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G.M. Collin Bota-Peptide Concentrate & Eye Contour

OMG. I’m still here. I know, it’s been ages! I picked up a few things today from Sephora in light of the 15% discount and it got me in the mood to post. Let’s do this!

Back at the end of November, I showed you guys my current skincare routine and mentioned a handful of products I had been trying from G.M. Collin. At that point, I gave you a quick overview of their Bota-Peptide Eye Contour, but I hadn’t yet tried the Bota-Peptide Concentrate. Today I wanted to give you a more in-depth review of both of these items since I’m long overdue!

GM Collin Bota Peptide

First, a quick primer on peptides and why they’re important in the fight against aging skin. Peptides are amino acids that help bind moisture to the skin and help the skin to repair itself. More importantly, peptides applied topically to the skin encourage collagen production, which helps reverse some of the natural breakdown of collagen we experience over time (from age and external factors like sun and stress). Since collagen is what keeps our skin supple-looking and youthful, it’s a great idea to regularly use a product that boosts it’s production.

OK. So, the name ‘Bota-Peptide’ in both the eye treatment and serum is probably an indication we’re on the right track, yes? And indeed, both the Eye Contour and Concentrate are packed with a host of different peptides to battle the appearance of expression lines and wrinkles; the Eye Contour also is designed to reduce dark circles.

The Eye Contour ($96CAD) is a light eye serum that is somewhat hydrating as well (likely due to the Sodium Hyaluronate), as I can get away without any additional eye cream after using this (though note my undereye area isn’t particularly dry). Now that I’ve been using this daily for over 4 months (and wow, I just realized how long this has lasted!!!), I can confidently say that it has reduced any fine lines I’ve started to develop under my eyes – the area just looks so much smoother. I don’t know if my dark circles are reduced – I mean, they’re REALLY DARK so I have a long way to improvement – but the ingredient list boasts some badass circle-lightening ingredients (such as Vitamin K, caffeine and Haloxyl) that make me think they probably are lessened and I just haven’t been paying attention (oops).

Ingredients: Water, Phytonadione (Vitamin K), Phospholipids, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Arachidyl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Acetyl Hexapeptide-3, Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone, Steareth-20, Dipeptide-2, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, PEG-6 Isostearate, Hesperetin Laurate, N-Hydroxysuccinimide, Chrysin, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Polysorbate-20, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3, Squalane (Vegetal), Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat Germ) Oil, Hydrolyzed Hibiscus Esculentus Extract, Dextrin, Soybean (Glycine Soya), Caffeine, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Octyldodecanol, Irvingia Gabonensis Kernel (Wild Mango) Butter, Hydrogenated Cocoglycerides, Ethylhexylglycerin, Dimethicone, Propylene Glycol, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Chlorphenesin, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Disodium EDTA, Triethanolamine, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A).

GM Collin Bota PeptideTop to bottom: G.M. Collin Eye Contour and Concentrate

The Concentrate ($132CAD) has a very similar texture to the Eye Contour, which feels neither silicone-y nor *too* thin, and has a clean scent that I don’t even really register when using (which is my preference). I use this in the evening and apply a facial oil over top, though in the summer I could probably get away with using it on it’s own as it seems to provide a very light veil of moisture (dry skins will still need a moisturizer though). It dispenses easily from an airless pump mechanism; generally I use 2 pumps and this covers my face and neck sufficiently. As I rotate my skincare, alternating with a retinoid product, I use this every 2nd evening, and I always notice in the morning how soft and smooth my skin feels after using this. As I have few wrinkles I didn’t notice any drastic results, but I will say that the expression lines in my forehead have decreased since using this, and I honestly just feel like my skin looks more youthful.

Ingredients: Water, Acetyl Hexapeptide-3, Glucose, Xanthan Gum, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Cyclomethicone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Extract, Glycerin, Carbomer, Polysorbate-20, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Butylene Glycol, Laureth-3, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Acetyl Di-Peptide-1, Cetyl Ester, Bambusa Vulgaris Extract, Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract, Glucosamine Hcl, Saccharomyces/Xylinum Black Tea Ferment, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Extract, Polydodecanamideaminium Triazadiphenylethylene Sulfonate, Polyvinylalcohol Crosspolymer, Dimethicone Cosspolymer, Thermus Thermophillis Ferment, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Polyacrylamide, C13-C14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Dimethiconol, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Sodium Hydroxide, Ammonium Acrylate-Acrylamide Copolymer, Polyisobutene, Fragrance, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil. 

One other note: the PR person who sent this to me cautioned that as I have sensitive skin around my mouth, I might not want to use this in that area as it’s a powerful treatment product – however, after using it for the past several months, I’ve starting using it in that area anyway and have had absolutely no issues.

GM Collin Bota Peptide

The final verdict? I really, really like these two products! I’m surprised at how much so. Though it pains me and my wallet, I actually think I’ll pick both of these up again when I run out – I just feel like they proof is in the pudding, both in my results and in the stellar ingredient lists. I mean, who doesn’t want their skin to look like this again?:

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Have you tried any G.M. Collin products? Do you use any peptide-based products?

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OPI New Orleans Spring | Summer 2016 Collection – and something a little different

Well hello to those of you who still stop by my blog! It’s been quite a while, no? It’s true that a lot has gone on in the past month (Elena started at a day home and I returned back to work – eek!) but I’ve had opportunity to post, I just haven’t been feeling like it. I’m pretty much over READING beauty blogs let alone write one! It’s just the same old, you know? I’m so not interested in reading/writing reviews, and as I’m being particularly restrictive with my purchases (as usual, in an effort to reduce/streamline), I’m not too keen on reading about the new NBT (Next Big Thing) because that just creates WANT feelings and that’s not going to help my cause. But there’s always this desire to write, and to connect with people – and I’m still obsessed with beauty, as always – so even though I’m not feeling like doing the usual ‘thang’ I have been thinking a lot about writing *something*, so here I am:)

I realized a few weeks ago that I haven’t given you guys any details on our upcoming wedding (which will be in September!). So I thought maybe I’d give you an update on that and maybe add in an update about Elena as well because hey, she’s cute! Since I happen to have the new Spring/Summer collection from OPI, the theme of which is New Orleans, I figured I’d throw in some swatches of the shades for some visual interest and to kill two birds with one stone. Multitasking: it’s the way to go!

*Note: If you have any questions about a particular shade, such as it’s formula or on possible comparisons, let me know! I will gladly accommodate:)

OPI Take a Right on Bourbon swatchOPI Take a Right on Bourbon

Planning a wedding while on maternity leave was quite fortuitous, because I was able to get all my vendors in place without any hassle – phone calls and day meetings were a cinch, so I was able to methodically research (which, admittedly, aside from the photographer, was minimal – I am SO not a bridezilla!) and meet with each service provider to ensure it was a good fit. Also, because I started securing people early (we set the wedding date 15 months in advance from when we got engaged), I had no issues getting each vendor that I wanted, so YAY!

OPI Let Me Bayou a Drink swatchOPI Let Me Bayou a Drinkso pretty!

