Archive for category Serums

Final Empties Post of 2013!

Woohoo!  My last empties post of the year.  As these are always lengthy (because I am too damn chatty) (and even though I just did one last month…how do I use up products so quickly?), I’m going to get right to it.


Organix Nourishing Coconut Milk Conditioner – I do like the Organix conditioners, and this worked quite well to hydrate and detangle, but I preferred the heaviness of the Macadamia Oil version to this.  Smelled DELICIOUS in the summer though!

Earth Science Deep Conditioning Masque – 2nd tube of this, and I still feel the same as I did when I first tried it.  It’s really good shit, dudes.  For $13CAD, it’s one of the best deep conditioners I’ve ever used, and to top it off – all natural!  If I were so fickle I’d buy another tube, and I still may…I’m just too curious to settle *just  yet* ;)

Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil – I really liked this oil a lot, much better than the Ojon Restorative oil that preceded it.  It just had a great consistency and smell, and it never irritated my scalp or caused any breakouts around my forehead, which can happen with products like this.  Good stuff, and lasted AGES.


Haus of Gloi Komodo Pumpkin Butter – don’t mistake mangosteen for mango, my friends – NOT THE SAME.  I found the scent of this quite intrusive and it has this slightly rotten fruit smell…so ya, just not diggin’ it.  So, I used it as a foot cream!  Problem solved.

Nutiva Coconut Oil – great stuff.  I used this as my primary body moisturizer throughout last spring/summer and it was awesome – it really kept my skin in great condition, prevented eczema flare-ups and helped heal old scars that I sometimes get from past eczema patches, which tend to result in the absence of pigmentation.  However, once the weather cooled it wasn’t quite enough, so I would either layer it with a moisturizer, or use it in my hair periodically as a deep treatment.  I’ll definitely be picking up another tub of this – so many uses! However, keep in mind that coconut oil is highly comedogenic – except when it’s in the form below:

Fractionated Coconut Oil – fractionated oil is non-comedogenic, perhaps due to having had all it’s triglycerides removed.  It has a super-long shelf life and increased stability, and it’s antioxidant potential is more jacked up than regular coconut oil.  It’s also in a TON of things and usually listed as ‘caprylic/capric triglyceride.’  My roommate had left this behind when she moved so I used it up – it was a lot easier to use than the solid coconut oil (though a bit messier at times) but I found it slightly less moisturizing on my body.


Getting through my non-organic products!  I’ve only got a few last products and a couple straggler samples to get through and I’ll be essentially fully ‘green’, woot!

eos Lip Sphere - this balm works really well and was exceptional under lipstick, offering just enough hydration without much slip, but honestly the size of it sometimes felt very cumbersome.  It’s a cute novelty, but not the most practical – though I do maintain that they’re terribly easy to find in your purse!

Indeed Labs Hydraluron – I’m sure this does have a purpose, but I don’t think I have dry or dehydrated enough skin to see a difference.  I don’t miss it.

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector – this stuff does work well, for those of you not concerned about using non-organic products.  I really do like serums because you can pile them on and they generally don’t have heavy moisture to the skin which can make you greasy as the day wears on.

RoC Soft Smoothing Scrub – too gentle for my liking, though this is a good choice for a morning cleanser just to wash the night’s oils off, or as a second cleanse.  But as a ‘scrub’?  No thanks.  One more non-organic product down!

Avene Thermal Spring Water – I love misting my face before applying any serums or oils, as it just feels good to seal the moisture in…but paying for water in a can kinda irks me.  I far prefer the facial mists with a little bit extra in them, like hydrosols etc. that add something more.  Right now I’m using Kahina Giving Beauty’s Facial Mist and I quite like it (though its just so darn SMALL at 1.6oz for $46CAD…ouch!).


Samples!  Lots of good organic stuff here.  The Marie Veronique Organics Treatment Oil is excellent for keeping oily, pore-clogged, acne-prone skin in check.  I don’t have the latter, but I do get clogged pores on my nose and cheek area, and I found the sample really refined my skin nicely.  I actually just purchased the full-size last week!  I tried the new Kahina Giving Beauty Fez Body Serum this past weekend, and while it worked nicely on my skin, the scent it NOT for me – far too spicy and heady for me.  I’ll stick with my Lina Hanson Global Body Serum, thanks.  The Soapwalla Deodorant sample lasted ages, and I enjoyed it so much I purchased it last week as well – it smells awesome and actually works a treat, even on wetness!  It’s not entirely as effective as traditional antiperspirants, but for every day wear its perfect and I really like it a lot.  I thought the Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Sensitive Skin Cream was gonna be my JAM for the dry patches I get sometimes from my eczema, but it sometimes made my skin itch a bit rather than soothe it, so I’ll have to keep looking for a nice nighttime hydrating cream.  M.J.’s Calendula Cream on the other hand, was a freakin’ miracle product – this honestly cleared up my eczema overnight on my hands, which tends to be a persistent problem for me.  I ended up buying a similar product from the local market, but I’m not sure it’s *quite* as effective, though I do like to support local.    The Eminence Blueberry Soy Exfoliating Cleanser was a strange product.  I used it as either a morning or second cleanse and I didn’t notice any exfoliating, and it left a slight film on my skin so I’d recommend using a washcloth to remove it.  Not something I’d spend my money on, overall.  The Rahua Shampoo was fine, but I didn’t enjoy the smell at all, and to spend $$ on a shampoo that I don’t love is just not gonna happen.  One of our local high-end department stores here, Mills, will soon be stocking the organic brand Babor, and the SA’s gave me a few samples of this Calm & Relax Cream to try.  It was pretty great, truth be told!  I used it after doing an intense masque treatment, and it was soothing and hydrating without being heavy at all.  I just may purchase a full-size when the line becomes fully available.  Finally, another Eminence sample I snagged was this Red Currant Rapid Infusion Masque…suffice to say it was a total dud.  I have no idea what it was supposed to do, but I wasn’t wowed.  PASS.


