Latoya

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Homepage: http://beauty-obsessed.com/

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 willowback 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 photo posted by @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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Swatching ain’t what it used to be: OPI Hawaii Spring 2015 Collection

A day after returning from the hospital with my beautiful baby girl in tow, the new Hawaii-themed spring collection from OPI landed on my doorstep. Equal parts excitement and anxiety flooded me – I mean, HOORAY! for new, fun nail polish to play with; but OHMAGERD how in the EFF am I going to swatch all these with a new babe to look after 24/7?

Basically, you swatch one shade a day until you get through ’em all.

OPI hawaii spring 2015 collection

I must say, once I finished I felt inordinately pleased with myself. NEW MOM, WHAT!?! However, its not perfection – my cuticles and hands are sort of a wreck, leftover from washing my hands 20 times a day in the NICU and then having no time to do damage control once we got home. Meh. Guess I can’t do everything.

Ok, less talky, more showy (time is a luxury, after all!).

OPI do you take lei away swatch

Starting with my favorite from the collection, Do You Take Lei Away? is a ‘creamy nude’ that applies very well for this kind of shade, smooth and even in 2 coats, and is neutral enough (not too warm or cool) that I think it will flatter most skintones.

IMG_0323Left to right: Tom Ford Toasted Sugar, OPI Do You Take Lei Away?, OPI Maintaining My Sand-ity, Essie Jazz

I was unsurprised when I started pulling similar shades to compare against ‘Lei Away’ and discovered the closest match was a much-loved favorite, Essie Jazz. The OPI shade is just a hint more pink and less grey than Jazz and as such it looks a bit better against my skintone. My bottle of Jazz is halfway done (which means its almost finished, in polish terms), so I’m pleased to have a  sort of newer, better version to take it’s place.

OPI that's hula-rious! swatch

‘Pastel mint green’ That’s Hula-rious! is the kind of shade that I love in theory but which doesn’t always compliment my skintone. As is common with pastels, the formula is a bit streaky and needed 3 coats. The swatch above portrays it more vividly than it is – this shade was swatched during a snowstorm (one of many!!) so the natural light is much more dim and I had to overcompensate when taking the photo. The comparison photo below gives a more accurate indication of the shade.

OPI that's hula-rious! swatch comparisonLeft to right: China Glaze Re-fresh Mint, OPI That’s Hula-rious!, butter London Bossy Boots

China Glaze Re-fresh Mint is very similar, but is a smidgen lighter and less green, and the formula for it was atrocious. I far prefer this version.

OPI lost my bikini in molokini swatch

A ‘reef-inspired purple’, Lost My Bikini in Molokini feels like the perfect shade for spring – its vibrant and playful but not too bright. 2 coats were required to achieve opacity; the formula is good but not perfect and needs a tiny bit of attention to avoid streaking. This polish stained my nails a tad when I removed it, so keep that in mind.

OPI lost my bikini in molokinii swatch comparisonLeft: OPI Lost My Bikini in Molokini; Right: Rescue Beauty Lounge Mismas

I thought that RBL’s Mismas would be a close dupe to this color, but in fact it’s a few shades darker. I think I like the lighter tones of the OPI shade actually – I really like wearing colors according to seasons (so sue me) and Mismas doesn’t seem to fit into any of them, in my view.

OPI just lanai-ing around swatch

Described as a dark, creamy mauve, Just Lanai-ing Around is one of those midtone shades that I’m not a fan of – I prefer a strong contrast against my skintone. Personal preferences aside, the formula on this color is excellent and only required 2 easy coats to reach opacity.

OPI just lanai-ing around swatch comparisonLeft to right: OPI No Spain, No Gain, OPI Just Lanai-ing Around, OPI Diva of Geneva

In my mind, ‘Lanai-ing‘ was very similar to OPI No Spain, No Gain (another midtone shade I dislike), but it’s much lighter. OPI Diva of Geneva is a shimmer, of course, and in any case it’s also much darker and richer in tone.

OPI go with the lava flow swatch OPI go with the lava flow swatch

Go With the Lava Flow is a ‘golden red’ that leans coral and has a slight orange flash, which you can see only at the right angle. Normally this type of color isn’t my bag, but looking at these swatches makes me want to give it another go – it’s kind of intriguing, no? It took 3 coats to get the opacity I desired, but the polish applied well with no issues. I don’t have any shades comparable to this.