In August, I went wedding dress shopping with my mom, Elena and 2 of my bridesmaids (the 3rd lives in Ottawa). I though I’d found the dress at a popular shop in the valley called Tatum’s (it seems to be where the majority of my friends have purchased their dresses), but then I truly found THE dress when we spent the better part of the afternoon at Chester & Felicity, a bridal shop here in Halifax. I can’t go into detail – I want it to be a surprise! – but OMG guys. THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DRESS EVER!!!! I knew it when I first tried it on, but of course it was the most expensive dress of all of them so I held off. I came back a 2nd time with my mother and aunt to try it on again, and was instantly smitten all over again. My aunt, being like a 2nd mother to me my whole life, was gracious enough to offer to pay, so even though it’s still beyond what I think is reasonable to pay for a dress you’ll only wear once, I just had to have it. Seriously, just WAIT until you see this baby. SO. DAMN. AMAZING.

OPI Suzi Nails New Orleans swatchOPI Suzi Nails New Orleans

Of course, once the dress was picked, it was time to make sure my bridesmaids looked fabulous too! I did a wedding makeup in December, and the bridesmaid dresses were STUNNING and totally unlike your usual bridesmaid offerings. When I asked where they were from, I was told David’s Bridal, so that’s where we decided to look. My maid of honour had twins in October, so of course we waited a bit before going dress shopping, but by January she was (already!) looking great and we wanted to make sure the dresses were ordered in plenty time, so off we went to David’s to look at the selection. While they had a lot of your standard bridesmaid dresses, they also had several that were much more sophisticated and stylish, and we found the perfect choice – a long, Grecian-style one-shoulder dress with a defined waist and a sultry yet tasteful slit up the side. I really wanted the girls to have different color dresses, mimicking the colors of the sunset, and we lucked out – the dress comes in gorgeous shades of fuchsia, berry and plum. SO excited – they are going to look H.O.T.!

OPI Humidi-Tea swatchOPI Humidi-Tea

One of the last vendors I hired was the florist – we just met at the end of February. The company, Barefoot Blooms, is a florist and flower farm that embraces organic and sustainable farming practices, with flowers and greenery coming from their own garden and greenhouse. I really like the idea of utilizing local flora, being someone who prefers organic and local where possible anyway, so this seemed like the perfect fit. My visual for the bouquets is unstructured and a bit wild, so I think this also works with the kind of arrangements they specialize in. The reliance on local flowers also mean that the bouquets and arrangements won’t be finalized till close to the wedding, because our unpredictable weather means that the season for a certain type of flower may be affected. So, aside from the sole flower I know I want (dahlias), the rest is a bit up to chance! Which I kind of like (because I’m haphazard like that).

OPI Crawfishin' for a Compliment swatchOPI Crawfishin’ for a Compliment

So, thus far, stress levels have been very low while planning the wedding. I’ve only recently felt a bit of pressure to get our invites out – with 6 months to go, according to etiquette I actually have plenty of time, but since we didn’t send Save the Dates, I feel like sending the invites earlier is appropriate. We’ve opted to utilize a wedding website to track RSVPs, so I had to put in some effort to get that set up (finding photos of Ryan and me is HARD! Since he’s away 2/3rd of the year, we have hardly any to account for our years together). But finally I think it’s ready to go, so once we get the last of our addresses, we can move forward and send the invites out! THEN I think things will really start to ramp up.

OPI Got Myself into a Jam-balaya swatchOPI Got Myself into a Jam-balaya – love this shade!

Wait! There is one thing I’ve been dropping the ball on that it’s kind of important – the HONEYMOON! We are planning to go to Iceland for the ‘moon, right after the wedding, but aside from knowing the location I haven’t done much to plan it. This needs to get done! Once I get the invites out this will be at the top of the to do list:)

OPI She's a Bad Muffuletta! swatchOPI She’s a Bad Muffuletta! Gorg. See it here with matching lips!

On the Elena front: she’s learning new things all the time and it’s just so fun to watch:) She’s not walking yet, but she’s doing a lot of standing up and peering over the coffee table at me or pulling herself up to cling to my legs lol.

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I’m in no panic, she already leaves a path of destruction wherever she goes, and I know that’ll only increase tenfold once she’s walking! I didn’t walk till 15 months myself so I can’t judge anyway. Ryan, on the other hand, walked at 9 months (!) – must have been much more motivated that Elena and me haha.

OPI Spare Me a French Quarter? swatchOPI Spare Me a French Quarter? 

As I mentioned, I started back to work, on March 1st. I wasn’t feeling stressed out about the return, but I wasn’t sure what to expect once I got back and how I’d feel. Perhaps because of that, it’s ended up being totally fine! The transition couldn’t have been easier – I started a new (acting) assignment right away, so I’ve been busy learning the ropes, and it’s been really nice to see all the old faces. I really like my colleagues and I know most of the people in our building since, as you know, I’m kind of a social butterfly, so it’s been nice to be back. Ryan happened to be home from work the first week I was back too, so that helped – he drove me to and from work and though I tried to handle the routine with Elena on my own (since I have to do it when he’s away), it was helpful in case I needed just a bit of assistance for those first few days.

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I miss Elena and spending our days together, but it just makes the time we DO have that much more precious. She’s adapted to the new routine (she goes to a day home) pretty well too, so that helps. And I think it’s a great opportunity for her to spend time around other babies/toddlers and gain a bit of independence. We have to let them grow up, even if we don’t want to sometimes!

OPI I Manicure for Beads swatchOPI I Manicure for Beads – sorry, I slept on this mani (as I wore it for a few days); the color is actually really pretty!

She’s had a doozy of a cold this week (classic kid who goes to day care), so it’s been a bit of a tiring week (Ryan went back to work Wednesday am), but she’s finally starting to get better and seem like herself again. It wasn’t all bad though – I got to get in some major snuggles, which I miss a lot!

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This kind of thing happened all the time when she was much younger, but after about 6-7 months she just always slept better in her crib. While I’m thankful for that overall, I do still wish she napped on me here and there – it’s one of my favourite things to do:)

OPI Show Us Your Tips! swatchOPI Show Us Your Tips! – beautiful shade, but needs so many coats!

I’m not sure if you can tell in the previous photos or not, but Elena is still small – like, less than 14lbs small. She was truckin’ right along and gaining weight for quite awhile, but in the fall it slowed down to almost nothing, and she’s been hovering between the 13-15lb mark for months now.

IMG_5319That’s Elena with my friend’s 4 month old baby (!!), who is essentially the same size.

I try not to stress about it too much, because she seems like a very happy, healthy baby, and she has a great appetite, but of course as a mom you can’t help but worry a bit. So we’re seeing a paediatrician on April 1st to get her checked out to make sure there isn’t anything going on. Apparently there is a term they use for babies like Elena, called ‘Failure to Thrive’ which just means they aren’t growing as fast as your typical baby. A woman from work said her daughter (who is now 25) was only 18lbs when she was 2 years old, and I think that’ll be Elena – she’s just wee. That’s all (I hope) there is to it. It does make her extra cute!