Le makeup.

Sephora She Sparkles Gloss – decent gloss formula, decent shade.  Despite the fact that I didn’t love it, I actually used this up fairly quickly in the grand gloss scheme of things.  Huh.

NARS Gold Digger Gloss sample – HATE the brush on these Larger Than Life glosses, uh.  So. Tiny!  I liked the shade well enough, but the formula isn’t my favourite – similar to MAC lipglasses, which means they wear fairly well, but I’m not a fan of the stickiness.  It still looks quite full here but I wasn’t getting any more product, so out it goes.

Marc Jacobs Blacquer Mascara – this was such a weird product, like webbing for the eyes!  I loved that it had this kind of patent-leather shine, but it applied horribly and made a total mess of my lashes every time.  Yuk.

MUFE Eyeshadow #17 Espresso – I thought I’d use this a ton and then hardly did.  Then I dropped it and it crumbled, and then honestly, I just was OVER IT.  Plus, I now have a similar shade in my Laura Mercier palette, so I don’t NEED YOU ANYMORE.  *I really hate broken makeup!*

NARS Pro Prime Pore-Refining Primer – this was just meh.  I used it regularly for a couple weeks to use it up, and I wasn’t wowed – I still got shine after a few hours, and though my makeup wore a bit longer, it wasn’t anything to write home about.  Plus, non-organic…I’m not totally converted to organic makeup (or at all, really) but primer is like skincare, so I don’t think I’d buy this even if it did work well.

Marie Veronique Organics Everyday Coverage – the darkest shade offered is still too light for me, so this was a no-go.  Bummer, as I’ve ready a lot of great things about it!  Can’t beat coverage plus SPF in one.

I’m now finished my empties for the year!  I was going to do a tally in each category, but honestly that’s just too much damn work LOL.  Suffice to say, I feel really good about how many non-organic products I’ve used up, and I’m pretty stoked that I used up a whole gloss (and a half!) – I’ve been trying really hard to use up any lip products that are at least half-gone, because they’re much more feasible to finish (as opposed to blush…let’s not go there).  I’m going to make a real effort next year to cull my stash to only products I really love – I know I’ve said this before, and I continue to make progress, but I think next year will be THE year.  I’m loosening my grip on keeping things because they ‘should’ work or because they were expensive and therefore I have to use them.  I just want to pull out any shade of any product and be like ‘Yep, looks great’ with minimal effort.  I learn more and more what looks good on me and what doesn’t.  And also, it’s a lot easier to reduce the stash when you focus all your effort / money on skincare!!  I certainly haven’t saved a dime not buying makeup, because organic skincare costs a pretty penny in many cases, but the whole ritual of applying oils etc. is really up my alley, so I don’t mind.  And less makeup means less anxiety in that area – I never overbuy skincare so I never have to worry about having too much of that!

So, out with the old (thinking) and in with the new (skincare, not makeup).  Now I need to put my 2014 resolutions to paper!

How did your empties go this year?  Do you think your reducing or expanding?  


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Skincare and Sunscreen and Polish, Oh My!

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

What sort of products have you been buying lately?

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My Skin Saviors: Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil & Consonant Organic Foaming Face Wash

So I mentioned in my previous skincare post that my skin has been kicking some serious ass lately.  I think aside from finally figuring out the tricks to dealing with eczema (also mentioned in that post), the two star products in the line-up are my facial cleanser, Consonant’s Organic Foaming Face Wash, and my nighttime facial oil, Tarte’s Pure Maracuja Oil.

Super Skincare (2)

I was gifted the face wash by my aunt, who often buys big blockbuster skincare and makeup bags with a bunch of various products by various brands, via The Shopping Channel :P  Sometimes there are standout items, and sometimes…not so much.  I didn’t end up using the Consonant wash until about 6 months after receiving it, when I ran out of my previous face wash.  Initially, I didn’t think too much of it.  Its a foaming…soap…for the face.  But there is no denying the fact that somehow this product both gently cleanses while absolutely NOT stripping the skin of moisture (due to nourishing botanicals like grapeseed oil), and leaves my skin feeling soft, smooth, and blemish-free (it also contains teatree oil!).

