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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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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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Make Up For Ever is feeding my black liner addiction

Like most everyone else, I go through phases with things. I remember one year during university, I kept buying white clothing – white skirts, pants, dresses, blazers…you name it, I had it in white. It was my JAM. And I am a fairly careful, non-klutzy person so my white clothes stayed white (except that one time I bought a white pant suit to wear to a formal event [nothing underneath but a bra {scoundrel!}] and I got drunk and spilled a purple candle down my front…not good, my friends]. It was a good year. Strangely enough, a few years later and I found myself with hardly any white clothes, and a closet full of black. UGH! Yes, it’s classic, but honestly black is so blah – I’m still recovering from THAT phase, trying to introduce more color into my wardrobe. It’s a process.

Needless to say, of COURSE I go through phases in makeup as well. As evidenced in my 2014 purchases post, I bought a LOT of lippies last year – I was on a huge roll. But when I realized I had oodles of eyeshadows going unused in favour of a bold, bright lip, I started wearing shadows more than lipstick, and I flipped the game yet again.

MUFE Graphic Liner

Lately, though you might not know it to see me (still wearing a lot of shadows…), I’ve been on a big black eyeliner kick. When I was wearing a lot of fun lip colors, black eyeliner was the perfect companion to polish off my look without seeming overdone. Apparently, that idea has a strong hold on me, as somehow I’ve managed to amass SIX black liners over the past couple years (a bit excessive, don’t you think?). The most recent addition to my collection is one of Make Up For Ever’s newest addition to the line, their Graphic Liner ($29CAD) – an inky black liquid liner pen.

MUFE Graphic LinerMUFE Graphic Liner swatch

The Graphic Liner pen is much like any other liquid liner out there – it has a foam-tip applicator that allows for good control and the ability to draw a thin or thick line. It’s a nice, dark black – not charcoal like Rouge Bunny Rouge’s Nocturnal Ink – and it applies easily and wears very well throughout the day. If I hadn’t *just* purchased Kat Von D’s Ink Liner a month earlier, I’d be very pleased with this – it’s an exceptionally good black liquid liner that does everything is promises. However, it’s almost identical in function and form to the KVD version, and only slightly larger in size (0.03oz vs. KVD’s 0.02oz), though it’s $6 more here in Canada (KVD’s is $23). I don’t usually like to write a review on a product and compare it so plainly to another, but honestly these two are so, SO close in how they perform, down to their applicators and the color of line.

IMG_0081The tip on the Kat Von D liner is slightly shorter and thinner, but they operate exactly the same to me.

In fact, the color of the Graphic Liner is similar to most my black liners…but of course, the application of a liquid vs a gel or cream vs a pencil is not comparable at all.

IMG_4030Chanel Waterproof Liner in Noir Intense, Giorgio Armani Smooth Silk Eyeliner in 1, MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack, Make Up For Ever Graphic Liner in Black, Kat Von D Ink Liner in Trooper, and Rouge Bunny Rouge Nocturnal Ink in Friesian

I guess what I’m saying overall is that Make Up For Ever’s offering is quite lovely, but there are other options out there that are equally as nice. If you’re a big fan of the brand (I am!), then you might choose their version over another just because. But if you already own Kat Von D’s liner, or another similar one, you probably don’t need to rush out and buy this one.

Currently, I’m trying to re-introduce the black liner to my routine in an effort to lessen the hoard…think it might take a while, hmm??

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What is your favourite black liner? What formula do you prefer? 

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

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Quickie Post: Rescue Beauty Lounge Oh Snap! swatches

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I’m trying to clean up any lingering photos I have kicking around that I haven’t yet posted, start the year off fresh. I actually am feeling a bit more inspired lately so hopefully that translates into some interesting stuff for you guys to read/see! But I gotta do a little housekeeping first :)

Last year there were some pretty good promos coming from Rescue Beauty Lounge – free shipping being one of them. Almost every time Ji offered free shipping (I think it happened at least 3 times), I ended up picking up a shade or two; I just couldn’t resist. Truth be told, I’m actually not a HUGE fan of some of her shades – they’re a little too ‘out there’ for me at times (guess I’m boring like that) – but her formula has always been spot on, if nothing else. Over the course of the year I picked up 3 shades: Stormy, a moody grey creme; Mismas, a bold purple creme; and most recently, Oh Snap!, a girlish pink crelly. I have yet to wear any of these shades as full manicure yet (shame on me), but I hope to rectify that very soon. However, I already have a favorite – Oh Snap is such a feminine, pretty pink that I can’t resist it’s charm.

RBL Oh Snap! swatch

This is 3 coats, and though you can still see VNL, I don’t mind it at all. It flows on the nail so nice and evenly that the sheerness doesn’t seem to detract from the polish itself (in my humble opinion). It’s just so darn gorgeous!

As always, I checked for dupes in my existing collection, and was nervous at first because another RBL polish I own, Poco a Poco, seemed mighty close to Oh Snap! in the bottle. However, when applied, the two are definitely different. While they run in the same color vein, Poco a Poco is completely opaque, and leans a bit greyish. Additionally, Poco a Poco has very fine reddish shimmer, whereas Oh Snap! is just one creamy tone.

Below you can see the differences clearly; Oh Snap! is on my index and ring fingers, Poco a Poco is worn on my middle and pinky.

RBL Oh Snap! vs Poco a Poco swatchDirect sunlight.

IMG_4023Shade.

RBL Oh Snap vs Poco a PocoArtificial light.

I think Oh Snap! is going to be THE perfect shade to wear come spring (though it’s suitable for any season, really), and I can’t wait to pull it out again and again. It’s a great shade that would go with a lot of looks but isn’t too neutral or boring in the least. Now all I need to do is just WEAR it already!!

Do you own any RBL polishes? What are your thoughts on the shades in general?

 

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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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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.

Yüli

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.

Yüli

Yup, I definitely have an addiction.

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

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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.

IMG_3787

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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