OPI Rich Girls & Po-Boys swatchOPI Rich Girls & Po-Boys – another fave!

I think that’s the update on Elena in a nutshell – I mean she learns a new skill what feels like every day, but overall nothing major has happened lately (like learning to walk or starting to really talk). She’s just a joy, really, and I am just trying to be present with her every day and take it all in because it goes by so fast!

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I mean c’mon – how cute is this kid!!?!

OPI I'm Sooo Swamped! swatchOPI I’m Sooo Swamped!

So there you have it – a bit of a life update plus a bit of polish fun! I’ve been pretty impressed with the OPI collections lately, I will say – there’s always a few shades I end up loving, and the formula is often on point, with a lot of cream shades being that creme-jelly hybrid that is such a pleasure to apply and wear. It makes it hard to keep my polish collection in check – though I have to tell you that I managed to get the number down to 50 this week!!! I’m quite impressed with myself, especially considering that every few months I receive another 24+ bottles from OPI that I have to weed through. You should SEE the giveaway pile!

So now – what’s new with everyone else!?

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Two more hits from Kypris Beauty: the Antioxidant Dew & the Beauty Elixir III

Several months ago, the lovely Chase Polan and her team sent along 2 products from her outstanding organic skincare line Kypris as a gift for me to enjoy. I was beyond excited to try more products from the brand, as I’d already fallen in love with the retinol alternative, Moonlight Catalyst (review here) and the newest addition to the family, the Body Elixir: Inflorescence (review here). However, I had skincare coming out of my ears at that point, and I didn’t want to open the bottles until I was ready to use them. In December, I finally had an ‘opening’ in my morning skincare routine, so I cracked open the Antioxidant Dew eagerly. Then, this month after finishing up another oil, I started applying the Beauty Elixir III in the evening as my final step, so now can talk about these products and share with you my experiences!

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The Antioxidant Dew ($67US for 47mL) is an extremely lightweight, milky serum that is designed to restore strength, vitality and radiance to skin. As the name suggests, it’s loaded with antioxidants such as ferulic acid to fight free radicals, while also soothing inflammation and hydrating the skin.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

There are many things to love about this serum: the beautifully light texture (SO perfect for layering!); how supple, calm and healthy my skin looks after use; how incredibly hydrated my skin feels with absolutely NO greasiness whatsoever. Though I generally use this sandwiched between a Vitamin C serum and a sunscreen, I’ve used alone on occasion and have felt no need for an additional layer of moisture. I also enjoy that this is free of essential oils so that all skins, reactive or otherwise, can use it without worry. Below is the ingredient list:

Water/Aqua, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Xylitylglucoside, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Algae, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Phospholipids, Phragmites Communis (Reed) Extract, Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey) Leaf Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Poria Cocos Extract, Xylitol, Anhydroxylitol, Waltheria Indica Leaf Extract, Panthenol, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Calophyllum Inophylum (Tamanu) Seed Oil, Lecithin, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Superoxide Dismutase, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Mannitol, Dextrin, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Levulinate, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Gluconate, Xanthan Gum.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

I think the biggest selling point for me is that I can wear this serum in the day – as many organic treatment products are oil-heavy, I find they can leave my skin a touch too shiny (though I suspect for the more dry-skinned out there that this isn’t a problem). I love that I can pair this with other products without feeling weighed down or suffocated. So beautiful!

Kypris Beauty Elixir III

The Beauty Elixir III – Prismatic Array ($150US for 47mL) is a face oil that is filled with actives like CoQ10 (antioxidant) and Vitamin C ester (boosts collagen), as well as phytonutrients and essential fatty acids, all without essential oils to accommodate especially sensitive complexions (like mine!). It’s designed to help repair signs of environmental stressors as well as softening, nourishing and moisturizing skin so it looks more luminous.

This oil is extremely nourishing – you can tell as soon as you press it into the skin that you’re getting a treat. It’s rich amber color gives it away, anyway! This is packed with awesome oils like grape seed, baobab, kukui nut, tamanu, pumpkin seed and prickly pear (aka barbary fig seed), as well as black raspberry seed and cranberry seed. So much goodness! I apply this at night as my last step over a peptide serum and it gives me the best glow. In the morning, I wake up with plump-looking, soft skin that doesn’t feel greasy (though I do avoid using this around my nose where I get the most oily). While I love oils, I don’t always find I notice their effects in the same way as a serum – the biggest factors in whether or not I will repurchase one are: Does it irritate my skin? (Nope.)  Does it have long-lasting hydration? (Yep.)  If it’s a blend, does it contain many of my favourite skincare oils? (Yep!). Check, check and CHECK.

Even though there are no essential oils in this mixture, I also love the way it smells! Like the best blend of natural oils with a hint of sweetness. It’s not your typical ‘earthy’ scent; you know, the kind that isn’t offensive exactly but it smells like dirt and trees and herbs? This is nothing like that – maybe it’s the inclusion of coconut oil. Which, while we’re on the topic, I was very nervous about (it’s why I hadn’t ordered this myself previously), but this serum hasn’t been a problem for my skin in the least, happily!

Les ingrédients:

Helianthus annuus (Sunflower Seed) Oil, Cocos nucifera (Virgin Coconut) Oil, Vitis vinifera (Grape Seed) Oil, Adansonia digitata (baobab) Oil, Aleurites moloccans (Kukui) Oil, Calophyllum inophyllum (Tamanu) Oil, Curcubita pepo (Pumpkin Seed) Oil, Ubiquinone (CoQ10), Opuntia engelmannii (Prickly Pear Seed) Oil, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Extract, Hippophae rhamonides (Seabuckthorn Bearry) Extract, Punica granatum (Pomegranate Seed) Extract, Rubus occidentalis (Black Raspberry Seed) Oil, Vaccinium macrocarpon (Cranberry Seed) Oil, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate (From Licorice), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C Ester), Non- GMO Mixed Tocopherols.

Kypris Beauty Elixir III

Clearly, I need to add these 2 fantastic products to my regular roster. There are just so many things to like about them, and about Kypris in general – Chase seems to be one of the loveliest people (she always sends hand-written, personalized notes with her packages); they consistently use one of my favourite oils, tamanu, in their formulations; and I appreciate their ethos on so many levels (some of which I talked about here). And, a newly important factor for me is that they’re cruelty free!

Though I do try and avoid essential oils when I can, the other 2 Beauty Elixirs (versions I & II) sound so appealing; I’ve never really tried any products where rose oil was a predominant feature (as it is in the Beauty Elixir I) so I think that’s next on my list! I will mention that though the Elixirs feel a bit cost prohibitive (upwards of $150US), you do get more bang for your buck as general oil blends are only 30mL – and I just discovered that they offer seasonal pairings on the site which give you a discounted price (for example, right now you can get the full sizes of the Beauty Elixir I and the Antioxidant Dew for $265US, which would normally cost you $292US). And recently I heard a tip from Sugar Mamma that resonated with me – if you truly love something, you won’t mind paying full price. I have a habit of sometimes trying to find alternatives for items that I love, and always feeling dissatisfied (and sometimes spending more in the process!). Don’t do it! Of course, you don’t know if you love something before trying it, so Kypris kindly offers ‘mini’ sizes of their products for a fraction of the price:)

Have you tried Kypris products before? 

