Sunday, November 24, 2013

When Life Hands You Lemons: Citrus Fragrances

I am not a person with a signature scent. As far as fragrance style goes, I may go in and out of phases with one specific fragrance, but I am always open to something new! While I suppose this isn't quite the season for citrus scents (and I'm admittedly in a woody fragrance phase), I was staring at my fragrances lined up along my bathroom vanity and felt compelled to share some of my favourite bright scents with y'all. Apply liberally.

This fragrance is fairly new to me, and to the general public, as Sonia Kashuk recently launched her bath & body line at Target (and Target Canada!). Out of the four fragrance variations in the collection, this is the one I've taken to the most. The price point is downright fair ($20), and the grapefruit and verbena notes are bright without being overwhelming or slapping you upside the head with a crate of lemons thanks to the addition of musk at the heart of the fragrance.

I first came across Atelier Cologne when I was interning at Bergdorfs in 2011 and I was intrigued, but never committed to a purchase. I was at Sephora this past March (shocking, I know) and was told the creators of the brand were going to be in-store, so I was booked in to return a few hours later for a walk-through of the brand offerings. I became completely infatuated with Trèfle Pur because it was a citrus fragrance that stayed citrusy and didn't fade within an hour of wearing it, which is a common qualm with citrus scents. The notes include bitter orange, cardamom, neroli, and patchouli moss. It's definitely a unisex scent, but I have no intention of sharing this giant 200 mL bottle with anyone since I've actually put a considerable dent in it since purchasing it. The day I was in-store for the event, I was also given a 30 mL purse spray that was housed in a monogrammed leather case (pictured below). This purse spray was the best reprieve for my nose from the stench of the Annex this past summer.

Another gigantic 200 mL bottle of citrus goodness that I love so dearly. I first smelled this when hovering around the Chanel counter at Holts in summer 2010 and it was actually the first beauty product I bought when I moved to Manhattan that summer. It was before Chanel started offering the 75 mL format that was much more travel-friendly, but that hardly mattered to me. I bought my own atomizer and carried this fragrance everywhere with me. Mandarin orange, bergamot, neroli and petitgrain make this a very bright, refreshing version of a very traditional concept.

While I've never been crazy about most Fresh scents that other people are fanatical about (Sugar, Sugar Lemon, Brown Sugar, Sugar Lychee... at which point, I realize I'm not the biggest gourmand scent fan), but when this one was announced, I was curious. I was told it was going to be a significant departure from the fragrances of the brand, so I couldn't wait to try it. This fragrance is composed in a slightly different way than others, since it's four different fragrances that were then combined to create this delightful eau de parfum. The notes that hit me the most include velvet bergamot, grapefruit, warm orange, magnolia, and sweet cucumber. The drydown is warm for a fairly citrusy scent. This one is awesome in all iterations, whether it's the eau de parfum, the candle or the body oil. It's supposed to launch soon at Sephora Canada, so keep your eyes peeled for it and give it a spritz when you see it! 

Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent from the company or their PR team for editorial consideration. For more information, please click here.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I Am The Goldilocks of Jewelry


When it comes to accessories and jewelry, I'm a *touch* particular. For daily life,  I like wearing pieces I can always keep on. The past year, that has meant five thin gold bands and one vintage diamond ring (my mom's first ring she bought when she moved to England from India), small gold hoops with a few small diamonds in each lobe, a gold hoop through my helix piercing, a Lakshmi ring in my daith piercing (pierced at NY Adorned by J Colby Smith), and a fine gold chain strung through a single diamond pendant and a small NYC MTA subway token that was in circulation from 1953 til 1970. 

If something isn't comfortable, I won't wear it, whether it's clothing, footwear, or jewelry. I used to be into bangles or bracelets in university, but the amount of clanking and noise they made during classes was a pretty quick deterrent in continuing to wear them (nothing quite makes you reevaluate your accessories like being side-eyed during exams).
The last thing I'll wear in the dead of summer or winter is a huge piece of metal anything. It either scalds me or is icy against my skin, respectively. Too hot or too cold sensations have left me feeling like the Goldilocks of jewelry selection. Recently, I've found literal comfort in the simplicity of pieces from E C FREED Jewelry. The Chain & Stone Bracelet (shown below) that I bought wears close to the skin with ease and understated elegance. A bit of wiggle room to slide down the wrist, but nothing too large like a bangle would wear. Emma Freed hand-makes each piece and can customize the pieces in several ways in order to meet different size requirements or colour preferences. While the E C FREED piece I gravitated towards is dainty, there are many motifs and elements in the range, such as evil eyes, elephants (!!!!!), hamsa hands and more, so there's definitely something for everyone. I urge everyone to check out E C FREED Jewelry on Facebook here and reach out to Emma here to place an order, because everyone can always use a little adornment during the holidays, am I right?   

E C FREED Chain & Stone bracelet (centre)
How sweet is this presentation? Love.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I'm A Fool for Foundation

I'm just a fool, a fool in love...with foundation. 