Consonant Organic Foaming Face Wash (2)

It feels really silky once you rub it into your skin, and dissolves within seconds, which initially made me think it wasn’t cleaning properly.  However, 1-2 pumps of product really does remove all the dirt, oil, and makeup I abuse it with wear daily.  If your makeup is particularly tenacious, it may require a separate makeup remover (I used Clinique’s Take The Day Off Balm), but in a pinch this will wash away almost everything without the added step.  It’s even designed to help eliminate uneven skin tone, which is a problem I suffer with, and it’s pH balanced (so no need for toner).  I’m not one to usually stick with one type of product after it’s used up, but I actually will repurchase this – it works and it’s relatively inexpensive at $18CAD.

Consonant Organic Foaming Face Wash

Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin, Decyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Calophyllum Tacamahaca, Melaleuca Alternifolia, Allantoin, Algae, Camellia Sinensis, Salix Alba, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Zingiber Officinale, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera, Comfrey, Chamomilla Recutita, Symphytum Officinale, Cucumis Sativa, Vaccinium Myrtillus, Saccharum Officinarum, Acer Saccharum, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis, Citrus Medica Limonum, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid.

Does not contain: Phthalates, Petroleum Ingredients, Sulphates, Silicone, Synthetic Colour, Synthetic Fragrance or Paraben Preservatives.

Tarte Maracuja Oil

The other superstar in my skincare routine has GOT to be, Tarte’s Pure Maracuja Oil ($55CAD).  This was one of the rare impulse buys I make every few months.  I was in Sephora, and as the staff know me there, I asked what was one of the standout must-have products I should try.  No less than THREE SA’s turned me toward the Maracuja Oil (between the ages of 20-50), insisting it had totally changed their skin.  I wasn’t in the market for a moisture product, but what the heck!  I had a $20 coupon to burn in which I needed to spend $50 or more.  DONE.

Tarte Maracuja Oil (2)

I usually steer clear of skincare via brands that are more known for makeup, and especially gimmicky-type products in general.  But honestly, I have been shocked at how much this has improved my skin!  It’s smoother, more even-toned, less oily, more hydrated, and I swear it’s made my pores less noticeable and all but eliminated the small fine lines around my eyes.  Apparently, maracuja oil is chockful of Vitamin C – which aids in brightening and radiance – and essential fatty acids, which are necessary for healthy skin to rebuild and repair itself  It’s also anti-inflammatory, which is ideal for someone like myself with eczema (or if you have sun damage!).  How I use it, is right after washing my face, a put a dropperful in my hand, rub them together to disperse, and then press it into my skin all over my face and neck (this product replaces my nighttime moisturizer).  I don’t know where I got the ‘pressing’ part but I think I heard somewhere that it helps oils penetrate the skin better (and probably a lot more gentle than vigorous rubbing!).  It absorbs a bit slowly, about half an hour to fully penetrate, at which time my skin just feels plump and hydrated and not at all greasy, filmy or sticky (which was a big reason why I did not like argan oil – too heavy!).  Some people have noted a slight smell to the product, but I detect next to none – at least nothing discernible, even if I stick my nose right up to the bottle opening.

Tarte Maracuja Oil (3)See…it’s so thin that it started spreading just from the small droplet on my hand!

The only ingredient in this product is maracuja oil, which contains none of the baddies like parabens or fragrance.

And now for a very revealing photo (after cleansing and applying the oil, sans makeup, with plenty of freckles/moles for your viewing pleasure):

Clean, Bare SkinI’m no model, by any means – but I’m pretty darn happy with how clear my skin is, and how well my pigmentation damage has faded on my forehead!  Too bad about those dark circles…

If you’re in the market for either (or both) a cleanser or hydrator, I highly recommend both of these products, for essentially all skin types except serious problem skin.  Both products are gentle and effective, truly have made such a huge improvement in my skin that I didn’t even realize I was lacking.

What is your absolute must-have skincare product?

You can purchase the Consonant Organic Foaming Face Wash here, and the Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Retinols, AHA’s, Antioxidants… Brain.Exploding.Now.

