Monday, January 15, 2018

Eau Thermale Avene Skincare Review: TriXera Collection

When the temperature plummets to -30˚C (-22˚F) you know it’s time to step-up your skincare routine. On Saturday night the winter wind was especially bone-chilling as I ran from the car to the movie theater so I knew it was time to break out my Avéne products. This brand is family friendly, hypoallergenic and formulated for sensitive skin which means everyone in your home can use it including children 3 and up. The first ingredient in almost every bottle is 80% Thermal Spring Water – valued for its hydrating properties that protect and soothe.


I enjoyed the movie we chose for date night (The Commuter) – Liam Neeson never disappoints but I was looking forward to getting out of the cold and into a warm, relaxing shower. There aren’t too many products on the market that can be used on the face and the body but the Nutri-Fluid Cleanser (24.00) can. The bottle is quite large and the fragrant gel is soap-free so it does not strip or dry out the skin. The light, refreshing lather gently eliminates oil, dirt and impurities that can build-up from outdoor pollution. When used as face wash it also helps remove stubborn makeup to clear pores while maintaining your natural moisture barrier.


The TriXera Nutri-Fluid Lotion ($30.00) is available in two formulas – dry sensitive skin and very dry sensitive skin (fragrance-free). The creams can be used on the face and body to make bath time easier for everyone and the delicate scent is very pleasant. Usually in the winter I opt for thick body butters but this formula is lightweight and milky which makes it easier to spread consistently. Although the texture isn’t rich, the moisture is! Dry, uncomfortable skin and itchy patches are alleviated quickly for smooth, supple results that last all day. Along with Thermal Water there are also plant extracts and oils that fortify, replenish and heal with no greasy residue. On rough hands, elbows, knees and feet the lotion keeps skin supple and flake-free.


Avéne is available at pharmacies throughout Canada and online at beautyboutique.ca

Friday, January 12, 2018

Dior Lip Glow Color Reviver Balm Review – NEW Shades

I love vibrant lipstick and bold matte finishes but sometimes my pout needs a break and a blast of moisture. When I first tried the Dior Lip Glow Balms I was instantly hooked and now I always keep the pretty plum shade in my purse for dry skin emergencies.


Every 3 seconds around the world one of these luxurious balms are sold and backstage it has become a favorite among models and artists. The translucent pink packaging with silver emblem adds simple sophistication to your beauty routine and the sticker swatch on the cap makes it easy to identify each shade.


This nourishing treatment is the perfect combination of lip care and makeup. “Color Reviver” technology makes the formula react to the pH level of each person’s lips resulting in a customized shade that enhances your natural skin color. Even as the pigment wears away (which takes hours) it leaves behind a lovely flush that makes my pout look healthy, rosy and rejuvenated.

With a nutritious dose of mango butter, the lightweight, supple balm makes lips feel incredibly soft, plump, smooth and moisturized with a hint of luminous shine. The creamy formula glides on effortlessly and quenches without stickiness so lips get the protection they need all winter.

The Matte Glow finish has a subtle tint with a blurred effect to enhance lips without giving the impression you’re wearing makeup. The transparent color is juicy, voluminous and flattering on every skin tone. In the photo below there are 3 soft pinks (left to right): 008 Ultra Pink, 007 Raspberry and 102 Matte Raspberry. If you prefer prominent color the matte Raspberry has more pigmentation while the other is translucent with brilliant shine.


The Halo Glow shades have an iridescent effect with a wash of radiant shimmer that makes lips appear dazzling. I like to apply the matte balm first and then top it off with a few layers off the halo for a multidimensional effect that reflects light and provides the velvety lushness I crave.


The Lip Glow Balms retail for $41.00 at Dior counters nationwide

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bite Beauty Matte Crème Lip Crayon: Review & Swatches

Lip Crayons are a great way to line, shape, define and accentuate your pout in one easy step because the slender point makes it easy to manoeuvre around the lip contour and neatly fill in the corners. Bite Beauty has a gorgeous collection of vivacious shades to compliment all skin tones and enhance your makeup. I love the retractable packaging – no sharpening = less product waste.


The color spectrum includes everything from subtle nudes, vibrant reds, sultry wines, trendy plums and even deep blackberry. I would classify the finish as semi-matte, the pigment is velvety and moist with a hint of scintillating shine to keep skin plush and hydrated. Instead of drying down completely, the crayons retain some creaminess which makes the color slightly more susceptible to transfer but much more comfortable on the lips. I still get a few hours of fade-proof wear before needing a touch-up and the supple shades appear smooth and polished. The pigmentation is buildable so you can adjust the saturation to create the perfect level of intensity.