OPI aloha from opi swatch

Aloha From OPI is a ‘bright creamy coral’ that has just enough pink to keep it from being a true red. It’s been so long since I’ve worn a bright like this, it gets me in the mood for warmer weather! Though its a cream, it applied a touch streaky and I needed 3 coats to even it out to my liking. I don’t find this shade particularly unique, but it’s pretty nonetheless.

OPI hawaii spring 2015 swatch comparisons - Version 2Left: OPI Aloha From OPI; Right: Essie Come Here

A very close dupe for this shade is Essie’s Come Here, a favourite of mine. Essie’s version is ever so slightly more pink, but to me they’re essentially the same. Come Here has it’s own application issues, but I think I’d keep it over Aloha From OPI simply because I like square bottles better ;)

OPI hawaii spring 2015 collection

Halfway through, guys. At this point I was on day 7 and getting better at painting my nails between one feed, and then stealthily putting Elena down long enough to take photos between another. Swatches over showers, oh YEA.

OPI pineapples have peelings too swatch

Pineapples Have Peelings Too is…well, it’s just bizarre, what can I say? A ‘gold shimmer with colorful sparkle,’ when I pulled this shade out for the first time I was like ‘What the…?’  It is NOT pretty, you guys. Whoever thought up this shade was reaching, big time (though the name is perfect, I think). As the gold base is quite sheer, it required 3 coats to build up opacity. Interestingly enough, I actually quite like the base color, and I’m very picky about my golds (if you recall…). But the glitter bits are garish and the base covers over their sparkle to make it all look dull and blah. ME NO LIKEY (does anyone?). Obviously, this is a one-of-a-kind shade.

OPI is mai tai crooked? swatch

Is Mai Tai Crooked?, an ‘orange crème’, is one of those polarizing shades I think. Though it’s base isn’t too yellow, which can go terribly wrong on some people (like myself), it’s still not a flattering color on me. I do love the name though ;) 3 coats are needed to help even out patchiness, though if you were really careful you could probably get away with 2. Patchiness seems to plague most of the cream shades in this collection I find.

OPI is mai tai crooked? swatch comparisonLeft: OPI Is Mai Tai Crooked?; Right: Essie Resort Fling

The comparison above is a perfect example of the small nuances that can make or break a shade on my skintone. Essie Resort Fling is more peach than orange, of course, but the pink-leaning base versus the yellow-leaning one makes all the difference for me.

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Suzy Shops & Island Hops…oh how I love the look of this shade! Described as a ‘light and happy pink,’ I find this color super-flattering on my skintone. But of course, pastel shades often come with issues, and this shade needed 3 coats to even out the patchiness. But I don’t mind TOO much, because PRETTY.

OPI suzi shops & island hops swatch comparison

I must be having a pink moment, because I also love RBL’s Oh Slap!, which is close to ‘Suzy Shops’ though without as much white in the base. I’m tempted to only keep the RBL, but I really love the way the OPI looks so despite it being kind of a PITA to apply, I’ll hang on to it for a while, anyway.

OPI hello hawaii ya? swatch

Hello Hawaii Ya? is a ‘dusky purple’ and the type of color that used to appeal to me, for whatever reason. But though it works with my skintone, it’s kind of drab, and I prefer bright and punchy for spring shades. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly, for this collection), the formula wasn’t great and I needed 3 coats to smooth out patchiness, which still didn’t fully even things out. I think this color would be lovely on a lighter or darker skintone than mine, but it veers into that ‘midtone’ territory and I have too many other polishes in which to devote my time.

OPI hello hawaii ya? swatch comparisonLeft: OPI Hello Hawaii Ya? Right: OPI Parlez Vous OPI?

I think the reason I thought I’d like this shade is because when I first got my hands on OPI Parlez Vous OPI?, I adored the way it looked on me. But my tastes have changed over the years, and now I find it looks dull and muddy. These are clearly not dupes but they’re definitely distant relatives.