My skincare regime is always a work in progress.  Being the type of person I am, I rarely stick with one product – even if it’s working (which is kind of stupid, yes, but – there it is).  There’s just always something new to try, and my easily bored ways mean that I’m always drawn in by the latest and greatest.  However, there is a central idea to my madness, which is to say, there are certain types of products that I want to be sure to incorporate into my daily routine.  The biggest one that I’d like to pull into the fold are retinoids, a form of Vitamin A.  I have yet to dabble in the world of this heavy-hitting product (which has many types, including Retinol, retinaldehyde, adapalene, tretinoin, isotretinoin, and tazarotene – Skinacea has a great chart to explain them here). Retinoids are favored even over many of the more new-fangled (<– awesome old-person word) products of the day, because of their ability to multi-task: as they promote cell and collagen production, they diminish the look of lines and wrinkles and help improve the texture and clarity of the skin, while also helping to treat acne and clear blocked pores.  On top of that, retinoids help repair damage through their antioxidant component. Sa-weet!  Sign me up :)I’m not going to get too technical here because I’m not a dermatologist and I don’t know the science behind it all (though my pic above makes me look awfully smart!).  But I’ve been doing some research for my own cause, and I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with you!  Using retinoids isn’t a totally no-brainer situation.  There is a method to the madness that should be followed in order for you to get the maximum benefit from your products, as well as not causing unnecessary irritation to the skin.  Because my skin is so sensitive, this was a must for me to decipher.If any of you are like me, you use a multitude of treatment products in order to achieve the best skin you can.  I particularly try to ensure that I’m using something with antioxidants in it, as well as a chemical exfoliant of some kind (as I can’t use manual scrubs since they rough up my skin too much).  Here’s the lowdown on how to proceed with some of these products while still using retinoids safely and effectively:

- Do not apply retinoid in the morning, as the sun will deactivate the product and cause the skin to be more susceptible to UV rays.

- Do not apply glycolic acid/lactic acid (AHA’s) at the same time as retinoid product as they will cancel each other out (and cause some mega-irritation I would think!).

- Apply retinoids at night to bare skin, waiting 20 minutes after washing face (*If you experience too much sensitivity, you can apply a buffer moisturizer an hour before using the retinoid).

- Begin using retinoids over time; start by applying them once every three days for the first one or two weeks. After your skin adjusts to the product (or if you experience no irritation at all), bump it up to once every two nights for another few weeks. Then, use it every other night for another week and gradually graduate to using it nightly.

- Wait an hour after application, then use an anti-inflammatory moisturizer on top to prevent redness and flaking.

I have yet to incorporate a retinoid into my regime, but plan on picking one up within the next few months (likely one of the ones I’m showcasing here – perhaps right around my 30th birthday???) and slowly introducing it into my system over time .  Right now I’m using an AHA cream, which also helps to diminish the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and helps exfoliate the skin – I apply it about every third evening just to keep my skin smooth as I’m not using much else in the way of exfoliation.  I probably won’t use both a retinoid and an AHA product at the same time; I’m sure it’s possible for some, but with my tempermental skin I’m not going to chance it!

Just to give you an idea, here’s what my ideal skincare regime will look like:

Gentle cleanser
Antioxidant serum
Moisturizer w/SPF (Winter) / SPF (Summer)
Eye cream with SPF

Oil-based makeup remover (Summer or for heavy makeup days)
Purifying cleanser
Retinoid serum
Eye cream

Nothing fancy by any means but I think it covers the bases fairly well – I think the simpler the better, to avoid irritating my skin (which can actually cause you to age faster).I hope this post was at least a bit helpful!  I’m confident that most of you already know what you’re doing with regards to skincare, but it can get a bit convoluted when you start to introduce more advanced products into the fray.  I’m looking forward to getting this down pat and hopefully seeing some results – not that I have a ton of visible aging yet, but I want to keep it that way!  And as much as I like trying new things, I want to find a solid regime that helps minimize any surprize rashes or breakouts, and have my skin calm down for a long stretch of time (which seems to have been AGES ago).

Do you use retinoids in your skincare?  What’s your current regime?  What products do you buy over and over (if any)? 

Last chance!  Enter my giveaway tonight by 11:59pm AST!!

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A Proud Moment: Downsizing at it’s Best

This post has been a long time coming, as I’ve got quite a few empties to show you that have been piling up over the past weeks.  I kept putting it off as I had a handful of makeup items that were nearing completion and I wanted them to be included.  Even still, I have about three more that are thisclose to being finished, but I couldn’t wait any longer.  This is gonna be a doozy, so let’s get right to it.  Note: In an effort to keep my inherent wordiness down, I won’t be giving my usual lengthy descriptions of each – otherwise you’ll be here till Christmas :P  But, if you do want further details on any product mentioned, don’t hesitate to ask!

First up, we have the hair products.  From left to right: Joico Moisture Recovery Treatment Balm, Phyto Phytolactum+ Intelligent Shampoo, Paul Mitchell Smoothing Super Skinny Relaxing Balm (sample), Alterna Bamboo Kendi Oil Dry Oil Mist (sample), and Aveda Smooth Infusion Style-Prep Smoother (sample).

Joico Moisture Recovery:  I bought this at Chatters for something like $17CAD.  It has good reviews on MUA and I wanted something to hydrate my parched hair.  I don’t heat style for the most part, or do any coloring or other treatments to my hair, so it’s pretty healthy but bone-dry.  I don’t like Joico much but this worked fairly well – though I wouldn’t repurchase.