When the tip starts to dull simply pop out the sharpener hidden in the colored end. Instead of shaving down the crayon it reshapes it so you always have a sharp point for superior precision. Licorice is my favorite shade in this bunch – it drenches lips in a dark berry stain that is suitable for all occasions.
TIP: To avoid breaking the tip don't wind the crayon down too much.


Molases is a great neutral for medium to deep skin tones and Sugarcane (the lighter nude) works well on fair to medium complexions. Black Truffle is a bit unconventional but dark lips are trendy for a night out and looks great with minimal eye makeup or sharp winged liner. The black is mixed with a hint of purple to make the color more wearable. 


I didn't swatch the lightest nude since it doesn't really suit my skin tone and I might give it to a friend but I love the vividness and quality of the formula.


The Lip Crayons retail for $28.00 each and Bite Beauty is available exclusively at Sephora

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Unite 7Seconds Condition Leave-In Detangler Review

When you find the holy grail of hair products there is no going back to whatever you were slathering on before. Unite 7Seconds Conditioner is widely used by celebrity hair stylists and even stars like Kim Kardashian, Nina Dobrev, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Aniston and Katy Perry can’t seem to get enough. There is no denying that these gorgeous women all have beautiful locks and who doesn’t crave the sleek shine of Kim K’s luscious mane.


This hydrating conditioner infused with fortifying protein is the ultimate frizz tamer and detangler. Just spritz some on (the scent is fabulous), wait 7 seconds and comb through. Pesky tangles are loosed and eliminated with minimal hair loss and no pain which makes the process less tedious. It also speeds up blow drying while polishing staticy strands for a neat, professional finish.

I prefer to use Unite as a finishing spray because it is one of the best on the market. After styling/flat ironing, I apply a small amount to my lengths and finger comb for even distribution. I have no idea what magic is at work here but this formula instantly transforms my mane from root-to-tip. My long hair appears silky, smooth and shiny with no frizz and fewer flyaways. I didn’t expect such incredible results but I now know why so many celebs use this product before strutting down the red carpet.

I haven’t tested it on natural curls yet but after creating ringlets with a curling iron it helps keep them well formed and lustrous. Although Unite is a conditioner, there is no stickiness, heaviness, build-up, flakes or residue so you can use it repeatedly before wash day.


My trick for creating more texture is to flat iron, lightly apply the spray and then clip my hair up or twist it into a bun until I finish doing my makeup. When I take it down approximately 1-2 hours later (it takes me a while to get ready) my hair is soft, glossy and bouncy. It feels great, looks healthy and smells fantastic!

You can order the conditioner online through various retailers including amazon.ca for about $30.00 and on the website shop.unitehair.com for about $28.00. After the first spritz I was totally hooked and now I never do my hair without it! 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

NEW Maybelline SuperStay Full Coverage 24 Hour Foundation: Review & Swatches

Finding a foundation that matches my skin tone is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I’ve tested a wide variety of brands and formulas from high-end to drugstore and everything in-between without much luck. Currently I’m using MAC’s Studio Fix Foundation which I’ve been relying on since I started wearing liquid makeup. It isn’t an exact match and tends to oxidize (deepen/change color) but it is the closest I’ve come to not looking like an Oompa Loompa or Flaming red Cheeto.  

You can imagine how excited I was to try the new SuperStay Full Coverage Foundation by Maybelline. The shade selection is good and the level of concealment is amazing! If you have blemishes that need hiding, the rich liquid blends smoothly and camouflages like a dream. For a natural look and seamless finish don’t cake it on too heavy - less is definitely more. I don’t even need concealer, the foundation dries completely matte clinging to the skin to boost longevity.


I have combination skin (oily in the summer, dry in the winter) and although the formula does not provide a lot of hydration it still feels quite comfortable. If you have dry skin I suggest applying a generous dose of moisturizer first.

This is the kind of foundation that will hold-up on hot summer days and resist fading during perspiration, physical activity and humidity but it was difficult to find the right undertone. The closest shades to my complexion are probably 334 Warm Sun and 330 Caramel Toffee but after testing both I suspect that 320 Honey (lighter than both of these) may actually work better.


In the photos these bottles look very similar but the colors are quite different. On the color spectrum Warm Sun comes after Toffee but actually appears lighter with a golden undertone. At first it seemed like a decent match but after layering and allowing it to dry, the pigment deepened (perhaps a little too much) and developed an orange tinge which was too warm for me. Caramel Toffee also appears lighter when first applied but after drying the foundation darkens substantially and is much deeper than my complexion.