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OPI Hello Kitty collection

OPI Hello Kitty

Ok. It’s 9:01pm and I try to end my screen time at 9, but I am determined to get a post up so I’m going to make this snappy! [Edit: I went to bed before this was finished…what’s a couple more hours?] I received the Hello Kitty collection from OPI last week and it’s quite good! I know absolutely NOTHING about Hello Kitty and it’s popularity (not really into cutesy stuff as a general rule) but almost all of the polishes in this collection have a great formula and the shades are on point for spring. I’m not a fan of the cheap white ‘Hello Kitty’ print labels they’ve stuck over the regular OPI bottle tops, but it’s not a deal breaker either.

I’ve gotten all fancy today and thrown in some quick comparisons for you guys as well as the swatches. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Let’s Be Friends! & Charmmy & Sugar

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Let’s Be Friends! is a pale lilac-pink. The first coat was patchy and I worried it would be a typical pastel cream, but by the second coat it evened out beautifully – with a little care you could get away with 2 coats (I used 3 as I slept on it before taking these photos, oops). In the end this is a lovely color with a glossy finish. I wore Charmmy & Sugar (a sheer lilac shimmer with violet, blue and silver glitter and a slight greenish duo chrome) on my index finger alone (3 coats) and over Let’s Be Friends (ring finger), because let’s get real, no one wants to remove more glitter polish than necessary. It’s a great layering shade, though I prefer the ethereal look it gives on it’s own. I kind of wish this had no glitter as I love the shimmering base color but the glitter takes away from it IMO. Fairly smooth glitter and easy to apply.

OPI Beyond the Pale Pink vs Let's Be Friends! vs Patience Pays Off swatch comparisonOPI Beyond the Pale Pink, Let’s Be Friends!, OPI Patience Pays Off

OPI Charmmy & Sugar vs Nicole DC Lover swatch comparisonOPI Charmmy & Sugar, Nicole for OPI DC Lover

Small + Cute =❤

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A light pink cream. I love this color, but the formula is a PITA – the first coat was very streaky, the second a bit better, but it really requires 3 coats (or a very steady hand) if you want it to look flawless.  A shame as this was one of my fave shades of the bunch! The formula is also a bit on the thicker side to give yourself time for it to dry (aka not before bed). Due to all the coats required and the thick formula I found this chipped within days.

OPI Suzi Shops & Island Hops vs Small + Cute = <3 vs RBL Oh Slap! swatch comparisonOPI Suzi Shops & Island Hops, Small + Cute = <3, RBL Oh Slap! 

Look at My Bow!

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A soft orchid pink cream. This only needed 2 coats to opacity but its not 100% perfect – it’s a touch streaky. Beautiful color but not really for me, I think it’s a bit too saturated or something. I prefer the more muted look of Chanel Sweet Lilac (below).

OPI Look at My Bow! vs Chanel Sweet Lilac swatch comparisonOPI Look at My Bow!, Chanel Sweet Lilac

Super Cute in Pink & Starry-Eyed for Dear Daniel

OPI Starry-Eyed for Dear Daniel & Super Cute in Pink swatches

Again I paired up to avoid glitter removal. Super Cute in Pink is a medium-deep orchid crelly (creme/jelly formula). Gorgeous! You can see very slight VNL with two coats but I like it this way to preserve it’s squishy-ness. This is a perfect spring shade and was effortless to apply. Starry-Eyed for Dear Daniel is a semi-sheer orchid shimmer with violet, pink, blue and silver micro glitter. It required 3 coats to opacity on the index finger (worn alone) and 2 layered (ring finger). It’s grittier to the touch than ‘Charmmy’ but not terribly so. While I liked ‘Charmmy’ on it’s own, I prefered ‘Starry-Eyed’ layered, as it gives it more depth and punch in color.

IMG_3763Essie Splash of Grenadine, OPI Super Cute in Pink, Mark Cupcake

Zoya Kissy vs OPI Starry-Eyed for Daniel swatch comparisonZoya Kissy, OPI Starry-Eyed for Dear Daniel

Kitty White

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A sheer white shimmer. Sorry for the change in lighting, I found this needed sunlight to show off it’s pearlescent quality. These kind of shades aren’t really my bag, though it is pretty. Not much to say about this one, depending on your nail length you could get away with 2 coats (or if you don’t mind VNL) as I’ve done here. I’d think 3 would still not have it entirely opaque though.

OPI Chiffon My Mind vs Go to Grayt Lengths vs Kitty White vs Make Light of the Situation swatch comparisonOPI Chiffon My Mind, OPI Go to Grayt Lengths, OPI Kitty White, OPI Make Light of the Situation

Though ‘Grayt Lengths‘ looks a lot more gray than ‘Kitty White’, when held up to the light they’re VERY similar:

IMG_3741OPI Go to Grayt Lengths, OPI Kitty White

Never Have Too Mani Friends

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I’m not much of a black nail polish wearer except for layering purposes, but this is a great black nonetheless – another crelly finish, super shiny, super easy to apply (all of the crelly-type shades in this collection are a dream to apply). This is just 2 coats. It would be a great choice for anyone in the market for a black polish (or anyone who loves a good black polish).

a-England Camelot vs OPI Never Have to Mani Friends swatch comparisona-England Camelot, OPI Never Have Too Mani Friends

My Pal Joey

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A saturated cobalt blue. It’s not as in-your-face as some other cobalt shades (think YSL Bleu Majorelle, Nails Inc Baker St.) – it’s a bit lighter and because of the crelly texture it’s not so bold in finish. I really like this – it’s playful and eye-catching, and these textures are seriously out of this world. 2 coats for opacity (no VNL in sight here). LOVE!

IMG_3754Sally Hansen Pacific Blue, YSL Bleu Majorelle, OPI My Pal Joey, OPI Wild Blue Yonder

5 Apples Tall

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Some of these shade names I don’t get at all…ANYWAY, this is a gorgeous coral red that has a crelly finish but is fairly pigmented – if you were in a serious rush you could damn near get away with 1 coat (though I prefer the density of 2, as usual). Love the look of this! I don’t always like reds on me but this looks really flattering on my skintone (I think). So easy to apply with zero issues. It’s extremely close in color to Essie ‘Come Here!’ and I like the formula better, so I’ll be swapping this in for that!

*something* vs OPI 5 Apples Tall vs Love is In My Cards swatch comparisonEssie Come Here!, OPI 5 Apples Tall, OPI Love is In My Cards 

Spoken from the Heart

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A lovely saturated warm pink. I love this one as well! Again, it has that crelly texture though it’s not as pigmented as ‘5 Apples’ so I’d suggest 2 coats for sure. Even then it gives a hint of VNL but as mentioned I don’t mind that with formulas like this, the slight translucency is what gives it that squishy finish. Again, super shiny on it’s own and a cinch to apply.

