Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Spring Haircut

Spring time is the season for many new beginnings and after a long winter hibernation, it was time for a hair update as well. For the past few years, I've usually stuck to a 2-3 times a year haircut routine; once in the spring/summer, once in winter/holidays and sometime a spur of the moment salon visit sometime in between.

This time, I decided to try my luck in the chic downtown residential area, a place called Sakura Salon (Vancouver) which is small space run by 4 lovely Japanese ladies. With only 4 chairs and 2 washing stations the atmosphere was none the less airy and inviting. Walking into my morning appointment the salon was already filled with customers; an elderly lady getting her hair set for the week, a middle aged woman getting a perm and another understated stylish woman getting a precise geometric bob.

Length: Before - After

Without my usual arsenal of photos and ideas, I sat in the chair with my bubbly short haired stylist Chieri who suggest cleaning up my (now straggly) grown out layers, loosing a few inches at the bottom and creating a more natural looking healthy and full style.

"Go for it" I said.

She sectioned my hair swiftly and with a confident snip, cut into my long hair. After a dry cut with regular and texturizing shears, I had a quick washing session, a much needed shoulder/neck massage and a bouncy yet natural blowout. No tools, no fuss. Just some Moroccan oil to prep, a round brush and some shine spray.

555 Bute Street, Vancouver
Stylist: Chieri
Woman's Cut (wash & style): $42CAD (tax incld.)

The final result was a casual style that's more polished than before but still preserving the thickness of my hair while while giving me some photo shoot worthy bounce. From the longest length, I've probably lost no more than 4 inches. Now I'm not sure if this is some magic Japanese stylist skill (as my other Japanese stylist did this too) but I adore the way that she was able to create this slightly wavy/soft curl in my hair with single small boar bristled brush (no ceramic, no curling irons). I'd say, money well spent. Highly recommend this place for a quick and efficient haircut if you're not looking for the bells and whistles of a fancy shop front. Besides, take your savings and treat yourself to one of the (way too) many hipster coffee houses down the street.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Bye Bye Makeup: Things I'm Letting Go

With all the beauty reviews I post on my blog, there's often just as many products that don't make the cut. Sometimes these are products I've put down my own money for, other times they are PR packages but to try them all and finding the ones worth showing to you results in a (ridiculously) large stockpile of things that just don't work for me. You may recall my Makeup Spring Clean video in which I cleared out my entire makeup stash, well... here's the aftermath.


  • NYX | Dream Catcher's Palette
  • PACIFICA | Coconut Cleansing Wipes
  • ARDELLE | Duralash Short Singles
  • COVERGIRL | Tru Blend Foundation
  • SALLY HANSEN | "With out a stitch" Nail Polish
  • DOLLLYWINK | Eyelash Glue
  • ANDALOU NATURALS | 1000 Roses CC Creams SPF30
  • ESTEE LAUDER | DayWear BB Cream SPF35
  • MILANI | Colour Statement Lipsticks
  • RIMMEL | Apocalips Lipstick | Review
  • MAKEUP ACADEMY | Heaven & Earth


Now it's worth mentioning that beauty products are just a personal thing and your discontent with a foundation may be another person's love affair so I always suggest letting your family and friends have a picking before your makeup hit the bins.

For me, I'm finally feeling refreshed to have let go of the items that were weighing down my collection. Unless you have a real daily need (like a makeup artist), I think functionality eventually wins out every time. And for goodness sakes, it's nice to see the bottom of my drawers again! How often do you clear out your beauty drawers?


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review & Look: 16 Shades of Nude Palette | Shu Uemura

This spring, nude shades continue to dominate in makeup trends. While we've seen many variations from high end to low end, warm to cool shades and multitude of sizes in between. This time, it was Shu Uemura who dropped a fully loaded, incredibly valued, 16 shade full sized eyeshadow palette. Say hello to the 16 Shades of Nude.

Brand: Shu Uemura
Product: 16 Shades of Nude*
Size: 16 x 1.4g
Price: $105 CAD
Availability: Shu Uemura Online Exclusive
Would I (re)purchase: Possibly

Now I must say $105 sounds like one very expensive palette; in a way it is and in a way it's not. It turns out that all the individual colours in this palette are full sized, normally retailing for $19CAD if sold individually. Break this down in a palette and this rounds off to approximately $5.6CAD per eyeshadow. Bang for your buck? Definitely.

The Shu:Palette comes packaged in a very sturdy yet slim matte black plastic casing with a wide mirror under the lid and an accompanying flat duo ended shading brush. I personally prefer a thicker, denser brush for all over shadow application but I have had Shu artists use a similar flat brush for eyeshadow and create some amazing results on me so this really comes down to personal preference.

Note that this palette is designed in Japan but made in Korea according to the packaging.