OPI this color's making waves swatch

This Color’s Making Waves should look familiar… This ‘shimmery, lagoon blue’ is a pretty marine shade makes me long for summer in a big way! It’s kind of a pain though, as it needed 4 coats to reach this opacity. It’s quite thin and watery, and as it’s not terribly unique I am less than enamoured by it. I have a very close dupe in…

OPI this color's making waves swatch comparison

Chanel’s Azure. Obviously. For the nitpicky among you, they aren’t exactly the same – Azure has more green in it, and OPI’s version has tiny silver flecks of shimmer running through it to set it apart. Both have a duo chrome flash, but Azure’s is more teal-blue-green, whereas ‘Making Waves’ is more teal-blue-purple. Meh. To me they’re damn near identical, and Azure only requires 2 coats (and, um, it’s Chanel), so it’s the winner in my books!

OPI my gecko does tricks swatch IMG_1934

Finalement. My Gecko Does Tricks. A ‘bright and pearly green’ that has a sort-of orange flash in the right light (as seen in the second photo, which I took with my phone and I previewed on Instagram). I’m not a fan of green polishes generally, which I’ve mentioned on several occasions. Though I probably won’t wear this much if at all (except St. Patty’s Day and maybe Christmas), it kind of grew on me a bit – it isn’t too yellowed (blech)/saturated (due to the shimmer)/dark (and therefore murky) to turn me off, I guess. It’s almost…flattering, if you like greens. It did need 3 coats however, so there’s that.

OPI hawaii spring 2015 collection

Overall, the collection was a mixed bag in terms of formula and shades. Many of the polishes were somewhat subpar in terms of performance and some of the shades weren’t to my taste (that’s just my opinion though!). I did have some favorites though, namely Do You Take Lei Away?, Lost My Bikini in Molokini, Go With the Lava Flow, and Suzi Shops & Island Hops (despite the crappy formula).

The Hawaii Collection by OPI is available now in both nail lacquer and GelColor formulas, at professional salons nationwide as well as ULTA and Nail Polish Canada.

*Product samples were provided for my unbiased consideration.

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3 makeup products every new mom needs

During my pregnancy, I resisted the urge to buy many new makeup items, because I figured I wouldn’t have any time to really wear makeup (for a while, anyway) once the baby was born. I wasn’t wrong – especially while in the hospital I didn’t wear a lick of makeup, and most days I’m lucky if I wash my face more than once. But there are times, like when you have non-familial visitors, or when you actually venture (briefly) out of the house, that you want to look just a bit less worn out and sleep-deprived. In those moments, a handful of makeup items have been helping me boost my lacklustre appearance to semi-normal, with the minimum amount of effort and time (because honestly, when you have any ‘free’ time, you want to spend it catching up on sleep!). The trio I’ve been relying on for this purpose is concealer, bronzer, and lip stain.

new mom makeup

The Clarins Instant Light Concealer in 03 and the Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer in Tan have replaced the two NARS Creamy Concealers I’d finished in January. Both are nice concealers with medium coverage – the Tarte offering is quite tacky and moist, and I find the creamy finish looks youthful and deflects light, helping me makes look less tired; it also is a very good match for my skin. The Clarins version, a lightweight concealer with a second-skin-like quality that’s currently having a HUGE moment in the blogosphere, also brightens the eye area and is suitable for other parts of the face as well (love it around my nose), but the shade is just a hint too light and grey to be perfect for me. I like and use both for similar purposes but they yield slightly different results due to their different formulas. Neither are holy grail as I still can see my dark circles peeking through…but I’m not convinced anything will obliterate them completely, anyway. #pipedream

new mom makeup

I’ve been having an on-off love affair with NARS Laguna Illuminator over the past 6 months – originally when I bought it I thought it the perfect bronzing product for someone who is already…brown (lol), just giving me some illumination with a hint of golden color. But the small specks of glitter in it really turn me off, especially in the summer when the sun is shining. However, in the dead of winter when most days are dreary and grey, this has been a go-to to perk up my skin or warm up any foundations I have that are a touch too light or cast a grey pall over my skin when worn alone. Right now, it’s been a quick way to both give my skin some much-needed color plus add back some radiance – it can be blended with fingers in seconds. If I have a few more minutes to spare, I’ll layer a bit of Too Faced Sun Bunny Bronzing Powder (previous review here) on top for extra color and glow.

new mom makeup

Finally, the last touch to my quick and dirty perk-me-up routine is a bit of lip color, which can be applied on the go at any time, like when you’re trying to manhandle your baby into submission lovingly carrying your wee one around. A lip stain is a good choice if you can’t manage reapplication, though I find a low-maintenance lip product is probably the one item I CAN find the time to slap on here and there, so I always have something (often just balm) handy. YSL’s Glossy Stain in Corail Aquatique is a good option because it leaves color behind even as it wears, and is a soft shade that doesn’t need a mirror to apply.

