Tuesday, January 27, 2015

DIY Craft : Simple & Chic Desktop Calendar | $10 & Under

One of the things that gets me most excited about a new year is the need (or mostly, want) to shop for new calendars, notebooks and general miscellaneous materials for my life. Calendars however have always been a big struggle as my taste is always larger than my wallet. For 2014 I had been using a sneaky little DIY calendar that has worked really well for a quick date check, takes up minimal space without cramping on style and best of all, it's totally affordable.

NOTEPAD | Rifle Paper Co. | Garance Dore Collection
What makes a DIY project (and this one in particular) stand out is often the quality of the materials used. For me, nothing says luxe like nice, thick creamy paper and that will really show in the final look of your project. Whenever I'm crafting, I often mix high and low priced materials together but you need to spend where it counts. But this doesn't mean you shouldn't look for sales! I was able to purchase this lovely notepad (from one of my favourite stationary brands might I add) for $5CAD from Chapters/Indigo online during their free shipping week. Total score.

Make one for yourself, make one as a gift and get creative by altering this to your own aesthetic. Switch up the cardboard colour, switch up the notepad or maybe even try a cute patterned clip. Don't forget to Instagram or Tweet me a photo if you give this a whirl. Happy crafting!


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Review: Sephora | Shimmering Marsala Cheek Blush Trio

"Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness. This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors."

              - Pantone Institute                                   

I don't know if you've caught the colour wave yet but this year's Pantone colour of the year is making me very happy. The rich earthy hue of Marsala recalls the early 90s love for nude but in an updated and modern way with variations of creamy blush to deep burgundy.                         

Brand: Sephora (x Pantone Collaboration)
Product: Shimmering Marsala Cheek Trio
Collection: 2015 Marsala Collection (Layering lipsticks, matte lipstick, eyeliner, eyeshadow palette, liquid eyeliner, shimmering colour sticks)
Size: 2 x 2.9g + 4.8g
Price: $35 CAD
Availability: Sephora stores nationwide
Would I repurchase: Yes, if I ever finish it but that might take a long time.
Sephora Website: www.sephora.com
Pantone Website: www.pantone.com

This year's Sephora and Pantone Collection brings forth a plethora of products to feast your eyes on. A large shadow palette with shades of Marasal and colourful combinations to pair it with, beautiful rich lipsticks that set my eyes sparkling lined the front entrance of Sephora stores. Now I first spotted this Marsala blush palette via someone's blog post and knew immediately that I had to see it for myself.

L-R | Spanish Villa, Coral Pink, Marsala

Packaged in the collection's universal gold and white theme, the plastic casing opens up to reveal a mirrored lid along with 3 coordinating cheek products. Note that the inner part that holds the blush is actually an insert that is glued into the case. Mine is tacked down tight but I have heard a few complaints that some may be a little loose.

On to the actual colours themselves; Spanish Villa is a shimmering champagne peach highlighter, Coral Pink is a pastel tinged peachy pink and Marsala is a warm full bodied rosy-orange pink. The highlighter leaves a fine metallic finish while the other blush shades look satin-matte once applied.

In this photo (above) I am wearing all three shades. First a layer of Marsala, then (attempted) to blend out with Coral pink and then finished with a sweep of Spanish Villa. Let me say that the Marsala shade is intense! So much so that pale skinned ladies should definitely dust off some colour on the back of your hand before putting it on your face. (You can see that my right cheek needed a little extra blending.) The highlighter is smooth and imparts a shimmering look (no chunky glitter here) that also needs to be use lightly to avoid going overboard.

All three shades have beautiful pigmentation, smoothness and are a pleasure to use. My favourite method is to use a small flat blush brush (try looking for some travel brushes for the smaller size) for application as it allowed me for more precise pin-point lay down then buffed out with a large brush for blending. Wear time is pretty much all day and I have not noticed any patching or breakdown throughout the day which is great as well. This is also unscented.