A closer look at the range of colours and finishes in this palette which are set up from light intensity (denoted by a 1) to medium intensity (denoted by a 2) and dark shades (denoted by a 3). This systematic approach or numbering is meant to help you easily create pairings for a 3 step gradation eye look.

Shades & Intensities according to Shu Uemura

TOP: Beige 821 (Glitter 1), Soft Beige 814 (Matte 1), Light Beige 825 (Metallic 1), Medium Brown 862 (Metallic 2), Soft Brown 851 (Matte 2), Light Beige 811 (Irridescent 2), Dark Blue 690 (Irridescent 3)

BOTTOM: Light Beige 813 (Matte 1), Soft Beige 823 (Pearl 2), Light Beige 815 (Satin 1), Light Beige 822 (Pearl 1), Medium Brown 875 (Pearl 2), Dark Brown 895 (Matte 3), Medium Olive 471 (Metallic 2), Black 990 (Matte 3)

On the rainbow scale, I feel like the shades even out to be fairly neutral. Although there are some golden tones (like the flecked golden glitter) and cooler tones (like the bottom brownish purple), it doesn't swing dramatically in either direction and thus is a very approachable palette for a variety of skin tones. From my count, there are 5 mattes, 3 satins, 2 glitters, 6 metallics.

Above: Colours layered over each other to show variance.

For my light NC15-NC20 skintone, I felt that certain paler shades were just too similar or too light to show up well on my skin and in an everyday situation I wouldn't need all of them in my palette. For someone with a more light-medium skin tone intensity, this would be the perfect colour spectrum with super pale highlights and rich smokey darks. 

The overall texture of the shadows were super smooth (except the glitters which were a little patchy but not gritty) with the matte being exceptionally impressive. What I've learned about Shu eye shadows as a whole is that they are really designed for layering rather than the "one swipe does all" method that you may be used to from brands like Urban Decay for example. The formulations here give a translucency that makes it easy to create subtle or dramatic nuances by building the various textures and finishes together without ever coming off as powder or heavy on the skin.

In this look, I decided to try out a very basic high contrast eye but keeping the style and placement simple. I started with the matte Soft Brown 851 all over the lid, then layered the metallic Light Beige 825 over the same area. I also decided to try out the intensity of the matte Black 990 (a tricky shade for any brand) using the flat brush included with the palette to create a super deep smokey extended liner. In fact, I was so impressed with the richness of the black eye shadow that I did not even pick up my usual liquid liner and instead merely dotted some pencil liner between my lashes, popped on some falsies and called it a day.

Without any additional primer or setting spray, these shadows stayed pristine for 4-5 hours before I noticed some slight creasing but there was no significant shifting to warrant a touch up through the rest of the day. Some of the colours had slight fall out during application but again it was minimal.

The Shu Uemura 16 Shades of Nude Eyeshadow Palette is a very versatile and approachable every day neutral eye shadow collection that will take care of not only your daily makeup but also a few party time looks as well. If you appreciate the subtle nuances in your colours then this is a must have for your collection and at an incredible value as well. The textures of the powders are very easy and forgiving to work with whether you like a singular, gradated or a layered multi-faceted makeup look and you don't need a makeup artist to make this look spectacular. If you're just a very simple neutral sophisticated makeup lover looking to build up a great wearable fool proof routine, this is it. Personally I don't think every single colour in this palette is a must have but there I'm sure I will be able to put them all to good use.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

iHerb Haul | Natural-Eco Conscious Beauty Products

Placing an order at iHerb, is never just a single order. Missing the feel of my favourite clarifying shampoo (you'll find out about that one in the video), I decided a little shopping was in order and with that came a couple of mini shopping trips from this eco-friendly e-retailer. Seeing as I recently destashed my makeup collection, it doesn't hurt to pick up a few makeup items as well...right?

Ordering from iHerb for the first time?
 Gives you $5OFF (orders less than $40), $10OFF (orders more than $40)*


A few useful repurchases mixed with a some new trials makes for a pretty exciting stash of beauty products this time around and I especially can't wait to dig into those Physician's Formula powder products as well as the Alpha Hydroxy Peel. I'm sure some of these items are probably well loved favourites of yours too but do let me know what you're looking forward to seeing in action!


* This post contains an iHerb rewards code that I was given upon my introduction as a first time customer. When used by other first time customers, I gain rewards points which can be redeemed towards my own next purchase for a limited time. This "cash back" reward comes from iHerb's own marketing budget, not from your order.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Review: Dermalogica | MultiVitamin Thermafoliant

Die hard skincare snobs will know it simply by its clean silver packaging and no nonsense products but today I'm here to show you one of Dermalogica's lesser talked about products. With the dry powdered Micro-foliant hogging the spotlight, this very different Multi-vitamin Thermafoliant is actually what I've been using for the past few months and here's what you need to know.