As a self-proclaimed foundation junkie, I feel makeup never looks as seamless as it does when applied over a beautiful base. Whether you’re into liquid foundation or prefer a powder compact, or if you’re more of a spot-concealing person who occasionally opts for tinted moisturizer, there’s a formula for you that will lend an element of polish to your overall look. I'll be covering liquid foundation picks in this post, so stay tuned for powder and tinted moisturizer recommendations in the next post! Read on for my liquid formulas that I use and love.

The latest foundation iteration from Guerlain is dubbed a “timeproof” foundation, and they aren’t kidding with that claim. This is as long-wearing as foundation gets without appearing heavy on the face. While this is a fuller coverage foundation, and that isn't something many people want or need, I must say I love how this looks on the skin and the fact that I never have to conceal anything after applying this. It covers up every former blemish, every current blemish, every little imperfection I have. This formula wears comfortably on the skin, sets brilliantly without a separate setting powder (though using one will ultimately just stretch out the wear of your application), and photographs well in spite of the SPF 20 added. I buff it in to moisturized skin with a Sigma Beauty F82 Rounded Kabuki Brush for speedy coverage. I’m usually really apprehensive when it comes to long-wearing foundations and being able to properly remove them (since improper removal can lead to breakouts), but this formula comes off with no issue or extra effort whatsoever. Finding a colour match may be a challenge for anyone very fair or medium-deep and darker, but if there's a match for you, go for it.  

As far as I’m concerned, no one does foundation the way Armani does foundation. I didn’t think anything would be able to please me the way Armani Luminous Silk did (and has since 2007 when I discovered it in Selfridges!), but this thin fluid, which is made of a blend of 5 different oils, is very much a skin perfector. It glides on and blends in with the most minimal effort. It’s incredibly low maintenance in that regard, so I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want to really have to ...try, per se. It’s more geared towards someone who isn’t in dire need of too much coverage, so skin in stable condition is most agreeable for this one, but man oh man, it gives a gorgeous velvety finish to the face. This one is probably best applied with fingers, but I still buff it on with the aforementioned Sigma rounded kabuki because I find I end up washing my hands about 7 times every time I do my makeup otherwise... 

Many people, myself included, learned about this lightweight fluid and instantly thought it was a drugstore dupe for Armani’s Maestro Fusion Makeup. While the ingredients are incredibly similar between the two foundations (both brands are owned by L’Oréal), there’s actually more alcohol in this foundation than the Armani version. That being said, it performs very similarly to the Armani foundation, and at a fraction of the cost. It also sets to a velvety matte finish, which leaves skin quite comfortable. This version has a very different colour range than Armani, and the glass bottle with no dropper or dispenser leaves something to be desired, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you have decent skin and prep beforehand with a solid dose of moisture to eliminate dryness, give this one a whirl. 


While this isn't the newest addition to YSL's foundation family (that would be YSL Youth Liberator Serum Foundation), this particular formula was virtually overdue in a way. After such huge success with the brand's Touche Éclat pen (the product that spawned a whole category of clicky-twisty highlighter-concealer pens), it was a logical next step to spread the lightness that Touche Éclat brings to the eye area to the whole face. That's what this formula is, in my experience: radiance in a bottle. It's a light-to-medium coverage luminous finish foundation with not a trace of shimmer or sparkle, thankfully. The shade range is pretty substantial for a high-end range, it wears well with no noticeable fading, at least on my combination-dry skin and you'll appreciate the glowy finish if you're not into highlighting, because the luminous finish of this formula is ample enough to get by on. 

Semi-related: a small but still prized possession -- my personalized Touche Eclat pen

Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent from the company or their PR team for editorial consideration. For more information, please click here. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Good Things Come in Teensy Packaging

As I alluded to in my post on highlighters, I'm from a fam where we are serious fans of anything miniature. A little mini bottle of Heinz, a little jar of jam, it doesn't matter what it is, we just stop and and coo over it and comment on how cute it is. So that's how much I like mini condiment offerings... multiply that affection by about a thousand and that's how much I love beauty product minis.

Minis are always helpful in getting to know a product before committing to the full size, and I've actually been turned on to many a product by miniature sizes and samples. Sampling is essential in this industry in order to determine how compatible a product is with your skin, colouring or body chemistry. Sampling is just good sense, and I hope it's something that more brands consider engaging in if they don't currently have a sampling program in place. Minis that are given compliments of a brand are fun paraphernalia to have as keepsakes. That's how I view any and all Chanel bits that I've amassed since interning there. 

I've accumulated a pretty vast collection of tiny products over the years, given as samples from the counters or included in gift sets and the like. Here's a small (hehehe) sampling of my collection of minis that I doubt I'll ever tire of. They're just so precious and twee!

