Posts Tagged skincare

Ho Hum: My *exciting* Sephora VIB sale haul

It feels like for the past year I’ve been really responsible with my beauty purchases. It’s been quite boring actually, but I feel a lot better about my collection – less overwhelmed, and I use the products I have with regularity since I’m not constantly adding new ones to the mix. Over the past couple months however, I had grand ideas about really going all out for the Sephora VIB sale – I’d been a good girl and it was time to reward myself with a splurge.

Well…I splurged. But before you get excited, take a look at what I bought and see if you think I *really* went crazy:

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Sure, I bought a fair number of things – 9 items, which is more than I probably buy in a month, lately. But do you see any REALLY frivolous things there? I think for all my scheming and plotting, I managed to be sort of responsible, yet again! It’s like ingrained in me, you guys. DAMMIT ALL TO HELL.

Probably the most ‘reckless’ thing I bought was a YSL Gloss Volupte (in the shade ‘1 Gold’) – I got it in my head a couple days before the sale that I NEEDED a gold gloss, and this was the one that came home with me. The L’Artisan Perfumer perfume sample box was a whim purchase too, the lemming created by Liz (surprise, surprise) as I was reading her post en route to the store. But the rest of these items were all products on my list and all ‘necessities’ in my mind. I use this term loosely of course, because who ‘needs’ all this stuff, but for a beauty junkie, there are real needs, no? I ‘needed’ a new concealer as my NARS Radiant Concealer is on it’s last legs, and the Lancome Effacernes Waterproof Under Eye Concealer seemed like a good replacement. I ‘needed’ a leave-in treatment for my hair (Phyto Phyto 7 Hydrating Day Cream) because I had ran out of my previous one. I ‘needed’ the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads because I’d used up my previous jar and had been patiently waiting to replenish them for weeks. I ‘needed’ an eye cream with SPF, like the Boscia All-In-One BB Eye Brightener SPF 20, because I don’t have one and I gotta hold off those wrinkles, yo. I also ‘need’ a couple new facial masques – both a hydrating one and an exfoliating one (gotta cover all the bases!) – and this little sample kit of three Peter Thomas Roth masks seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Finally, I ‘needed’ a new serum, as all the ones I have are oil-based and are a bit heavy for day. The Boscia Cool Blue Hydration Essence lured me in with it’s calming aesthetic and it’s promise to boost hydration in my skin to the max, a must for the oncoming winter season. I suppose I didn’t ‘need’ a new black liquid eyeliner – I own a black gel liner that works a treat – but the ease of use of the Kat Von D Ink Liner over my gel liner couldn’t be ignored (the lines are SO crisp!).

So there you have it. I clearly ‘needed’ almost every item I picked up, and my intent to go WILD and pick up some really fun products (like a Givenchy Le Rouge lipstick…a Dolce & Gabbana blush…or a Dior mascara) was once again squashed by my IRRITATINGLY sensible brain. ~le sigh!~  Maybe someday…

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PS: The two other items I didn’t mention were samples I received during my shopping ‘spree’ – Dior’s Diorshow Iconic Overcurl mascara, and Fresh’s Sugar Face Polish. A bit more exciting, but they were free so I can’t take credit :(

What did you buy during the VIB sale?

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Arm yourself for cooler weather with Korres skincare

I don’t know about everywhere else, but for the past few weeks it’s definitely felt like fall here in Hali (but at least it’s not SNOW, good grief). The days are still warm, but the mornings and evenings have a definitely chill in the air. Personally, I’m loving it because I love fall, and I far prefer to sleep in the cool than the sticky heat! But the drop in temperature does signal that it’s time to switch up my skincare routine – my lips are starting to get a bit flaky again and the skin around my mouth is more sensitive and dry.

A few products landed at my door last month that have been ideal to help my skin transition into fall with ease: Korres Lip Butters in Guava and Pomegranate ($19CAD ea.), and the Greek Yoghurt Nourishing Primer ($39CAD) from the brand.

Korres Skincare

Though I have tried a couple Korres skincare products before, it’s been a while since I’ve dallied with the brand. I’ve read numerous reviews on their Lip Butters before, but didn’t know too much about their slew of Primers (they also have a Pomegranate Mattifying Primer, and a Quercetin & Oak Age-reversing Primer, as well as a plain Face Primer).

Korres Skincare

The Greek Yoghurt Nourishing Primer is a ‘skin-perfecting and silicone-free face primer‘ which is formulated with Greek yoghurt, which is touted to be very nourishing. Like any primer, it assists with improving makeup longevity and smoother application. This particular formulation, which is free of parabens or sulfates, is also supposed to be idea for sensitive skin, and has a ‘breathable gel texture that glides onto skin leaving a dewy finish.’ The texture is more like a cream-gel, which I like as it provides light moisture without being heavy. I also like that it’s silicone-free, which again keeps it from really feeling primer-ish on the skin. The only real turn-off I have is the scent, which is fairly strong and a mix of floral-herbal. I wore this for several days in a row, and it didn’t seem to cause any irritation to my skin, but I will be wary during use nonetheless. The scent does dissipate after a while.

