[This post contains press samples] Bah. Another delayed polish collection post – my bad! I’ve had these photos for ages, AGAIN, but these kind of posts seem to take me a while to address, for some reason. I guess because there’s not much personal about writing a review of a collection I was sent; I don’t have a good story to tell about how I acquired them, or why, and those kind of posts – psychology-heavy where I analyze my every move – is kind of my specialty, ya?
Anywho. As usual, OPI put out a collection of sheer, neutral, wearable-in-any-situation-type polishes for spring. I only can remember two past collections – the one that used the Wizard of Oz as it’s theme (I actually have two polishes from that one), and the one based on the NYC Ballet – but they’ve been doing these for a while I think. This year’s offering doesn’t have a theme as in past years. I like this type of collection for spring; it’s soft (duh) and kind of a palette cleanser after all the moody hues of winter.
First, we have Chiffon My Mind:
I was excited for this shade as I am dying to find a gorgeous translucent, ethereal white polish, but sadly this didn’t fit the bill. Though it’s unique, with blue and pink microsheen (which you can’t see here, sorry), it’s a bit streaky (which you can see – and this is 3 coats!), and somehow that floaty quality is lacking.
Act Your Beige is a milky cream color, that I also had high hopes for – unfortunately, this was also streaky and required 3 coats (which I don’t mind, as long as it comes out even in the end). However, Michelle from All Lacquered Up didn’t find this streaky, so perhaps it’s just my application method. It’s certainly pretty and clean-looking, and it doesn’t look this streaky from a distance, but I guess I’m just fussy. I imagine sheer shades are hard to do.
Sorry for the different lighting – this was taken with my iPhone. This is Put It In Neutral, which I quite liked. You can’t see it in this photo but it was a *touch* streaky, but less so than Act Your Beige (in my experience). It’s nothing exciting, but a good sheer is sometimes hard to find.
Here we have Petal Soft, a glitter polish with smallish round and hexagonal shapes, as well as the odd large flower shape, and Make Light of the Situation, a shimmering confection with prismatic glitter bits (both worn over Put It In Neutral). The former is cute, and I wore it as an accent nail for my Easter manicure, but EHHH glitter removal is the WORST. And you kind of lose the point if you can’t fish out a flower piece (they’re tricky buggers). Make Light is quite pretty and looks especially lovely in sunlight with it’s rainbow quality.
Finally, we have This Silver’s Mine!, which I thought I would really like, as it’s less cold and hard like usual silvers (which I find hard to wear). It’s got a sort of rosegold-greenish hue in the right lighting too, which is neat. While the tone is spot on for me, it is brushstroke-y, and it highlights any imperfections in the nail. Again, this looks better in practice than close-up, but when you have a lot of polishes you start to get very discerning about which ones you keep and which ones you don’t.
And on that note – of these 6 polishes, I only kept one – Make Light of the Situation. I liked Put It In Neutral, but I have another sheer neutral I prefer (the one from the Wizard of Oz Soft Shade collection – called Glints of Glinda), and I don’t need two. I don’t wear that kind of polish often, and the new me can’t justify keeping everything just because I like it OK. It needs to have a real place in my collection, and it needs to actively make me happy. Otherwise? FUGGEDABOUTIT.
It’s a good thing May was my birthday month…it helps me with an excuse for why I’ve purchased SO MANY MAKEUPS over the past few weeks :S I’ve come to the realization that it’s not boredom that causes me to keep buying stuff, but rather the attempt at keeping a piece of my old self alive in this new life I’m living. I’m truly having the best time being a mom, and it only keeps getting better as Elena gets older and more interactive – watching her grow and develop is amazing – but my life revolves around her, so I think buying makeup and skincare like it’s going out of style is just a way to remind myself that I still have other interests. Or at least that’s the theory at the moment ;)
Anyway – it’s high time I show you guys some of the stuff I’ve picked up over the past little while. I’ve returned a couple things that I wasn’t super-enamoured with, but overall I’ve found a few gems that I’m really enjoying. I have time again to do a full face of makeup and I generally wear it every day, so my behaviour is not completely ridiculous (just mostly). Although, having said that…I’ve picked up five – count ’em, FIVE – lippies in the past month, which is kind of a lot. Let’s start with those, shall we?