If I have a full 10 minutes to do my makeup, I’ll throw on some mascara and groom my brows a bit – but the luxury of that much time occurs infrequently. I could never understand before becoming a mother why other mothers never had enough time to do things that take just a few extra minutes, but now I get it; it’s because those ‘few extra minutes’ could be spent, oh I dunno – brushing your teeth, changing your underwear, EATING, daydreaming about sleeping. I’m learning how to do so many things with just one hand, it’s getting quite impressive. I thought I was an excellent multi-tasker before; I am a WORLD CLASS, GRADE-A MULTI-TASKER now!

IMG_0306Gratuitous photo of my sweet little girl

Do you have any time-saving makeup tips? To all the moms out there – how did you manage your time?

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Make Up For Ever gives ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ a touch of class

When I was in New Zealand, I spent a lot of time traveling around on a bus. To pass the time, I read a handful of books, two of them being part of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. There are a couple points to note here: I only read two of the three books; and I read more than one of the books only because at that time I had nothing else to read. Are you getting the picture yet? Quite honestly, I found the ‘Fifty Shades’ books ridiculous – the sexy bits were repetitive and silly, and I actually started to skip over them to get to the ‘meat’ of the novel. I struggled to get through the second book, and I had NO desire to read the third novel and find out how Christian and Anastasia ended up.

NEVERTHELESS. This should not be taken to mean that I will not give a ‘Fifty Shades’ themed makeup collection my full attention and appreciation – particularly one from a favourite brand of mine, Make Up For Ever. The Fifty Shades of Grey Give In to Me make-up coffret ($90CAD) by the brand is especially worthy of a serious look – even though I could take the books as anything but!

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The kit contains a handful of Make Up For Ever’s most iconic products: their popular Smoky Extravagant mascara (review here – though please note that while my original review was less than stellar, the one in this set is quite lovely!), their new Graphic Liner (review here), two natural-hued lip products – a Lab Shine Lip Gloss in D14 (a shimmering indian pink) and a Rouge Artist Natural Lipstick in N4 (a pink-beige), and four neutral shades of the exquisite Artist Shadows, in I-514 (‘pink ivory’), S-556 (‘taupe grey‘), ME-612 (‘silver brown,‘ previous review here), and I-628 (‘reptile‘ {WUT?}).

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The Artist Shadows have been taking the beauty world by storm, and for good reason – they’re silky, smooth, pigment-rich and come in a vast array of colors and textures. The shades in this set are neutral but not boring and are all very different, so a variety of looks can be created (sometimes I find palettes like these contain shades that vary by only a fraction). I also enjoy that the palette can be worn by both cool or warm skintones – both the highlight shade (I-514) and crease/liner shade (I-628) are tonally neutral, with the taupe shade (S-556) leaning just a touch cool, and the shimmering brown shade (ME-612) warm. Lastly, can I just say that it’s so nice to see a palette like this in which the shadows are still as good quality as you would find if you bought them singularly (*cough* MAC, I’m looking at you *cough*)?

IMG_0294 IMG_0234Clockwise from top left: I-514 (‘pink ivory’), ME-612 (‘silver brown’), I-628 (‘reptile’), and S-556 (‘taupe grey’)

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The lip colors are complimentary to the shadows, both MLBB shades that would work with most looks and on most skintones. The Rouge Artist Natural lipstick in N4 is a pretty shade of dusty rose, and the formula (previously reviewed here) is comfortable and lightweight, with a softly creamy finish. The Lab Shine lip glosses, here in D14, are some of the only glosses I’ve ever finished (previous shade reviews here and here) – in part due to their beautiful shine and wonderfully moisturizing qualities, and in part because they’re kinda small at 0.09oz (a YSL gloss by comparison is 0.2oz). I don’t mind much as it’s quite gratifying to finish a makeup item! – but something to note all the same. You can see below that in just using this regularly for the past few days that it’s already on it’s way to being used up.