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I actually found that using this in the summer was OK – while it didn’t keep oiliness at bay, if used alone as my moisturizer/primer, it allowed my makeup to wear longer and I didn’t turn into a complete oil-slick. However, I think this will be particularly effective in the fall and winter, when my skin turns more normal than oily. I’m hoping it will be just the ticket to get a dewy, glowing look, rather than dehydrated due to moisture-sucking blustery cold days and indoor heating.

Korres Lip Butter in PomegranatePomegranate Lip Butter

The Lip Butters are a lovely, medium-thick balm which applies easily to the lips and is not waxy in the least. It’s my favourite kind of texture to a balm – extremely comfortable to wear, yet doesn’t disappear in seconds requiring you to apply more every five minutes. And the scent isn’t too shabby either ;)  (it says it contains ‘aroma (flavour)’ in the ingredients but doesn’t elaborate what that could be – they also say that the product contains no synthetic fragrances, and so far it hasn’t caused any irritation for me, so we’ll just go with it)

Korres Lip Butter in Pomegranate ingredientsPomegranate Lip Butter Ingredients

I’ve been wearing the Guava shade regularly (below) as my daily balm, as it’s just clear – as I said, my lips have been dry and rough the past week or so, and this has helped keep them hydrated and comfortable. I plan to start incorporating the Pomegranate shade (above), a ‘sheer coral’, into my lip wardrobe as well to give me that nice, stained lip that looks so lush in fall.

Korres Lip Butter in GuavaGuava Lip Butter

Korres Lip Butter in Guava ingredientsGuava Lip Butter Ingredients

I just want to note a few things that kind of alerted me when I first read the ingredients – polybutene is a liquid ogliomer which is used as a binding element in cosmetics and is derived from petroleum (EWG score of 1); trimethylolpropane triisostearate is a occlusive skin-conditioning agent (EWG score of 0); hydrogenated polydecene is a skin-conditioning agent (EWG score of 2); and polyethylene is a binding agent as well (EWG score of 1).  The reason I wanted to share that is because as a consumer who reads ingredients, I was a bit concerned that all these things that sounded rather ominous – but turns out they’re relatively harmless.

Korres Lip Butter in Guava & Pomegranate swatchesSwatches, left to right: Guava Lip Butter, Pomegranate Lip Butter

Overall, I’m pleased with these products and encouraged to try more Korres products in the future. Unfortunately, the brand is phasing out it’s makeup line to focus more on skincare, so I suspect primers and lip conditioners will be the extent of it’s offerings moving forward. Happily, both are quite lovely and there are primers to suit everyone’s needs, so it’s not a total loss! I’m really keen to see how the Greek Yoghurt primer works in the late fall/winter and if it gives me the dewy (and not greasy) look I’m always trying to achieve!

Korres Skincare

Have you tried Korres skincare products before? Do you ever use a primer to double as your moisturizer? What kind of texture do you like in a lip treatment?

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

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Amie *Naturally Kind* Skincare – Now at Shoppers Drug Mart!

I know Tracy just reviewed this brand, but that’s what happens when you’re a blogger in Canada – there is bound to be overlap! And I always feel that each person can offer a different take on products, due to different skin types etc. A well-rounded view of a product is always a bonus :)

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In this neck of the woods, I’m loving all these new skincare brands landing at Shoppers these days! Launched in Canada on August 11th, the newest kid on the block is Amie Naturally Kind Skincare, which is an award-winning, gentle skincare line that uses high-quality, naturally-derived plant and botanical extracts in their formulas. They have a range of products, from cleansers, to masks, to moisturizers – and a few things in between (toners, exfoliants, and even a makeup remover!).

I received a nice array of products to test out, and unsurprisingly I got right to it! Here’s what I received, with it’s description along with a few of my thoughts:

IMG_3608Radiant Dawn Exfoliating Daily Wash and Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask

Radiant Dawn Exfoliating Daily Wash

“Gentle enough to use every day. Contains green apple, lemon and exfoliating blueberry seeds. Soap-free, oil-free.”   This daily wash is exceptionally gentle on the skin. I’m not sure how truly ‘exfoliating’ it is through the blueberry seeds so just a heads up if you’re looking for a nice scrubby feeling – but I guess the inclusion of green apple offers some chemical exfoliation through it’s acids. It foams up quite a bit, but I found that it left my skin feeling really nice – clean but not stripped in the least. The only real issue I had was that it didn’t rinse away too easily; the gel sort of stuck to the skin a bit so it took a bit of elbow grease to wash it all off.

IMG_3597Itty bitty scrubbies

IMG_3611Ingredients

Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask

“A wonderfully refreshing deep-cleansing treatment that draws out dirt, oiliness and impurities leaving skin feeling clear, clean and smooth.”  The first time I tried this mask, I was terrified – a minute after application, there is this SERIOUS cooling sensation that bordered on burny-tingly, and I worried I was going to have a terrible reaction. However, after a few more minutes, the sensation dulls considerably and it’s just nice and refreshing. When I rinsed it away after 10 minutes, my skin felt lovely – fresh and smooth. I didn’t experience any adverse reaction to it at all, despite the scary-intense feeling at the beginning.