Phyto Phytolactum+ Intelligent Shampoo: I picked this up from Sephora last March (see how often I shampoo?) and had high hopes it would sooth my dry scalp and not strip my hair.  Mistakenly I thought this wouldn’t contain sulfates (it does) – though it was pretty gentle nonetheless.  But it did nothing for my dry scalp, so I wouldn’t repurchase.

Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Relaxing Balm: I was in a buying mood when I picked up this travel size sample at Chatters – I don’t know why I get these ‘smoothing’ products because it’s really meant for people who blow out their hair, which isn’t me.  I know you’d like that smoothing might be helpful to tame my curly hair, but I really find it doesn’t do much of anything.  This product smelled lovely but that made me nervous (due to my eczema) so I was glad when it was finished.

Alterna Bamboo Kendi Oil: I had just read a couple good reviews on this and then they offer this as a 100-point perk at Sephora so I got it to try out.  Again, pointless product for my hair type.  Also contained fragrance so I was happy to finish it and be done with it.  Can’t comment on it’s effectiveness, unfortunately!

Aveda Smooth Infusion Style-Prep: ANOTHER smoother.  I know.  Anyway, this actually ended up being quite a gem – if I used this after I applied my usual styling creme, it really kept my hair soft and frizz-free.  I’m not a huge fan of the herbal Aveda scent, but it’s also not a deterrent either.  I probably wouldn’t buy the full size though; I find Aveda products so expensive!Next – Hand and body creams.  Left to right: Aveeno Eczema Care Cream, Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream (frag. free), Eucerin Aquaphor.  I’ve discussed all these in length here and here respectively.  I’m using a different body lotion right now and I can’t wait till it’s done, it doesn’t measure up to Aveeno’s cream at all.  Sometimes you should just stick with what works.  I have a new tube of the Norwegian Formula at work – I really like this a lot – but I don’t think I’ll buy the Aquaphor again, it was a bit too thick and contained …. so I’d just rather not.Facial products.  Left to right: Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus (sample), Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream SPF15, Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Mild (sample).

Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus: I extolled the virtues of this product here, and I still stand by my view – it was a great serum that make my skin feel uber soft and look radiant.  However, now I’m onto Ole’s Truth Serum (though it’s almost finished, waaaah!) and I think I’d opt for that over this just because 1) I LOVE the scent of the Truth Serum, 2) Ole’s is slightly cheaper (by about $3CAD), and 3) I think Ole’s serum is more targeted for my age, whereas I was really using Clinique’s serum prematurely.  I still think it’s great though!

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle: I’ve used this a few times in the past, and while I really like it – it leaves the skin really smooth – I think my sensitized skin can’t handle the retinol any more, which is pretty bad considering this is a very low dosage.  But, for some one with hardier skin who’s looking for a great, cost-effective (it’s around $24CAD) moisturizer with SPF and anti-aging benefits, I highly recommend this.

Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Mild: I got this in a GWP or something I’m sure, and hung on to it because it’s great for travel.  But then I realized I had all these samples and they were starting to annoy me so I began the ‘war on samples’ to mega-reduce my stash.  This isn’t really the best formula for my skin, as I’m more oily, but it does the trick for an AM wash, especially in the cooler months.  It contains emollients so that it doesn’t leave the skin feeling dry, so that’s a nice perk.

Now, get excited…here comes the makeup portion!!!!Mascaras etc. Top to bottom: Benefit They’re Real!, Clinique High Impact, Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill, Diorshow Maximizer Base (sample), and Clinique Bottom Lash.

Benefit They’re Real!: See my initial review here.  I really enjoyed this mascara and may even repurchase in the future.  It was easy to use and gave me nice looking lashes.  ‘Nuff said.

Clinique High Impact: Still one of my favorite mascaras – lots of volume and some length, and makes my lashes stand out.  Also very easy to use.  I wouldn’t recommend to those who want a really natural look however, as I’ve heard complaints of it getting clumpy (though personally I’ve never experienced this).  And the $18CAD price point is much more reasonable than any other department store brand!

Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill: I have been waiting to re-review this, as I have some sad news – this is the root cause of all my eye sensitivities and irritation!  I’m makes me slightly disappointed (since it was great….but tres expensive, hence why I’m only slightly disappointed), but mostly really pissed off, because my eyes have been a trial ever since I used this.  I blamed it on the cat (as I’m allergic), and while I am still very careful of Vegas (the cat – yeah baby!), this mascara is the real reason my eyes aren’t like they used to be.  I had stopped using it in August because I fell in love with Benefit’s They’re Real, and my eyes improved – then I realized that it was going to dry up and be wasted, so I started using it again, only to find my eyes get totally itchy and messed up!  I stopped using it immediately, and while my eyes aren’t as bad, they still get irritated pretty easily ever since.  SO not cool.  I couldn’t find the ingredients online anywhere so I don’t know the offending irritant, unfortunately.  In any case, all I’m saying is that I recommend trying this out somehow first before fully committing!!

