Posts Tagged review

Going all in with Make Up For Ever Plexi-Glosses

Ok guys. Once again I’ve been delinquent in getting this post up – I seem to be really good at taking photos of product in a timely manner, but not so great at writing the reviews. It used to be the other way around, but I am better at amusing Elena while taking photos than I am typing on the computer / editing photos and simultaneously keeping her occupied – she loves the camera (as you’ll see shortly). Anyway, she’s been taking a power nap this am, so I’m just going for it [edit: and it’s now nighttime…I got the majority of the post done while she was napping, but the finishing touches had to wait till she was down for the night!]!

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Glosses

A few months ago Make Up For Ever came out with a new formulation of lip gloss that is along the lines of the Dior Fluid Sticks / Lancome Lip Lover / etc. etc. – a long-wearing, full-impact gloss with high shine and vivid color. These Plexi-Glosses ($23CAD) are touted to be comfortable to wear and to deliver up to five hours of color impact. The ‘superflex’ applicator is design in a lip-hugging shape to allow for precision and control and sweeps on the ‘ideal’ amount of lipgloss.

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It comes in a whopping 35 shades, in varying finishes – from pearly to cream, sheer to opaque – which is INTENSE, guys. I’m glad I had an opportunity to try these out and not have to choose a color (or several) on my own, because I’d be there all damn day. The three I was sent are: 403, an opaque red; 207, an opaque candy pink, and 102P, a sheer pearly sweet beige (the ‘P’ indicates a pearly shade).

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Glosses Make Up For Ever Plexi-Glosses

As I mentioned, Elena loves the camera (probably since I’ve become the paparazzi with her since she was born) and I thought I’d really keep her busy by giving her each of the glosses to play with. Now that she’s got good hand control she was loving it!

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 Red

Red gloss has never been my first choice when it comes to lip color – I tend to favour matte shades of red, as it’s already bold enough on it’s own – but in the summertime, I confess that a gloss red lip is kind of fabulous. The sheer (or opaque, in this case) juiciness of it is so enticing and perfect on a warm summer night. 403 Red is just that kind of gloss – it truly is ‘full impact’ and majorly high shine. It’s also comfortable to wear, and though these glosses are intense, they’re not at all sticky – a bit thick, perhaps, but honestly the lip glosses I’ve had in the past that are thin fade away within minutes. I don’t mind the thicker texture on its own, but if they were sticky they’d be a no-go for me (which is why I haven’t own a MAC gloss in god knows how long).

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 swatchMake Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 Red

Though I just said I don’t generally gravitate toward glossy reds, I did happen to have one in my collection – Maybelline’s Color Elixir in Signature Scarlet. These two are damn near dupes in my eyes; Signature Scarlet is a hair more warm in tone, but that’s getting nitpicky – for all intents and purposes, they’re the same. The real difference is in the texture (Maybelline’s feels a bit more plasticky to me) and the scent (MUFE’s has none, while the Maybelline has this bizarre sickeningly sweet/chemical smell that is just awful – it fades after wear, but UGH, SO bad). Needless to say, I got rid of the Maybelline in favour of the MUFE version!

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 vs Maybelline Signature ScarletLeft: Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 Red; Right: Maybelline Color Elixir in Signature Scarlet

Next, we have the shade 207 Candy Pink.

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 207 Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 207 Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 207Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 207 Candy Pink.

Since discovering cool pink look quite nice on my skintone, I’m all about the shade. 207 Candy Pink is a cheerful pink shade that leans cool, but actually isn’t heavily blue-toned, so those of you who don’t like to wear those kinds of colors could probably still wear this.  This is another saturated shade, though the formula is slightly less opaque than 403 Red. Equally nice formula though – and of note is that all 3 glosses leave my lips feeling hydrated even after they’ve worn off.

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 207 swatch

Once again, I had a similar shade in my existing collection (a mark of someone with too much makeup, perhaps?) – Dior Addict Lip Gloss in Exquisse.  Unlike the red shades above however, there are more noticeable differences: the Dior is more sheer, and a bit more warm than 207 Candy Pink. However, they’re close enough for me that I don’t feel I need to own both – but I haven’t been able to part with either just yet. I prefer my lip products to be opaque, so MUFE – 1, Dior – 0….however, it’s like, a DIOR GLOSS, guys. And they’re kind of lovely. AND it’s got sexy packaging. So I dunno, dudes.