IMG_3600Thick clay texture

IMG_3612Ingredients

Morning Dew Matte-Finish Moisturiser

“Controls oiliness and shine, while hydrating and keeping skin soft. With rosehip, bilberry and Vitamin E.”  A beautifully light moisturizer, that absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave the skin feeling sticky or greasy. I found that this minimally controlled oiliness and shine on my combo-oily skin, but honestly – nothing has been working on my skin to keep the oiliness at bay on my t-zone, so I wasn’t surprised. If nothing else, it’s a great light hydrator that would work particularly well with combination to normal skins. And I gotta say, I love that rosehip is included in the ingredients!

IMG_3593Texture was somewhat gel-like – and beside the swatch, I rubbed some in; you can see how it didn’t leave my skin shiny or greasy

IMG_3614Ingredients

Morning Light Hydrating Daily Moisturiser

“Keeps skin soft, smooth and nourished all day long. Rich in rose extract, rosehip seed oil and mallow.”  As this sounded a bit heavier than the Morning Dew moisturizer, I used this in the evening. Again, it was nice and moisturizing without being heavy at all. It didn’t dry as ‘matte’ on my skin as the Matte-Finish moisturizer, but I still think it would be ideal on combo-normal to even slightly dry skins.

IMG_3595Slightly richer texture – and you can see it has a bit of sheen on my skin where I rubbed it in

IMG_3613Ingredients

I’m going to be up front with you: these products are all quite scented. It’s a wonderful scent – clean and fresh and quite pleasant, truly – but for this scent-adverse gal, it freaked me out A LOT and made my testing of these products somewhat limited. With the exfoliating wash and deep cleansing mask, I didn’t mind too much because they washed off, but I felt very uncomfortable wearing the two moisturizers, the scent of which I could smell on my skin all day long.  I only tested them a couple times each, because I just could NOT get past how scented they were. If you’re into scent in your skincare, or if it doesn’t bother you, I’d say these are great products to check out – affordable and free of paragons, sulphates, mineral oils and animal extracts. I don’t know if I’d recommend them for sensitive skins, as they say, due to the fragrance – but not all sensitive skin is sensitive to fragrance, so if scent doesn’t seem to irritate you, you should be fine.

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Have you seen Amie Skincare in Shoppers yet? How do you feel about scented products?

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

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Things I do in my spare time: Research skincare oils

Alright guys, prepare yourselves for a MASSIVE post! I know that I haven’t been posting as much over the summer, but trust me when I say that just because I’m not talking about cosmetics here does not mean that they’re not on my mind 24/7 (sad but true). Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time doing research on various things, and one of the biggest time consuming endeavours was reading up on skincare oils. Over the weeks, I’ve been compiling information on various aspects of oils, trying to figure out what’s best for my skin. The green/organic beauty world is just so FULL of new products and things to try that it can get a little overwhelming. I decided to take matters into my own hands and trust in my own research to decide which products are worth my time. There are two main components that I look at when choosing a skincare oil: it’s comedogenic rating, and it’s fatty acid profile, both of which I get into detail below.

If you’re at all interested in this kind of stuff, I suggest to grab your bevvie of choice and get comfy, because this is a DOOZY.

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Comedogenicity

The first criteria I have when choosing a facial oil is it’s comedogenicity. Though my skin is not very acneic (usually), it is on the oily side and does get congested fairly easily, so I try to avoid any oils that may clog my pores and exacerbate the situation. I think this point is extremely important for everyone to note, because while facial oils are becoming more and more accepted in skincare, there are still some who get nervous at the thought of wearing oils on their skin, especially if they are acneic or feel their skin is already oily. So, it’s important to know that there are some oils that are better suited for particular skin types – some oils have no or low comedogenicity, and can likely be used without fear of breakouts or clogged pores. A final point to note on this topic is that clogged pores and acne are not a concern for everyone, so to those with perhaps drier skin or skin that never breaks out and pores are a myth (I know a gal that literally has ZERO pores that I can see – bitch!), you can likely use oils with a higher comedogenicity without fear. I also use this list to determine which oils might be well suited for my body skin, as it’s much drier due to my eczema and can handle an oil that’s more comedogenic because it rarely breaks out.

Below, I have a list of oils and a few other common skincare ingredients with their corresponding comedogenic scores out of 5 (I found this information through researching several different articles on comedogenicity).

Non-comedogenic:
Hemp seed oil (0/5)
Mineral oil* (0/5)
Petrolatum* (0/5)
Shea butter (0/5)
Sunflower oil (0/5)
Safflower oil (0/5) *high linoleic acid variety only
 
Low Comedogenic Properties:
Castor oil (1/5)
Jojoba oil (1/5)
Pomegranate oil (1/5)
Rosehip oil (1/5)
Calendula oil (1/5)
Emu oil (1/5)
Squalene (1/5)
Grape seed oil (1/5)
Sea buckthorn oil (1/5)
 
Med. Comedogenic Properties:
Almond oil (2/5)
Apricot kernel oil (2/5)
Avocado oil (2/5)
Baobab seed oil (2/5)
Borage oil (2/5)
Pumpkin seed oil (2/5)
Olive oil (2/5)
Hazelnut oil (2/5)
Tamanu oil (2/5)
Sesame oil (2/5)
Beeswax (2/5)
Vitamin E (tocopherol) (2/5)
Vitamin A palmitate (2/5)
 