Diorshow Maximizer Base: I got this via a coupon code at  Meh.  It made my mascara harder to apply and I didn’t see any maximizing whatsoever.  I wouldn’t waste the $$.

Clinique Bottom Lash: Awesome.  Seemed like the most gimmicky thing in the world, but ended up being really great.  For $12CAD, you get this mascara with a mini brush that makes it ridiculously easy to apply mascara to your bottom lashes.  It only removes with warm water, so you can cry your heart out with it on (or swim, or sweat) and it won’t budge.  It lasted for AGES too (I know you’re not supposed to use mascara for longer than 3-4 months, but this seemed like an exception :P).Lips and cheeks! Left to right: Clinique Superbalm in Currant, Lancome Juicy Tube in Simmer (sample), Cover Girl Wetslicks in Guava Splash, Clinique Blushwear Cream Stick in Rosy.

Clinique Superbalm in Currant: I love these balms!  They’re a bit thick and very glossy, and wear pretty well while keeping my lips mega-hydrated.  I’ve had this for like, 4 years now so while I’m a little sad to see it go (the shade is neutral and goes with everything!), I’m mostly glad it’s finally done!  Having anything for more than like, two years just seems like too much to me!

Lancome Juicy Tube in Simmer: I read once that Denise Richards liked this lip gloss in this shade…she commented that it ‘looks good on everyone.’  While that may be true, I didn’t particularly like this shade for some reason.  I used to love Juicy Tubes but thankfully grew out of that stage – it seems like one of those things to buy when you’re just getting into high end makeup so I guess the memory of being a newbie turns me off a bit lol.  Nonetheless, these are nice glosses that wear well, but for me their time has come and gone.  And this one in particular has had it’s time – I’m sure I’ve had this for well over 7 years!  Yikes!

Cover Girl Wetslicks in Guava Splash: I bought this after seeing a makeup shot in Allure in which they suggested this gloss to re-create the look.  It was pretty close, so good call by them – but I really didn’t like the formula of this at all.  It was soo thin and slippery, I had to reapply it constantly!  Blah.  I’ve only had this gloss a year so the fact that it’s already gone is a testament to how quickly it wears off.  Good riddance to bad rubbish!

Clinique Blushwear Cream Stick in Rosy: I got this as a gift from Clinique a couple years ago, and wasn’t enamoured with it as it seemed too light for my skin.  However, I reintroduced it in my rotation this Fall and realized I was missing out!  It gave me cheeks the best natural flush ever.  I am partial to cream formulas because I like the way they leave the skin glowing, and this one was nice because it wasn’t greasy at all.  It had OK wear time – nothing terrible but not spectacular either – so I wouldn’t repurchase, but I sure did enjoy it while it lasted.  It went with every makeup look I’d try – can’t beat that!Unfinished but still must go.  Clockwise from left: Revlon Streetwear Double-Ended Liner (discontinued), Revlon Luxurious Color Eyeliner in Blackened Sapphire, Lancome Color Focus Eye Shadow Quad (sample), Rimmel Metallic Eye Gloss in Equinox (discontinued).

Revlon Streewear Double-Ended Liner: I brought this product up in my eyeliner post, and committed to tossing it, so here goes!  I’ve definitely had this for over 10 years, I don’t know what I was waiting for!

Revlon Luxurious Color Eyeliner: Also discussed this in the eyeliner post.  My mother has this too, and when she wears it (usually on her bottom lash line),  it looks awesome – but since I’m too ~fragile~ to wear liners on my bottom lashes now, I just don’t get a good effect from this liner.  On my top lashes its just kinda blah.  So, time to go!

Lancome Color Focus Eyeshadow Quad: The shades are Daylight (the pale cream), Contrast (deep purple), Blink (khaki shimmer), and Peep (pale pink).  I’ve also had this for way longer than I want to admit, and I never use it, so it’s really gotta go.  I’m not really a fan of sample eyeshadow palettes anyway, they annoy me – when I get them from Clinique I always give them away.  I want the real thing, darn it!

Rimmel Metallic Eye Gloss: Do you remember when eye gloss was a ‘big thing’ back in the day – around 8-10 years ago?  Yeah, this was bought then.  Oops!  I couldn’t get it to work without creasing like crazy so I may have only tried it a handful of times.  Fun idea, but just not easy to translate into real life.  Toss!Honorable Mention.  Seche Vite’s Dry Fast Top Coat.  This bottle isn’t finished, though you can’t really tell from the photo.  There’s about 40% left, but you KNOW how goopy and impossible it gets around that time!!!  I kept it in my drawer, hoping for a miracle, but it’s time has come.  Begone, you most-awesome-of-top-coats-until-that-time-when-you-become-absolutely-NOT-awesome-and-in-fact-a-total-nightmare top coat!!