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Included in this photoset: Chanel Les Exclusifs in Gardenia, Beige & Jersey; Chanel Coco Noir; Dior L'Or de Vie Serum, Eye & Lip Contour Cream and Face Cream; Calvin Klein Downtown; Prada Luna Rossa Pour Homme and Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gioia Eau Fraiche; NARS Mini Bronzer in "Laguna", Jo Malone Vitamin E Gel, Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus, Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, Laura Mercier Eye Basics in "Buff", Bobbi Brown Rich Color Gloss in "Pink Buff", Benefit Ultra Plush Lip Gloss in "Hoola", Trish McEvoy Beauty Booster Serum, Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Brow Biz - My Preferred Products

Continuing on from the last post regarding Benefit's Brow Bar, I thought I'd outline some of my favourite brow products and explain why they're so splendid. I'd like to note that while I don't really put much effort in hair removal (occasional tweezing is the extent of my shaping process), I do fill in my brows habitually, even if it's 6:30 am, completely dark out and I'm only going to the gym. My brows are not the standard shape, in that they sort of slope downwards at the ends, so there's a fair bit of tweaking with the shape when I fill them in to even things out. After years of oscillating between pencils, waxes, powders and liquid formulas, I think I've determined what I truly love (powder brow cake brushed on and set with a clear gel), but that doesn't mean there aren't a flurry of formulations that are well worth your attention!

It took two Youtube videos to convince me I had to at least see this brow cake in person. I'm actually thrilled I made the couple-block stroll to The Bay to creep the Illamasqua counter, because the content of this lil compact is bloody brilliant. It's a killer shade of medium-deep brown that isn't too cool-toned and is somewhat universal in nature (though there are other shades available in the same formulation). I say it's universal because I've seen blondes sport this shade, and it looks natural on them, and it magically suits me as well. I don't know what that science is, but what I do know is that this stuff lasts all day with no fading or patchiness, can be applied wet or dry (I prefer dry), and that it has wonderful pigmentation. I've put a dent in it since grabbing it last month, and we all know that that's a statement for me!

There's nothing particularly fancy about this angled brush. To most, I suppose if you've used one angled brush, you've used them all, but what I appreciate about this brush is the price point ($14!) and the fact that I can use it horizontally for filling in the thinnest part of my brows without colouring outside the lines per se, and I can use it vertically to get a softer effect when filling in the front of my brows, which I don't really want too dark at all. It's just a handy brush to have around, and I'd hate to be without it. 

Admittedly, metal lash combs used to scare the crap out of me. I mean...what if you hit your lids, or obviously far worse, your actual eyeballs?! It gave me anxiety just thinking about it, but clearly I got past that fear at some point, because this lash and brow grooming brush ended up in my possession and now I can't go a single day without using at least one if not both sides of this great tool (shoutout to the first Youtube account I ever subscribed to, PIXIWOO, specifically Samantha Chapman, who created this brush range!). I use it before, during and after filling in my brows, and I use it to brush the next product through my brows for a bit of texture. 

When I first came across this product at NKPR's holiday preview in July, I had a couple questions. 1) Why is "browmousse" one word? 2) Why is it a mousse and not a gel when it looks like a gel? I never received an answer to that first question, but I did ask Tweezerman Canada's brow expert the second question and she explained that the clear formula is lighter than gel, so they dubbed it a mousse due to a slightly less dense texture (it's not air-whipped like a mousse, don't get too excited). I can't really remark on the lightness of the texture, to me it applies like every other brow gel, but the difference I've found with this formula is that it doesn't flake or lose hold throughout the day. Everything stays in place, but I don't feel like I've glued my brows down. The worst is when you raise your brows as one does when they have facial reactions to different scenarios and you feel your brows. I don't ever really want to be that aware of my brow gel, so this one is great for solid hold without the weird shellacked-to-your-head sensation. Keeper.  

Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent from the company or their PR team for editorial consideration. For more information, please click here.   

Brow Biz - Benefit Brow Bar

The importance of eyebrows musn't be downplayed, dear reader. Brows are arguably the most crucial feature of your face. At the risk of sounding increasingly dramatic, they make or break your whole look! To prove such a point, my cute friend Zhen let me capture her brow grooming experience at Benefit Cosmetics' Brow Bar, located in Sephora Yorkdale.

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Scrolling through the gallery above, you can see the various steps that Zhen was taken through by our Brow Expert, Kelly. Zhen's brows were initially tinted (pretty sure this was Zhen's fave step in the process, since filling in brows isn't her ideal pastime), and then the brow shape was mapped out using Benefit Brow Zings and an angled brush. Kelly used different points on the face to determine where the brow would begin (a line between the side of the nose and the inner corner of the eye), arch (a line between the side of the nose and pupil of the eye), and end (a line from the side of the nose to the outer corner of the eye) and mapped these points out accordingly.

After mapping, Kelly busted out the wax and began to remove hair in small sections starting on the top of the brows first and then moving to the bottom, ensuring that each section was completely tidy before moving onto the next, detailing with tweezers as she went along. Excess wax was removed with a bit of oil, as per usual.

The difference that tinting and shaping can make.