Comedogenic:
Corn oil (3/5)
Evening primrose oil (3/5)
Soybean oil (3/5)
Cotton seed oil (3/5)
Cocoa butter (4/5)
Coconut oil (4/5)
Wheat germ oil (5/5)
 
*Some of you may be surprised to see mineral oil and petroleum as non-comedogenic – I was! There are a ton of articles out there for and against mineral oil, so I suggest doing some of your own reading and coming to your own conclusions on it. But it looks like if you were avoiding it because you felt it clogged your pores – that might not be the case! As I said, do a little reading on it to get the full picture.
 
Aroma Therapy

Fatty Acid Profiles

This is a topic to which I’ve only recently been doing extensive research on. After coming across Minimalism Beauty Dawn’s post on using carrier oils to cleanse the face and her finding that oils higher in linoleic acids may be better suited to acneic or clog-prone skin, I started looking up the fatty acid profiles of a number of oils that I see listed in a lot of my skincare. Without getting too technical, different oils contain different types of fatty acids, and each acid type behaves differently on the skin. Below is a list of the most common fatty acids I’ve noted, along with a brief profile.

Oleic acid - very moisturizing, absorbs well, regenerative, anti-inflammatory
Linoleic acid - improves skin’s barrier function, soothes itchy, dry skin, retains moisture, anti-inflammatory
Linolenic acid - helps reduce acne, retains moisture, strengthens skin’s barrier function, anti-inflammatory
Gamma linolenic acid – exceptional at improving skin’s barrier function, soothes itchy, dry skin, retains moisture, helps with acne-prone skin, absorbs quickly, improves skin suppleness and flexibility, anti-inflammatory
Palmitic acid – forms occlusive barrier on skin and protects it
Palmitoleic acid – prevents burns, wounds, scratches; anti-microbial, heals damaged skin
Stearic acid – improves moisture retention, increases skin flexibility, repairs skin damage

In her research, Dawn found that sebum in oily, congested and acne-prone skin tends to be made up of mostly oleic acid, and they need a balance of linoleic and oleic acids to avoid or lessen breakouts and congestion. So, by applying predominantly linoleic acid-based oils to these skin types, you can achieve this balance. Though she doesn’t mention it in her post, I would think the flip side would also be true – drier skins probably lack oleic acid in their sebum (conversely having more linoleic acid in their natural oils), and therefore using oils high in these fatty acids would help balance them out and make them less dry over time.

Of course, being the nerd I am, I put together yet ANOTHER list that notes the fatty acid profiles of many of the oils we see in skincare today (note that I omitted some of the fatty acids that had extremely low values or which were not part of the common list of acids I noted above).

Higher in Linoleic Acid:
Black Cumin Seed oil - 56% linoleic, 23% oleic, 12% palmitic
Borage oil - 39% linoleic, 20% GLA, 18% oleic, 10% palmitic
Evening Primrose oil - 73% linoleic, 9% GLA, 8% oleic, 6% palmitic
Grapeseed oil - 71% linoleic, 16% oleic, 7% palmitic
Hemp Seed oil - 52% linoleic, 10% linolenic, 10% oleic, 6% palmitic
Kukui Nut oil - 40% linoleic, 26% alpha-linolenic, 25% oleic, 6% palmitic
Pumpkin oil – 57% linoleic, 23% oleic, 13% palmitic
Rosehip oil - 44% linoleic, 34% linolenic, 14% oleic
Safflower oil - 68-85% linoleic, 8-30% oleic, 4-10% palmitic
Soybean oil - 53% linoleic, 23% oleic, 11% palmitic, 7% linolenic
Wheat Germ oil - 58% linoleic, 17% palmitic, 12% oleic, 9% linolenic
 
Balanced:
Argan oil - 42-48% oleic, 30-38% linoleic
Baobab oil - 30-40% oleic, 24-34% linoleic, 18-30% palmitic
Cranberry oil - 30-38% linoleic, 22-26% oleic, 20-38% linolenic
Sesame oil - 46% linoleic, 39% oleic, 9% palmitic
Tamanu oil - 41% oleic, 30% linoleic, 15% palmitic, 13% stearic
 
Higher in Oleic Acid:
Apricot kernel oil - 69% oleic, 22% linoleic
Avocado oil - 63% oleic, 16% palmitic, 10% linoleic
Camellia oil - 79% oleic, 7% linoleic
Carrot Seed oil - 68% oleic, 11% linoleic
Hazelnut oil - 79% oleic, 12% linoleic
Macadamia Nut oil - 54% oleic, 21% palmitoleic, 8% palmitic
Olive oil - 55% oleic, 20% palmitic, 18% linoleic
Palm Fruit oil - 43% palmitic, 41% oleic, 10% linoleic
Shea Nut oil - 73% oleic, 14% linoleic, 9% stearic
Sunflower oil - 70-88% oleic, 3-20% linoleic, 3-6% palmitic
Sweet Almond oil - 67% oleic, 25% linoleic, 6% palmitic