The Sephora x Pantone Shimmering Marsala Cheek Trio is my must have recommendation to start your beauty routine for 2015. The colour combination is truly universally flattering and for $35 this is a great investment. I love the option of two blush shades which allows you to adjust the intensity from spring well into fall so you'll be able to wear this all year long. It'll take me some practice getting used to applying such a rich colour but once I've got that down I can see this being a regular in my beauty routine!


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Review: Laneige BB Cushion Foundation SPF50/PA++

You've heard about me talk about bb cushions for a while now and you may have even read my reviews for a few of them. Since then I've really grown to love them for easy on the go application and convenient touch ups, all without getting a single finger dirty. Today we're delving into one of my favourite Korean brands, Laneige and their award winning BB Cushion.

Brand: Laneige
Product: 6-in-1 BB Cushion* SPF50/PA++
Colour: #13 True Beige (shown), 5 shades in total
Size: 15g x 2 (per package)
Price: $46-50 CAD via YesStyle
Availability: Yes Style (online), Laneige stores worldwide
Would I (re)purchase: Yes

As you're reading this right now, Laniege currently has a few different bb cushion types on the market. This exact one you're seeing here is the latest updated version of the original bb cushion (other variants include the Pore Control and Anti-aging) which has taken Asia by whirlwind especially with their beautiful spokes model Song Hye Kyo.

The full package of the Laneige bb cushion comes with a mirrored compact case, instruction pamphlet as well as two refill cushions (one of which is already installed in the compact) each at 15grams for a total of 30grams of product. The official Laneige website lists 5 shades which coverages light to medium-dark skin tones (around NC/NW45-50) although most stores tend to carry the 3 lightest shades.

Of course, multi-functionality is the bb cushion's claim to fame and Laneige markets this to be brightening, provide UV protection, increase moisture, provide natural coverage, provide skin soothing properties as well as be water resistant. The product itself is sealed inside a lidded compact which can be closed after use to prevent evaporation.

A closer look at the cushion itself (below) shows a soft sponge which holds the foundation. Now having use a few cushions from various price points, I can say that the Laneige version feels sturdy yet soft to the touch while others feel rough in comparison. A simple pat with the enclosed sponge into the cushion picks up a small amount of product that you then blend over the skin in a patting motion. The foundation has the classic (heavy) Laneige fragrance that will linger around for a couple of hours after application and while I don't mind it, I would have preferred they make it a little milder.

Here I'm wearing the lightest shade No.13 Light Beige which is described by the brand as a beige shade with yellow tones that creates a bright and clear complexion. Do we agree? I certainly think so!

Having had a little hiccup with the IOPE No.21 which had a pale cast, I was rather worried the Laneige version would be too light as well but it actually blended in very nicely with my (NC15-20) skin and helped to even the colour with my neck. In these photos I am wearing one layer of the foundation but it is certainly buildable. I'd rate the coverage at light to medium which will easily take care of some redness, light discolouration and minor blemishes. Dark circles and prominent spots will require additional concealer but I've rarely worn any when using the Laneige cushion as I find the coverage perfect for my daily use.

What really impressed me, above all else, was how natural this looked while still giving me an illuminated lift to my complexion. My skin just looks smoother and clearer without a drastic coverup. The finish is a satiny glow that leaves skin looking soft and supple but not greasy. Minimal cling to dry patches and smoothes over pores decently though it I would still recommend a primer for pores to make things more impeccable.

Doing a little finger swatching with the foundation reveals a creamy consistency which gives is great blendablity yet it feels thin, light and comfortable on my skin. I do notice that it never really sets completely (as most cream/compact products would) and remains somewhat pliable which does mean that if you wear glasses, those pesky bridge marks are inevitable.

As far as all of its skincare functions go, the Laneige bb cushion did an excellent job of keeping my skin hydrated throughout the day and even helped to calm some facial redness. By the end of the day, after removing the makeup I still found my skin to be in pretty good condition instead of looking worn and tired. There were no notable improvements in skin tone or dark spots, so although I adore the Laneige White Renew Serum, this bb cushion alone isn't going to take care of your skincare altogether. No other breakouts, negative reactions or skin issues to report which is great!

