Refresh Botanicals: Your One-Stop Shop for ‘Green’ Skincare!

As many of you are aware, I overhauled my skincare routine about a year ago to focus on more organic, or ‘green’ products. I’ve had a good deal of success making the switch, which probably has more to do with using products that do not use synthetic fragrance, and seeking out items with fewer ingredients overall (less chance for irritation of my eczema-prone skin), than them necessarily being ‘clean,’ as I’ve seen non-organic etc. products work wonders for others as well. However, I do feel good about what I put on my skin now, regardless of their efficacy, and that ease of mind goes a long way for someone who constantly worries when she tries a new product. That tendency to err on the side of caution hasn’t left me yet, but as I try more and more ‘green’ products without experiencing any reactions, I become more and more confident that this was the right path for me.

Recently I was given the opportunity to try out Refresh Botanicals skincare, a natural and organic line from Canadian company Taiga BioActives Inc., which I was immensely excited about. However, as usual I still added the products to my routine slowly to ensure the least chance of irritation. Almost from the start, I could tell that this step wouldn’t likely be necessary – I can say with full confidence that every single item I’ve used has been exceedingly gentle yet effective, and quite simply has been a dream to use!

Refresh Botanicals

The line centres their products around a proprietary blend of cucumber extract (high in antioxidants and vitamin C) and cornflower water, both highly soothing and calming to the skin. The products do not contain Parabens, Gluten, Petroleum By-Products, Animal By-Products, Artificial Oils, Artificial Oils or Artificial Fragrances. Essentially, sensitive skin types like mine are pretty much set!

I was sent 5 of the 7 products from the line: a Foaming Facial Cleanser, a Facial Toner, a Daily Facial Moisturizer, a Night Restore Complex, and a BB Cream. These products couldn’t have been more perfect for me, as they fit themselves into my current regime perfectly.

Refresh Botanicals

In the morning, I cleanse with the Foaming Facial Cleanser ($18.99CAD), which has a texture very similar to Cetaphil or CeraVe if you’ve tried it – sort of a thin jelly. One pump massaged on slightly damp skin gently foams and thoroughly cleanses though I never feel stripped of oils or tight afterward. I wondered if this would be enough once the weather got warmer, but due to the inclusion of coconut oil it sufficiently cleanses to remove any extra oiliness and prepare my skin for the day. I haven’t tried to use to this remove makeup, but they have a separate Eye + Face Makeup Remover in the line, which I expect is to be used first before using this – I don’t think its sufficient enough to remove makeup on it’s own.

Refresh BotanicalsFoaming Facial Cleanser

After washing, I apply a few pumps of the soothing Facial Toner ($18.99CADon a cotton pad (it’s got one of those great systems where you just place the cotton pad on top of the pump and push down to get product), and swipe it all over. It’s a bit of a strange formula in that it foams slightly, but it doesn’t leave my skin irritated and it’s exceptionally gentle – I think it’s more of a pH balancing and hydrating step, with light exfoliation, rather than an astringent to rid your skin of oils. It takes a bit of getting used to if you usually use toners with alcohol, which make the skin feel squeaky clean, but I find that my skin gets less oily when I use more gentle products, this being no exception.  Like the other products in the line, it smells like cucumbers, though this one has a slightly earthy yet flowery scent which I don’t love but am not offended by, either.

Refresh Botanicals Refresh Botanicals

Depending on the day and what my skin needs, I alternate between a facial oil and the Daily Facial Moisturizer ($18.99CAD) after toning. The antioxidant-rich moisturizer is the perfect consistency for all skin types – it’s not too thin, so drier skin types won’t feel parched, but it’s not too thick and absorbs quickly, so oilier types like mine are pleased as well. It’s a basic, soothing moisturizer with not a lot of bells and whistles, but I prefer to get my ‘treatment’ in the form of a serum or oil, anyway. The only caveat I have with this product is that it feels a touch sticky once applied – this goes away after about a minute or two, but it does feel a bit strange. Another point of interest that may or may not be of concern is that one pump is far more than you need for your whole face – a half a pump is plenty, but if you tend to put moisturizer on your face, neck, and décolletage, then you’re good to go for the full pump.