As I have been using facial oils now almost exclusively for several years, I can say with confidence that I believe this theory of using linoleic acid-rich oils on oilier skin does work! At least for my skin, I’ve found that by using oils with lower oleic acid profiles, I’ve had much more success in keeping my skin less congested and less oily overall. It’s certainly been trial and error, especially when a lot of the oils that are being marketed to death right now are also often high in oleic acid (camellia and argan come to mind). My skin reacted VERY poorly to camellia oil, and argan, which is a more balanced oil, hasn’t been the miracle cure-all that it’s touted to be in my experience. I can use it sparingly when I feel a bit on the drier side (at this time of year its mostly after I’ve done a clay mask or something of that sort), but regularly use has not been very fruitful, as it leaves my skin feeling very oily and not as soft and smooth as other oils have done.

So far, I’ve had great success with several linoleic acid-rich oils, such as rosehip (probably my favourite to date, with a low comedogenicty rating) and currently organic grapeseed (another one with low comedogenicty), with which I’m using to oil cleanse my face at night. In fact, after I cleanse with the grapeseed oil, my skin is left feeling so comfortable that I’ve been skipping applying anything else at all, and I wake up with baby-soft skin. Seriously, it’s been absolutely amazing! (If you’re curious, I purchased the oil from Mountain Rose Herbs for $17.50US for an 8.5oz bottle) Eventually, I’d like to try something with hemp seed oil in it too (a drier-feeling oil with zero comedogenicity and a low oleic acid profile).

There are a number of other facial oils that do not have the average acid profiles of those above – these I like to think of as ‘speciality oils.’ A lot of these oils have exceptional qualities not found in the oils above, and my plan is to incorporate some of them into my routine as well to reap their unique benefits. Here are a few on my radar.

Other Acids:
Pomegranate seed oil - 78% punicic, 7% linoleic, 6% oleic (cell regenerating, helps repair sun damage, helps reduce collagen damage)
Castor oil - ricinoleic 88%, 4% oleic, 4% linoleic (alcohol soluble, humectant, analgesic)
Unrefined coconut oil - 49% lauric, 19% myristic, 9% palmitic, 8% caprylic, 7% capric, 7% oleic (anti-oxidant, helps with sun damaged skin, penetrates hair shaft)
Sea Buckthorn oil – 31% palmitic, 29% palmitoleic, 28% oleic, 7% linoleic  (very healing, anti-microbial)
Jojoba oil - 71% gadoleic, 14% erucic, 11% oleic (astringent, forms non-occlusive barrier on skin, easily penetrates)C
Meadowfoam Seed oil - 62% gadoleic, 18% bras sic, 13% erucic (similar to jojoba, forms non-occlusive barrier on skin, easily penetrates)
Palm Kernel oil – 48% lauric, 16% oleic, 16% myristic, 8% palmitic (anti-bacterial)

You can bet that I’ll be getting my hands on some pomegranate seed oil, stat! I currently use unrefined coconut oil as my sole body moisturizer and have been for well over a year, to great success. I have a facial oil now that contains jojoba oil as one of the main ingredients, and I’ve found it very satisfactory in it’s efficacy – not greasy and penetrates quickly.

After doing all this research, I have a good list of oils that I always keep a lookout for when making a purchase. Just to make this post EVEN LONGER, I’ve noted them below:

Face
- any time; non-comedogenic and low in oleic acid: rosehip, grape seed, hemp seed, kukui nut, safflower, jojoba, pomegranate
– night; med. comedogenicity, but low oleic acid or balanced acid profile: pumpkin, argan, cranberry, sesame, baobab, tamanu
day, winter; med. comedogenicity but very protective: baobab, pumpkin, tamanu

Body
– baobab (balanced, occlusive)
– tamanu (balanced, occlusive)
– avocado (moisturizing, occlusive)
– argan (balanced)
– sesame (balanced, occlusive)
– macadamia nut (moisturizing, healing, occlusive)
– olive (moisturizing, occlusive)
– palm fruit (occlusive, moisturizing)

Marketplace-palm-oil-largePhoto source

Final Word

With all these considerations in mind, learning the basics of these oils has made choosing skincare products much easier overall. If I see a product that sounds appealing, I scan the ingredient list first, and if the oil content is composed of a mix I think that will not benefit my skin type, I pass it over. It’s reduced my wish list considerably (which really needed to happen anyway), and I love feeling informed and confident in my purchases.

I know that using oils in skincare may not be for everyone, and that this post might not be as helpful to you. But my hope is that it IS useful for some, and I figured that since I literally have spent hours doing this research for myself, I may as well share it with you guys too! I really do always have beauty on the brain, even if I’m not posting about it as frequently at the moment.

Do you use facial oils? What do you look for when purchasing an oil or other skincare item?

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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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Super-Quick Empties Post (from February – oops!)

Ok….so I took photos of some empties in February and then didn’t post about them – oopsie! Let’s get to it, because I want to also post my most recent empties soon – I have a big goal for myself this year in terms of reducing so I want to start entirely fresh!