How significantly brows change once they're shaped and filled in!
Kelly used Benefit Instant Brow Pencil to lightly fill in Zhen's shape. All in all, Zhen was pretty stoked on her expert arches, which really do look so sharp! I think it's an appointment that's worthy of everyone's time because EVERYONE can use a little brow help and Benefit Brow Bar is conveniently located and super speedy, and most importantly, the brow pros there are really, really good at what they do.  For a location near you, click here!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Diwali Wishes + Fave Candles

It's Diwali today, and I've felt a little wrapped up in my thoughts (as per usual), so let me take a moment to step out of my thoughts and focus on others. You, to be specific. If you're reading this, you mean a great deal to me because you're taking your time to read words I write. This is absurdly significant to me so let me say thank you. Thank you for reading what I write!

Diwali is a festival of lights, representing the triumph of good over evil and lightness over darkness. Diwali has several meanings and interpretations, and the meaning I'm most drawn to today is the awareness of inner light. Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of this inner light. May the brightness of your inner light vanquish any darkness in your life!

I've never been equipped with the usual Diwali clay/oil lights, so I've made a habit of lighting my favourite candles instead on this holiday. These are some (unisex!) scented candles I enjoy:

Diptyque Cuir candle - I stumbled upon this candle in the Diptyque candle on Bleecker in West Village a couple years back, and I have been obsessed with it since. The smoky leather fragrance that fills your home after burning this is sublime. It's unfortunately not available for purchase online, as it's a boutique exclusive in the US, so if you pop into a Diptyque boutique, grab one. Just do it. It's fantastic.

Byredo Cotton Poplin candle - This brand is essentially fragrances that are all inspired by brand founder Ben Gorham's scent memories. He created a fragrance called Blanche for his wife, which is a feminine blend of white roses, peonies and sandalwood. I approached the Byredo counter in Holts one day and asked for the candle equivalent of Blanche, and this candle was the result. The scent consists of chamomile, white cedarwood and sweet musk. It's a very subtle fragrance, so it's ideal for anyone who wants something a little lighter. 

White Barn Home Eucalyptus Mint candle - Finding palatable scents at a more reasonable price point is always a fun objective I set for myself when browsing shops. I'm normally not drawn to any of the sugary sweet seasonal scents that you can find in Bath & Body Works (they just aren't my cup of chai), so finding something as refreshing as this candle at BBW was wonderful. The eucalyptus isn't too sharp, the mint isn't overly artificial and it's enhanced with a bit of citrus. This candle has really substantial throw even when it's not burning, making it great to just leave open in a room to freshen up the space.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mascaras... A Quickie Post - PART II

A continuation/update of the apparently useful post that I wrote a couple years ago (here!). Just a little note about my personal preference on mascaras these days: I gravitate towards drier formulas and tend to hang on to wetter formulations until they dry out a bit, and then they're usually perfectly to my liking, so if I list wet formula as a con, but then say I'd repurchase it, know that I probably let it dry out and then really appreciated the way the formula performed. Lord knows I've tried a lot of mascaras since my initial mascara quickie post, so I'll try to comment on whatever I can remember. Luckily, I have a desk drawer full of mascaras to jog my memory. ...Yes, I may be a slight cosmetic hoarder. Onto the list!

Product: Tom Ford Beauty Extreme Mascara
Pros: very volumizing and lengthening formula
Cons: price
Repurchase?: If I have the money lying around, yes. It exceeded my expectations.

Product: Joe Fresh Lash Plump Mascara
Pros: dry formula, huge brush, big volume
Cons: nada
Repurchase?: Definitely.

Product: MAC Haute & Naughty Too Black Extreme
Pros: two lash looks in one tube thanks to the dual-wiper system that allows you to go between clean definition and major volume
Cons: the amped-up lash look can sometimes lean a bit to the spider-lash side, so watch out!
Repurchase?: Absolutely.

Product: MAC In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash
Pros: huge polymer molded brush that delivers a high level of definition
Cons: the formula is a bit on the wet side
Repurchase?: Probably not, I'll stick with Haute & Naughty Too Black Extreme if I rebuy any mascara from MAC.

Product: Guerlain Maxi Lash
Pros: volume, curl, no lash stiffness
Cons: nada
Repurchase?: Most definitely. Check out this formula's violet iteration if you're in the mood for something different!

Product: Urban Decay Big Fatty Mascara
Pros: clean, defined volume
Cons: makes an absurd mess during removal
Repurchase?: No way, José. This stuff resembles Lauren Conrad mascara tears during removal.

Product: Urban Decay Lush Lash
Pros: lash growth serum in the formula, awesome volume and length
Cons: nada
Repurchase?: Yes. Have a backup of this on standby, and have gone through a few tubes. 

Product: Clinique High Impact Extreme Volume
Pros: polymer brush (similar to MAC's In Extreme Dimension) that dishes up definition
Cons: wet formula didn't seem to deliver on the volume claim
Repurchase?: None for me, thanks!

Product: CoverGirl Clump Crusher
Pros: no clumps thanks to the polymer wand
Cons: slight stiffness of lashes
Repurchase?: Yes. Hyper-affordable cleanly defined lashes.

Product: Stila Forever Your Curl Curl Memory Mascara
Pros: smaller wand that can allow you to sort of...coax your lashes into the end look you desire
Cons: weirdly creamy formula that actually smudged on me (unheard of!)
Repurchase?: No thank you!