Bottom row, left to right: MAC Cosmo, MAC Make Me Gorgeous
My first lipstick purchase was made during a small MAC haul I made online back in March, when I decided that the coral red Make Me Gorgeous lipstick (Amplified formula) HAD to be mine. To my dismay, when it arrived in person I realized it looked scarily close to Tom Ford’s True Coral lipstick in the tube, and I was heartily disappointed. It also makes any flakes and dryness on the lips really noticeable, so at first I thought I had a big fat LOSER on my hands.
However, once I got into the swing of mommyhood and was able to start looking after myself a bit more, my chronically chapped and flaking lips healed and the lipstick looked pretty damn good on. And when I did an actual swatch comparison between it and True Coral, it turned out that they’re not exactly the same. While very similar, Make Me Gorgeous is lighter, brighter and has a touch more pink. Happy, happy day.
My next lipstick conquest was one of the Givenchy Le Rouges – I’ve been dying to try this formula for ages but I couldn’t decide on a shade that didn’t already seem like something I owned (if you’re gonna spend $40 on a lippie, you want it to be original, no?). I finally settled on Rose Perfecto, a blue-based bright pink. Just LOOK at it.
As I had to order online, I could only guess that it was unlike anything else I owned. When it arrived, I immediately did some swatching to see if I made the right choice:
My first thought was that it would rival another bright pink lippie in my stash, Bite High Pigment Lip Pencil in Quince, which I love. However, it makes that shade look warm and dark in comparison. Revlon’s Matte Balm in Showy, though, was a very close match, proving to be only slightly cooler-toned and more matte. As I only spent like, $8 on it however, I felt justified in removing it from my stash in favour of the Givenchy. I’ve already noted the AMAZINGNESS that is the Le Rouge formula on Instagram – I’m completely sold – and I plan to buy one of these during each Sephora sale. So, so creamy, comfortable, and long-wearing. LOVE!
Every spring it seems like everyone gets on the ‘sheer and juicy’ train when it comes to lipsticks, which I’ve just never gotten into. I decided to finally pick up something along those lines to try, and the new Clarins Instant Light Lip Balm Perfectors were a good place to start. First of all, I LOVE the smell of these – like….. The shade I grabbed, 06 Rosewood, is sort of a brownish neutral, that merely gives a hint of color to my lips. Unsurprisingly, this is not long-wearing, but it does moisturize nicely (though it doesn’t seem to necessarily improve the condition of my lips over time). I’m not wild about it, but it’s a nice enough addition to my collection and super-wearable. The only thing I have similar is L’Oreal’s Wet Shine Stain in Eternally Nude, and it’s much more brown and pigmented:
A couple weeks ago I went into MAC to check out a few products on my wishlist. In a fit of madness, and because Elena was asleep and peaceful (therefore giving me ample time to look around and shop), I ended up buying a handful of items from my list, two of them being lipsticks. The first was a shade from the Mineralize Rich range, Elegant Accent – a pretty pinky-coral (which strangely isn’t available on the US website but is on the Canadian one…also, the range of Mineralize Rich lipsticks is completely different between the two sites).
Wearing Elegant Accent, as seen on my Instagram, sans filter (which skewed the color a bit)
As you do when you have too many lipsticks in general, I did another swatch comparison. This time, I though MAC’s Crosswires might be similar; however, it leans more coral-orange than pink, and the finish – which is Cremesheen – is thicker than the semi-opaqueness of the Mineralize Rich formula. I love how hydrating and forgiving the Mineralize Rich formula is – I’ll definitely be trying more shades in the future (though am I the only one that finds the shade range limited, at least here in Canada?)!
