I bought it, as it compliments almost any makeup look and colour scheme, but for the money I paid for it, I’m somewhat disappointed. Chanel makeup often doesn’t live up to the hype for me, so there’s that as well. I just think the *type* of makeup Chanel produces doesn’t fit with my own personal style – it’s generally softer (too subtle) than I prefer – which sounds as if I wear bold brights all the time, but that’s not the case. It’s almost like….Clinique makeup. Makeup for women who want to look like they don’t have makeup on. Though I don’t wear trowels of makeup and I generally stick to enhancing one feature overall, I don’t fear others knowing I’m wearing a little something something. I wear makeup for the fun of it, not because I need it to feel pretty.

Chanel Malice blushSee – it’s pretty enough on, just…a little ‘meh’ for me

Anyway, I think I’ve *FINALLY* learned my lesson with Chanel makeup. The only thing I’ve been really pleased with from the brand is the LE Poudre de Signee highlighter I picked up a couple years ago, and some of their polishes (which are also hit or miss in the shade department for me, hence why I only own a handful of them). So from now on I’ll probably keep any future purchases from the brand along those same lines (the LE highlighters are, if nothing else, beautiful to look at!). It’s a shame because the aesthetic of Chanel appeals to me so much…but if the product inside doesn’t do it for me, no matter how pretty a thing is, it just AIN’T GONNA WORK.

What brand(s) are you just not WOWED by?

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20 Comments

Ho Hum: My *exciting* Sephora VIB sale haul

It feels like for the past year I’ve been really responsible with my beauty purchases. It’s been quite boring actually, but I feel a lot better about my collection – less overwhelmed, and I use the products I have with regularity since I’m not constantly adding new ones to the mix. Over the past couple months however, I had grand ideas about really going all out for the Sephora VIB sale – I’d been a good girl and it was time to reward myself with a splurge.

Well…I splurged. But before you get excited, take a look at what I bought and see if you think I *really* went crazy:

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Sure, I bought a fair number of things – 9 items, which is more than I probably buy in a month, lately. But do you see any REALLY frivolous things there? I think for all my scheming and plotting, I managed to be sort of responsible, yet again! It’s like ingrained in me, you guys. DAMMIT ALL TO HELL.

Probably the most ‘reckless’ thing I bought was a YSL Gloss Volupte (in the shade ‘1 Gold’) – I got it in my head a couple days before the sale that I NEEDED a gold gloss, and this was the one that came home with me. The L’Artisan Perfumer perfume sample box was a whim purchase too, the lemming created by Liz (surprise, surprise) as I was reading her post en route to the store. But the rest of these items were all products on my list and all ‘necessities’ in my mind. I use this term loosely of course, because who ‘needs’ all this stuff, but for a beauty junkie, there are real needs, no? I ‘needed’ a new concealer as my NARS Radiant Concealer is on it’s last legs, and the Lancome Effacernes Waterproof Under Eye Concealer seemed like a good replacement. I ‘needed’ a leave-in treatment for my hair (Phyto Phyto 7 Hydrating Day Cream) because I had ran out of my previous one. I ‘needed’ the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads because I’d used up my previous jar and had been patiently waiting to replenish them for weeks. I ‘needed’ an eye cream with SPF, like the Boscia All-In-One BB Eye Brightener SPF 20, because I don’t have one and I gotta hold off those wrinkles, yo. I also ‘need’ a couple new facial masques – both a hydrating one and an exfoliating one (gotta cover all the bases!) – and this little sample kit of three Peter Thomas Roth masks seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Finally, I ‘needed’ a new serum, as all the ones I have are oil-based and are a bit heavy for day. The Boscia Cool Blue Hydration Essence lured me in with it’s calming aesthetic and it’s promise to boost hydration in my skin to the max, a must for the oncoming winter season. I suppose I didn’t ‘need’ a new black liquid eyeliner – I own a black gel liner that works a treat – but the ease of use of the Kat Von D Ink Liner over my gel liner couldn’t be ignored (the lines are SO crisp!).

So there you have it. I clearly ‘needed’ almost every item I picked up, and my intent to go WILD and pick up some really fun products (like a Givenchy Le Rouge lipstick…a Dolce & Gabbana blush…or a Dior mascara) was once again squashed by my IRRITATINGLY sensible brain. ~le sigh!~  Maybe someday…

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PS: The two other items I didn’t mention were samples I received during my shopping ‘spree’ – Dior’s Diorshow Iconic Overcurl mascara, and Fresh’s Sugar Face Polish. A bit more exciting, but they were free so I can’t take credit :(

What did you buy during the VIB sale?