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 207 vs Dior Exquisse comparison

Finally, we have the most subtle of the bunch, 102P Pearly Sweet Beige, and the only one without a ‘dupe’ in my stash.

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 102P Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 102P Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 102P

102P Pearly Sweet Beige is a sheer, slightly milky peachy beige gloss. This was actually on my wishlist to buy previously, so I was excited to get this in the trifecta. Though I like my lip colors opaque as a general rule, I actually like my lip glosses to be neutral sheers – I find punchy, bold colors that are also high shine are a bit more in-your-face than I’d like. This would fit that bill perfectly; however – on my lips there is something about this shade that doesn’t look all that flattering. I think the milkiness for one is a (small) issue; moreover, I realized after watching a video of Karima’s (so good, go watch her RIGHT NOW!) where she described her lip line as ‘blurry,’ that I also suffer from this affliction, and this is likely why true ‘nudes’ look kind of terrible on me. As I normally choose my glosses to be either clear with a hint of shimmer, or MLBB shades, this veers too closely to a nude tone on my medium pigment lips, and I dunno…just not a huge fan. But that’s just me – I suspect for most people this will be an incredibly wearable neutral.

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 102P

Just for fun, I thought I’d take it even further and make it REALLY nude and see if that looked better. I used a Marc Jacobs lippie (the old style they don’t sell anymore) in Dizzy Spell, a warm peachy nude (which I rarely wear, for the reasons above), underneath 102P to see what would happen. While I don’t actually hate the effect, I think 102P would probably look best on me layered over a more strongly-hued and/or pigmented shade, or lipliner.

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 102P plus Marc Jacobs Dizzy Spell Lipstick Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 102P plus Marc Jacobs Dizzy Spell LipstickWearing Marc Jacobs Dizzy Spell under 102P. Also wearing Charlotte Tilbury Color Chameleon in Smoky Emerald – fabulous, fabulous eyeshadow!!

Do you mind wearing a thicker gloss to achieve longer wear time? What are your thoughts on glossy lips in bold, bright shades?

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OPI Two to Celebrate Coca-Cola Polish Set {Review & Swatches}

Good day everyone! How’s life been treating you lately? Our summer weather-wise has been quite lovely here, with just enough rain to keep things lush. Elena has been keeping me très busy these days; she’s going through a sort of sleep regression and is napping for 30 minutes at most – and getting those naps has been hard work! I have a few review posts that have been waiting to be written though, so I’m just going to have to sneak in a bit of blog business here and there when I can. Today’s post should be relatively short and sweet as it’s only covering two nail polishes – the OPI Two to Celebrate polish set commemorating Coca Cola’s 100th year anniversary. I don’t know what’s up with OPI doing so many Coke collections – as a non-pop lover it really doesn’t grab me, but ~shrugs~ There must be a target audience out there somewhere!

OPI Two to Celebrate Coca ColaOPI Two to Celebrate Coca ColaLeft: OPI Centennial Celebration; Right: OPI Visions of Georgia Green

The two shades in the set are Visions of Georgia Green (a pearlescent green with subtle pink duo chrome and a hint of glitter) and Centennial Celebration (a rich shimmering pewter).

OPI Two to Celebrate Coca Cola

Visions of Georgia Green is not my kind of polish shade – at all. It was quite sheer (this is 3 coats and it could have used a 4th, IMO) and it just looks ghastly on my hands. It just seemed to have too much going on, with the sort of golden microglitter, duochrome (though barely visible) and pearl finish. Plus, it’s green, which I’m just not a fan of as a whole as far as polish goes. I layered it over black on my index finger to see if it would look better, but – no. It’s still awful. LOL!

OPI Visions of Georgia Green swatch OPI Visions of Georgia Green swatch

As always, comparison swatches were had. Since I’m not a green fan I didn’t have much to compare it to, only the recently released My Gecko Does Tricks from the OPI Hawaiian collection. They’re not even close.

OPI Visions of Georgia Green swatch comparison OPI Visions of Georgia Green swatch comparisonLeft: OPI My Gecko Does Tricks; Right: Visions of Georgia Green

Thankfully, this is not a complete disaster of a set (and to be fair, there are people who will probably LOVE Georgia Green) – though it easily could have been for me, as a person who isn’t fond of silver either. Happily, Centennial Celebration is FABULOUS.