Lippmann Daytripper vs OPI Spoken from the Heart vs butter London Snog swatch comparisonLippmann Daytripper, OPI Spoken from the Heart, butter London Snog

My Twim Mimmy 

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Again, WTF with the names? Anyway, this is a saturated medium yellow, very primary color-stuff (this along with the blue and red are like the most true representations of primary colors I’ve ever seen in a polish collection together). This doesn’t have the crelly texture (which would probably be a feat with yellow anyway since they’re the most annoying polish shades to work with) and is a touch streaky (I think 3 coats probably would be best so it looks flawless, but I was lazy and did 2), but as far as yellows go it’s actually not half bad. I don’t love it on my skintone especially as it’s so dense in color, but it might look better when I’m tanned.

OPI My Twin Mimmy vs Bee Mine Forever swatch comparisonOPI My Twin Mimmy, Bee Mine Forever

Overall, I thought this collection was really well-done and even not knowing a lick about Hello Kitty, I could enjoy all the shades. These are all without base coat as well and the majority are SO SHINY! Pretty, pretty, pretty.

What are your thoughts about this collection / about Hello Kitty? What is the DEAL?

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Arbonne’s Smoothed Over Lipstick is making me swoon!

I have to admit, I have a bit of a bias when it comes to Arbonne…my experiences with the Associates who work for the brand has been nothing but ABSOLUTE BOMBARDMENT – any of my friends who have started selling Arbonne have been VERY intense about it, and truth be told the pyramid scheme feels a little cult-y to me. But hey, the perks must be rockin’ for people to go from laid back and chill to total pushers! So, maybe I’m just missing out?O_o

Arbonne Smoothed Over Lipstick

In any case, it’s kind of a conflict for me because I have tried a handful of things from the line and I’ve pretty much enjoyed them all. I think the two lippies I have to show you today come out on absolute TOP though; these are AMAZEBALLS, guys! Let me break it down for ya:

Arbonne’s Smoothed Over Lipstick ($34CAD) is an über creamy formula with a satin-glossy finish, that soothes and moisturizes the lips with fruit extracts and helps lips look more plump and smooth. I know matte lips are still pretty trendy, but I’ve realized in the past few weeks that my lips don’t really love mattes – and not in the way you’d think. I mean, my lips can be dry, yes, so matte lipsticks don’t always feel (or look) so glorious over my flake-prone lips. But this winter season my lips have actually been more hydrated than usual, and yet some matte lipsticks still look a little craptacular. It’s all the lines, dudes! Though I have full lips, I never realized how many lines they have until recently, which is why certain matte lipsticks make my lips look super old😥  I remember Kate talking about this and I couldn’t figure out what the heck she meant – I GET IT NOW, KATE, will you come back and blog again plz? ~sigh~

Anyway, since realizing this I’ve been keeping clear of the Offending Lipsticks (those that make my lips look crypt-like), and trying to wear ones that minimize the cragginess. These two Smoothed Over shades, Guava (a bright coral) and Currant (a bold red), couldn’t be more perfect in helping me achieve a better looking pout. Not only do they keep the lines at bay, but HOLY HECK these feel fantabulous! These are so comfortable and hydrating and lovely to wear, they truly feel like the best lip balm you’ve ever tried – except they’re a LIPSTICK! KA-BOOM. I’m 110% sold

Arbonne Smoothed Over Lipstick Arbonne Smoothed Over Lipstick

Though I don’t wear red lipstick too often (for no good reason – I LOVE a red lip!), Currant might change that because it just ticks all the boxes: fabulous color (a true red I think would look great on everyone), flawless formula, and the shape of the bullet makes it really easy to draw on the perfect lip without the need for a brush (at least, until the tip is worn down some). I have two shots below, both in different lighting – the sun was setting as I was taking these photos – and you can see that it would look great in both the summer (the first shot with the sun still above the horizon) and winter (once the sun had set). GOR-GE-OUS.

Arbonne Smoothed Over Lipstick  in Currant Arbonne Smoothed Over Lipstick  in Currant

The second shade, Guava, is still lovely, though perhaps a hint too bright for my deeper skintone – or perhaps, just for this time of year when my skin is more sallow. Nevertheless, I think this is a lovely spring shade and if you’re into corals – you NEED this in your life.

Arbonne Smoothed Over Lipstick in Guava

I have to tell you guys, I *just* received these lipsticks today and the moment I put them on I just had to write a post about them ASAP. I can’t get over how amazing this formula is, easily the nicest I’ve ever tried. Considering Givenchy Le Rouge (till now probably the nicest lipstick formula I’ve used) are $40 a pop, I feel like the Smoothed Over lippies are a steal for how great they are. Oh, and did I mentioned they smell delicious!? I can’t pick out the scent is but YUM – it’s some kind of fruity smell that isn’t overpowering, sickly or chemical-like. SO good.

Smoothed Over Lipsticks are vegan and formulated without gluten or parabens. BAM!

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OPI Starlight collection for Holiday 2015, Part III: The reds and the rest

OK! So let’s wrap up this up finally, shall we? Way to drag out a review, huh? At least I’m getting it done before the years’ end:) It only took me almost a month! (which, sadly, I feel kind of proud of lol…goes to show you just how free time I have!) I apologize for not getting the festive reds to you before Christmas – but red is the kind of color you can wear any time of year, really, so I guess it’s not that bad.

OPI Starlight Collection

Alternately, the other 3 polishes I’m going to show you are…well here, first let me show you what they look like in the bottles:

OPI Starlight collection

The look fairly innocuous, no? Sparkling, shimmering, glittering polishes for the holidays – perfect, right? But IRL, they’re just…no. Trust. You are NOT missing out on anything with those three, which is why I saved them for last. Here, lemme show you them first so you can feel reassured:

Is This Star Taken?

OPI Is This Star Taken? swatch

Of the three, this one is the least offensive – prismatic bar glitter in a silvery-pewter base. This one *could* be so cool but it still falls flat somehow. Maybe the base color needs to be more sheer? I took the swatch on an angle to show you the prismatic effect but for the most part it’s lost when looking at the nail directly. ~sad face~ It’s easy enough to apply though, 2 coats and you’re done.

Comet Closer

OPI Comet Closer swatch

This has a similar pewter-silver base but heavier on the silver, and I don’t like it as much on my skintone. Besides that, it contains gold micro glitter that leaves it just looking rough and bumpy, and again the effect is lost anyway in the opaque base. Overall BLAH.

By the Light of the Moon

OPI By the Light of the Moon swatch

This is the worst offender! Silver glitter chunks of varying size floating around in an opaque base – I think OPI is trying to make this a ‘thing’ but honestly, it’s just horrid. Remember Pineapples Have Peelings Too? BLECH. I just can’t with these, they make me angry just looking at them!

Ok, so those3 are a no-go…but the next 3 are quite nice, so this post isn’t a total waste! Let’s check them out:

Love is in My Cards

OPI Love is in My Cards swatch

Though I don’t wear red polish much (despite having like, 10 red polishes…WTF), I really like this one! It’s bold, bright and leans ever so slightly cool, and I find it very flattering on my skintone. I’m tempted to hang on to this and maybe ditch a couple other bright reds I have. Great formula too, super easy to apply and I think this swatch is only 1 coat!