PHEW!!!!!  OMG I’m so sorry to submit all of you to that uber-lengthy post, but it had to be done.  25 items (though 8 were samples, to clarify)!  Are you proud of me or what?!  I have been chomping at the bit to get this out so you can all revel in my awesome downsizing abilities.  What’s that you say?  I have in fact replaced many of these products with new ones?!  Oh, well, forget that part then, will you?  The whole purpose to reduce is to buy more, is it not??  No?  Huh.   Well, I will keep trying, in any case.  Looking at this post alleviates some of my guilt at least. ‘Till next time!! :D

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By George, I Think I’ve Done It! My Near-Perfect Skincare Regime

Over the past few months, I’ve been researching products and tweaking my skincare regime, trying to streamline it as well as find effective products that don’t irritate my sensitive, eczema-prone skin.  While there are still a few items I’d like to incorporate, for the most part I think I’ve successfully found a system that works to effectively cleanse my oily skin, keep it  smooth and soft, and which doesn’t cause eczema flare-ups (fragrance free is a must) – all while preventing aging as best as possible.  While I’ve had good success with all of the products I’m about to show you, note that everyone’s skin is different and requires (and tolerates) different ingredients and treatments, so these are just some that work well for MY skin and it’s particular traits.  Nevertheless, I thought it might be handy for others who have similar concerns or for those looking to try a new product :)

First of all, a quick description of my skin (if you aren’t already familiar): Oily, but not overly so – gets shiny in the t-zone by mid-day and on cheeks closer to my nose.  Blotting once a day is necessary.  Pores are slightly visible on cheeks and nose, but not a concern.  Break outs are infrequent, though the odd pimple may occur every month or so, and high stress can cause consistent breakouts.  If breakout is severe, scarring may occur (seen as dark spots).  Can have dry patches (particularly on forehead, around mouth, and jawline) due to eczema; sometimes scarring (seen as lack of pigment) results.  Skin around eyes is normal, very few lines, and has recently become somewhat sensitive and can have dry patches at outer corners.  Little, if any signs of aging overall (yet!).

OK!  So now, here’s the rundown of the products that are floating my boat as of late (oh yeah, and by the way – this is gonna be a wordy post, so get comfortable!):

CleansersMAC Cleanse Off Oil, Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser with Botanical Blast

Currently, for my morning wash I’m just using up the last drops of my Purity cleanser from Philosophy to cleanse my skin.  When that runs out, I’m unsure if I want to use the Boscia both day and night, or find something else for the morning.  I also have Philosophy’s The Microdelivery Wash, which I specifically bought to use in the AM – but I suspect its too harsh on my skin and was causing eczema flare-ups, so I’d feel more comfortable finding something else.  Some days I don’t even wash my face in the morning if I feel like its a particularly cold and windy day.  Likely I’ll find a creamy cleanser just to rinse off the night’s product/sebum but that will cushion the skin from the cold.

At night, if I wore a full face of make-up, I’ll use the MAC oil (which I’ve reviewed here) to remove it first, and then go through my normal cleansing routine with the Boscia.  I picked up the Boscia cleanser a few weeks ago, and have only started using it last week.  It’s supposed to ‘purify pores and bolster skin’s natural defenses against irritations and reactions,’ and does not contains parabens, sulfates, or fragrances – hello, this product was designed for me!  I’ve used it enough to determine whether it will or won’t work with my skin, and it’s a definitely winner.  It comes out of the pump sort of with an oil-gel texture, and then foams when applied to a wet face.  The foam is one of the most luxurious I’ve felt, its so creamy and smooth and doesn’t feel like it’s stripping my skin at all – but when I rinse, I feel perfectly clean with absolutely no residue.  I love it!  It’s a pleasure to use each evening.  I just wish it were in a bigger container (only 5oz) – another reason why I want to have a separate day cleanser, because I want this to last!  At $32CDN a pop, it’s not exactly the cheapest cleanser ever.  But well worth the price for the way it feels and works.

Daytime Moisturizers/TreatmentsOle Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster, Clinique Superdefense Age Defense Moisturizer SPF25 (Combo-Oily to Oily), Clarins Sun Control Eye Contour Care SPF30

After cleansing in the morning (if I do), I apply Ole’s Truth Serum to my entire face and neck (previously reviewed here).  I leave it on for as long as I can to let it penetrate before adding Clinique’s Superdefense SPF25 moisturizer on top.  Though I’m starting to feel like its silly to use a separate SPF product for around the eye, I use Clarins Sun Control eye cream every day.  As it seems like a lot of products cause irritation to my sensitive eye area now, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry, and this doesn’t cause any issues whatsoever – and it lasts for freakin’ ever!!  This is my second tube and I’m sure I’ll have it for another year (or until the expiry runs out).  I got two years out of my last one; for about $30, I’ll take it!  That’s like $0.04 a day (for those who like to do the math like I do :P).