OPI Two to Celebrate Coca Cola

Though it’s described as a pewter shade, I find it is more silver in tone – probably because it just GLEAMS. The shade is crisp and clean (not what I think of when I think of pewter, which to my mind is like a dirtied silver), and the perfect mix of metallic and shimmer – not too much of either, so it’s got zero brushstrokiness that you can get with a full-on metallic, and it’s not too shimmery for this confessed creme lover. It’s replaced my previous silver polish love, Revlon Sterling, which I merely didn’t hate; Centennial Celebration on the other hand, is pure LOVE.

OPI Centennial Celebration swatch OPI Centennial Celebration swatch

I have a handful of silver & silver-ish swatches in which to compare Centennial Celebration:

OPI Centennial Celebration swatch comparison OPI Centennial Celebration swatch comparisonLeft to right: Chanel Graphite, OPI Centennial Celebration, OPI This Silver’s Mine!, Revlon Sterling, Nicole by OPI DC Lover

The pewter quality of CC is more apparent here; next to decidedly pewter Chanel Graphite, you can see its very much in the same vein only much lighter. It’s clearly more pewter than OPI This Silver’s Mine, and next to Revlon Sterling, it looks positively yellowed (aka dirtied) in comparison to Sterling’s cool tone. It’s not at all similar (red micro glitter aside) to the base color of Nicole by OPI’s DC Lover, which almost has a pinkish hue to it – and I’m glad because I actually love that shade too (two silvers I love, what is the world coming to? Maybe one day I’ll find a green I like as well??).

So, another Coca Cola collection down. I don’t really care how many they do if the polishes are nice, but it seems a bit overkill eh?

Are you a Coke fan? And do you like green and/or silver polish? What do you think of this duo?

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OPI Brights summer 2015 collection {swatches & review}

[This post contains press samples] Happy second day of summer! We’ve been having a lovely June so far, with a ton of sun sprinkled with a few rainy days to keep everything lush and green. As such, I’ve been switching up my mani & pedi shades on the regular, which is also helping me pare down my collection as I go through shade after shade and determine whether it stays or goes. The OPI Brights summer collection for 2015 kept me busy for a while, but I’ve finished all the swatches and have them to show you today! The collection contains 3 existing shades from the core collection, plus 6 brand new shades – all in varying finishes to keep things interesting.

OPI Summer 2015 Brights Collection

I did a few mani/pedi pairings to easier facilitate the swatches, and also added comparison swatches for any shades that seemed to have close relatives in my existing collection. Let’s begin with the core shade Hotter than You Pink and new shade I Sea You Wear OPI:

OPI Hotter Than You Pink and OPI I Sea You Wear OPI swatches

Hotter than You Pink is described as a…’hot pink’, how novel. It’s a bright pink shade with a blue iridescent flash that I’m sure is a favourite for many. These kinds of colors aren’t my bag, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it – and the formula for this one is great, two coats to opacity and it flows easily on the nail with no drag.

I Sea You Wear OPI is yet another shimmering aqua confection from the brand, an iridescent metallic that is a classic come summer. This one is a bit sheer, like some other similar OPI shades, and requires 3 coats – even then, you can still see a bit of my nail line in certain lights (like above). It’s pretty though, and the formula otherwise is good with no patchiness.

Hotter than You Pink reminded me of the shade Hang Ten Toes from China Glaze’s Neon collection from 2012. Both that have blue flash, but CG’s polish is less shimmery and more cool-toned:

OPI Hotter than You Pink vs China Glaze Hang Ten Toes comparison swatchLeft: OPI Hotter Than You Pink; Right: China Glaze Hang Ten Toes

I figured I Sea You Wear OPI would be very similar to either the brand’s This Color’s Making Waves (recently reviewed) or Catch Me In Your Net, but it isn’t at all – it’s much more blue and shimmery (rather than metallic) than the former; and though similar in hue, it’s considerably lighter than CMIYN, with less depth.