Refresh BotanicalsRefresh BotanicalsDaily Facial Moisturizer

Refresh BotanicalsDaily Facial Moisturizer  rubbed in (no greasy residue)

Unfortunately, the BB Cream ($23.99CADhas not made it into my daily rotation as the shade is quite light on me. From the feel of it, I think it has a texture similar to a physical sunscreen – so it’s a bit thicker, but not too difficult to spread, and would probably offer some light coverage. It’s designed like your typical BB cream to even skin tone and blur imperfections, as well as hydrate the skin. This formula also helps combat excessive sebum production and improve skin texture, and like the other products in the line is soothing to skin and offers antioxidant protection.

Refresh Botanicals Refresh Botanicals

In the evenings, after I’ve oil-cleansed I might use the Foaming Facial Cleanser as a second cleanse if I need it, then apply a treatment toner and oil. Once the oil has absorbed, I apply the Night Restore Complex ($23.99CADon top to add a little extra hydration and boost my treatments – in contains antioxidants and natural exfoliants which help lighten the appearance of dark spots and help brighten the skin, which is what my treatment facial oil does as well, so I’m getting a double-whammy of goodness :)  I find this extra layer does not clog my pores but in fact makes my skin feel that much more soft and supple by morning. I do avoid applying much of the Complex to my forehead, as I end up being a little greasy in that area in the morning otherwise.

Refresh Botanicals Refresh Botanicals

I am really and truly beyond pleased with my experience with Refresh Botanicals – every single product is easy to use, non-irritating, and gently effective. For someone with sensitive but generally easy skin to deal with, it’s the perfect choice, whether or not you like ‘green’ skincare or not. It even passes the packaging test for me (I am SUPER snobby when it comes to packaging, I’ll readily admit it), as it’s clean-looking, functional and hygienic (everything is in a pump).  On top of all that, it’s AFFORDABLE – something I do struggle with in the organic world, as everything is quite pricey. You can actually buy the whole shot for $147.93CAD (which includes the Eye + Face Makeup Remover, as well as an Intensive Serum)!  Even more exciting for me, is that the line is actually available in Nova Scotia – unheard of! They’ve recently introduced it in the Pharmasave/Pharmachoice stores across the province (which is where you’ll find them in the other provinces except Quebec and New Brunswick as well), and I’m pretty stoked.  You can also buy them online, though I’m unsure whether they ship outside of Canada (I suspect they do).

Refresh Botanicals

Affordable, available, effective ‘green’ skincare? I am SO totally getting my friends on board :D

Would you try a ‘green’ skincare brand if it were affordable and effective, or do you prefer traditional skincare products? Have you seen Refresh Botanicals in pharmacies yet?

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

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Make Up For Ever HD Microperfecting Primer in 6 Yellow

For a beauty fiend, I’m actually relatively low maintenance. I shave when I think of it, I don’t always do my hair, and I can’t be bothered to do the little extra things that make you look that much more polished – like contouring or wearing primer. I reserve most of these activities (except the hair bit – I DO style it most days!) for special occasions so I look that much nicer when the time comes, which means that though I don’t use these items daily, I do still need to have them in my arsenal. One such item that’s been recently added to the mix is Make Up For Ever’s HD Microperfecting Primer in 6 Yellow ($39CAD for 1oz).

MUFE HD Primer 6

I’ve previously reviewed the original HD primer by MUFE in the neutral, universal shade – but it also comes in 6 other tones, each designed to correct a particular issue, such as redness, sallow-looking skin and dullness. I had a hard time choosing one from the options available, as I don’t feel that I have any of these concerns personally. In the end however, I chose 6 Yellow, which is designed to “lighten dark complexions“. I think I went with this one because I had just come back from Florida, and was super-dark. Let’s chat about it, shall we?

MUFE HD Primer 6

First of all, I really like the texture of this primer compared to other primers, and even compared to the original – it’s more like a smooth, medium-density lotion that spreads easily over the whole face (you only need a dime-size amount). It doesn’t feel silicone-heavy nor is it as runny as the original. It feels very lightweight and non-greasy. It claims to deeply nourish, moisturize, and soften the skin, enhancing the skin texture and preparing it for makeup application. Having skin the leans on the oilier side, especially as the months get warmer, I can’t really speak to how moisturizing this is – but it certainly isn’t drying; I found it didn’t keep the oilies at bay quite as well as I would have liked. For a drier skin however, I think the formulation of this would be quite nice and keep the skin plump and comfortable.