Ro-Man-ce on the Moon

OPI Ro-man-ce on the Moon swatch

A cool-ish red metallic, standard holiday fare. In my photos this looks almost identical to ‘Love is in My Cards‘ but the metallic effect is more pronounced in person. I like this one too, but I prefer my Misa Red Pumps at the Nordstrom more – I think the depth of color is a bit stronger in that one (also the name of the Misa polish is awesome). Again, this is only 1 coat!

Let Your Love Shine

OPI Let Your Love Shine swatch

You don’t need me to tell you that this polish is GORGEOUS! This is the kind of red I gravitate toward (and most of the reds I own are similar to this – more of a deep shimmering red). This is kind of a cross between Lippmann’s Through the Fire (for the color) and Zoya India (for the larger shimmer particles). It did require 2 coats but that ain’t no thang. I love this one – definitely a keeper.

OPI Starlight Collection

That’s it, we’re done! Hoo-frickin’-ray. Overall I am really digging the collection (see Part I and Part II here if you haven’t seen them already!) save for a couple of weird shades – it’s probably tough to come up with original polish mixes so I’ll forgive OPI for trying something new and failing miserably. I like that there weren’t TOO many reds and that they had a handful of non-traditional holiday shades, so that the collection is still wearable for the whole winter season.

And of course – some outtakes for your viewing pleasure – hope everyone had a great holiday and has a fantastic New Year!!

IMG_3293 IMG_3294 IMG_3295I tell ya…you gotta move fast with this one! She’s getting more and more mobile every day:)

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OPI Starlight collection for Holiday 2015, Part II: The silvers & (rose) golds

…Dang it. Getting this post up later than planned (surprise), but at least we’re still before Christmas Day! These next 6 polishes scream ‘New Years Eve’ to me anyway, so you have lots of time to grab ’em and wear ’em:)

OPI Starlight Collection 2015

I wasn’t sure what to call these 6 as one shade only contains rose gold, and there are other silvers in the collection – but to be honest, these are the good ones. The others are…a bit strange. You’re not missing out, trust me. Anyway, on to the swatches!

I Drive a SuperNova

OPI I Drive a SuperNova swatch OPI I Drive a SuperNova swatch

This is a lovely silver foil that shimmers in the right light. As silvers go, I actually like it! Buuuut not as much as OPI’s Centennial Celebration, so I’m keeping that one over this one. CC is more sparkly/blingy and is slightly more pewter-leaning. But this is good! A teeny bit fussy to apply, but if you’ve got a steady hand you could probably get away with one coat (this is two), so it’s not such a big deal.

Super Star Status

OPI Super Star Status swatch

Because I hate glitter removal, I just polished one finger in Super Star Status, over my existing ‘SuperNova‘ manicure. However, this is all sorts of amazing and in-your-face glittertastic that I would *almost* be willing to wear this as a full mani for a big occasion. So gorgeous! The base is slightly sheer so I’d suggest putting one coat over top of another polish (I really like it with ‘Super Nova‘ rather than two coats of it on it’s own, because that removal process would be a major PITA!

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Meteorite

OPI

This is such a cop-out swatch, I’m sorry! I took shots of this over Press * for Silver (swatch below) and stupidly didn’t check them before removing the polish – they were all blurry and TERRIBLE and I just couldn’t bring myself to do the whole mani again. I suck, I know! If the polish was more fabulous, I would have taken one for the team, but at it is, this glitter is – blah. It didn’t look good over the polish either (actually it probably looks nicer here on a bare nail), the pieces are so weirdly shaped and it just isn’t my thang. The only thing I will say is I loved the color combo of gunmetal and rose gold.

Press * for Silver

OPI Press * for Silver swatch

This is probably the most subdued polish in the collection, though it’s still quite nice. I liked it when I wore it, but looking at it again in swatches I’m kind of…bored by it? Maybe it’s too complimentary to my skintone…I need a little bit of contrast. Super easy to apply though, a quick two coats and you’re done.

Ce-less-tial is More 

OPI Ce-less-tial is More swatch

I meant to put Ce-less-tial is More over Press * for Silver but completely forgot, so I had to go back and do a whole new manicure – but this time I wore Dior’s Gris-Or – it’s quite similar to ‘Press *‘ but it has that mild duo chrome flash that makes it stand out more. Obviously I’m keeping the Dior over the OPI! Anyway, I also think ‘Ce-less-tial‘ is all sorts of pretty, and I think I might wear it for my wedding manicure. Since it’s kind of a HUGE moment in my life, I guess I can deal with the glitter removal that one time😉 ‘Ce-less-tial‘ is more opaque than ‘Super Star Status‘ so you don’t need any other shade underneath unless you want to! Both glitters eat top coat like there is no tomorrow so to get rid of the texture I’d say load it up (like 2-3 coats…seriously).

Infrared-y to Glow

OPI Infrared-y to Glow swatch

These weird über-chunky glitters! I don’t get it. They’re really pretty in the bottle but on the nail…erm, not so much. Especially this one – at least the colors in ‘Meteorite’ were nice, this is too tone on tone and I’m not feeling it at all. Also, because these glitter pieces are so large, even with top coat they kind of flip up and don’t lay smooth. Ach…not a fan.

OPI Starlight Collection 2015

So there you have it! Two nice shades, two GREAT shades, and two WTF shades. Definitely don’t miss out on the sparkling goodness that is Super Star Status and Ce-less-tial is More, for a glitter hater like myself I can’t believe how much I loved them both – if you like glitter, you’ll LOVE these! If you’re a silver fan, I’d check out I Drive a SuperNova too, it’s great (just not as good as CC for me).

I’d like to say I’ll get the last six up before Christmas, but truthfully that’s unlikely! I’ll give you a quick spoiler in case you just can’t wait – Let Your Love Shine is a stunning sparkling deep red and is a must-have for the holiday season (or any time, really!). The two other reds are nice but not original, and the three other glitters are kind of bizarre, so I feel you can safely skip all those and not miss out.

OPI Starlight Collection 2015

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OPI Starlight collection for Holiday 2015, Part I: The Moody Hues

Ugh, you GUYZ. I’ve had these swatches done for a few days but Elena is keeping me on my toes, as usual! She’s been waking up at 4am for the past few weeks and is ready to PAR-TAY, she thinks it’s time to get up for the day and I’m DANG tired. Today she also thought resisting nap time was a great idea, so I’m just plain worn out. BUT I did finally get her down (I keep checking the monitor with fingers crossed that she’ll stay asleep for awhile) so what better time than to get these pics & post up?

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I am extremely surprised at how much I’m enjoying the Starlight holiday collection from OPI – metallics and glitters are generally NOT my jam, but these are really doing it for me so far! The sparkle on a lot of these really is ‘out of this world’ (cue the cheese) and they look so pretty and festive in the dim light cast by the fire and/or Christmas tree. I keep wanting to change my mani every day to try them all fully (but ain’t nobody in THIS house got time for that, sadly). I’m working my way through the swatches though so I will have them all up before Christmas, I promise! Today I’m bringing you the first 6 which are the more moody, mysterious hues of the 18 shades in the collection (which, if I’m being honest, is INSANE – 18 colors!? When did polish collections get so HUGE?).