OPI I Sea You Wear OPI comparison swatchesLeft to right: OPI This Color’s Making Waves, OPI I Sea You Wear OPI, OPI Catch Me in Your Net

Next, I paired Life Gave Me Lemons with I STOP for Red:

OPI I STOP for Red and OPI Life Gave Me Lemons swatches

Life Gave Me Lemons is a core shade, a ‘citrusy lemon-lime’ creme that is very cheerful-looking. It does have a bit of green in it, which for some might make it more wearable than just a straight yellow, which can be tricky on some skintones. While I don’t love yellow polishes on the whole, I actually didn’t mind this – it’s just so happy-looking! Also, for a yellow, the formula isn’t all that bad – it requires a bit of care when applying, but it wasn’t as fussy as other yellows I’ve come across. This is two coats.

I STOP for Red is a tomato red crelly (creme-jelly hybrid) that has the best squishy texture I’ve seen! Though the shade is nothing new, it’s the texture that really makes it stand out – it’s so juicy and delectable. On shorter nails, two coats will do, but on longer nails or if you prefer no VNL, I’d go with three.

The green tones in Life Gave Me Lemons is much more apparent when compared to other yellows:

OPI Life Gave Me Lemons comparison swatchesLeft to right: American Apparel Neon Yellow, OPI Life Gave Me Lemons, butter London Jasper

It’s much more dull (and more glossy) compared to American Apparel Neon Yellow (my fave yellow EVER and the only one I have kept in my collection), though both have that touch of green. butter London’s Jasper on the other hand, is more *ahem* butter-y, and more of a true yellow color.

OPI I STOP for Red comparison swatchesTop to bottom: Essie Meet Me at Sunset, OPI No Stopping Me Now, OPI I STOP for Red, OPI Aloha from OPI, Essie Come Here!

IT IS FREAKING IMPOSSIBLE TO PHOTOGRAPH REDS!!! Gah. The five shades above look identical, I’m sure, and though they are VERY close, they are not the same. Essie Come Here! is more pink, OPI No Stopping Me Now and Essie Meet Me at Sunset are both more orange, and OPI Aloha from OPI is more coral. Though the latter is closest in tone, it’s a straight creme and doesn’t have that glossy, squishy texture.

The last pairing I did was with My Car Has Navy-gation and Down to the Core-al:

OPI My Car Has Navy-gation and OPI Down to the Core-al

My Car Has Navy-gation is a gorgeous deep indigo blue that sadly is a bit of a disappointment once worn. It’s on the sheer side (this is three coats) and is streaky in it’s application. I think they were trying to achieve that crelly texture with this shade, too, but alas it didn’t translate properly in the final product. Let’s take a closer look:

OPI My Car Has Navy-gation swatch

The last of the core shades, Down to the Core-al is a ‘brilliant coral’ which has a touch of violet flash. This was quite pretty, a bit different than your standard summer coral, and easy to apply (this is two coats). Just the right hint of shimmer.

I own a fair number of blue polishes, but nothing was really like My Car Has Navy-gation:

OPI My Car Has Navy-gation comparison swatchesLeft to right: Deborah Lippmann I Know What Boys Like, OPI My Car Has Navy-gation, YSL Bleu Majorelle

Lippmann’s I Know What Boys Like is more purple and less vivid, and YSL’s Bleu Majorelle is much brighter and without ANY purple tone.

OPI Down to the Core-al swatch comparisonLeft: OPI Down to the Core-al; Right: OPI Go With the Lava Flow

Once again, I thought a shade from the recently released Hawaii-themed collection from the brand would be very similar to Down to the Core-al; Go With the Lava Flow is a coral shimmer polish as well, but it is more shimmery and darker, and with a more murky quality to it (which you can’t really see in the photo above).

Can’t Hear Myself Pink! is described as a ‘shimmering metallic pink’, but there’s more to it than that. Though it’s more obvious in the bottle than on the nail, there is a subtle orange duochrome that elevates this shade and makes it more unique. Alone, this shade is pretty enough, but a touch sheer and requires three coats. On my index finger, I layered Can’t Hear Myself Pink! over Down to the Core-al, and this brought out the duochrome and intensified the shade beautifully. I don’t own anything even close to this shade.