MUFE HD Primer 6

Another aspect of the primer that I didn’t really pick up on was the ‘lightening’ effect on my darker skin tone. I think that likely has a lot to do with the fact that I’m just not dark enough (lol) – I think this is really designed for a deep cocoa complexion to give some light to the face, which clearly isn’t me. However, I do think this would be effective on a darker skin tone, as you can see from the photo below that it does show up on my skin – it’s jut that once I blend it in, it’s unnoticeable (sort of like sunscreen). A darker skin tone would likely show the benefits much more.

MUFE HD Primer 6

Despite some of the qualities mentioned above, I will say that this primer does a nice job of enhancing the skin’s texture and giving it a soft finish. My skin looks smooth and airbrushed after application, and my pores are less noticeable, as you can see in the photos below:

Skin before MUFE primerBefore priming

Skin after MUFE primerAfter priming

While this primer doesn’t tick all the boxes for me, I actually enjoy wearing it when it’s a bit cooler outside, or for evening – the texture is really lovely, and it feels like nothing on. I think in the winter I’ll get a good deal of use out of it, as it does prolong the wear of my makeup, and it may help to hydrate my skin and protect it from the blustery, cold weather. I kind of wish it has a sunscreen in it, so I could kill two birds with one stone (I really hate having to wear layers of product)!

Ingredients for reference:

Aqua (Water), Dimethicone, Trisiloxane, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Methylpropanediol, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Squalane, Glyceryl Caprylate, Lauryl PEG/PPG-18/18 Methicone, Phenoxyethanol, Ceteth-10, Laureth-4, Ethylglycerin, Panthenol, Potassium Sorbate, Polysorbate 60, Parfum (Fragrance), Argania Spinosa Extract (Argania Spinosa Kernel Extract), C12-14 Pareth-12, Hydrolyzed Algin, Dodecene, Sorbitan Isostearate, Isostearyl Alcohol, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Tromethamine, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Carbomer, Hexyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Salicylate, Limonene, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Linalool. [CI 19140 (Yellow 5 Lake), CI 75470 (Carmine), CI 77007 (Ultramarines), CI 77288 (Chromium Oxide Greens), CI 77289 (Chromium Hydroxide Green), CI 77491 (Iron Oxides), CI 77492 (Iron Oxides), CI 77499 (Iron Oxides), CI 77742 (Manganese Violet), CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide)].

 Do you wear primers? Which one is your favourite?

*Products were sent by the PR company/brand for my unbiased consideration.

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First Summer Polish Combo of the ‘Summer!’

…I know it’s not officially summer yet, but the weather we’ve had the past couple days sure feel like it’s arrived! Of course, we’re supposed to have rain tomorrow ~sigh~ but then it’s gonna be another beauty of a day Wednesday (followed by MORE rain!) so…yea. We take the sunny days when we can get ‘em!

Chanel Sweet Lilac and butter London Poole

Anyway, yesterday I spend a leisurely, glorious day outside doing a bunch of polish swatches, finishing off with a full pedicure in butter London’s Poole, and full mani in my new Chanel :)  I think this is one of the best pairings I’ve done this season – I’ve been doing mani/pedi’s for about a month now, ever since Florida, but I wasn’t totally satisfied with the combinations, hence why you haven’t seen any photos yet. This one is a good’un, though! It’s very feminine and delicate and has a super-chill vibe to it. I think the aqua looks particularly good against my camel & gold thong sandals!

Chanel Sweet Lilac and butter London Poole swatchesChanel Sweet Lilac and butter London Poole swatches

Sp pretty :) The other upside to wearing somewhat softer shades rather than bold brights is that they go with more of your wardrobe choices – I often find I have to choose my outfits based on my polish (or my makeup…I’m serious lol), and it can be a bit limiting. You can TELL I’m not a fashionista, eh? ALL ABOUT THE BEAUTY, baby!

What do you think of this polish combo? What colour combo for mani & pedi’s do you wear most often?