To find your perfect match swatch and wait until the liquid is completely dry for best accuracy. If you find a shade that works grab it because for just $14.99 it provides a flawless finish.

Maybelline is available at major drugstores nationwide

Monday, January 8, 2018

Mark Rebel + Ice Bath & Body Collection by Avon

This season Avon is transporting you to the new South West with a collection of irresistible body products and fashion accessories inspired by tranquil blue skies. Rebel + Ice is fresh and invigorating with notes of cool mountain air, winter iris and white birch wood.


The pretty packaging, billowing scarf and crisp scent reminds me of sailing in Saint Tropez as the brilliant blue water sparkled beneath the sun and the Mediterranean wind whipped around the boat. 


After a long, cold day, relax with a warm shower and the Rebel + Ice Body Wash ($10.00) to soothe tired muscles and deeply cleanse. These fragrant shower gels (available in various scents) are some of my favorites from the brand because they lather well on my bath puff and create a lush foam that rinses away impurities without drying out the skin.


Follow up with the extra-rich Body Lotion ($10.00) that quenches, softens and heals dry skin with layers of silky hydration. This formula also works well on hands and feet or any areas that need more nourishment to combat frigid temperatures.


Finish with the energizing Body Mist ($14.00) which enhances the wonderful scent and lightly locks in hydration with castor oil.


The What a Scene Scarf ($18.00) has the same pretty print as the bottles featuring shades of blue and hints of crimson. This limited-edition set makes a great care package to help friends and family survive winter.


 Avon is available online at avon.ca or through independent consultants

Friday, January 5, 2018

Too Faced I Want Kandee Eye Shadow Palette Review & Swatches

Designing my own makeup line would be a dream come true and although many beauty influencers never get the opportunity to do so, Kandee Johnson has. With bright blue hair and a bubbly personality she has gained 1.7 million Instagram followers and has nearly 9 years of YouTube videos under her belt. Her Too Faced Palette collaboration is just as impressive featuring 12 shadows and 3 highlighters with shimmer, satin and matte finishes.


These color combinations are gorgeous! The first time I opened the pretty pink tin I couldn’t wait to use it. What I love most is how all the colors are expertly coordinated. You have shimmery Sweet Toffee paired with orangey matte Butterscotch, Frosted Pink with Hot Chocolate, Sugar Plum with Cocoa and Strawberry with Cream. There are pops of vibrancy balanced with neutrals and basics to create effortless contrast and definition. Anyone can use these shades and make them look fabulous whether you are just starting out with makeup or you’ve already established your style.


The highlighters at the bottom are a nice touch but the white tones are too similar. The palette could use a bit more variety in that area but it isn’t enough to downplay how amazing the pigments look. You get a lot of shadow yet the tin is travel-friendly with everything needed to transform your look from day to night.


The shadows are lightweight, creamy and highly saturated so they layer and blend wonderfully. The shimmers appear iridescent and metallic with smooth, radiant coverage that makes your eyes look mesmerizing. I can’t get enough of Sweet Toffee (second swatch from the bottom) it has become my new go-to shade.


The I want Kandee Limited Edition Palette retails for $45.00. I don’t see it online at the moment but you can always check the stores in your area.


Too Faced is available at Sephora, Ulta Beauty in the U.S. and online at toofaced.com

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Erin Condren 2018 Life Planner Review & Design Tips for Beginners

I can’t believe Christmas is over and 2018 has begun. If I had my way we’d still be celebrating the holiday season but I’m excited to start planning and setting new goals. An awesome way to keep track of your dreams, ambitions and accomplishments is to record them so you can look back and reflect on cherished memories. For my birthday on Christmas Eve my sister got me an Erin Condren Life Planner (thanks Amanda) and she custom designed the cover with my name and favorite colors. It also includes pages of fun quotes, inserts and pretty graphics.


My life is busy but full of excitement and adventure so this planner is a wonderful keepsake. It also lets me express my creative side while infusing my love of art and scrapbooking. The process is surprisingly therapeutic, enjoyable and relaxing.

I didn’t realize just how large the planner community was until I started doing some research online. There are countless groups of planner addicts who come together to share fun ideas, stickers, accessories and printable decorations. I started with the Bando Planner last year which was good practice but the Erin Condren is definitely the ultimate organizational tool. I will use it to schedule my daily blog articles, work objectives, press trips, meals, media events, parties and other social events like girl’s night, romantic dates, shows and festivals.