OPI Can't Hear Myself Pink! swatch OPI Can't Hear Myself Pink! swatch

My regular readers know I’m not a fan of glitter polishes, and hot pink glitter On Pinks and Needles is no exception. It’s fine, it’s cute, but not for me – here it is layered over Life Gave Me Lemons (on only one nail because glitter removal is a P.I.T.A.):

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Finally, we have my favorite shade from the collection, The Berry Thought of You, a ‘delectable purple.’ It’s a beautiful purple-based berry that has a touch of that crelly texture and an uber-glossy finish. Two coats and you’re good to go.

OPI The Berry Thought Of You swatch

Dior’s Bloom polish, an LE shade from last spring I believe, is thisclose to The Berry Thought of You but a hint more pink. If it weren’t Dior, I’d get rid of it because I love the OPI shade more; as it is I’m keeping them both…for now. American Apparel’s Neon Violet has the same purple undertones but is more vivid (and matte, as neons tend to be); Nicole by OPI’s In Grape Demand looks straight-up purple in comparison.

OPI The Berry Thought Of You swatch comparisonsLeft to right: American Apparel Neon Violet, Dior Bloom, OPI The Berry Thought of You, Nicole by OPI In Grape Demand

Though I didn’t find many of these truly ‘bright,’ OPI suggests layering them over white to make them truly pop, and while I didn’t try that I suspect I would have gotten a better effect by doing so. Nonetheless, I liked most of these shades and I think it’s a solid summer collection with a variety of color and finishes from which to choose. I actually am keeping a few of these, namely: The Berry Thought of You (naturally), Can’t Hear Myself Pink! (for layering over similar shades), and I STOP for Red (dat texture, tho!). Hooray for summer!

OPI Summer 2015 Brights Collection

Has summer arrived where you are? Will you check out this year’s OPI Brights collection? What kind of shades do you gravitate toward in the summer?

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Recent Purchases, Part II: The Limited Edition buys

Oh L.E. products…you are the bane of many a beauty aficionado! They lure you in with FOMO (for those not up on their lingo – FOMO = Fear of Missing Out), and too many times you wind up with products you don’t even like. DAMN YOU, L.E. GODS!!!!

….THANKFULLY, this is NOT a story of purchase regret, or FOMO, or anything negative :) The L.E. draw often calls to me, and I get all in a tizzy thinking I need something, but the rational part of my brain almost always wins out. If I DO purchase an L.E. item, it’s got to be something I love and that will be put to good use – and these next two products fit those conditions perfectly.

MAC High-Light Powder in Freshen Up

I’ve decided that every MAC summer collection I’m going to pick up at least one item – I generally don’t care about that kind of thing, but their summer offerings always have the best packaging, and I’m a sucker for a pretty package ;) This year, I was most drawn to the High-Light Powder in Freshen Up – who can resist a striped cheek product??

MAC High-Light Powder in Freshen Up MAC High-Light Powder in Freshen Up

I was concerned it might end up being too light on my skintone, but if you pick up more of the deep reddish-coral shade at the top, it’s packed with a ton of pigment and looks fabulous – summer in a pan, in my opinion! The second shade, a muted pale apricot, helps soften it, if that’s the look you’re going for, and the bottom shade makes a lovely, subtle highlight on my skin.

MAC High-Light Powder in Freshen Up swatchesMAC Freshen Up – individual swatches

MAC High-Light Powder in Freshen Up swatchesMAC Freshen Up – blended swatch

I’m extremely pleased with this purchase, and somehow I don’t have a shade like it, so this is a win-win all around. I’m having a hard time not wearing this every single day!

MAC Freshen Up MAC Freshen UpIn sunlight

MAC Freshen UpIn natural light. One thing I’m noticing with my blush application is it goes too far back…and too low! Wazzupwiththat? (*Also: wearing Dior Addict Fluid in Magique)

The second L.E. product I bought this season was Dior’s Sunkissed nail polish – a soft peachy-nude that looks awesome with a (perma)tan. I grabbed this kind of quickly as I was out with the babes, but I knew it would look great. And it’s Dior. So ya know, I took a gamble ;)

Dior Sunkissed

Both nude and pale peach polishes can be difficult to formulate, as I find they can be streaky, or chalky. This, happily, is neither. While I did find it required 3 coats to suit my nitpicky ways, it self-levels well and really is a wonderful option for summer – I love the way it makes my hands look, both clean and ‘sun kissed’ – how apt!