Product: Bourjois Volume Fast & Perfect
Pros: rotating wand (two directions for upper and lower lashlines), awesome volumizing formula
Cons: damn near impossible to find in Canada :(
Repurchase?: I have a couple backups of this since I first tried it in Australia last year, with every intention of hunting down MORE (cuz I'm crazy like that).

Product: Dior Diorshow New Look
Pros: teeny, tiny, very non-Dior wand that's great for getting to the roots to maximize lashes (superb for anyone who doesn't have a ton of lashes to go around)
Cons: nada
Repurchase?: Yes. I occasionally forget how solid this mascara is, but I'd definitely grab another tube. It's a great brush!

Product: Dior Diorshow Iconic Overcurl
Pros: curved wand to encourage lashes to curl, excellent formula
Cons: nada
Repurchase?: I already have a backup of this ready and waiting to be opened. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

Product: Maybelline The Falsies Big Eyes Volum'Express
Pros: two wands (normal wand for top lashes and a skinny wand for bottom lashes)
Cons: wet formula didn't give much volume
Repurchase?: Neg. Great concept, but I'll save my coins for another drugstore offering.

Product: Marcelle Power Volume Mascara
Pros: big wand, densely packed bristles, volumizing formula
Cons: nada
Repurchase?: Already have a backup.  (.....Are we noticing a trend yet? And by "trend", I may mean "spiraling addiction"...)

Product: ARDENCY INN PUNKER Unrivaled Volume & Curl Lash Wax
Pros: waxy formula leaves lashes supersoft, high-impact volume
Cons: gigantic wand could be a bit of a challenge due to unusual croissant shape, crazy messy removal
Repurchase?: No. I'll use it up, but messy removal is a no-go with me.

Product: Chanel Le Volume de Chanel
Pros: crazy cool wand that is kind of like snowflakes stacked upon each other, wicked volumizing formula that results in the craziest volume ever with minimal strokes/effort
Cons: absolutely none
Repurchase?: In a heartbeat. I own this in three colour variations and am obsessed with this formula.

Product: Marc Jacobs Beauty  Lash Lifter - Gel Volume Mascara
Pros: lightweight formula doesn't weigh lashes down
Cons: ....but the formula doesn't do anything at all.
Repurchase?: Nope. Returned it. Super lacklustre performance, sadly.

Product: L'Oreal Voluminous Butterfly
Pros: fibre formula with a really innovative wand that allows you to emphasize the corner lashes for a visual eyelift, formula removes without little fibre bits going all over the place
Cons: formula is wet at first
Repurchase?: Yes. As with all Voluminous mascaras I've tried, they're awesome once they dry out a bit. This one is GREAT!

Product: YSL Faux Cils Babydoll
Pros: nice departure from the usual Faux Cils brush (this one has a molded wand), clean volume
Cons: smell irritates eyes well after application
Repurchase?: No. It's a fine mascara, no issue there, but for the price, I'm sure I can find something else I enjoy using more that doesn't irritate my eyes.

Product: Maybelline One By One Volum'Express
Pros: molded wand + great formula = awesome volume
Cons: nada
Repurchase?: Have and will repurchase. Solid drugstore find!

Product: L'Oreal Telescopic Shocking Extensions
Pros: lengthening formula that also gives subtle volume, overall high impact lashes
Cons: nada
Repurchase?: Absolutely. It's a great formula for a great price! 

Product: Maybelline The Volum'Express Mega Plush Lash
Pros: lightweight gel-mousse formula, bendy brush head
Cons: big wand made getting to lash roots messier than it should've been
Repurchase?: Nah, plenty of other drugstore mascaras I'd rather use.

Product: CoverGirl Flamed Out
Pros: hourglass brush fits contour of lashline, hollow bristles hold more product to deposit on lashes, formula is on the drier side so I don't have to wait ages for it to dry
Cons: nada
Repurchase?: Yes! Big volume for little money. Huge love.

Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent from the company or their PR team for editorial consideration. For more information, please click here.


Shine On, You Crazy Diamond: Highlighter Loves

I come from a home where there’s an extremely high appreciation of anything pretty (and also anything miniature, but that’s a different post!). My mother has spent years accumulating pretty things and she displays them just about everywhere, from her nightstand (where she keeps a rhinestone-encrusted stapler – she’s also a fan of anything shiny) to an asymmetrical curio cabinet in our great room (filled with Swarovski trinkets). The other day, I went home and a perfume box from a Creed Silver Mountain Water purchase I made 2 years ago when I was still living in New York had somehow survived the trek from NYC to Kitchener, and was now plopped on top of a control panel for the central air in her room. I asked her why this box was sitting in such an obscure spot, and she simply said, “It’s pretty, so I want to look at it,” and this pretty much encapsulates how I feel about highlighters and highlighting as a whole. Highlighting products, powders in particular, tend to be absolutely stunning in the pan, reflecting every bit of light and coming to life when swatched on the skin with your own undertones shining through. Highlighters are a beautiful cosmetic concept; they’re designed to draw attention to what we feel are beautiful features of our faces. Pretty product for pretty features sounds like good sense to me. Read on for some highlighters I adore.