Skincare

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Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Hand Therapy – I’ve had this seriously for like, 10 years, sitting in a cupboard because it’s scented and ya’ll know I DON’T DO THAT. But then, I wanted to get rid of some stuff so I used it as a foot lotion. Perfect!

Shikai Borage Therapy Hand Cream – ARGH that awful, awful smell of FEET and BO and DEAD MEAT. Thankfully this hand cream wasn’t all that fabulous, because if it were the most amazing thing ever I might have to buy it again and suffer the odour just to have healed hands. THE GODS HAVE SPARED ME.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser – It was fine. Just like Cetaphil, really. Which is MEH for someone who wears makeup or who wants a more substantial second cleanser. Even if I wasn’t sporting a ‘green’ skincare routine now I probably wouldn’t get this again, unless my skin was going absolutely batshit (in that case, it’s pretty darn gentle and not too bad at all).

Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Conditioner – This was also just OK. I didn’t love the smell nor that formula. It was my first organic conditioner and on the whole, it would probably be nice for someone with thin, fine hair that doesn’t need much moisturization like my bone-dry hair does.

Organix Coconut Milk Hibiscus Nourishing Body Wash – This was my second bottle for a reason – it SMELLS SO GOOD. I won’t buy it again because of the ingredients (still has fake fragrance, and is not really ‘organic’ – shame on the name!) but if you don’t care about this stuff, I enjoyed it overall.

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Ellovi Butter – I’m going to be the dissenting voice here and state that I didn’t love this. My eczema did not like this at all, which is surprising given the clean ingredients, but I found I needed more moisture, and my eczema was consistently present while using this, so it didn’t really do much at all. Full-price at $26 (I had a $5 coupon), this would have needed to blow my socks off for a repurchase.

Haus of Gloi Aether Pumpkin Butter - I still have a soft spot for this! I stopped buying it, but I might order a few of the smaller sizes to use as hand cream and such – I really liked the smell and it moisturized well. I feel like the ingredients are pretty decent, and while not totally clean…I just like it anyway.

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Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser – Though I think this might be a bit heavy for me during the summer, I did like this cleanser and I think anyone with normal to dry skin should definitely try it out! So gentle and leaves skin feeling very comfortable.

Stark Grapefruit Cleanse & Hydrate Balm – Minus the little balls of shea butter in this, I liked this balm fairly well. It didn’t cause any irritation – but the scent being so delicious constantly had me on alert for something, so I never used it with ease. I wouldn’t repurchase, but mostly just for that reason! I like using things that I know without a doubt will never eff with my fickle skin.

Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil - Honestly, still one of the best oils I’ve tried to date (and I’ve tried a fair number by now!). Affordable, great for most skin types, absorbs quickly – there’s really not much else to say. I went through two bottles, which saying a lot since I usually try something different every time. I might even come back to this at some point!

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Eumovate Eczema & Dermatitis Cream – I picked up this cream while in NZ, and though it was AMAZING at clearing my the eczema I got while away (like, the best product I’ve ever used for that purpose), apparently my doc tells me this shit is kinda dangerous. At least, it’s not to be used on the regular. O-KAY, then. I powered through it while I was away, and had just a bit left which I used here and there afterward. I was kinda sad to see it go (I really DID work wonders), but it’s probably for the best.

XLash Eyelash EnhancerJust updated you guys on how much ASS this kicks when compared to another lash growth serum…I WILL buy this one again, mark my words. So, SO good.

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Holy smokes, the samples. Let’s do this by notables, and not-worth-it’s:

Notables:

- OLO Brand New Day – Nice, gentle enzyme scrub that does have some manual exfoliating qualities as well; leaves the skin nice and soft but not ravaged.

- Kahina Eye Serum – Second time with a sample of this bad boy, and I still like it quite a bit. Sinks in quickly and isn’t greasy at all. But sometimes with stuff like this I think – do I really need a separate serum for eye? Nah, probably not.

- Babor Calm & Relax Cream – lovely cream thats not too heavy for my normal-to-oily skin, and really does ‘calm & relax’! I plan to buy this one day, but it’s $76CAD so maybe when I have a little bit more disposable funds, hmm?

- Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus – Not ‘clean’ but I had it in my samples stash and I though I’d use it up. And really, it works. Highly recommend for non-‘green” skincare buffs.

- Lancome La Vie Est Belle (sample) – I still love this scent, and one day I’ll give in and buy a bottle. I just wish it was cheaper! 1oz (30mL) is $72CAD. Atrocious.

Not-worth-it’s:

- Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask – Honestly, the first sample I had I found this did NOTHING to my face, and the second time I tried it, I felt a little bit of irritation. I know a lot of people love it but I’m not one of ‘em.

- OLO Vitamin C Serum – Again, another ‘gem’ that gets raves, but I found it was a little heavy for my skin – it would be PERFECT for drier skin, and it gives the skin a glowy sheen (which turned a bit greasy on me).

- Vapour Illusionist Concealer - YIKES! All of these shades were so gray!! Even the darkest shade was ashy and awful. And the coverage as well was crappy. Probably if you’re super fair and have hardly anything to conceal, this would be great. Clearly not for me.