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Duke-ing it out for Chanel’s Le Vernis in Sweet Lilac

On Friday I swung by our local Chanel counter to see if they’d gotten the summer collection yet. For once, my timing was perfect, as they had *just* gotten the line in the day previous. Despite the beautiful-looking collection, the only thing I was really interested in was the nail polish Sweet Lilac – I’ve vowed never to buy another Illusion d’Ombre (I find they get compressed after using them a few times and then it’s a pain to get any shadow out) and the other polishes were really pretty but also pretty dupable, IMO. And all those juicy sweet but ultimately clear glosses! Bah. No thanks!

Chanel Sweet Lilac

Though items sell quickly at our little Chanel counter, they had a bottle of Sweet Lilac left in stock, though it was a narrow window of chance – while trying it out in store, another woman exclaimed how great it looked on me, and proceed to buy a bottle of her own before I had purchased mine. When the SA said ‘that’s the last bottle’ I thought she meant MINE (yes, even though I hadn’t shelled out the cash for it yet, it was MINE) and I literally said ‘Uh, NO.’ LOL Then she clarified to say that the other client was getting the last bottle, AFTER mine had already been pulled. YA DAMN SKIPPY. There would have been a throw-down folks. It woulda been EPIC.

While I kind of would have loved to start a huge cat fight over a bottle of polish (don’t you just wonder if you’d be able to kick ass or not?), either way I’m happy there was enough to go around, because this is a pretty polish. While it’s not outrageously unique, the soft pink shade with a hint of purple is not replicated in my stash, and it’s got that ‘radiant orchid’ tone to it that works really well on my skin. The formula is pretty stellar – two coats to easy perfection, no hard work required. I added a top coat to maximize shine and amp up the almost jelly-like quality, though like many Chanel polishes it is fairly reflective on it’s own.

Chanel Sweet Lilac swatchIn direct sunlight

Chanel Sweet Lilac swatchIn the shade

I did some comparison swatches because that’s the first thing I do before and after I make a purchase these days. Before I had seen Sweet Lilac in person, I wondered if it was close to Zoya’s Marley – the only other lavender-type shade I own. It was a needless concern, as it’s the least like that polish out of the 3 other shades I compared it to.

Chanel Sweet Lilac comparison

You can see that it’s in the same vein as my beloved Essie Splash of Grenadine, but lighter; it’s also along the lines of RBL’s Poco a Poco, though you’d never guess from the bottle. Once I swatched them on the nail however, the similarities were much more apparent, and in some lights they look incredibly close. But the golden shimmer of Poco a Poco gives it a much warmer tone overall.

Chanel Sweet Lilac comparison swatchThumb to pinky: Chanel Sweet Lilac, RBL Poco a Poco, Essie Splash of Grenadine, Chanel Sweet Lilac, Zoya Marley

Chanel Sweet Lilac comparison swatchMy mother really wanted me to take a photo with a contrasting background, hence this second photo!

 My collection of Chanel polishes has now reached 7 bottles, mostly permanent items with a couple of LE ones thrown in there for good measure.  Sweet Lilac is a great addition to my little stash :0) I refuse to buy shades unless I love them, so it’s been a slow-growing process, which I’m entirely OK with. Many of the LE shades don’t wow me, and I have a few of the permanent ones on my radar for pick-up when I’m feeling ‘spendy.’ I think I need to throw a red in there soon, I don’t have a Chanel red and that seems sort of wrong somehow, no?

Did you pick up Sweet Lilac? How many Chanel polishes do you have? Do you have a recommendation for a good Chanel red?

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MAC Soul Serenade plus a couple other shadow pickups!

Like almost everyone else on the planet (well, at least those who love makeup like I do!), I got sucked in to MAC’s awesome summer release, Alluring Aquatic. The Extra Dimension formula! That packaging! How could I resist picking up something from a collection that features packaging with faux water droplets all over it? Too frickin’ cool, man.