I have to start by saying this palette is limited edition for the Holiday 2013 season, so track it down as soon as possible if you think it may be up your alley! Bobbi Brown is known for many cosmetic accomplishments (lest we forget, this is a lady who started out by being selling her first 10 lipsticks to Bergdorfs – that’s a hell of a place to start one’s brand!), and her range of Shimmer Brick palettes is no exception. The palettes usually contain 5 powder strips of shade variations of one colour in a noticeably shimmery finish. They’re excellent highlighters for anyone who doesn’t mind a bit of overt shimmer that fortunately doesn’t migrate on the face. This palette is a departure from the usual Shimmer Brick format, since it’s in a quad format (gold, rose gold, silvery quartz, bronze), much more finely milled and has more of an incandescent, lit-from-within sheen than an outright shine. As soon as I tried it, it became a new favourite, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is afraid of discoball shimmer, because that’s so not what this palette is about. Bonus: the 4 shades in the palette can double as eyeshadows.

Becca Cosmetics is an Australian brand that’s been making headway in the North American market in the last year or so, increasing their distribution through Sephora doors. I first saw the fluid Shimmering Skin Perfectors touted by Lisa Eldridge as a brightener and primer of sorts to be worn under foundation. The pressed powder versions that have recently launched are definitely more traditional powder highlighters best worn as a finishing touch to the face. I had an absolute fit when I saw this version pop up on and ordered it immediately. This is also an incredibly soft powder (a dab’ll do for both cheeks), and the shimmer is a bit more apparent to the naked eye, but who isn’t still in love with all things rose gold? It’s like candlelight that just happens to be lighting up your face all damn day. Get into it.

This champagne cream-to-powder formula is so neat. Literally. It’s tidy. I say this because it’s a fine shimmer formula and it also offers a degree of control since it’s a cream formula, so it really does go precisely where you apply it (this can be a downside to powder highlighters, so consider this in your highlighter hunt). I didn’t try this until this past May, when I, much like many of you, received this as a part of my Sephora Beauty Insider birthday gift. I was initially skeptical of the colour, because I thought it may be ashy on me since it’s a fairly light colour, but it was warm enough to work and it’s excellent for cheeks and highlighting the Cupid’s bow and tear ducts. A great shade for lighter skintones!

I first heard of Edward Bess from none other than The Beauty Look Book. Sabrina is one of my favourite beauty bloggers that I have been following for years and her taste level is super refined, so I admire her purchases and they often spur my own buys. I nabbed this up from Bergdorfs when living in Manhattan and the tiny black compact packs a lot of golden luminous sheen that lasts all day, doesn’t feel greasy and doesn’t sit on top of skin since it’s a cream texture that heats up and melds with your skin thanks to your body heat (yay for having a pulse!). This one’s particularly glam during summer months, but to me, winter is when you need luminosity the most so have at it, y’all!

Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent from the company or their PR team for editorial consideration. For more information, please click here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Moisture Masks & A Face Oil

I don’t know about you, but it’s only the end of October and I’m already waking up in the morning with an absurdly dry nose, mouth and – horror of horrors – dry skin! As soon as the mercury hovers around the freezing point and the thermostat goes up, every iota of moisture in the air disappears and my word, I miss it. In order to even things out, I rely on heavier moisturizers until we’re in the dead of winter (you know, the “-20C with the windchill” type of days). That’s when I bust out the heavy artillery, better known as some mega moisturizing masks and a hyper-hydrating face oil, because they dose skin with some awesome and essential ingredients and frankly, it’s just nice to sit down with a mask on when taking shelter from the blustering winds and snowfalls. These are some of the products I’ll be reaching for in the coming months.

SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Masque

I originally sought this one out before it was even available in the country (quelle surprise... I have a habit of obsessing over goods that aren’t available where I live). Now that this clear gel mask has graced Canada with its presence, I can rave about it! SkinCeuticals does not play around when it comes to skincare. They are big on high performance ingredients, so I’m pleased to report this mask is no exception. As you can probably deduce from the product name, this mask is equipped with a dose of vitamin B5, which is essential to skin tissue repair, so it’s great for wind-whipped skin. It also contains hyaluronic acid, which is everyone’s best friend when it comes to winter, since it retains 1000x its own weight in water (read: this is REALLY good for dry skin!). There’s also glycerin and urea in the mix, so the moisture that’s drawn into the skin is then held there, and that’s exactly what to look for from a mask. Tip: this can be used on all areas of the body...elbows, hands, knees, any dry areas that need a moisture boost.

Fresh Crème Ancienne Ultimate Nourishing Honey Mask

Honey has been having a bit of a lime light moment in the North American beauty scene since the summer from fragrance to skincare, but it’s also one of the most used at-home ingredients for centuries now as far as natural skincare goes, and this is due to its antimicrobial properties, as well as its ability to absorb and retain moisture. In addition to honey, this mask contains seabuckthorn oil and meadowfoam seed oil, both rich in fatty acids that nourish skin, as well as shea butter and vitamin E. That’s... a lot of hydration in one jar, so this mask is definitely one to check out when it launches in Canada in January!