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Below are swatches of the shadows and lip colors!

MUFE 50 Shades of Grey Makeup Coffret swatchesLeft to right: [Shadows] I-514 (‘pink ivory’), S-556 (‘taupe grey’), I-628 (‘reptile’), and ME-612 (‘silver brown’); [Lipstick] N4 (pink beige); [Lipgloss] D14 (shimmering indian pink).

MUFE 50 Shades of Grey Makeup Coffret swatchesClose up of Rouge Artist Natural in N4 and Lab Shine Lip Gloss in D14. 

Overall I think this kit is kind of awesome, and I’m not really one for makeup sets like this. Every item is a stand-out, and the palette is extremely wearable and appealing. If they had included a blush I would have died and gone to heaven! If you haven’t tried the brand yet, this would be the opportune moment to do so – though I see that this set is no longer on the Sephora website, so my apologies if I just created a lemming you can’t fulfill! I would definitely head to your local store to see if you can still score the set – but if you can’t, happily all of these shades are in the permanent line-up, so though it’s not a ‘deal’, you can still grab any shades/products that have caught your eye!

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The moral of the story? Even if you weren’t a fan of the books, don’t let that deter you from looking at Make Up For Ever’s take on the ‘Fifty Shades’ franchise – theirs is probably the best thing to come from the phenomenon, hands down!

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Did you read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy? Will you see the movie? 

*Product(s) were provided by the PR company/brand for my unbiased consideration.

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So…I had a baby!

Cutting right to the chase, eh? ;) Well, if you haven’t been following me on Instagram, as the title suggests my sweet little babe has been born (which is why I’ve been MIA for the past few weeks)! If you’re doing the math, you may realize that she (yes, it’s a girl!) was born much earlier than her anticipated due date of March 20th. My impatient little girl arrived on February 6th, exactly 6 weeks before she was ‘scheduled.’ The story is long and convoluted, but to give you a brief synopsis – I was having some serious pelvic pressure/pain earlier in the week, which turned into what I thought *might* be contractions – but of course not having had them before, I wasn’t sure what they would really feel like! I had Ryan bring me to the hospital in the early hours of the 4th, to discover that YES, I was having contractions; but the doctors were keen to get baby girl to 34 weeks, so they gave me Adalat, a drug that stops contractions, and two rounds of steroid injections over a 48 hour period to boost her lung development. After her heart rate dropped several times over the course of the next couple days, they decided that the first day of her 34 week, February 6th, was going to be her birthday. Initially they were going to schedule a C-section for later in the morning, but her heart rate dropped again and it was suddenly game time. At 9:24am, at 4lbs even, Elena Bell Monminie was born :)

IMG_1495I get a lot of comments about the fact that I was wearing nail polish lol…it wasn’t like I painted them in preparation for her birth! Obviously they just happened to be painted :)

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Because she’s a pre-term baby (she’s not technically a ‘preemie’ at 34 weeks), she’s been in the NICU since she was born. Once I was discharged, three days after the birth (standard for C-section births), Ryan and I spent the next two days at the hospital, from 8am to midnight, and slept at home for a few hours. Unfortunately, Ryan had to then return back to work out West, so from then on I stayed at the hospital in a parent room – which is where I still am (and where I’m currently writing this post!). It’s not glamorous, and it’s easy to go a little stir-crazy in a dimly lit room with nothing to do and no one really to talk to, but I’m managing! The nice part is getting to spend my days with Elena and enjoy watching her do mundane things like stretch, frown, stick out her tongue…pretty much everything she does is amazing lol. I hit a bit of a wall yesterday and was quite ill, with chills and sweats and a massive headache – I was majorly sleep-deprived and my diet hasn’t been terrific (though my family is doing pretty well at keeping me fed) – but I see the light at the end of the tunnel, as I suspect she’ll be discharged within the week. She’s a rockstar – she’s had nothing wrong with her except for her small size and a bit of jaundice, so at this point she’s off the monitors, being breastfed exclusively (she was originally being fed through an NG tube), and she’s sleeping in the room with me :) Once she gets her weight up a little bit, we’ll be able to break free of this joint!