Of course, as my makeup hoard is vast, finding ‘new’ shades gets tougher all the time, and in my effort to at least keep my shades diverse to offset the fact that I’m never going to stop BUYING MORE, I try my darndest to not buy repeat or similar shades. Easier said that done, but the effort is there! While I loved the idea of the whole collection, and all of the shadow, lipstick and cheek shades appealed to me, I spent a good half hour hemming and hawing over what to bring home (because I WAS buying SOMETHING, dammit!). Lorelei was too similar to All That Glitters for my taste (though I do love that shade!), the other shadows for the most part weren’t ones I’d wear (Sea Worship and Silver Sun particularly) and the blush and lipstick shades weren’t original shades in my estimation. As I was agonizing over the choice between Legendary Lure (a beautiful deep cerulean) and Soul Serenade (described as a deep plum brown), another customer who had tried on Legendary Lure decided she was going to take it, and walked away with the last one (and this was the first dav of the launch!!). No hard feelings on my end – it made my choice for me and saved me another 15 minutes of wasted energy. And so I left the store with that one item, and felt happy.

THE END.

…HA! You think I’d every write a post that short? You guys know I’m wayyyyy to chatty for that ;)   Also, I have more shadows to talk about! Namely, another MAC shade, the Paint Pot in Rubenesque which I picked up in Florida at a CCO for $13US, and Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow in Sandy Gold ($29CAD), which I bought a couple months ago.

MAC Bobbi Brown eyeshadow Left to right: MAC Rubenesque, Bobbi Brown Sandy Gold, MAC Soul Serenade

I picked up Sandy Gold because Sabrina from The Beauty Look Book raved about it, and I was looking for a neutral but not shimmery shadow to wear on days when I went for a bold lip (which is the look I opt for more days than not). While is does have slight shimmer, its more of a satin finish really, which I find looks more natural than a full-on matte. Its described as a ‘pale golden beige’ which is entirely accurate – it has a hint of gold sheen which is super-pretty, though the effect is mostly lost on eyes. I managed to catch it in swatches though!

MAC Soul Serenade Rubenesque Bobbi Brown Sandy Gold eyeshadow swatches MAC Soul Serenade Rubenesque Bobbi Brown Sandy Gold eyeshadow swatchesLeft to right: MAC Soul Serenade, Bobbi Brown Sandy Gold, MAC Rubenesque

This is my first Bobbi Brown cream shadow, and I like it OK – the texture is nice and smooth, and the wear time is decent (though if your lids are oily, you’ll still need a primer), but I wish the pot was bigger. I feel like I need to use a brush to apply it as my finger is too big to get in there comfortably without it getting under my nails. Minor niggle though. The colour of this is what sold it for me, and I feel like I could use it as a cheekbone highlighter in a pinch, too. It’s just so pretty!

The Rubenesque Paint Pot was an impulse purchase – it was just so cheap, compared to the $24CAD price tag here, and I do love gold shadow! However, as you’ll see in a minute, I didn’t REALLY need it, as I already have a shade quite similar in another MAC product – their Pigment in Melon. D’OH!

MAC Melon Rubenesque swatches comparison eyeshadowRubenesque, 2nd from right; Melon, far right.

They aren’t completely identical, as Melon is frostier/more metallic than Rubenesque (see photo below) – but they’re still close enough that if I’d been thinking straight (and not ‘SALE!’), I wouldn’t have picked up the latter. Ah well. At least their different formulations so perhaps I can use each in different ways???

MAC Melon Rubenesque swatches comparison eyeshadow

Once I did the comparison with Rubenesque, I got to thinking about Soul Serenade and if I had anything like it, either. After a bit of recon, I came up with a reasonable facsimile, but nothing close enough to call a dupe. Coincidentally, it’s the other MAC Pigment I own (I just have two) in Dark Soul.

MAC Soul Serenade vs Dark Soul eyeshadow comparison swatches MAC Dark Soul vs Soul Serenade comparison swatches eyeshadowDark Soul, far left; Soul Serenade, 2nd from left.

You can see that they’re in the same vein, but with clear differences – namely, Dark Soul is much cooler and greyer, while Soul Serenade has a stronger plum tone (which is easier to see in this comparison I find, than if it’s just swatched alone – in which case I find it looks more charcoal than brown). Interestingly, Soul Serenade is also more sparkly, which is ironic as that’s one of the reasons why I don’t wear Dark Soul often (see blurred photo below for sparkle-tasticness).