La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Mask

Ever since going to pharmacies in Paris and discovering my favourite retinol treatment to date from this brand (more about that in a future post!), I’ve been that much more in love with France’s very own La Roche-Posay. The entire range is all about addressing specific skincare concerns, ranging from redness (handled by the Rosalaic range) to dryness (the Lipikar range) and oiliness, pigmentation issues... you name it, they handle it, and for a reasonable price point. This particular mask isn’t a rinse-off mask, so it’s best used at night. Applying a liberal layer of this blue gel-cream to reap the benefits of the fragmented hyaluronic acid in the formula. It’s not just helpful for winter skin, but dehydrated sun-drenched skin has plenty to gain from this mask. Very comforting!

Origins Plantscription Face Oil

Before parlaying into retinols, I took a baby step towards retinol alternatives, and Origins Plantscription Serum was one I used and loved because it provided results with no irritation thanks to its plant-based ingredients. The latest launch in the Plantscription family is this face oil, which is definitely falling under the umbrella of anti-aging skincare, since it’s chockfull of 20 (!) precious oils, including sweet almond, sunflower, rose and raspberry oils and anogeissus, which is the anti-aging ingredient found throughout the Plantscription range. A couple drops go a long way and you’ll be amazed at how quickly oil absorb into the skin, and you’ll really be amazed at the increase in softness and suppleness of your skin the next morning after using this face oil. If your face is parched this winter, give this one a go. 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hudson's Bay Yorkdale - A Whole New Retail Experience

Today, I had the delightful privilege of joining Shelley Rozenwald, HBC's Chief Beauty Adventurer (how cool is this title?!), and some fellow bloggers at Hudson's Bay at Yorkdale Shopping Mall for a guided tour through the new Beauty Hall that has just opened.

I'm no stranger to Yorkdale and had been to the department store a handful of times during renovations, but naturally, certain areas were partitioned off and weren't accessible, so to see the whole floor in all its glory was quite literally awesome. I was in actual awe of the sheer size of the beauty floor, as it actually went on much farther than I could see.

Chanel counter

The entire concept of the revamped Beauty Hall is hyper-focused on increasing the amount of time spent at the counter whenever possible, and personally, I'm a lingerer, so I ain't mad at it. The idea is that consumers can choose to engage further either with an automated guide (on iPads or large touchscreen system installed at certain counters) or an actual beauty specialist in order to properly assess their needs and desires pertaining to skincare, fragrance and colour cosmetics.

Dior counter
As a beauty fiend, I actually never really am an in-and-out or grab-and-go type of person when it comes to store visits. I'm all about the conversation that can unfold with different associates that I come in contact with throughout the department, so this setup is right up my alley, but the option to make a quick purchase is always there for anyone who prefers to keep to themselves, and brand logos are easy to spot all over the place in order to figure out precisely where you want to wander on the floor.

Clarins counter
Shelley guided us to the fragrance area and I was instantly infatuated by the way the fragrance department has been set up. Brands have dedicated areas (that I rapidly dubbed "fragrance nooks") that act as very small but very real fragrance shops, displaying a full array of fragrances available from the brand. In the Narciso Rodriguez nook, there was a set-up of essential oils that are central to the Narciso Rodriguez fragrances. This was reminiscent of the Chanel Les Exclusifs set-up at Holts Yorkdale and Bloor, so I definitely had an appreciation for the direction that Hudson's Bay is moving in as far as fragrance interaction goes.

Narciso Rodriguez fragrance nook
Hudson's Bay fragrance department
Thierry Mugler fragrance nook
Viktor & Rolf fragrance nook
In addition increasing the amount of time consumers spend at the counter, Hudson's Bay has cabines that can be booked for services with different brands. How great is that?! Fun secret: the Shiseido counter is actually equipped with their own cabine at the counter that's used for complimentary facials. Complimentary. Facials. You read that right.
Cabine space for services
New brands introduced to the HBC Beauty Hall include Giorgio Armani (yes!!!), Illamasqua (an absolute curveball, but welcomed nonetheless!), Bobbi Brown (Shimmer Bricks are essential), Anna Sui (the counter is modeled after Anna's Paris apartment) and Shu Uemura (Tokyo beauty at its finest).

Illamasqua counter
What did I conclude after exploring the 20,000 square feet of beauty retail space that I can probably alternately refer to as heaven on earth? That Hudson's Bay is absolutely bringing something back to beauty retail and that's a more full service shopping experience that is designed to be interactive and enjoyable while converting consumers into lifelong brand fans.

...and I'm here for that.

all images provided by Hudson's Bay Company

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Loving Lately - October 12th, 2013

What can I say? I don't consider myself the standard pink lover, but this image begs to differ. Allow me to run these down:

1. Dior Diorblush in 849 Mimi Bronze - The latest blush formulation to launch from Dior, which is weirdly soon after the cream blush range that launched not too long ago from this brand, but so what/who care, the new shade range is both extensive and lovely. The formula is plenty pigmented and application is pretty dreamy. This colour keeps me from having to use a separate bronzer as a contour, so yay for streamlining the ol' routine!