And now, a photo-palooza!

IMG_1514So glad that NG tube is out now!

IMG_1565She had to wear a little mask while under the phototherapy lights to protect her eyes – made it look like she was in a tanning bed ;P

IMG_1541Alert and awake!

IMG_1519This picture makes me laugh every time I look at it. She does this all the time!

IMG_1604Peek-a-boo!

IMG_1616You can really get an idea of how small she is in this photo (and how cute!).

IMG_1635They have these awesome tube tops you can stick your baby in while you wear them to get skin-to-skin contact, which is super-great for mom and baby. Love this so much.

IMG_1648Her ‘superman’ pose after a good feed lol

IMG_1680Here’s a clearer face shot…it’s still hard to capture her cute though!

So I just heard today from my nurse that it could be that baby girl is discharged today or tomorrow! This is very exciting news :)  It will be much easier to get back to posting once I’m in my own space again – and unsurprisingly, my cosmetic routine has been next to nothing, so I’m lucky if I wash my face once a day and shower every three (scandalous, I know!). I’ve left the hospital only twice – both times to go to baby showers that friends and co-workers so graciously changed around to suit my schedule – so I’ve only worn makeup twice in the past 19 days. That is most definitely a record for me! The only thing I’m religious about using is lip balm and hand cream – it is DRY up in here, my friends, and you’re required in the NICU to wash wash wash your hands constantly; needless to say, my hands are a MESS. Ah well, soon enough we’ll be out of here. Everyone keep your fingers and toes crossed for us, will you? It’s time to go home.

IMG_1688Just took this one yesterday…I’ve never taken so many photos of the same thing in my life! (oh wait, I write a beauty blog…erm, still think I’ve taken more photos of her than I ever have for any one post!)

 

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30 Days of Decluttering

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I’ve been talking for ages about trying to pare down my makeup collection, by both using things up as well as slowing down my purchasing of new products (and may I just say – I have only bought ONE color makeup item over the past three months [the YSL Golden Gloss] – that deserves an award!), but now it’s time to get serious. I’ve decided to embark on a 30 day decluttering project, in which I have to get rid of a beauty item a day for 30 days. This could mean using up an item; giving away a shade I never wear but keep hanging on to for no good reason; tossing old, expired products; etc. It includes both makeup, skin/hair care, and nail polish – basically any beauty cosmetics I own.

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To start off with a bang, these are a handful of products that I’m going to dedicate time to finishing – they’re nearly done already, and were the inspiration to start this challenge. Beginning something like this with a few products already ‘ready’ to go is a bit of a cheat, but eh – the results are still the same really, and it gives me an extra incentive to really use these up!

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I’m beginning the challenge tomorrow – Friday, January 30th – and ending it on February 28th. I plan to track my progress on Instagram daily, so you can keep up with me there – or better yet, join me! #30daydeclutter

I’m excited to get cracking on this! Skincare is easy, as I usually only have just my current rotation of products with not much duplication (eg. only a couple cleansers, moisturizers, oils, treatments etc. at a time). Makeup, on the other hand, is much harder to part with – even if it’s a shade or formulation that doesn’t really work for me. I have been slowly pulling items from my collection and really scrutinizing whether they should be there or not – no point keeping stuff that I don’t love/wear – but it’s still hard to part with products that were purchased with my hard-earned cash. I just keep telling myself that the more I let go that just doesn’t DO it for me, the more new products I can buy that do!

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Time to get ruthless….wish me luck!!

Anyone else in the process of decluttering / reducing their beauty stash?

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Miniature masks (and miniature reviews!)

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Somehow, I find myself in possession of a number of miniature-sized masks, and it came to me that perhaps before I blow through them all (their bitty sizes allow for quick empties), I should give them each a brief review. The masks in question? Peter Thomas Roth’s Cucumber Gel, Rose Stem Cell, and Pumpkin Enzyme masks (from the ‘Mini Mask Magic’ holiday set, $25CAD); Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Peel Sensitive (a sample my aunt put in my Christmas goodies, full size is $39US), and the Odacité Hydration Mask* (full size is $55CAD).