My sister Mandy knows me better than anyone so she chose a bright multi-colored theme called Painted Petals that is brand new for 2018. This motif features sophisticated water colors that float across the thick, durable paper. It came with a detachable pocket where I keep stationary, cards, photos, planner accessories and loose stickers.


The inspirational messages dispersed throughout the book are motivational and uplifting plus there is a lot of room to make notes/lists.


My planner has the horizontal layout with a standard monthly box calendar for important point form notes/highlights. There is some debate about which layout is better (horizontal or vertical) but since I write a lot and journal important events this format works for me. I can elaborate on events that don't fit in the smaller boxes and utilize the entire planner.


The back has a double-sided pouch which can be used for tickets, travel documents and work plus I love the floral coloring pages that have recently become popular for managing stress.


The stickers that come with the planner are color coordinated to the theme which makes it easy to create beautiful layouts.


My sister also bought me colorful glitter pens and a book of cool stickers for scheduling, errands and other important dates and appointments. You can order these booklets online at Amazon, Happy Planner, Etsy or other craft supply websites. I purchase supplies at Michael’s or Staples but you can also find seasonal stickers and decorative tape at the Dollar Store. Just let your imagination be your guide.


I like the paper quality and vibrant colors but removing the rulers and other inserts from the coil binding is a bit tedious (maybe I’m not using the right technique). The website has many design options available to help build your planner and reflect your personal style.

I use my Bando Planner from last year to experiment and establish my decorating style. Don’t feel discouraged if your first pages don’t turn out the way you hoped, it may take a while to get your groove.

My first layout for January 2017 was pretty terrible. I was overwhelmed with all the stickers and themes and had no idea what I was doing but after a few months I started getting the hang of it.

This is my first layout for January 2018. It isn’t finished since the month just started but I’ve decided I prefer a look that is fun yet not too busy. I usually have something planned everyday so I save space to write. I focus more on decorating the monthly view instead of the weekly horizontal layout because there are 8 pages in January alone and I just don’t have time to beautify and color coordinate each one.


I am still very new to planner design but I will list a few tips that helped me get started.

1. Do Your Research
I knew my layout wouldn’t be top-notch right away but I still wanted it to look neat and cute. I began by looking up photos online and skimmed social media for ideas to determine what I like. After that I watched a few plan with me tutorials on YouTube to see how other people develop their spreads and where to start placing things. I got the idea to do a New Years Eve countdown from a photo on Google.

2. Start Simple and Visualize
I’ve collected a few sticker books and supplies but I still don’t have a ton of accessories. I don’t create or print my own stickers nor do I have themed collections that I can whip out every day. I simply use what I have and decide on a theme that coincides with a major event or holiday. In this case I chose black and gold for NYE with pops of pink and shimmer. Washi Tape helps tie everything together.


The issue I had with my previous planner was lack of vision. It helps to conceptualize your design prior to sticking everything down randomly which can look a bit messy. Keep in mind that you don’t have to decorate your planner but it is fun.

3. Plan Ahead
Usually I schedule everything into my iPad digitally so it is easy to move things around. Since I got the new Rose Gold iPad Pro for Christmas I will be using that to plan ahead so I know which days to decorate first. You can also use sticky notes for this or the small purse size planner that is included with your Erin Condren. Give yourself enough time and don’t rush the process.


4. Keep Designing as the Month Progresses
You don’t have to finish everything in one sitting, plan as things come up and change your design accordingly.

5. Don't get Discouraged
It is great to get tips and ideas from other people but don’t compare your pages to theirs because everyone has their own style and preferences. It may take a while to develop your technique.

The Erin Condren Planners start at $55.00 + $8.00 for customized covers and additional charges based on which inserts and extras you choose. Many Canadians may be deterred from ordering because shipping costs are expensive and easily add up to $100.00. Another popular option is the Happy Planner which is available at Michael's and Staples. For more information you can visit the website erincondren.com.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

MyChelle Skincare Review

2018 has commenced and many of us are making resolutions to better ourselves physically, spiritually and emotionally. One goal that should be on everyone’s list this year is healthy skin so today I’m sharing my new beauty routine using MyChelle.


I test and review a lot off skincare but to see visible results I used this collection everyday for a few weeks to give each product time to work. If you haven’t heard of MyChelle their philosophy is simple – combine advanced bioactive ingredients with high efficacy anti-aging peptides, stem cells and clinically proven dermatological components to yield amazing results. You can expect clean, ethically sourced products and targeted treatments that provide professional results. The line is free of harmful chemicals including: parabens, gluten, petroleum, artificial color and fragrance plus they are cruelty free and vegan.