Nighttime Moisturizers/TreatmentsClinique Turnaround Overnight Radiance Moisturizer, The Body Shop Wise Woman Eye Cream

Nighttime is a pretty quick affair!  After cleansing, I just slap on Clinique’s new Turnaround moisturizer, and add a dab of The Body Shop’s Wise Woman eye cream and I’m good to go!  Eye creams have got to be the best ever – people have a hard time shelling out what feels like a lot for such a small jar of product, but they last forever!  I’ve had this one since probably this time last year – phew!  It’s gotta be nearing the end, though I can’t tell.  Once I finish this up, I’m going to move on to the bottle of 100 Percent Pure Coffee Bean eye cream I got from eBeauty last month (reviewed here).  Mainly I’m looking for a product that’ll help alleviate darkness (next to impossible) and which contains antioxidants to prevent aging.  The 100 Percent Pure product is actually better suited to my needs, but I read on MUA that the Wise Woman cream was pretty stellar.  It’s supposed to reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness, hydrate, and smooth the skin around the eyes by ‘filling in’ lines via cotton fibers. I do like it – it hydrates nicely and I haven’t seen any increase in lines around the eye – but it’s a bit of a premature purchase considering who it’s actually designed for.  Great price though, at $24CAD (15mL).

ExtrasComplex 15 Daily Face Cream, Josie Maran Organic Argan Oil Moisturizer, Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque

These are products that I use semi-regularly, but not every day.  The Complex 15 moisturizer is a great drugstore basic that I use if my skin is being reactive, or if I’ve done a treatment and need something no-frills to avoid creating a reaction.  It doesn’t contain lanolin, which I’ve recently discovered can cause allergic reactions to those who are also allergic to wool such as myself (as it is a wool-derivative).  You learn something new every day.

The Josie Maran Argan Oil was going to be my antioxidant ‘serum’ (as it’s rich in Vitamin E) but then two things happened: 1) I received the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum and fell in love, and 2) I realized that this Argan Oil is a bit to rich for my skin to use on a regular basis.  So, how I use it now is on the weekends, usually Sunday, I thoroughly cleanse my skin and then apply this all over my face and neck as sort of a treatment, to really hydrate and nourish my skin.  I try to avoid wearing any makeup on top as well – which works as this oil kind of gives you a great, healthy glow so that no makeup is really needed.  This is a travel-size bottle and it cost $18CAD for 0.5oz, which is a bit pricey for the size, but you don’t need to use a whole lot, and for my purposes it should last a while.  Jury’s out on if I’ll repurchase, however.

I picked up the Queen Helene mask well over two years ago, when I was in Vegas.  I had read great things about it on MUA, and I was experiencing a lot of oiliness and a few breakouts, so I thought I’d pick it up.  It was super cheap, like $4.99US, but I’ve never seen it anywhere here in Canada.  In any case, it’s just your standard clay mask I think, nothing terribly special, although it’s fairly gentle so I don’t feel sensitivity after using it and it doesn’t make me feel as dry as the Sahara, so that’s a plus.  For the price I don’t mind either way, though it’s lasted me SOOO long (I use it about once a week just on areas of oiliness/breakout) – I’m just sort of done with it now.  But I don’t want to toss it just yet.  If it’s not finished by next Summer, out it goes.  I’ll be time for a new oil-absorbing mask by that time!

So there you have it, the full low-down on my skincare regime!  There are just two products I’d like to add eventually (aside from a morning cleanser) – one, REN’s Glycolactic Renewal Mask, which I’ve had a few samples of and is absolutely AMAZING – results in baby soft skin, with absolutely no irritation whatsoever; and two, a retinol product to use at night (which will likely replace the Clinique moisturizer as I don’t think the two would get along well).  Retinol is one of those ingredients that seems to have stood the test of time in the skincare world – years later we’re still hearing that it is the be-all end-all in terms of fighting off aging and repairing existing damage.  Sign me up, please!  I just want to find an affordable option that is also effective…so far I’m coming up empty-handed.  I won’t give up the search though!

I’d like to note that what you see in this post is almost my entire skincare ‘wardrobe’ (so to speak) that I have!  I’ve really pared down.  Aside from a small handful of samples which are nearing completion (YES!), I only have a few other unmentioned products, which were excluded as I do not currently use them for various reasons.  I have another serum (Clinique’s Turnaround Concentrate, which I got free and am saving for warmer months), two other masks (Pangea’s Japanese Matcha Tea Facial Mask, and Korres Yoghurt Face Mask, both of which I like in theory but which may or may not irritate my skin – the Korres is up for swap), the Philosophy Microdelivery Wash (which is up for swap), and Kiehl’s Micro Dermabrasion Scrub (which I received in a swap, have used only a handful of times, and may put back up for swap – scrubs are too irritating for me!).

Ok, end ramble…now!  What do you think of my regime?  Any products you’ve tried and loved/hated?  Any suggestions on products to incorporate/check out??

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