All swatches were taken in natural light unless otherwise specified.

OPI Guys & Galaxies swatch

Guys & Galaxies – a deep dark brown-red. It looks a touch streaky in the swatch above, but IRL it’s not, though you do need 3 coats to reach full opacity. It’s very glossy on it’s own – the shot above is with no top coat. It’s an easy formula to work with overall, despite needing that extra coat (though it’s a *touch* staining). I think this is a very sexy shade – and it’s NOT near black, which makes me happy.

OPI I’m in the Moon for Love swatch OPI I’m in the Moon for Love swatch

I’m in the Moon for Love – this is a medium plum shimmer with golden micro-shimmer. Every time OPI comes out with a shade like this (Dutch’ya Love OPI?, Lost My Bikini in Molokini, Purpletual Emotion…), I’m like ‘eh’ – even though they all look flattering on my skintone, I just can’t get into these types of purples. There is a depth and richness to this shade that appeals to me (you can see it better in the 2nd photo, taken under artificial light), but I know it’ll just be another purple that I keep NOT wearing regardless. Good formula though, two coats to opacity, with no application issues at all.

OPI Cosmo With a Twist swatch OPI Cosmo With a Twist swatch

Cosmo With a Twist – a royal blue with lighter blue shimmer that looks purple in some light due to a duo chrome finish. This SHADE, you guys!!! So, so gorgeous – it really looks like Outer Space to me. It needs 3-4 coats to reach full opacity, but it’s totally worth it. I would have never picked up this shade if left to my own devices, but I’m SO happy I got to try it out. Perfect holiday shade that’s not your typical red/silver/gold.

OPI Give Me Space swatch

Give Me Space – a bold, medium blue with silver shimmer. This has a VERY slight prismatic effect that’s really only visible in sunlight – so don’t let that be a reason you pick it up! The first coat went on sheer but it managed full opacity in two coats. I found this shade a touch fussy to apply, it can pull in spots if not applied with a relatively quick hand. I suggest loading up the brush and applying coats in one go, versus dipping back into the bottle. This is a beautifully rich shade, but along with the shimmer being a let down it didn’t wow me.

OPI No More Mr. Night Sky swatch OPI No More Mr. Night Sky swatch

No More Mr. Night Sky – a sparkling gunmetal. This is quite sheer; it requires at least 3 coats and looks best with 4. Despite that: he-LLO, gorgeous! This is another polish I would have never picked up as I don’t gravitate toward shimmers, but holy smokes – this is so pretty!! It’s the most beautifully sparkly, twinkly polish I think I’ve ever seen. It looks particularly amazing in low lighting (the 2nd photo), so it’s PERFECT for the holiday seasons parties and hanging out by the Christmas tree.

OPI Centre of the You-niverse swatch

Centre of the You-niverse – a charcoal with silver shimmer and black glitter bits. This is 2 coats, though depending on how thickly you apply your coats you may need a 3rd. Even though it’s got minimal glitter, they’re so tiny they’re a pain to remove entirely. For black polish lovers though this is a great shade; top coat makes it really gleam.

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Sooo, basically I want to keep 4 of the 6 shades shown…that does NOT help me decrease my polish collection! Dang it. I just think these are so lovely for the holiday season or for any time you want a bit of sparkle that’s a little understated (re: not a full-on glitter) but still fabulous. Well done so far, OPI!

Photo outtakes: Last night when I took the bottle shots Elena hightailed it to where I was and got her grabby hands in there lol…at least I got one good shot (above) before the destruction!

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YSL La Laque Carmin D’Or: Christmas in a bottle

You know you’re a beauty junkie when you buy things and forget about them. During the Sephora sale, I kept thinking I should buy something festive from one of the holiday collections, since I didn’t pick anything up from any of them….OH WAIT, YES I DID – the YSL Carmin D’Or polish from the ‘Kiss & Love‘ holiday collection, a gor-ge-ous scarlet with fiery golden shimmer throughout. Oops. I forgot. (I also bought Dior’s insanely beautiful Gris-Or from the ‘State of Gold’ holiday collection, which I ALSO forgot about….eeks. Review to come!) Right. But! Now it’s December, and it’s time to wear all my pretty festive nail polishes! So, we’re starting with this beauty:

YSL Carmin D'Or polish swatchNatural light

YSL Carmin D'Or polish swatch YSL Carmin D'Or polish swatchArtificial light

It’s actually got a significant blue lean that I had a hard time capturing on camera – meaning it’s not a true red at all but more of a pink-red. I didn’t realize that when I swatched it in store, but I kind of like that because it makes it different than your standard golden red polish. The shimmer is incredible, it absolutely GLOWS no matter what light you’re in (although my outdoor pic doesn’t show that). The formula is also wonderful, with a thin-to-medium viscosity to allow easy application – two coats to full opacity, no fuss. This is my second YSL polish and so far I’m very impressed. It hurts to pay $27CAD (although it pleases me that it’s the same price in the US) but the upside to buying less polish overall is that when you do, you don’t feel so bad spending the big $$ on a shade you love. And that squared off bottle? SEX-AY.

I just received the OPI Starlight Collection yesterday so I have a bunch of holiday polish shades coming your way. I may do a countdown with a different shade each day…I’ll try my best! I’m in a major holiday spirit, we put up our lights on the house last night and it looks fab! I’m working on the inside now – we went to Homes for the Holidays here in Halifax on the weekend and looking at all the decorations makes me feel so festive! And also brings out my inner Martha. Check out this wreath I made!:

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Yahooooooo!! Let the holiday season truly begin!:)

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Skincare Heros: My current routine and fave products

Do you remember when Elena was first born and I complained about barely being able to shower, let alone take care of my skin? It feels like forever ago that I was struggling to take care of myself in any way, shape or form; thankfully, those days are (mostly) past and though I don’t have much time for myself, I have made a point to dedicate some time every morning and evening toward my skin. In fact, I think I’ve never treated my skin better! I think the combination of products along with maintaining a solid routine has made all the difference. Lately I’ve been placing a heavy emphasis on brightening products that help even out the skin tone, and tailoring my application according to what my skin needs in specific areas. This AM I looked in the mirror and was like ‘DA-AMN girl, your skin looks good!’ …So I figured I should share with you my skincare ‘secrets’:) Here’s what my routine looks like, morning and night:

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MORNING

Cleanse with NUDE Perfect Cleanse Clarifying Cleansing Oil ($45CAD). The reason I picked up this cleanser in the first place was because it contains grapeseed oil as the 2nd ingredient, which is great for oilier / clog-prone skin as it’s high in linoleic acid (see my post on skincare oils and their compositions here). I’ve been searching for a grapeseed oil-heavy oil cleanser but they’re hard to come by for some reason, so when this came on the market a few months ago I snapped it up ASAP. Happily, it was a great purchase as I absolutely love it. It doesn’t contain a host of fragrance or essential oils to potentially irritate my skin (which it doesn’t), and it cleanses beautifully without drying my skin out at all. Though you can use it as a first cleanse to remove makeup etc., I actually use it as my morning cleanser on it’s own as I want my skin to benefit from the good oils and ingredients, rather than washing them away in a second cleanse. It’s a perfect beginning step to prep and protect my skin for the colder weather outside. I’ll be repurchasing it without hesitation.