Dior Sunkissed swatchDior Sunkissed in sunlight

Dior Sunkissed swatchDior Sunkissed in shade

Not too crazy, huh? (unlike my lippie-palooza!) I’m extremely pleased with both of these and they are perfect for the season – both  feel so summery to me! Yet, they both can be worn in other seasons with ease. It’s these kinds of purchases I want to make moving forward – items that are functional AND which I enjoy using. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen me doing some major purging of my stash; while I DID go a bit crazy after Elena was born (as evidenced in upcoming posts), this past week I got a hold of myself and really changed my mindset, bringing it back to my desire to streamline and simplify. Once I started ‘decluttering’ in a big way, it became addictive! I just have no more room (literally and figuratively) for things that don’t bring me joy anymore. Especially with most of my time spoken for these days, I want to make it count when I do get to play with my beauty-full things.

Like this.

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Do you get sucked in by the L.E. trap? Do you prefer to have a curated selection of products or prefer to have a large variety to choose from?

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OPI Soft Shades 2015 Collection {swatches and review}

[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?

OPI Soft Shades Spring 2015

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:

OPI Chiffon My Mind swatch

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.

OPI Act Your Beige swatch

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.

OPI Put it in Neutral swatch

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.

OPI Petal Soft & Make Light of the Situation swatches

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.

OPI This Silver's Mine! swatch

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.

 

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Nicole by OPI Coca-Cola Collection {review and swatches}

I’m on a roll here, people, let’s just go with it.

Nicole by OPI Coca-Cola collection

I’ve only ever owned one nail polish from Nicole by OPI (I just can’t get past the ugly bottles!), so swatching the Coca-Cola collection was a relatively new experience for me. I’m also not a Coke lover (or even of pop in general, really – rarely drink the stuff) so at first many of the shades didn’t make sense to me, but I eventually got the references. Though most of the shades didn’t call to me, I tried to keep an open mind as I went through them – sometimes you find a gem when you least expect it, especially when it’s shades you might not have chosen otherwise.

Let’s begin with a classic, in all senses of the word.

Nicole by OPI Always a Classic Coca-Cola swatch

Always a Classic Coca-Cola is a richly-hued metallic red, reminiscent of the iconic Coca-Cola can. I like reds like this – strangely, I find metallic reds more wearable than cremes, which I find always look stark on my skintone. The formula was easy-peasy; two thin coats to opacity. As you can see, it IS a thin textured polish as any nail imperfections are noticeable -nothing a bit of top coat wouldn’t probably cure.

Always a Classic Coca-Cola vs Red Pumps at the Nordstrom comparison swatchLeft: Nicole by OPI Always a Classic Coca-Cola; Right: Misa’s Red Pumps at the Nordstrom

The shade reminded me of Misa’s Red Pumps at the Nordstrom, a beauty of a shade that I wear a lot during the holidays. I find Misa’s version, aside from being a bit deeper and cooler in tone, also has more depth – but both are pretty :)

Nicole by OPI DC Lover swatch

DC Lover (Diet Coke) is a silver foil with red glitter that surprised me by being quite pretty when worn. This is a shade I would NEVER choose if given the chance, but there’s something about it that’s kind of ethereal and lovely – the silver is just the right tone for my colouring, and the red flecks make it wholly different and interesting. Obviously, I have nothing like this. It’s a keeper! No issues with the formula or application whatsoever.

Nicole by OPI Zero is My Hero swatch

Zero is My Hero (Coke Zero) is a deep, dark burgundy brown which does a good job at mimicking the color of Coca-Cola itself. I thought I was going to LOVE this shade – rich, mysterious, shapeshifting goodness – but unfortunately it was a dud for me. The multifaceted flash you see in the bottle (below) doesn’t translate on the nail, and it’s depth can really only be seen in direct sunlight. It reminds me of China Glaze’s Midtown Magic, another delicious-looking shade that let me down once worn on the nail. Formula on this one was the only less-than-stellar in the bunch too – three coats were required to achieve opacity.

Nicole by OPI Zero is My Hero

Every Month is Oktoberfest vs Zero is My Hero vs Royal Rajah Ruby swatch comparisonEvery Month is Oktoberfest vs Zero is My Hero vs Royal Rajah Ruby swatch comparisonLeft to right: OPI Every Month is Oktoberfest, Nicole by OPI Zero is My Hero, OPI Royal Rajah Ruby

I had a few polishes I thought might compare – OPI Every Month is Oktoberfest and OPI Royal Rajah Ruby. In the first swatch above they all look somewhat similar, but when you angle them the right way, you can see that ‘Oktoberfest’ has more purple in it’s base, and ‘Ruby’ has more red. Against the two of them, it really looks kind of blah, doesn’t it?