My main (and only) disappointment with this bb cushion its lack of long lasting power. It doesn't break down or melt off per say but that fact that it never truly sets means that it rubs off everywhere with everything I touch. Plus this also means that it does crease a little into smile lines. In the fall to winter season, it lasts a good 5 hours on my combination skin an it is easily retouched if needed. I do tend to like it better when worn with the Laneige Water Base CC Cream which helps with smoother pore coverage and also seems to extend the wear slightly.

You win some, you loose some but the Laneige BB Cushion is mostly a winner in my books! The texture and blendabilty really impresses me and the fact that it provides a natural satin glow yet keeps my skin moisturized all while feeling lightweight is exactly what I need this time of the year. If you are looking for quick everyday coverage (the type you can do while standing on the bus) that looks great in all lighting situations then you certainly need to give this a try. Best suited for dry to combination skin rather than oily skin. For the fact that this has great colour match and does not cling to my dry patches, the Laneige bb cushion edges out the IOPE slightly for me and I will most definitely be picking this up again either in this variation or trying out another from the range.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review: Josie Maran | 100% Argan Oil

Sometimes you stumble upon beauty products out of curiosity, other times you find them out of necessity. In the case of the past few weeks, I had finally succumbed to the winter flu which left my ability to breathe normally totally non-existent but more annoyingly my skin was desert dry. Scrambling through my stash for something to hold me over, I found this small bottle of 100% argan oil which was part of a Sephora beauty set I got during the holidays.

Brand: Josie Maran
Product: 100% Pure Argan Oil
Variation: Regular (shown), Light
Size: 15ml
Price: $20CAD (15ml), $60CAD (50ml), $120CAD (120ml)
Availability: Sephora, Josie Maran online
Would I repurchase: Yes!
Website: www.josiemarancosmetics.com

With argan oil being the "it" ingredient a couple of years ago I have excited tried it in many different forms from argan infused hair products to blended argan facial oil but none have impressed me much. The main issue with most of them was the thick, almost heavy consistency that seems to take forever to absorb.

This mini sized Josie Maran 100% argan oil is packaged in a small tinted glass dropper bottle which allows you to measure out as little or as many drops that you need for various application methods. It can be used pure or mixed with other products. This multi-purpose product can be used all over from face to body and even in your hair. As a former model (probably most well known for her Maybelline ads) Josie's turn into beauty care seemed like a natural thing and her entire line is abased around this single natural ingredient, the argan nut. Full of essential fatty acids, it's said to be the golden ingredient for moisturizing, nourishing and providing anti-aging benefits for your skin.

Of course my issue at hand was much simpler, I just needed something to soothe my sore nose (a whole roll of tissues will do that to ya) and parched skin. I first tried rubbing some argan oil directly over dry spots throughout the day which seemed to help with the immediate tightness. Then feeling a little more confident, I used a few drops over my day and night moisturizer and within a day or two my skin became much more manageable. I was even able to put some foundation on without looking like my skin was peeling in beige coloured patches. From there I'm now also using it for my nails and my hair before bedtime all with pretty happy results.

Although the texture of this 100% pure argan oil is thicker (than say the NUXE Dry Oil), it had a creamy consistency that was a pleasure to use. Practically without any scent, it felt soothing and comfortable to use while leaving my skin feeling silky and plump. After a few minutes, there was no residue or greasiness.

Now whether all pure argan oil are made the same I actually don't know but I'm really glad I finally found an argan oil product that works for me. We'll still have to see if this provides any long-term healing effects but purely for adding that extra layer of fatty goodness (yes, even for my combination skin), I am completely sold.

Josie Maran's 100% Pure Argan Oil is smooth, creamy and absolutely beautiful. Having used a plethora of blended argan in fused products, finally trying the pure thing changed my mind about argan altogether. This regular version is probably most suited for those with dry to combination skin and the light version (also pure argan but in a smaller molecular structure) will be better for oilier skin. I'm already looking forward to purchasing the full sized bottle once this runs out and I think it will be a great add on moisturizer to your all over beauty routine.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review: KISS Tapered End Lashes | Best Affordable Style!