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The MAKEUPS:

Urban Decay Supercurl Curling Mascara – I’ve had a sample of this before, and my opinion is the same – great for giving lashes curl (makes mine even CURLIER) and for separation and length. One day I might even buy the full size.

MAC Pearlglide Intense Eye Liner in Petrol Blue – I wish I had this in an eyeshadow, or perhaps just a better eyeliner formula. This ALWAYS smudged on the outer corners no matter what I did, and I didn’t love the more glittery-sparkly quality of it either. It’s old and starting to separate from the sides of the pencil, so I decided to toss it. Whoop!

Clinique Cream Shaper in Egyptian – I loved this shade (blackened olive) and the liner didn’t budge, but it’s also a billion years old (or maybe 7) and was doing the same shrinking thing, so out it goes.

Clinique High Impact Mascara – how many samples of this have I used in my life!? Too many. Still a great formula but I’m kinda bored of it now after years and years.

Clinique Lash Power Mascara – Still digging this formula (it’s newer) and I have a backup in my stash. Gets all the bitty little lashes and doesn’t budge. Awesome.

Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash Extravagant - Hated. It. Tried to love it. Still Hated. It. TOSS.

YSL Touche Eclat 5.5 – I know Wayne Goss has showed us the error of our ways in using this pen, but I’d just rather have an illuminating wand do all that and not cost $50+. Next time I’ll buy the cheapy version if its not gonna make my dark circles disappear.

Benefit Watt’s Up - This was an OK cream highlighter, but I’ve found plenty others I like far more (Becca, to name one!). I was so glad when I finished this sample!

BAM. Empties #1 for 2014 DONE. #2 to come shortly!

Have you tried any of the products above? What are your thoughts?

 

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These are {13} of my favourite things (of 2013)

The New Year is almost upon us!  Even though the number 13 conjures up some unsettling feelings, 2013 was kind of a great year for me!  Though it started out a bit rough, with a lot of talking and support it turned around for me (a big thanks to all of you who sent kind words – and a care package! – my way!).  As always, the hardships make the good times feel that much sweeter.  I had the immense pleasure of standing in my friend’s most amazing wedding; I started dating a guy who makes me feel loved and truly content in a way I never have before; I’ve had the opportunity to work in several different positions at my work and found my niche; and I finally got to go to New York City, a long-standing dream of mine!  Not too shabby 2013, not too shabby :)

Over the month of December I’ve been pondering what beauty products in my collection really stand-out and get the most use.  Though I could probably add one or two more, the 13 items below really have rocked my world this year and have been very well-loved.  I would even go so far to say that I would repurchase most of them (and that’s saying something!).

Beauty Favorites of 2013

And so I present to you, my favourite (beauty) things of 2013:

1. Osha Mae Calendula Salve ($15CAD).  On it’s own, without any cortisone products, this can clear up the chronic eczema on my hands overnight – absolutely unheard of!  I first got hooked on a sample of M.J. Herbals Calendula Salve ($15CAD), but when I saw this very similar version at our local market I picked it up, as I always like to support local!

Osha Mae Calendula Salve

2. La Bella Figura Bio Active Healing Mask ($65CAD).  When LBF was introduced on the Clementine Fields website, they had a promotion for 15% off it’s pre-sale.  I ordered this mask as I was looking for something hydrating that could replace the uber-scented derma-e mask that I’d been using for a while (uncomfortably).  I didn’t know what to expect, and was completely bowled over once I tried it – its truly amazing!  It hydrates, it heals, it calms, it brightens…I honestly feel like it’s almost a one-stop shop as a mask, because my skin just looks SO DAMN GOOD after using it.  I attribute it’s awesomeness to it’s inclusion of raw manuka honey (it’s the first ingredient) which is noted for it’s therapeutic, antibacterial and nourishing qualities.  Other ingredients include kaolin clay, rosehip seed oil and calendula extract – be still my heart!  Oh, and it’s also BRIGHT PURPLE (due to the aronia berry).  I want to get my hands on the Purifying ($65CAD) version next.

La Bella Figura Bio Active Healing Mask

3. Lina Hanson Global Body Serum ($64CAD).  I really wish this didn’t cost so damn much because I just want to drown in this fantastically scented body oil for the rest of my life.  As it stands, I’m still trying to ration it, but I still fear it won’t last long as I keep using it every few days because it’s so addictive!

Lina Hanson Global Body Serum

Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille ($130US).  Yum.  And YUM.  You all know my penchant for vanilla-based scents, so my love for this probably comes as no surprise.  With notes like sandalwood, coconut milk, musk, vanilla and tonk a bean, it’s a gourmand fragrance-lovers paradise.  I was surprised however that it also contains notes like black liquorice (which I hate) and bitter almond – but I suspect they help round out the scent and keep it from being too OTT vanilla, which can get headache-inducing fast.  I have worn this and only this since purchasing it in NYC; the only gripe I have with the fragrance is that I don’t find it lasts on my skin – but I guess that just gives me an excuse to spritz, spritz, spritz!

Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille

Make Up For Ever Medium Highlighting Brush in #152 ($43CAD).  I didn’t quite understand just how much I would love this brush until I really put it into practice and had a while to play with it.  This brush is absolutely integral in my makeup application – aside from applying cream or powder highlighters like a dream, it also blends all formulas of blush or bronzer perfectly.  I don’t quite know how it does it, but somehow the fibers of the brush, its density, and it’s softness all contribute to a beautifully seamless complexion.  LOVE.

Make Up For Ever Brush #152

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal (full-size, $50CAD).  Though I only have a deluxe sample size of this product, you only need the slightest amount to get amazing, glowing skin, so it’s lasted me ages!  I usually pull this out when I am either going for a really ‘natural’ look that focuses on the skin, or if I’m looking to amp up the glow factor for an event.  Though the full-size would probably last me a lifetime – something that doesn’t appeal to a fickle beauty fiend like myself – I still think I’ll repurchase this when I DO run out, because it’s truly the most beautiful yet natural-looking illuminator I’ve ever used.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal (5)

Buxom Full-Bodied Lipsticks (full-size, $26CAD).  My love for this lipstick formula is still going strong.  I use the little sample bullets I’ve got more than any other lipstick I own, and I’m looking forward to the day when they run out – so I can justifiably buy some full sizes!  Just so, so creamy and comfortable to wear, with awesome full pigment.  For the price especially, you really can’t beat ‘em!

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Chanel Le Blush Creme de Chanel in Revelation ($43CAD).  I have been on a cream blush kick for a while now, as I find it just looks so darn natural, which fits my makeup M.O. these days.  The newish Blush Cremes dry to an almost powder-like finish, so they don’t have quite the same effect; nevertheless, this natural-looking apricot shade gets a lot of regular use because it goes with just about every makeup look I wear.  The only downside is that its a touch too light when my skin is tanned – but at the moment it’s just right :)

Chanel Blush Creme in Revelation

MAC Eyeshadow in All That Glitters (pro-pan, $12CAD).  Though I have lessened my use of this shadow recently due to switching up my makeup routine, this baby got some SERIOUS love for months after I bought it early last spring.  It gives my eyes the most subtle yet beautiful sparkle I’ve ever seen, and accompanies a bright lip look beautifully.  The hype is TRUE, you guys.  BUY IT.

MAC All That Glitters

Burberry Sheer Eyeshadow in Trench ($30CAD).  Even after owning this shadow for a year and a half, I’m still amazed at how perfectly it blends and melds on the brow bone to give the perfect level of highlight to the eye.  As I have a lot of shimmering shadows, it keeps them grounded without making me look too ‘show dancer,’ but also isn’t so flat that it looks dull.  On top of all that, it’s HELLA soft.

Burberry Sheer Eye Shadow in Trench (2)

Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof in Noir Intense ($29CAD).  I wasn’t big on black pencil eyeliner until I purchased this early in the year – I didn’t have one and thought I should at least have one in my arsenal.  I don’t use it as a traditional liner, but rather as a tightliner on my upper lash line.  It a nice, dark black that gives great definition when I’m doing a more natural look (see a theme here?) and doesn’t budge – in fact, it’s difficult to remove at the end of the day, so keep that in mind.  But as I find a long-wearing liner hard to come by, it’s far from a deal-breaker!

Chanel Eyeliner Noir Intense

MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack ($19CAD).  Black pencil liner may never have been my thing, but I can’t say the same for black cream/gel/liquid formulas, which have always been a staple in my arsenal.  When I ran out of my last black liquid liner, I decided it was about time I tried the cult fave Blacktrack.  It’s nice and dark, and its creamy texture makes creating a winged look (a regular go-to for me) incredibly easy.  I’m not convinced I would repurchase, only because there are several black cream/gel liners that I’d like to try, but it’s been a faithful staple for me since I purchased it.

MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack

XLash Eyelash Enhancer ($59).  You’re all probably sick and tired of hearing me trumpet on and on about my love for this lash serum, but seriously, just get some and then get back to me – I promise you’ll be converted!  I won’t repeat my gushings yet again, but I will say that I am actually planning to buy more of this when I run out (still haven’t!).  SO. GOOD.

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That just about rounds up my year in beauty in a nutshell!  I’ve tried many things, some duds, some *pretty good*, but this collection here have been raised to the level of HG status for me.  As I learn and grow I find my selections have become more and more curated to the point where I rarely have a miss (at least if they’re purchased by me) and I’ve grown quite fond of my collection, to which I’ve whittled and culled to include *almost* only products that are a pleasure to use.  I still have a bit of work to do (which I plan on laying out for you in a future post), but overall I’m quite pleased and have passed the ‘GAH! My-stash-is-overwhelming-OMG-the-anxiety!‘ stage that I was in for a long time since starting the blog.  Which I deem a HUGE success :)

So say farewell to 2013 and welcome in the New Year with a bang!  I appreciate each and every reader of my little beauty haven, whether you’ve been with me or a while, or stumbled upon my ramblings by accident.  You’re the only reason I keep on writing!  I wish all of you a very excellent finale to the year soon past and hope that the very best is yet to come in 2014!!!  Let’s make it all sorts of great, yea? :D

happy-new-year-2014-wishes-2880x1800Image credit: ilovehdwallpapers.com

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