The second lipstick I picked up during my MAC Madness was Cosmo, rosy brown in an Amplified Creme formula. I was looking for something to enhance my lip tone – make it look lush and full, but still natural. I have a hard time with MLBB shades – they never seem to do what I want them to do, usually looking too pink or too dull. Unfortunately, while I loved the lipstick in-store, when I got it home it was again not quite what I wanted. The Amplified Creme finish in my experience is too heavy and thick – like the lipstick texture of days past. So while the shade is good, I find this looks too ‘lipstick-y’ to achieve that enhanced but natural lip I was seeking.
I also realized that I already have just what I was looking for in NARS Matte Velvet Lip Pencil in Dolce Vita:
Dolce Vita is a bit more reddish, and matte, but the Velvet Matte formula is so creamy and light it blends on the lip perfectly to achieve that ‘full’ look effortlessly. I LOVE these pencils, and have plans to get Dragon Girl (cool siren red), Walkyrie (warm coral red creme, similar to Dolce Vita but a bit more reddened), and Bettina (rose beige) in the future (when I use some of these lippies up already!). Seriously, if you haven’t tried these, you NEED to – they’re not drying, they last for hours and they’re the only mattes I can wear even when my lips are in rough shape. FAB-U-LOUS!
And thus ends my lipstick-palooza…for 2015 so far, anyway. It gets harder and harder to find original shades within my existing collection, so I’ve got to slow down on the purchasing for awhile and start using stuff up already. Other than the NARS lip pencils, I don’t have any lipstick purchases planned at the moment…which is probably a good thing!
Have you gone on a makeup spree lately? What kinds of products have been catching your eye?
About a year ago, I finally decided that bright, bold, cobalt blue nails WERE, in fact, as fabulous (about 3 years after the trend surfaced), but as I wasn’t sure if the shade would suit me, I dipped a toe in by picking up Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Nail Polish in Pacific Blue for $2.99. If it didn’t work out, no harm no foul at that price. As it turned out, while I liked the shade I wasn’t over the moon about it, and I promptly put it away never to wear it again.
Still, the color haunted me. I wasn’t satisfied for some reason, and onto my wishlist went YSL’s Bleu Majorelle, one of the most iconic iterations of the shade (I believe Nails Inc. Baker Street was the first of it’s kind). The high $27CAD price tag deterred me however, and I kept holding off, until one day I came to notice that my local Sephora stopped stocking the YSL polishes altogether. At that point, of COURSE then I had to have it ASAP. Conveniently, my observation occurred during the Sephora ‘Love Notes’ spring sale, so into my online basket it went.
There are NO regrets, people. THIS is what I was really looking for. Though Pacific Blue is a close contender and would do in a pinch if you’re looking to get on the cobalt blue bandwagon on the cheap, Bleu Majorelle has a richness and brightness that the Sally Hansen shade lacks, and it truly makes all the difference (to me anyway). On top of that, the formula is TOP NOTCH – along with a ridiculously smooth and easy 2-coat application, note that these photos were taken 5 days into my manicure with not a chip in sight. This rarely happens for me – no matter what the brand, I almost always have chips by day 3. For once, I feel like the higher price tag is (nearly) justified.
These are the kind of polish purchases I enjoy now: one in, one out – I have no need for SH’s version so it will be passed on for someone else to enjoy. I should have known better, really, because I always prefer the ‘real thing’ and any time I try to make substitutions (with almost anything in life – food, makeup, etc.) I end up feeling unsatisfied and filling that void until I go ahead and get the real thing in the end. In this instance it wasn’t a big deal/loss, but something I really try and adhere to.
On a final note…bonus points for anyone who notices what is different in the picture above ;)
Did you get on the cobalt blue trend when it began? Are you content with ‘dupes’ or do you need the ‘real deal’?
This is what happens when you a) keep your beauty purchases to a minimum for longer than is natural for a beauty addict, and b) have too much time on your hands yet are unable to come and go freely and are relegated to sitting for prolonged periods of time.
I indulged in three – count ’em, THREE – separate hauls during the Sephora sale in April: one in store, and two online, the latter being a midnight impulse spree with minutes to spare before the sale ended. Yes, I’ve gone completely over the edge.