As a self confessed false lash snob, I am hard to please when it comes to finding the perfect pair of falsies. Many of what's on the market today are just too big, too heavy and too fake especially if you have smaller eyes to begin with so I have always resorted to buying expensive Japanese brand lashes online. Well, I am delighted to finally find a pair that is not only comparable to some of my favourite Asian styles but at a price that you can really love.

Brand: KISS
Product: Looks So Natural Series* (Tapered End Lashes)
Variation: 5 Styles but may vary between countries
Price: $4.97 CAD / $3.99 USD
Availability: Drugstores Nationwide (spotted at Walmart & London Drugs)
Would I (re)purchase: Already have!
Website: www.kissusa.com

When it comes to navigating the rows of false eyelash options on the shelf, there's really only 2 things that matters regardless of the style and design; lash hair and lash band. The hair should feel soft and have a satin look (versus a plastic glossy finish) but the best lashes in my collection also have a tapered lash end.

Finally, KISS brings this technology to the drugstores and created these Look So Natural series which employ exactly this technique to create fluttery and more realistic falsies. When lash hairs are cut blunt across in production, the uniform length gives a fake plastic doll-like effect where as our real natural lashes have fine tapered lash ends. These lashes mimic the same tapered hair combined with a soft C-shaped curl that gives a soft and fluttery result.

Having done a little digging myself, it seems that although KISS only listed 5 styles on it's North American website, there are actually more styles available in other parts of the world. Oddly enough I picked up a pair in stores recently that had Japanese writing on it labeled as Featherlight Lashes and looked slightly different than the others. Shops in the UK also seem to carry these same lashes but the style names are not consistent with the Canada/US release. Either way, your options are plenty and you should be able to find a style that feels comfortable whether you prefer natural or dramatic.

For those who often find falsies uncomfortable this series have the lashes knotted onto a clear flexible backbone which is not only easier to blend in with your own natural lash line but are also a bit more forgiving when it comes to long hours of wear.

In this photo (above) I am wearing my favourite style from the North American release called "Shy" which is a medium to full density lash with shorter inner corners. The look is very comparable to the Dollywink Otona lashes that I often wear for filming but these are slightly shorter and perkier. On smaller eye shapes this would be the perfect style to enhance your makeup and because of their lightweight feel, I have worn them for 10 hour days without incident.

I also popped on the "Flirty" version (below) but found them to be much too dramatic for my everyday taste and they would be better suited to those with larger eyes. Despite this, you can still see that the shape and style look very natural.

With the release of these KISS Looks So Natural Lashes, I can finally stop panicking every time I run out of my usual false lashes. In fact, these have currently replaced my Japanese style lashes for everyday wear and I have actually gone out to the store to pick up a few of the other styles. The lash band is a little delicate so do handle them with care but I have already re-worn them 5-6 times and can probably still get a couple more uses out of them. A few of the styles are especially excellent for small eyes and at $5 a pop, I am totally in love.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Whatcha Reading | Books Update | Jan 2015

  • This is Dali | Catherine Ingram
  • Pantone on Fashion | Leatrice Eiseman & E.P. Cutler
  • Read My Lips | Meg Ragas & Karen Kozlowski
  • Style Me Vintage | Annabel Beeforth
  • Gertie Sews Vintage | Gretchen Hirsch
  • Stylish Dress Book | Yoshiko Tsukiori

Books are really beautiful things and going to find new books actually makes me extremely excited. The library especially is like a treasure trove of uncharted territory and new discoveries. Lately I've picked up a few that wonderfully merge art, style and history together. A little more fun to read than a textbook but a little more engaging than a picture book. I'm fully enamored with Pantone on Fashion which is something I pick up when I need a short technology break and of course the sewing books have been getting a good read too since I am currently plowing through the Wardrobe Architect Challenge. Gertie Sews Vintage has been keeping me on the straight and narrow while I'm debating on which pattern from my vintage stash to use, her explanations of the techniques provides a useful reference guide for things that aren't always thoroughly explained in the pattern instructions themselves. Read anything good lately? Let me know!