Mini Masks

The PTR masks offer three diverse treatments – the Cucumber Gel Mask is designed to soothe, hydrate, and detoxify dry, irritated skin; the Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask is anti-aging, and assists in repair of dehydrated, dull and sagging skin; and the Pumpkin Enzyme Mask is a powerful exfoliating treatment that boosts dull, aging and congested skin.

PTR Mini Mask MagicPTR Cucumber Gel, Rose Stem Cell, and Pumpkin Enzyme Masks

I like the gel texture of the Cucumber and Rose masks, as they seem to hydrate my combo-oily skin without feeling greasy or heavy. However, I’m not sure I notice a difference between the two – could be that I don’t require much anti-aging yet, but I use them interchangeably and with similar results. My skin after use feels soft, soothed and comfortable; I don’t notice any major radiance boost, but my skin certainly doesn’t look worse for wear either. Though I probably wouldn’t purchase full-sizes of these since I’m not sure of their true effectiveness, I like that I can use these without fear of irritation, and I would consider buying maybe another round of these minis just so I have them on hand in a pinch. It’s certainly made me want to try other gel masks at the very least!

The Pumpkin mask, on the other hand, seems to have much more ‘actives’ in it (pumpkin enzymes, AHAs, and aluminum oxide – all exfoliants), and there’s no mistake it’s doing *something* while it’s on there. When I first put the Pumpkin mask on cleansed skin, my face FEELS it. I hesitate to say it burns because that sounds scary, but it does – intensely, though somehow at the same time it doesn’t feel like it’s truly irritating the skin. My skin is fairly sensitive, but it manages to handle the burn like a champ and it doesn’t cause any lasting issue at all. The ‘burn’ only lingers for about 30 seconds before it fades away – and the mask is only to be worn for 3-8 minutes, so it doesn’t sit too long in any case. Once removed, my face looks a bit red, but that too seems to dissipate within a short while, and then I’m just left with smooth, radiant skin. I quite like this mask – it really feels like it’s deeply exfoliating my skin, and though it’s probably the most hardcore mask I’ve ever worn, it still seems to not go TOO far, even for my finnicky skin.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel

Speaking of exfoliating masks, I was keen to try this Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel mask finally, and I was happy to see it was the ‘Sensitive‘ version, as I AM usually careful to watch out for chemically exfoliating masks like these, as it can go downhill more often than not. On the whole, this refining mask felt extremely gentle – I had no reaction whatsoever, no burning sensation – and when rinsed away my skin felt smoother, though nothing crazy. It’s also designed to brighten, though I haven’t used this often enough to witness those effects just yet. I’m not fully sold, but I was happy at least that it wasn’t too intense, and I’m looking forward to trying it a few more times to see what kind of results I get.

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Finally, we have the Odacité Hydration Masque*, which I received along with some other skincare items from one of the brands ‘Fresh Collection’ sample sets. This treatment aims to rejuvenate the skin and help it look younger, healthier and more hydrated after just one use. The texture of this reminds me a lot of the Limited Edition Pai Bioregenerate Rapid Radiance Mask (review forthcoming), which is a creamy hydrating mask that feels like a thick lotion when applied. The Odacité mask is a bit different though in that once applied, it quickly turns to a liquid rather than retaining it’s cream texture, and looks quite greasy. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to clog my pores or cause any breakouts after using it, but I think this is best suited for drier skin types than mine – it contains coconut oil as one of the main ingredients, and personally coconut oil on my face is just asking for trouble. I will say though that many of the Odacité products I was sent contain coconut oil, and so far I haven’t had any breakouts anywhere, so perhaps they use a more refined type? Nonetheless, if you are an oilier skin type, I think there are probably other masks better suited to you than this one. My skin certainly felt hydrated after use, but maybe a touch more than is necessary.

So, though none of these masks have truly ‘wowed’ me, it’s been fun having a lot of options to choose from when I do a treatment, and I find because of that I’ve been doing a mask several times a week (versus usually only once or twice). I liked that the PTR Pumpkin Mask really seemed to be doing something, but the rest were more elusive in their results. One thing to note, is that my skin is in quite good condition, and so it’s often hard for me to see results from most treatments, so I may not be the best judge of what’s effective or not. I certainly think each of these masks are worth a look in any case, depending on what your skin’s needs are!

Do you have a mask that you really love? 

*Product was provided by the PR Company/Brand for my unbiased consideration.

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