In the first shopping excursion (which I featured on Instagram), I picked up one product that had been on my to-try list for awhile – Peter Thomas Roth’s Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads (reg. $56CAD) (something different to try after using the FAB Radiance Pads for months) – and a product that I was in the market for, yet the item I chose wasn’t even on my radar: Marc Jacobs O!Mega Bronzer (reg. $59CAD).
Then, in my first online spree, I purchased items I had pre-determined I was going to get: CoverFX Custom Color Drops in G60 (reg. $44CAD), Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum (reg. $100CAD), Giorgio Armani Eye Tint in 10 Senso (reg. $39CAD), and Givenchy Le Rouge in 209 Rose Perfecto* (reg. $40CAD) *I FINALLY picked a shade!*
Finally, in my ‘I’m awake at 1am and I need more things GIMME GIMME GIMME‘ moment, I put in my final order: Benefit Roller Lash (reg. $29CAD), a Beauty Blender Pro (reg. $26CAD) (wishlist item), YSL La Laque Couture in Bleu Majorelle (reg. $27CAD) (wishlist item), and Tarte TarteGuard 30 Sunscreen mini (reg. $14CAD).
Yea, I did some major wallet damage. I’m almost halfway to becoming a VIB Rouge member and the year isn’t even half over yet!! O_o
To be fair, as usual I saved up for most of these purchases, as I do for every Sephora sale. Additionally, I DO try and follow a method: 1 each (max) of each type of makeup product (eg. 1 eye product, 1 lip product, 1 cheek product, etc.); 2 skincare products (max); 1 fragrance, 1 body, etc. etc.. In this instance I bought 2 eye products and 2.5 skincare products, but I didn’t pick up any fragrance or body items so I’ll forgive myself this time.
Typically, I also try and limit my purchases to items that I would normally have deep reservations about buying due to price – for example, I can’t normally justify spending $40 on a lipstick, or $39 on 1 eyeshadow (even with the sale I STILL have issues with this price, GAH!). I also try and buy items that I can’t get here in Halifax, which is why the bulk of my purchasing was done online. Lastly, I TRY and keep the items I buy to wishlist only – that is, things that I already was lemming before the sale, rather than any impulse purchasing. In this case, only the Tarte sunscreen and Benefit mascara weren’t already on my to-buy list; the Marc Jacobs bronzer wasn’t on my radar but I was looking to buy a bronzer so I’ll call that a wash.
Overall, while I feel touch guilty for going out of control a bit during the sale, I feel good about most of my purchases (I’m somewhat regretting buying the Armani Eye Tint in that shade…more about that in a future post) and I don’t feel overwhelmed since I stuck to my ‘1 type of item’ rule. HOPEFULLY this mega-spree will tide me over for a bit? I don’t feel entirely confident about that, but here’s hoping ;)
How did you make out during the Sephora sale?
…it IS Wednesday, right?? My days blend all together lately…
ANYWAY, whatever day it is, this post is going to be short on words – just couple snapshots of my empties so far in 2015. If you have q’s about a specific product, ask in the comments!
Hair & Body Care
What do your empties look like right now?
So…I’ve been going a little bit skincare crazy since being on maternity leave. Yep. What can I say? I get bored and I need to indulge my beauty habit somehow, and hoards of makeup just doesn’t make sense right now (though I did pick up a few things during the Sephora sale…purchases to be revealed once I receive them all [I made a last minute 3rd order late last night :S]). I actually purchased the products in this post before the ones I wrote about last week; I was trying to get my fix in a more economical way…clearly that didn’t work. But what, ho! – the brand Graydon is a sweet little homegrown eco-conscious brand (based out of T.O.!) that I think deserves some attention, and what better day to do it than on Earth Day?!
First, a quick primer. Graydon’s tag line is Clinical Luxury by Nature – quoted as such because: 1) their products contain bioactive ingredients that work to nourish the skin, such as antioxidants, linoleic acids, and vitamins and minerals; 2) they aim to create products that not only work but feel lovely to use and look great on your vanity; and 3) they utilize ‘plant powered’ ingredients and ‘choose to source organic plant based ingredients from Canadian growers and manufacturers such as broccoli and berry seeds oil.’ They do not use any nut-derived ingredients due to the potential of allergies, and do not use any mineral oils, chemicals, parabens, sulfates, artificial dyes or synthetic fragrance. They’re also gluten-free!