I customized my routine based on my skin’s requirements and since I love a good face mask I chose the Clear Skin Cranberry Mud ($32.00) – a blemish fighting, detoxifying mask. This potent blend contains 3 types of clay to refine pores, absorb excess oil and reduce the occurrence of breakouts for clear, healthy skin. The formula is loaded with nourishing ingredients like Green Tea, Lilac, Grape, Rosemary, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Lavender and many other essential oils, extracts and proteins that fortify and protect.


Another mask I love is the Fruit Fiesta Peel ($28.00 U.S). This is a great treatment to use when your complexion looks dull and tired. After all the rich holiday food and partying, I think we can all use a little pick-me-up for the New Year and this formula is infused with Alpha Hydroxy and fruit acids that rejuvenate and revive. After a few minutes I notice a mild tingling sensation (which is completely normal) and after rinsing my face is radiant and refreshed.


I usually incorporate some type of brightening product in my skincare routine to achieve an even, luminous complexion – not to be confused with skin lightening. These products do not alter your natural skin tone they boost and brighten to promote a lovely glow. The Perfect C Pro Serum ($65.00) is my favorite product in the brightening line. It has a 25% Vitamin C concentration which is professional-grade and very high in antioxidants that help renew and correct skin tone. It also reduces visible signs of aging while strengthening and improving resiliency against environmental damage.


The Apple Brightening Cream ($35.00 U.S.) is all about balancing and evening. It helps diminish the appearance of blemishes, scars, hyperpigmentation and age spots with anti-pollution properties. Like all of the products from MyChelle, this non-greasy formula is packed with natural fruit extracts, oils and antioxidants for smooth, supple results. The scent is quite strong and reminds me of apple cider vinegar (not very pleasant) so I prefer to use it before bed for deep hydration.


If your main objective is simply to replenish and moisturize then I recommend the Deep Repair Cream ($39.00). This rich, botanical blend is perfect for resurrecting dry winter skin, alleviating discomfort and healing rough, peeling patches. The star ingredients are Rosehip, Black Currant Oil, Kombuchka Tea and Vitamin B for anti-aging benefits, youthful vitality and incredible softness that lasts all day.


The Apple Brightening Serum ($45.00 U.S.) is similar to the Apple Cream with a lighter texture so choose the finish you prefer. Sometimes I layer both formulas to create a fabulous night mask or mix and match with other products depending on my needs. With repeated daily use I began noticing a difference in the clarity of my complexion but it takes time.


Before snuggling into bed for your beauty sleep don’t forget to pat on some eye cream, it will help you look well rested and energized in the morning. The Magnolia Fresh Treatment ($37.00) is a light, refreshing gel that melts in and hydrates haggard eyes. It also brightens dark circles, decreases puffiness and improves the look of fine lines – pretty much everything you’d want in a good eye cream.


For more immediate results you can always rely on the Clear Spot Treatment ($19.00) – a powerful cream that stops breakouts in their tracks, diminishes discoloration, cleans pores, absorbs oil and smooths so you can get on with your day. 


MyChell is available at Murale, beautyboutique.ca and mychelle.com
Please note that the products with U.S. pricing are not currently available in Canada

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Urban Decay Troublemaker Mascara Review

The holiday season is over and it’s time to get back into our regular routine but that doesn't mean settling for dull, barely-there lashes. As someone who has a ton of mascara (most of which I’ve never opened) I only feature a new formula when I absolutely love it. I have no patience for gluing on falsies and usually I triple or quadruple layers to achieve the length and volume I crave.


I’ve been testing Troublemaker for a few months now and it’s been the only mascara in my makeup bag. I only have about 5 or 6 all-time faves when it comes to wands and pigment but this beauty definitely makes the list. Yes the packaging plays into our insatiable urge to buy everything mermaid themed but it’s not just about the pretty chrome tube, the brush delivers 13.5X the volume for an intense, fluttery effect. The spindly bristles grab and separate each hair (even the bottom lashes and corners) while combing them up and out for a natural fanned-out look. There is no clumping or heaviness, in fact I use this brush to de-clump my lashes after using other mascaras that leave behind ugly black chunks.


The deep pigment is highly saturated yet lightweight so I am able to use multiple layers for consistent coating and dramatic length. Vitamin E helps nourish, condition and prevent flaking while special polymers enhance adhesion for long-wear with no smearing or smudging. UD designed this mascara with a 3D thickening + multiplying effect to create the illusion of more eyelashes and who doesn’t love that!

Urban Decay is available at Sephora, UD Boutiques, Shoppers Drug Mart, beautyboutique.ca and urbandecay.ca 
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