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My new favourite base combo with Clinique and Benefit

Yikes! It’s been like, two weeks since I last posted…my bad! I find time gets away from me SO easily these days, and it’s not all baby planning. I’ve mentioned before all the extra-curriculars I’ve been partaking in, but (somewhat) happily, one of those has been wrapped up for the time being – my evening French classes have ended and I don’t plan to sign up for any more (I’m still taking lessons during work hours so hopefully that’ll keep me moving forward), so that’s one extra night a week I’ll have to do with as I please. Admittedly, this will probably involve a book and some tea most of the time, ha – I’ve been doing a TON of reading, like it’s going out of style. I just don’t know how much time I’ll have come mid-March (my guess is: ZERO) so I’m getting it all in now.

Nonetheless, rest assured that even if you don’t see me churning out a ton of posts, I’ve still got beauty on the brain! I scored a pretty large haul during the Sephora VIB sale (which I’ll be showing you soon), and I’m employing every trick in the book to really capitalize on the ‘pregnancy glow’ – I don’t really see it myself, but I must be faking doing something right because I’ve been told several times that I’ve got it in spades. Hopefully its being said in a positive way and they’re not referring to me looking like a grease ball O_o  I’m *fairly* certain that’s not the case, as I’ve got a new routine going that I’m really loving! Neither product is new, nor even really new to me, but I started using them together and it’s like a match made in heaven. The duo I’m referring to is Benefit’s The POREfessional and Clinique’s Stay Matte Oil-Free Makeup (in shade 19 Sand).

Clinique Stay Matte and Benefit The POREfessional

I’ve used both of these products on their own separately before, but wasn’t terribly wowed by either. Benefit’s primer seems much like every other, blurring the look of pores with a light, ‘cone-based formula; the Stay Matte formula from Clinique’s foundation range is a great choice for combination to oilier skin that requires little coverage (it’s quite sheer), but it doesn’t keep my skin from getting shiny throughout the day. However, the two together just seem to work. The Benefit primer slightly mattifies my skin (I apply it through the T-zone) and the foundation glides seamlessly on top and manages to leave my skin with only a healthy glow by the end of the day – and this is without applying powder on top!

This has been my go-to pairing for the last month or so – I’m always trying to achieve a ‘glow’ that doesn’t veer into disco-ball shine, and I’ve finally found the trick with these two products. If you’re looking for a completely matte finish, neither of these products, together or separately, will give you that look. But if you have skin like mine that tends to get a low-level shine factor by mid-day, you might want to check them out to keep the oilies at bay without sacrificing that ever-elusive healthy glow.

Clinique Stay Matte and Benefit The POREfessional

What’s your favourite primer + foundation combo?

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Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M-656 and ME-612: Autumn’s perfect pairing

Alright, so I’ve been trying to get this post up for a week but so far it clearly hasn’t happened. I have an hour or so before pre-natal yoga but I MUST talk about these awesome new(ish) shadows from Make Up For Ever NOW before I get way-laid again, so let’s get ‘er done!

The Artist Shadow collection includes 210 shades (which is CRAZY, by the way…think of the possibilities!) in 5 different finishes – matte, satin, iridescent, metal, and diamond. 3 years in the making, the formula was designed to maximize colour delivery through mega-concentrated pigments, and their Water-Blend technology aims to enhance blendability and texture.

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I received shades M-656 (a Chestnut shade) and ME-612 (described as a ‘silver brown’ but which I feel is more rose-bronze). The ‘M‘ before the colour number indicates a matte shade; while the ‘ME‘ denotes a metal finish. Other formulas within the shade range correspond as follows: S = satinI = iridescent, and D = diamond. The numbers indicate a specific area of the colour wheel (above).

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M656 and ME612Left to right: Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M-656 Chestnut and ME-612 Silver Brown

Initially when I saw these shadows I was pretty pumped – they’re perfectly neutral, easy-wearing shades and that bronzey-rose metallic shade is SO my kind of colour.