Ok, now that you’ve got the background scoop, here we go. I picked up 3 products so I could form a somewhat well-rounded idea of the brand – a facial mist, a moisturizer, and a facial oil. To begin, let’s start with the Face Food Mineral Mist.
The Face Food Mineral Mist ($29CAD) is an elemental mineral mist that boosts hydration in the skin via minerals copper, silver and zinc. Copper is purported to help the production of collagen and elastin, while silver is said to kill bacteria and help neutralize the harsh sodium-fluoride in our tap water. The 3rd mineral, zinc, has been noted to decrease inflammation by helping stop bacterial infection which can make one’s face look red and blotchy.
It’s hard to say much about the effectiveness of this mist I’m used to using facial mists with aloe or glycerin, which leave a trace on the skin – but I do appreciate its simplicity. I don’t have a lot of redness which would be the one way I could judge its efficacy, so I just have to trust that this is in fact doing something! If you’re looking for a no-frills mist however, this is a good option.
Ingredients: ionic copper, silver and zinc infused in purified water and nothing else!
The Super Sensitive Skin Stuff ($29CAD) moisturizer was created for ‘people with skin that reacts to everything’. Though this hasn’t been an issue for me lately, my skin can be finicky at times so I wanted to have an option for when that situation arises. It has a high aloe content so it is very soothing; it has a medium-heavy consistency (likely due to the plethora of oils such as evening primrose, pomegranate seed and rosehip seed) which sinks in fairly well, but which might be a tad heavy for oilier skins. If I have time, I’ll put this on and let it sink in before doing my makeup so I don’t have a problem with greasiness. I actually love the texture for body though, and often apply a touch to my hands as well.
Ingredients: purified water (aqua), aloe vera juice (aloe barbadenis), cetyl alcohol (coconut product), stearyl alcohol (mixed plant), black currant seed oil (ribes nigrum), evening primrose seed oil (oenothera biennis), pomegranate seed oil (punica granatum), rose hip seed oil (rosa rubiginosa), vegetable glycerin, sodium chloride (mixed plant), vitamin e (mixed tocopherols), grapefruit seed extract (citrus grandis) and nothing else!
Finally, we have The Serum ($46CAD). Graydon states that ’50 pounds of fresh Canadian berries go into this [serum],’ and the array is what drew me to the product (and actually the brand itself) in the first place. Cold-pressed blueberry, cranberry, and red raspberry seed oils (the latter which contains natural SPF and is also great at combating blemishes) are mega-antioxidant powerhouses, and are high in linoleic acid (which if you recall, my skin favours) and alpha-linolenic acid. A serious source of Vitamin E by the way of tocopherol, as well as Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, rounds out the blend nicely.
The color of this oil should tell you just how concentrated and pure it is – it smells faintly of blueberries. The viscosity is a touch thick but not too much so, though the oil spreads much more easy with a damp face. Though the brand suggests mist the skin after application (?), I recommend misting first then applying the oil straight away. Sometimes I will mix the oil with the ‘Skin Stuff’ for a lighter application (though either way, I like to leave it to soak in for a bit before applying makeup). It leaves my skin feeling plump and well-protected. I tend to use this oil in the daytime to take advantage of the natural SPF benefits of the red raspberry seed oil. EDIT: I forgot to mention that this has a pump dispenser that gives you the perfect amount to apply to your face. Droppers are all well and good, but give me a pump that keeps me from over-applying any day of the week! GENIUS.
Ingredients: cold pressed blueberry seed oil (vaccinum myrtillus), cold pressed cranberry seed oil (vaccinium macrocarpon), cold pressed red raspberry seed oil (rubus idaeus), meadowfoam seed oil (limnanthes alba), grapefruit seed extract (citrus grandis) and nothing else!