2. MAC Extended Play Giga Lash (RiRi packaging) - I'm not going to lie. The initial reason I bought this was because I just liked the packaging of this Rihanna x MAC collab (the third one of the year), and had never tried this formula before (and we all know I am a bit of a mascara addict), but luckily, it's quite decent for wiggling into the root of the lashes and almost sculpting lashes. Yeah. Lash sculpting. That's a thing now.

3. Jo Malone Red Currant & Cream Cologne - sorry to anyone who actually wants this, because it was indeed limited edition and came out in Spring 2013, BUT there's a very small but real chance your nearest Jo Malone counter might actually have this. I'm not a fan of gourmand scents, but Jo Malone did up sugary sweet in a very favourable way. There's a creamy musk note at the heart of this that mellows out the strawberry and raspberry notes. It's definitely not an everyday scent for me (lest we forget, I'm the person who pushed her Aqualina Pink Sugar-obsessed friend to abandon that scent and enter adulthood with grown-up fragrance that doesn't remind everyone of a bad hangover in 2nd year university), but it's a welcomed reprieve from the hyper citrus scents I wore all summer and the heavier/headier scents I'll be delving into in months to come this winter.

4. Valentino Valentino Satin Body Oil - I bought the EDP and body lotion set of Valentino Valentina last fall and quite adored the scent throughout the winter, so imagine my dismay when I moved back into my now-repaired condo and discovered that Valentino Valentina had apparently gone missing (along with 4-5 other fragrances and my flat iron). Suffice it to say, I was a touch heartbroken. An oud iteration of this fragrance is launching in November, but I could not wait to try it, and had to get a hit of this fragrance (and even an adorable mini version of the Assoluto flanker wouldn't satiate me). Instead of sinking another ~$100 in the EDP, I was creeping and discovered there was a body oil of this fragrance. A body oil! For winter! In Canada! That makes enough sense to me! So I grabbed it for a decent price and have very much enjoyed the dry oil texture, as it absorbs quickly and I'm not paranoid about leaving really sketchy oil slicks everywhere my limbs touch.

5. Deborah Milano Blusher in Cacao - This one... well, this one will kind of make me seem like a crazy person. After seeing maybe two people on YouTube rave on and on about this specific blush, I was determined to try it. Deborah Milano doesn't ship to Canada. By some miracle, they do ship from Europe to USA, so I pulled that usual stunt of buying stuff and getting it shipped to my awesome brother who still resides in Manhattan. I'd have less of an ecommerce habit if he didn't, but I'd pay so much duty if he did, my goodness. Right, so, this blush is a delightful shimmery brown colour and if I dab it onto my cheeks just below the cheekbone but not quite in the contour, it's a pretty great definition without requiring a separate highlight. It's like instant structure for the face. What could be bad about that?

6. Bourjois Cream Blush in 04 Sweet Cherry - First started reading about these cream blushes on Euro makeup blogs and when Chanel launched their cream blushes, I was into the formula and wondered if the formula would be similar to Bourjois' and low and behold, they're really, really similar (spoiler alert: both brands belong to the same privately owned company). Both formulas have that brilliant cream to powder formula, but Chanel stuck to a really satiny finish, whereas Bourjois has a bit of shimmer in some of their shades. Sweet Cherry is a mid-tone dusty pink shade that isn't too bright and pretty ideal as a base shade for cheeks when patted onto cheeks. This formula looks ever so second-skin and natural. I grabbed this when I was in London in June and just grabbed a couple more on ASOS (sidebar: buying Rimmel and Bourjois products that aren't available in the North American market is an absurdly amusing pastime).

7. Fresh Life Eau de Parfum - I believe this is launching in November in Canada, and I'm anxiously awaiting the day, because I have put an aggressive dent in my bottle, and I've probably gone through about 40mL of the 100 mL bottle pictured. The notes are unusual in that this fragrance is essentially four different scents developed individually and then rolled into one. It's been a bit polarizing for some people, but it's launching in a fragrant candle and body oil iteration, and I have every intention of purchasing both when it launches because I kinda want to simply exist in this fragrance. The warm orange, velvet bergamot and grapefruit elements come out the most to my nose, but there's plenty more going on in this bottle. I think my only gripe is that it doesn't seem to last on my skin, hence my half-bottle dousing every time I leave the house, but your mileage may vary.

Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent from the company or their PR team for editorial consideration. For more information, please click here.

Back Like I Forgot Something

I've been toying with starting a blog again for a while now. I've been freelance writing a bit, and it's been very rewarding, but I've always felt I have more to say than I usually am able to regarding beauty and that's when I started contemplating starting my own thing again.

I'll gladly leave up the ancient posts I wrote 2+ years ago, if only to remind me where I began.

Hoping to keep on top of things a bit more regularly here, regardless of whether I'm rambling on about fashion, beauty or anything else I darn well please.

P.S. I still stand behind the Kanye reference that inspired the name of this blog, 2+ years later! Some things never change.
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