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M656 Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow in M-656 Chestnut 

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in ME612Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow in ME-612 Silver Brown

The chestnut shade is soft and buttery smooth, and swatches exactly as it looks in the pan. However, on first touch, the ‘silver brown’ shadow felt a bit stiffer to the touch, and didn’t translate its beauty as well as I’d hoped – it’s not as pigmented as I imagined it would be, and appears slightly faded rather than the rich texture I was expecting.

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M-656 and ME-612M-656 Chestnut (left) and ME-612 Silver Brown (right)

Additionally, I was a bit let down with the chestnut shade in that it seemed very close to other shades I already owned: MAC Saddle and Laura Mercier Truffle (from last year’s Artist’s Palette).

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow in M-656 vs MAC Saddle vs Laura Mercier Truffle swatchLeft to right: MUFE M-656, MAC Saddle, and Laura Mercier Truffle

However, in swatching I realized that while the MUFE shade is quite close to Saddle (the former being a bit cooler), its pigmentation and texture is FAR superior – Saddle is more stiff and took many more passes to build up the colour, while M-656 was full-on colour from first swatch. Additionally, you can see that the LM shade doesn’t even compare in terms of pigmentation – much, MUCH more subtle (aka wishy-washy, in my opinion!). While the LM shade is part of a the one palette I haven’t destroyed, and therefore I’ll keep it around, I am most definitely getting rid of Saddle as it just doesn’t compare in terms of formula.

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow in ME-612 vs MAC Sable swatchMUFE M-612 (left) and MAC Sable (right)

While comparing Saddle, I noticed that beside it in the MAC palette it’s housed in was a shade that looked remarkably similar to ME-612 – Sable. Of course, I had to do a comparison swatch of the two, and lo and behold – they are very similar! Sable has a more metallic finish, and is a touch cooler than ME-612, but for all intents and purposes they are very near dupes. Given my initial thoughts on ME-612, you would think I’d choose Sable, right? HOWEVER.

ME-612, while nothing to write home about in a swatch, looks beautiful when worn. It melds seamlessly with my skin so that it gives an extra little sparkle to my eye without being obvious, or even looking much like makeup! This is where is trumped Sable by far, as when I wear Sable (which is infrequently), I find it looks like I am wearing eye makeup, and it annoys me because it SEEMS like it should be a shade that almost matches my skin tone. Indeed, I have a *brown* friend who wears this every day and it looks like magical goodness on her. Where I think it goes wrong on me is the slightly thicker texture, the more metallic finish, and it’s ever-so-teensy cooler leaning, which just doesn’t work for me. When I wear a ‘natural’ shade, I want it to look natural, dammit!

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M656 and ME612Wearing ME-612 on the lid, with M-656 in the crease.

What I particularly like about this duo (which the MUFE PR gal so expertly put together for me!) is that it’s not SO warm that it clashes with any makeup you might pair with it that’s cooler-toned. In fact, I wore this duo when I showed you all my Ilia Beauty lippies – as you can see below, it works equally well with both the warmer tones of Femme Fatale, and the cooler tones of Call Me.

IMG_3889Wearing MUFE M-656 and ME-612 with Ilia Beauty Femme Fatale Lipstick

IMG_3883Wearing MUFE M-656 and ME-612 with Ilia Beauty Call Me Lipstick Pencil

So, it seems that once again, I took a bit of time before I was WOWED by a product. Guess I’m getting harder to please in my old age, huh?  The moral of this story here is simple, however: Don’t rely on swatches to give you a true idea and full picture of how a product looks and performs. It’s just not telling you the whole story! Sure, it gives you a good place to start, but honestly since I actually wore this duo on my eyes, I find myself reaching for it again and again because it just works so well with every look I pair with it!

Oh, and one last comment – when you purchase these new shadows, its a good idea to buy in bulk, as there is a discount added for two or three shadows bought at a time. I have conflicting information – the press release I have says that one shadow is $25CAD, two shadows is $39 and three is $50, but on Sephora it indicates $24CAD for one, a $9 discount for two (so, as stated, $39) and a $20 discount for three (ringing in at $52). Either way, it’s a good deal, and it only makes sense to buy a few at a time (I mean, there are 210 shades, so if you can’t find 2-3 that you like…WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!?)

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows in M656 and ME612

Will you be checking out the new Make Up For Ever Artist Shadows? What type of finish do you like best in eyeshadow formulas?

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