Archive for category Serums

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!).

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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.

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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.

Skincare

Skincare

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

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

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

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

Sunscreens

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

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

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

Polish

Polish

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

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

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

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

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

What sort of products have you been buying lately?

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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:

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

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