MAC Dark Soul vs Soul Serenade comparison swatches eyeshadow

So essentially, my effort to avoid dupes was partially successful. Though I enjoy all the shades I purchased, I’m kinda pissed about the similarities because I barely wear shadow as it is, and can’t be going off to buy MORE OF THE SAME WHICH I’LL HARDLY USE. Stupid! But in my defence, I might buy 5 eyeshadows a year these days, so I’m not a complete disaster, and I’m determined not to buy many more for the next while if I can help it!

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Do you own a lot of eyeshadows? Do you wear them regularly?

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Empties abound!

It is just me or do I seem to be plowing through a lot of products lately?? Either that or I’m just super delinquent at posting about empties in a timely fashion O_o

This instalment is kinda a big deal for me because I have a whole whack of makeup at the end of the post – hooray!  Let’s get to it.

Skincare

Hurraw! Green Tea Lip Balm – awesome stuff. Keeps lips in tip top condition and feels awesome to boot – not too slippery but not too thick either. For less than $5 a pop, I’m all in!

Consonant Ultra Firming Organic Eye Cream – I opened this a couple years ago, used it for a while, then acquired a couple new eye creams and promptly forgot about this. It’s quite thin so if you prefer that in an eye cream, you might like this. Personally it was too thin for my taste – but otherwise it was fine. Nothing to write home about though.

Pai Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream – Love this moisturizer! If I didn’t have a couple of oils on the go, I’d probably buy this again – it’s perfect for oilier skin or warmer weather when skin doesn’t need a heavy or greasy moisturizer. It absorbs quickly and feels light as air – and keeps sebum more balanced than just a regular moisturizer.

Oceopin Maritime Pine Seed Oil - I was underwhelmed by this. It felt kind of heavy and thick to me and didn’t make my skin super soft like most of the oils I’ve tried. When I was nearing the end of the bottle I discovered that if you apply a good facial mist beforehand and apply this directly afterward, it spreads it out more and it feels a lot nicer. However, I’m still glad I only bought a small bottle of this – I wouldn’t pick it up again.

Soapwalla Restorative Face Serum – I had a weird bias against this the whole time I used it, but it actually is quite nice – great for those of us who have sensitive skin, as it was soothing when my skin felt reactive. On the whole it was just OK otherwise; texture was of medium-thin viscosity and it kept my skin hydrated adequately without being greasy.

La Bella Figura Bio Active Healing Mask – As per my review, I LOVE THIS MASK SO MUCH. It was so lovely and soothing to my skin, and it smelled so tasty like juicy berries and honey. I will be buying this again at some point without a doubt.

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TOO MANY SAMPLES TO HANDLE!!!!  The highs and lows: [highs] Eminence Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster-Serum (awesome and seemed to help with acne scars even in the week of use), Eminence Red Currant Protective Moisturizer SPF30 (nice, smooth texture that isn’t too heavy), Graydon Sun Cream (also nice texture and dries matte so perfect for summer) and The Serum (smells like blueberries and is packed with antioxidants); [lows] Juice Beauty samples (boring, boring, and the moisturizer was crazy sticky!), CV Skinlabs samples (totally did not soothe my skin nor wow me in any way). The rest? MEH.

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Phyto Phytopolleine Scalp Treatment – soo hard to get out of the bottle! I got this through a swap and I used it really haphazardly, so I can’t say if it worked or not. It was too much of a hassle so I wouldn’t purchase in any case.

Yarok Feed Your Ends Leave-in Conditioner - this was OK. Nothing to write home about – it was very lightweight, so if you have very fine hair it might be ideal, but for my personal needs I’ve used other leave-ins that I loved a lot more.

Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Smoothing Gloss - this was tinted brown, I guess to help boost the glossiness in brown/black hair, and every time I washed my hair it left a brown residue in my tub. It was just OK – I wouldn’t buy this.

Andalou Naturals Argan & Sweet Orange Conditioner (x2) – You may have guessed, I am LOVING this conditioner. It smells soo good, like vanilla and orange, and perfectly hydrates my hair without being heavy or leaving a residue. I’m on my 3rd bottle and I suspect I’ll just keep buying it until I stumble upon something else. The only downside is that I seem to go through it quite quickly!