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Tone with Algenist Hydrating Essence Toner ($30CAD). Because I am a beauty junkie, I’m susceptible to any new fad on the market, and I became determined to find and use an ‘essence – essentially a hybrid between a toner and serum, and which is used in between those two steps. Algenist’s Essence Toner has high rating on both Sephora and Paula’s Choice (though I don’t think she knows it ALL, I do appreciate the research done on that site and use it to cross-reference product research often), AND it’s affordable for a high-end brand, so I picked it up back in October. I can’t tell for sure how hydrating it is, as my skin isn’t particularly parched, but I do prefer to keep my skin as moist as I can anyway (seems to keep me from over-producing sebum) with lightweight products, and this can be used all over my face, even in my sensitive areas like around my mouth, without any issues at all. That in itself makes this a total winner in my books!

G.M. Collin Oxygen Puractive+ Treating Mist. I was kindly sent the Normalizing Travel Kit ($42CAD), among a couple other products, from G.M. Collin and I was so keen to try them out once they arrived. Having mostly normal skin with some oiliness in the t-zone, the Normalizing kit is perfect for me as helps keep skin balanced. The Treating Mist is designed to enhance the effectiveness of your other skincare, much like other facial mists, and leaves skin with a matte finish. I spray this on my t-zone only after using the Algenist Toner and it really does keep that area less shiny throughout the day. The nozzle is a bit powerful so I make sure to spray it about a foot away from my face to get a more even misting.

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G.M. Collin Bota-Peptide Eye Contour ($96CAD). I was most eager to try out this eye treatment from G.M. Collin as it’s been on my wishlist for years now, but I could never bring myself to buy it. It gets amazing reviews and is purported to reduce the appearance of dark circles, expression lines and wrinkles, and is de-puffing. I’ve only been using it for about 2-3 weeks now, so I can’t report major changes to my undereye area just yet, but I do find that it looks smoother and incredibly hydrated, and I feel like I’m less concerned about my perpetual darkness. The texture is PERFECT, thick enough to be hydrating but not at all greasy or heavy, and it absorbs extremely well and quickly so it works fantastically under eye makeup. My concealer has never looked better or more natural.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum w/Vitamin C (see full review) ($39.99CADnow on sale at Well.ca for $29.99!). Still totally digging this serum! It is the perfect consistency – more like a gel than a silicone-heavy serum, so it feels lovely and lightweight and I am entirely comfortable layering additional product over it. It really does help lighten any dark spots and even out my skintone, and as a bonus it contains niacinamide to also protect my skin from environmental aggressors. I love this stuff!

Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion SPF 30 ($15.49CAD). After searching high and low all summer for the Neutrogena Pure & Free liquid that sound right up my alley, I scoured the drugstore aisles at Shoppers for another facial sunscreen alternative that wouldn’t break the bank (the higher the cost, the more I want to skimp on application, and that’s counter-productive, no?). I ended up choosing this SPF lotion from Eucerin as it contained physical ‘screens (my preference) as well as chemical. I was a bit wary as some chemical sunscreens aren’t friendly to my sensitive skin, but I’ve had zero issues with this – in fact, I actually think it might be the best facial sunscreen I’ve ever used on my skin! It leaves my skin looking moisturized and with a lovely, healthy glow, minus ANY shine or greasy effect. Though it’s of medium viscosity, it blends in easily and absorbs quickly. Fragrance free with an SPF of 30, at a totally great price point…you kind of can’t go wrong with this.

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EVENING

G.M. Collin Oxygen Puractive+ Mild Cleansing Gel. Another step in the Normalizing Kit, I use this gel as my second cleanse after oil cleansing (currently I’m trying to finish a bottle of pure Pumpkin Seed oil). I am surprised at how much I enjoy using this – I’m not one for gel and/or foaming cleansers, as they often leave me feeling drier than I’d like; this, however, truly IS mild as I feel absolutely NO tightness after use and my skin feels incredibly soft. Definitely the nicest gel cleanser I’ve tried!

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Joe Fresh Refresh Facial Toner ($12CAD). I picked this up on a whim when I needed a new facial mist/toner-type product, and I fell for the clean, classic packaging of the Joe Fresh skincare line. Honestly, I’m not a total beauty snob, I just like great packaging – if something is cheap but looks luxe, I’m all for it! On top of the fabulous bottle, the product itself is great – the ingredients are simple (such as glycerin, aloe and green tea & cucumber extracts) and it’s effective at toning my skin in an incredibly soothing way. I will be buying this again and again, no question.

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G.M. Collin Oxygen Puractive+ Cream. The final step in the Normalizing Kit, this cream is formulated to purify and hydrate the skin while also refining it’s texture. As it’s essentially winter now, I only use this in my t-zone as that is my ‘trouble’ area, and so far it’s been doing a great job at refining the pores on my nose and inner cheeks. This would make an excellent moisturizer for someone looking for a product to mattify and keep any oiliness or large pores in check.

Kahina Giving Beauty Brightening Serum ($95CAD). I’d read a review on No More Dirty Looks awhile back saying this was excellent at evening out the skintone and ever since it’s been on my radar. When it popped up on Petal & Post months ago at a  considerable sale discount – down to something like $54! – I scooped it up, even though I was flush with other brightening products (I’m kind of obsessed). After using up another serum, it was time to give this a shot, and I am beyond pleased at the results – aside from making my skin feel baby soft upon waking in the AM, it truly has evened out my skin significantly; it’s the best it’s looked in years. I rarely wear foundation now as it’s just an extra, unnecessary step and I feel I look a lot better without it, truth be told. This is another *repurchase* product for sure (buuuuut…maybe when it’s on sale, yea?).

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G.M. Collin Bota-Peptide Eye Contour. Lather, rinse, repeat. I use this day and night:)

There are a few other products I didn’t mention (namely, a face oil that I add to my sunscreen if it’s particularly chilly out; a hydrating mask and a purifying mask I use when needed; and two different exfoliants, one manual, one chemical) – mostly because, as much as they seem to be working for me, they’re aren’t game-changers in my books and I’ll probably replace them with something new when the time comes. Otherwise though, this is it – and I gotta say, I can’t remember a time when there were so many products in my arsenal that I plan to repurchase (and with so many of them reasonably affordable too)! I’m a fickle beast and even if I like something, I usually am keen to try something else out of boredom – but these products are working so well for me that I’m not sure if making a switch is wise! Maybe I’m just getting too old (erm, or not OLD but just lacking an excess of time in which to spend the energy researching new products to try)…either way, I’m really happy with my routine, and if it means I’m boring – so be it!

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