Nicole by OPI Seriously Citrus swatch

Seriously Citrus (Sprite) is a fresh mix of green, blue, and white glitter of varying sizes and tones. Not being a glitter fan, I didn’t love this – but it does look nice layered over other polishes – above I applied one coat over RBL’s Oh Snap! on my ring finger, and the contrast was quite pretty. I just HATE the removal of glitter polish SO. MUCH. This was no exception on that front.

Nicole by OPI In Grape Demand swatch

In Grape Demand (Grape Fanta) was another surprising win for me – I don’t typically fall for midtone polishes like this, particularly purple ones, but recently I decided I *needed* Essie Flowerista from the Spring 2015 collection – only to realize that this is essentially the same color. Another great formula on this one.

Dutch'ya Just Love OPI? vs In Grape Demand vs Neon Violet swatch comparisonLeft to right: OPI Dutch’ya Just Love OPI?, Nicole by OPI In Grape Demand, American Apparel Neon Violet 

The colors I have for comparison are clearly not even close to this shade, proving that I don’t buy colors like this normally.

Nicole by OPI The Look is Orange swatch

The Look is Orange (Orange Fanta) is for once an orange I can get behind! There’s not too much yellow in it to clash horribly with my skintone, and there’s a dash of red to make it even more wearable. This is going to be amazing as a pedi shade. Great formula too! You may have already seen me sporting this one on Instagram:

The Look is Orange vs Meet Me At Sunset vs Magnetic Force swatch comparisonLeft to right: Nicole by OPI The Look is Orange, Essie Meet Me At Sunset, LA Colors Magnetic Force

Here, you can see Essie Meet Me At Sunset is darker and more reddened, while LA Colors Magnetic Force is more coral than full-on orange.

Last year OPI did a Coca-Cola themed collection, which didn’t even hit my radar, but comparing the two collections now, I think Nicole by OPI did a better job – all of the Coke franchise flavours are represented in both collections (plus 3 additional ones in the OPI version), but the shades are more on point with this iteration (in my opinion). The only thing I’m not convinced of is that this is a spring-appropriate collection – but it seems more and more brands are releasing shades that don’t follow a seasonal theme, so what do I know? All I can say is that I’ll be hanging on to a few of these polishes – despite the unattractive bottles!

What do you think of this collection? Do you like Nicole by OPI polishes?

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OPI Infinite Shine {review and swatches}

Delinquent blogger alert – I’ve had these photos done for a month; I have to post about these polishes already! I just received the OPI Brights 2015 collection today so I really need to catch up (I also have OPI Soft Shades 2015 collection and Nicole by OPI Coca Cola collection photos / swatches ready too, sooo…yea. I’m a bit behind).

Today, however, we’re talking about the OPI Infinite Shine polishes, of which I have 3, plus the Primer base coat and Gloss top coat.

OPI Infinite Shine polishes

OPI released the new Infinite Shine formula back in the fall; it’s claim to fame is up to 10 days wear with a hi-def shine similar to gel nail treatments, but without the need of a light, nor the hassle of soaking off the polish. The 3 shades I received are: Maintaining My Sand-ityStaying Neutral and No Stopping Me Now. Let’s look at the swatches first (note that I’m wearing the Primer and Gloss base/top coats in each swatch) and then I’ll get to the formula and wear time.

OPI Maintaining My Sand-ity swatch

Maintaining My Sand-ity is a work-friendly, putty-toned nude that I thought I liked at first, but after wearing for a while found it’s slightly greenish hue made my hands look red. I think on the right skintone this would be a great, chic neutral shade but on me it’s just not entirely flattering. Formula was lovely with two smooth coats for opacity.

OPI Maintaining My Sand-ity comparison swatchLeft to right: OPI Maintaining My Sand-ity, Zoya Cho, OPI Glints of Glinda, OPI Do You Take Lei Away?

OPI Maintaining My Sand-ity comparison swatchLeft to right: OPI Glints of Glinda, Zoya Cho, OPI Maintaining My Sand-ity, OPI Do You Take Lei Away?