Overall, my foray into the Graydon brand has been quite fruitful – though the products are quite simple in design, they still feel well thought out and are a nice addition to my routine. I like that they don’t compete with my more aggressive treatment products but rather support them without being too plain. If you’re looking to try some eco-conscious products but don’t want to break the bank, this is an excellent brand with which to start!!
FYI I bought the trio from Clementine Fields.
Have you tried Graydon products? Is your skincare routine more basic or very involved?
Remember my post about the key makeup prodz for new moms? The implied message was that all you needed was some concealer, bronzer and a subtle lip color and you’re good to go. HA. And another HA I say. While there may only be TIME to apply 3 products, the reality (for me anyway) is that you look so haggard from lack of sleep, and a bit janky from hormone-induced breakouts, that you need a wee bit more than that to look ‘normal.’ Though my skin hasn’t gone completely bat-shit crazy like it did after the miscarriage, I’ve had a few spots crop up that really reflect just how little I’m able to dedicate to self-care these days (my feet, you guys – OMG they are so dry and ragged that putting on socks is like scratching nails down a chalk board!). On top of that, I’m a little – nay, A LOT – sleep-deprived, which does nobody’s skin any favours.
Fact is, I need a little extra help in the makeup department lately. Fortuitously, 2 products have recently crossed my path that have helped do a little ‘damage control’ – Make Up For Ever’s Pro Sculpting Duo in 2 Golden ($45CAD) and their Mist & Fix setting spray ($34CAD).
As contouring has suddenly gone from being an optional step (and viewed somewhat derisively at times), to the current ‘BIG THING’ in makeup, it’s no surprise to see a true makeup artistry brand like Make Up For Ever join the ranks with their own vision of what a contour product should look like. Conveniently including both a contour shade as well as a highlight in the compact (which comes in two shades – 2 Golden for medium-deep to deep skintones, shown below with their 156 Large Flat Blush Brush [$43CAD] ideal for just this purpose; and the lighter 1 Pink Beige for fair to medium skintones), the weightless gel-powder is designed to ‘blends seamlessly for traceless highlighting and contouring.’
I was very excited to try this product, not only to try my hand at contouring (something I’ve never really done), but also because – HELLO, that powder looks beautiful! However, when I dug into the product, I was a bit disappointed, and I’m sure those of you who ‘know’ about contouring can guess why.
The color of the darker powder is too warm to be used as a contour (in my opinion). I tried it, and while it applies soft and subtle – a must, as contouring is supposed to be undetectable – it mostly looks like I used bronzer to sculpt my face, and not like I naturally have covetable cheekbones. To be fair, people have been using bronzer as a contouring product for ages, but I just feel like it should be marketed as such, you know? Nonetheless, it does make for a lovely bronzer, which is how I’ve been wearing and enjoying it.
The highlight shade, on the other hand, is as it should be, and imparts a lovely glow to the high planes of the face. Its a *touch* more frosty than I usually like my highlighting products, but not so much that I haven’t been wearing it often. It’s a particularly flattering warm golden shade on my skin – I just might not use it during the height of the summer sun.
Both powders are very smooth with an almost creamy feel, and though I sometimes feel like I need several passes to pick up enough product, this keeps one from overdo-ing either one, an easy mistake to make with these types of products. Overall, though this wasn’t exactly what I expected, I quite like it and have been wearing it frequently to give my skin that extra ‘oomph’ I so desperately need.
After bringing life back to my skin with the Sculpting Duo, the pièce de résistance is the brand’s Mist & Fix setting spray, which helps ‘lock in makeup and keep color fresh.’ I was really pleased to try this product, as I had been contemplating buying MAC’s Fix+ – I really wanted something to set my makeup and give me a bit of a dewy sheen so my makeup would look more natural. I didn’t even realize Make Up For Ever made a similar product (though I should have known!), and all the better that they do!