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Random blue bottle – I can’t remember what this was called or the brand, but it was for your bikini line after a wax (or wherever you got waxed) to avoid ingrown hairs and irritation. I have had this since my very first wax back in 2007…haha! Time to go.

Poshe Top Coat – this was nice at first but it went the way of Seche Vite and got pretty gloopy near the end.

Osha Mae Calendula Salve – I mentioned this in my best of 2013 post, and it really was a lovely salve. I think though that the same I had from Clementine Fields, from M.J. Herbals, worked better somehow!

Kalaya Restore Body Treatment – I got this at Christmas from my aunt who knows I like organic/green skincare. At first I was skeptical but this actually was a really nice moisturizer – not too thick (read: greasy) or thin (i.e.: not hydrating enough) and really made my skin smooth. It did contain fragrance though so for that reason I wouldn’t purchase it.

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KAPOW! THE MAKEUPS:

MAC Dazzleglass in Luscious Spark – pretty sheer orange gloss with shimmer. The Dazzleglass etc formulas are known to be in smaller tubes than they appear, and this went quick. I also found it needed to be re-applied often so this was an easy one.

Laura Mercier Lip Glace in Discrete – I really liked this shade when I got it, but after a while I found it’s neutral tones flat due to the opaque formula. I was happy to see this go.

Buxom Lip Polish in April - when I was more of a gloss person, I loved the shine and sparkle of this pale pink lippie. But then it was just too ‘Bar Star’ for me and I wasn’t inclined to try and finish off that last little bit.

NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base – everyone loves this – and I’m no different! If they day comes where I need to purchase an eye primer (I have the MUFE now to use), I’d definitely buy this.

Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara – this came in handy for all the weddings I had last year, but then I stopped using it (I don’t really like using waterproof mascara on the regular). For those kind of occasions though, this is really good – gives nice, full lashes and stays put!

Pur Double Ego Mascara - I got this from my aunt and I used it maybe 3 times before I realized that it’s crazy-wet formula made an absolute mess every damn time. Toss!

YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara (sample) – I know mascara samples aren’t always a good predictor of a product’s true efficacy, but I did not like this! Flaky, tangly lashes, YIKES!

Random foundation/concealer samples – I honestly can’t remember what these were…I think they were two Tarte BB samples, and two MAC Pro Longwear samples. Lets just say I wouldn’t buy either.

Chanel Illusion d’Ombre in Emerveille – I liked this a lot when I bought it, and its still a great shade, but mine got so dried out and hard to use that I just couldn’t be bothered. I don’t actually like the Illusion d’Ombre formula at all and gave the other one I bought (Abstraction) away. Wouldn’t buy any of ‘em again!

NARS Larger Than Life Eyeliner in Via Appia – lovely deep bronze shade I received in a swap. I had a seriously idiotic moment and SHARPENED THE PLASTIC, forgetting its a twist-up! So then I always had to have it twisted up extra far so I didn’t scratch my eye out. D’OH. When it neared the end I just decided to turf it and stop the horror.

Illamasqua Blusher in Lover - this dropped and broke, and while I normally would try and salvage it somehow, I found this shade so light on my skin tone that I just figured it was an opportunity to get rid of it. I really HATE when my makeup breaks!

Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer #2 (sample) – I found this quite sparkly for my taste. I’m glad I tried a sample (I got this when I was in NYC) because if I’d have bought a full size I would have been quite disappointed.

Burberry Lip Cover in Cameo Pink (sample) – I really did like this shade though it was a touch light for my skin tone. I enjoy the Lip Cover formula – it feels comfortable on the lips, though the inclusion of fragrance isn’t my ideal.

Vapour Organics Mesmerize Eye Color in Storm (sample) – I tried to use this one and realized that in it’s sample form it’s IMPOSSIBLE. So, rather than hang on to it for no reason, I’m tossing it.


And that, they say, is THAT.

How are your empties going? And totally unrelated – did you watch Mad Men last night? WTF was that ending all about?!?!

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Organic Clay Masks FTW!

When entering the ‘green’ beauty world, there is one unavoidable truth: powder clay masks are part of the deal. Though at first I wasn’t a huge fan of having to mix my own masks, I began to kind of like being a chemist, mixing different ingredients with the masks to produce different results – honey and yogurt being my top picks.  Once I embraced the powder formulation, I somehow amassed a handful of options that I use on a rotation basis quite successfully.