I have a few shades that compare with Maintaining My Sand-ity, but they’re either a touch too light (OPI Glints of Glinda [which is also a sheer], Zoya Cho) or a bit more pink (OPI Do You Take Lei Away? – which I prefer over this shade).

OPI Staying Neutral swatch

Staying Neutral is classic greige shade that is much more up my alley. It contrasts with my skintone just enough to make it stand out without being unflattering. Again, formula was stellar – two easy coats are shown above.

IMG_0615Left to right: Essie Master Plan, OPI Staying Neutral, Sally Hansen Commander in Chic

It looks a bit cool-toned in the hand swatch above, but in the comparison swatches, particularly against Essie Master Plan, you can see that it’s actually got a bit of warmth to it so it doesn’t look too stark against the skin. I thought it would be really close to Sally Hansen Commander in Chic, but it’s much lighter, which I actually prefer as well.

OPI No Stopping Me Now swatch

Finally, No Stopping Me Now is a bold orange-red that isn’t quite as searingly bright in the swatch above. It almost has a touch of coral to it as well – truly, a perfect tropical shade. I feel colors like this look good on almost anyone because they’re such a chameleon and can lean one way or another depending on the lighting/skintone/wardrobe etc. Formula, like the other two, was essentially perfect.

OPI No Stopping Me Now comparison swatchLeft to right: Essie Meet Me At Sunset, OPI No Stopping Me Now, Essie Come Here!

Shades like this are SO EFFING HARD TO PHOTOGRAPH. It was impossible for me to clearly photograph the differences in tone between these 3 shades. Essie’s Meet Me At Sunset is more orange (absolutely no coral/pink at all), while Essie Come Here! is decidedly more pink. NOT THAT YOU CAN TELL IN THESE PHOTOS, though. Damn.

So, the long-wear, über-shine claims. I wore Staying Neutral for a full mani, employing the 3 steps by using the Primer (step 1) as my base, followed by 2 coats of color (step 2), topped with a coat of the Gloss (step 3). I had high hopes as a long-wearing glossy mani is hella-appreciated at this stage in my life; unfortunately, my nails chipped within a few days, and I didn’t particularly feel like the glossiness has retained it’s full-power shine. I read a great review of these polishes by Beauty Geeks, in which Karen notes that these polishes still likely require several minutes to ‘cure’ in natural UV light (aka THE SUN) for them to be truly long-wearing. I haven’t had a chance to try this, but I intend to – normally I could care less about long wearing shades as I tend to change my polish frequently, but I could really benefit from not having to worry about chipped nails for a week plus.

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Ultimately, I’m more about the shades than the wear with polishes, so no matter what the case I’d still try more of these shades, especially if they all have formulas like these – smooth, glossy and oh-so-easy to apply.

Is wear time a factor for you when choosing a nail polish? 

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In honour of Earth Day: A skincare trio by affordable (and Canadian!) eco-brand Graydon

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?!

Graydon skincare

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.

IMG_0601

The Face Food Mineral Mist ($29CADis 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!

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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.

IMG_0598

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!

IMG_0605

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.

IMG_0597

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?

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Saving face (literally) with products from Make Up For Ever

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).

Make Up For Ever

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.’

MUFE Pro Sculpting Duo

MUFE Pro Sculpting Duo

MUFE Pro Sculpting Duo

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.

Make Up For Ever Pro Sculpting Duo swatches

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!

Make Up For Ever Mist & Fix

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.

Make Up For Ever Mist & Fix ingredients

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!

Make Up For Ever

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.

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Collective reviews: new skincare goodies!

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!

Organic skincare

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.

Kypris Moonlight Catalyst

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)!

Kypris Moonlight Catalyst Kypris Moonlight Catalyst

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.

African Botanicals Pure Marula Cleansing Oil

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.

African Botanicals Pure Marula Cleansing Oil African Botanicals Pure Marula Cleansing Oil ingredients

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.

Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator

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:

A diaper change gone wrong, or @joshrosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator? ;)

A photo posted by @xbeautyobsessed on

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.

MUN No.11 Anarose Toner

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!

MUN No.11 Anarose Toner ingredients

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 ;)

Have you come across any standout skincare products lately?

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