The spray is designed to create a ‘sweat-proof, rub-resistant barrier for fresh-looking makeup that lasts up to 12 hours.’ It also helps to increase skin’s hydration and is ‘formulated with a complex to boost oxygenation and deliver a healthy-looking, radiant glow.’ I can’t speak to the 12 hour claim (when I DO wear makeup these days, it’s only for a few hours) nor the oxygenation part (uh, sure?), but I can attest to the awesome glow this gives the skin – that kind of dewy radiance that I’ve been trying to achieve for so long is finally in my grasp! SO happy. The only beef I have with the product is the scent – kind of reminds me of bug spray or something? Not that strong, but it’s a sort of mildly unpleasant chemical smell which is a touch off-putting. But, it does dissipate and doesn’t linger on the skin, so I can live with it. Also, hooray for spray nozzles that work properly (huge pet peeve of….probably everyone, AMIRITE?!) – this mists nice and evenly on the skin.
So there you have it – two additional secret weapons I’ve been using to look like an upstanding citizen again. I feel like the days when I venture out of the house has me wearing more products than ever before! At least, the basics…I wear less fun color and more stuff to make the skin itself look better. Ah well, it’s all only temporary…and things change so quickly! Just within the past week Elena has started sleeping for longer stretches at a time (she’s also awake for a bit longer) and more deeply…which means mama gets more sleep too ;) I might be back to wearing bold lippies and fun eyeshadows sooner than I thought!
Do you use bronzer to contour, or a product designated for that purpose? Have you ever used a setting spray? What tricks do you have for looking well-rested?
*Products were provided by the PR company/brand for my unbiased consideration.
Though my makeup wearing days have been minimal of late (and when I do wear it, its a quick slap-dash affair – concealer, mascara, blush, gloss), and as such, my makeup buying is next-to-none, I have been indulging in some skincare splurges to keep my beauty habit alive. The benefits are two-fold: having great products to look forward to using means I make the (often challenging) effort to keep good skincare habits; and maintaining a routine means my skin needs less makeup anyway (thankfully!). Last month I stumbled across e-tailer Integrity Botanicals – which has several brands with products on my wishlist – and as I needed replenishment on a few things, I went all in. *I’ve included links below (non-affiliate) to each brand’s website if you’re interested in learning more, as these may be brands you’ve not heard of before!
Kypris Moonlight Catalyst ($70USD) is a refining and exfoliating serum that is designed to ‘deliver all the cosmetic benefits of retinoid preparations without any harsh chemicals, redness, peeling, or thinning of skin’. It boasts fermented pumpkin enzymes to exfoliate, Hawaiian sea algae and Xylitylglucosides to hydrate, and supercritical extractions of rosehip seed and sea buckthorn to repair irritated or chapped skin.
The evening-only serum is very lightweight and spreads easily over the skin, and is completely non-greasy (though it does leave it a touch tacky). The scent is lightly fruity and pleasant. I apply about a half-dropper full (they recommend 1-2 but I don’t find I need quite that much) all over my face & neck and let it absorb for about 5 minutes before applying a treatment oil on top (Pai’s rosehip oil). Guys, this stuff is GOOD. After using it just once, my skin felt so smooth in the morning, and subsequent uses has helped clear up the bit of hormonal acne I’ve had (likely due to the inclusion of willowbark extract, which acts similarly to salicylic acid) and refine the areas where I’ve got scarring from said spots. I am particularly pleased that it contains no essential oils, which I tend to avoid – despite their ‘natural-ness,’ they still have the potential for skin irritation. I am LOVING this product and it will be a definite repurchase for me (very rare)!
For the past six months, I’ve been using either plain, organic grapeseed or pumpkin seed oil to remove my makeup, and they’ve worked well, but lately I’ve been feeling like picking up something a little more…interesting. African Botanics Pure Marula Cleansing Oil ($60USD) is an emulsifying cleansing oil (meaning you can just wash it off with water) that gently exfoliates while removing makeup and purifying the skin. Marula oil’s antioxidant properties help cells renew and resist damage, aid in stimulating microcirculation and minimizes redness and irritation.