Organic clay masques

My most recent acquisition is a mud mask by Villainess, Embargo, which the magnificent Maggie of Maggie’s Makeup sent to me from her online shop Pretty Indulgent.

Villainess Embargo Mud mask

Embargo ($12CAD for 2oz) is designed to aid in balancing oil secretion, purging pores, and cleansing lifeless complexions through a mix of clays, root powders and essential oils. The powder is of a fine grit, and has a soft spicy-floral scent. I’ve used it mix just with water, as well as with honey (the latter concoction shown below) and both ways it refines my skin texture gently and leaves my skin feeling smooth afterward. I was nervous for the fragrant and possibly irritating essential oils (patchouli and clove bud, particularly), but thankfully I’ve experienced zero issues on my sensitive skin.

Villainess Embargo Mud mask

I quite like this mask, and I think it really does boost lifeless complexions – after the winter we’ve had, I could certainly use it! Below is the ingredient list:

Villainess Embargo Mud mask ingredients

The next mask in my arsenal is one I picked up when I was in Ottawa in March, by an indie brand called Purple Urchin, which has a small store located on Sommerset. Among their wares are lip balms, handmade soaps in all varieties, cleaners, scrubs – you name it! I picked up their Chocolate Facial Mask ($9.99CAD for 2oz) to try as it just SMELLED SO GOOOOOOD.

Purple Urchin Chocolate Facial Mask

The antioxidant-rich mask is formulated to detoxify and soften skin, and fight free radicals. I liked that it included oatmeal powder, which is great for soothing skin. It produces a dark, rich chocolatey mask which smells awesome and feels wonderful on. When I choose to mix it with honey, I have to stop myself from eating it! U

Purple Urchin Chocolate Facial Mask

After leaving the mask on for 15-20 minutes, my skin feels exceptionally soothed and soft. When my skin was going through it’s hormonal acne issues, this was the only mask I would use as it gently revitalized my skin without exacerbating any problems. The grit is not as refined as the other masks, but it works well nonetheless. I’d suggest this for drier or more sensitive skins, as it doesn’t cleanse and detoxify as thoroughly but it is beautifully gentle and effective.

Ingredients below (notice there are only three, and no essential oils!):

Purple Urchin Chocolate Facial Mask ingredients

The final powder mask in my rotation is one that many of you are probably familiar with: Osmia’s Exfoliating Detox Mask ($50 for 1.4oz). I ordered this last fall during a promotion from the brand, and use it any time my skin feel congested and needs a thorough cleansing.

Osmia Detox Exfoliating Mask

Of the three masks, this one has the finest, most refined texture. Created to thoroughly purify skin and remove toxins through clays, bamboo charcoal, raw cacao and manuka honey, it is also multipurpose in that it also exfoliating as you rinse clean via walnut shells and olive leaf powders. With this product, I also received a small dish and spatula to mix it in, and this is what I use to mix all my facial masks (so handy!).

Osmia Detox Exfoliating Mask

This mask does the most serious oil-absorbing and detoxifying work, and it gets quite tight on the skin once it dries. They suggest rinsing it off in the shower and I would encourage this, as it can get a little messy (though it’s not a disaster if you do it in the sink, just requires a little bit more cleanup). They do caution sensitive skin types may notice some mild redness after use; I find it only happens occasionally, and it dissipates quickly. Though the mask doesn’t irritate my skin generally, I do not use it if my skin is being more reactive than normal as it’s fairly potent.

Ingredients below!

Osmia Detox Exfoliating Mask ingredients

Though all of these masks are similar in that they’re clay-based (and all contain rhassoul clay), I use each in a different way, for different reasons. From mildest to strongest is the Purple Urchin mask, then Villainess, then Osmia. Each are effective as rejuvenating the skin and leaving it feeling soft and smooth. Sometimes I start to feel like clay masks are clay masks, and they don’t have a huge variation among them, but then I read about a new one (I’m currently lemming Yüli’s Pure Mask!) and I think ‘What’s one more?’

Do you use clay masks? What is your favourite facial mask lately?

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