The cleanser has a thicker viscosity (compared to say, One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil), and requires 3-4 pumps to enable you to massage it into the skin. The scent (this DOES contain essential oils, but since its a rinse-off product I’m not as concerned) is a fruity-vanilla blend that is quite nice if not a touch sweet. Though you can just add water to emulsify after massaging it in for 1 minute, I still prefer to remove it with a microfiber cloth, though for traveling and whatnot I do appreciate that this can be rinsed away easily.
As I haven’t been wearing much makeup lately, I haven’t used this too much yet, but from what I’ve seen so far its a nice option for makeup removal/as a first cleanse. I have used it a couple times on its own with no issues, but I’m not sure I would make a habit of it with my clog-prone skin.
I’ve been reading raves about Josh Rosebrook products for a while now, particularly for his Deep Nourishing Shampoo and the Active Enzyme Exfoliator ($60USD), the latter which I added to my online basket at the last minute. I’d been wanting to get an exfoliating mask, as I have a good purifying one (Yüli’s Pure) and a nice hydrating option (Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Rapid Radiance Mask) and I like a good trifecta.
The mask is designed to ‘stimulate skin cell growth; ignite collagen and elastin production; reduce fine lines, age spots and sun damage; tighten, tone and shrink pores; and improve overall radiance.’ Seems like tall claims, but I think any exfoliating product essentially will have these results – thats why exfoliation is so key ;) Its the method of exfoliation that lured me in – the mask uses both ‘chemical’ (plant, herb and fruit enzymes) and manual (via very finely ground walnut shells) exfoliants to get the job done.
I put this mask on one day when my mom was over and holding the baby (gotta capitalize on those opportunities when you can!) and she said it looked like I wiped the baby’s poop all over my face, hence this post on Instagram:
I like this mask – its non-irritating, and you can leave it on from 10 minutes up to an hour – the kind people at Integrity Botanicals suggested 45 mins in a sweet personalized note they left in my package. After I rinsed off my mom said that I was looking pretty glowing, so sounds like it works! The exfoliating effect is gentle but thorough.
I somehow misplaced the box this came in, but here is the ingredient list for reference:
Ingredients: Organic honey, organic vegetable glycerin, organic lecithin, organic herbal extracts of neem leaf, yucca root, sage, stevia leaf, eyebright, coneflower (echinacea), fennel powder, horsetail, bilberry, chickweed, comfrey, slippery elm, peppermint, bladderwrack, lavender flowers, calendula flowers, white willow bark, skullcap, ginkgo leaf, green tea, alfalfa, hawthorne berry, gotu kola, marshmallow root, st. john’s wort, yerba mate, solomon’s seal root, rosemary leaf, papaya enzyme, walnut shells, certified organic xanthan gum, organic essential oils of lemon, cypress, fennel.
Finally, I needed a new facial mist/toner and though I was very tempted to buy yet another bottle of one of Yüli’s Elixirs, I noticed the new MUN No.11 Anarose Toner ($68USD) on the site, and decided to try it instead (same price & size as the Yüli too). It also does not contain essential oils (only a hydrosol and a few extracts), and the overall ingredient list is lovely: rose blossoms to hydrate and soothe; antioxidant-rich prickly pear (opuntia ficus-indica) and goji berry for environmental protection and anti-aging; hyaluronic acid to bind water to skin; and willow bark extract to smooth and refine.
I’m really enjoying this toner – I can actually feel it soothing and softening my skin, and the rose scent is beautiful and calming. I’m also a sucker for anything in a miron bottle. Though my bottle requires the use of a cotton pad to apply, it’s since available with a spray-nozzle attachment, which I would prefer. Definitely a contender against the Yüli!
I’m super-pleased with all my purchases, and excited to have found a few gems that I’ll actually add to my permanent stock (the Kypris serum and MUN toner are must-haves); I’m also really impressed with Integrity Botanicals as an online retailer and I intend to purchase again from them very soon! I still have a few more products on my list that I plan to buy in the next little while ~wallet backs away screaming~ and I have three products from affordable Canadian eco-brand Graydon to still show you as well (yes, I have gone a bit crazy since being on maternity leave)….so though posts are infrequent, I promise they’ll be worth the wait ;)