Brand: Dermalogica
Product: Multi-Vitamin Thermafoliant*
Size: 75ml
Price: $54 USD
Availability: Dermalogical Offices, Select Salons/Spas/Skincare Retailers
Would I (re)purchase: Probably.

As its name makes clear, this Thermafoliant is marketed as a combination of skin nourishing vitamins along with a powerful exfoliator and is currently part of their Pro-Age line which helps skin age gracefully. Housed in a small and convenient plastic squeeze tube with a flip top lid; this look says function, not fancy. The consistency is almost that of an exfoliating balm which also has slight self-heating function when in contact with water (wet skin). It's recommend to be used on damp skin but for those who just can't get enough, it can also be used (carefully) on dry skin for maximum effect. In a consistent routine, I'd use it 2x a week although if you use other mildly exfoliating products you can step it down to once a week.

As an exfoliator for ridding your skin of dead skin cells or flaky skin (I get them all year around and it's most annoying), the Thermalfoliant is brilliant. Very fine grains are mixed into the balm-like base and makes for a long lasting plus incredibly effective scrub. I love that Dermalogica decided against those mostly useless large silica beads/jojoba beads and instead put in something that has a nice fine grit. Even better, I does not dissolve when in contact with water so you can take your time for a slow and thorough job. The balm actually contains a cocktail of fruit and plant oils/extracts such as olive, soybean, licorice and Damascus rose just to name a few. The entire experience just felt more soothing and purposeful and I actually found myself not needing to exfoliate quite as often after a good session with this.

With a bit of an over achiever mentality, Thermafoliant is also loaded with a heavy dose of chemical exfoliating ingredients such as lactic acid, salicylic acid and retinol (a very common anti-aging additive). Now as great at it sounds as a dual functioning product, the reality is that I'm unsure about the true effectiveness of these chemicals when left on the skin for such a short period of time and then washed off straight down the drain. While all three are known to be effective at clearing out pores and even reducing fine lines when used in skincare, I wouldn't count on it for any major anti-aging effects.

As for the self-heating aspect? I've seen it in many cleansing products before and in my experience its completely gimmicky although fun for the first 5 seconds before it quickly dissipates. It adds no real value to scrub and Dermalogica really could have done without it altogether along with the potentially irritating lemon and clove oil.

From a pure performance perspective, the Demalogica Multi-Vitamin Thermafoliant delivers excellent results with it's very fine grains of physical exfoliant blended into a soothing balm like base. I love that the consistency and scrubbing particals stays put until I'm thoroughly finished and want to rinse it off myself instead of quickly melting away like many other exfoliants I've used before. This is particularity excellent for those with uneven skin texture that they'd like to improve (this is forehead for me) or those with more mature skin looking to buff away flaky skin and soften the look of a few experience lines. For those with acne or active break outs, this is likely not for you and I'd recommend the gentler Microfoliant option instead. Does it have its flaws? Yes. But it's truly one of the best textured and performing non-natural scrubs (no walnut shell powder here) that I've used to date and while I won't be out buying it again straight away due to it's premium price, I'm going to treasure every last bit of this tube.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: Etude | Colour In Liquid Lips Lipstick (Korean Makeup)

Jumping on the full impact liquid lipstick trend, popular Korean beauty brand Etude House caused a lot of excitement with the release of the Colour in Liquid Lips which is an exquisitely coloured range of fluid yet full impact lip lipsticks. This type of high intensity lip colour was seem as early as 2 years ago and you may be familar with popular western variants like Dior Fluid Sticks or the Rimmel Apocalips I had reviewed earlier. However Etude's range of fun totally wearable colours and promise of a moist glossy finish definitely warranted an overseas order.

Brand: Etude House
Product: Colour in Liquid Lips (Lipstick)
Colour range: 20 Shades
Size: 3.5ml
Price: $11-13 CAD (via eBay)
Availability: eBay, Cosmetic-Love (where I purchased mine) & other e-retailers
Would I repurchase: Undecided.

Now I wasn't kidding about the spectacular yet wearable colour choices now was I?

From just initially seeing the colour chart alone, I loved that all the options were different enough to be distinguishable yet I would not blink an eye at rocking any of them. Of course it features some of the popular Asian lip hues such as orange and fuchsia pink which have been trending for the last few years. No problems there Etude.

Opening up as a twist and pull plastic tube package, the familiar flocked applicator has a pointed tip for precise application around the corners of the lips and a small dip in the center to hold just the right amount of product. There is an every so slight sweet candy scent but it's fairly subtle and I don't smell it at all once I put it on. And speaking of application, Etude markets Liquid Lips as a super smooth and lightweight glide on product with vivid colour payoff.

After much deliberation and then finding a few of my initial picks out of stock, I settled for OR201 which is certainly not what the promotional image shows and it's also one temperamental colour to photograph correctly. Etude certainly delivered on the vivid aspect with OR201 best described as a neon sherbet, a mix of pink with a dash of orange and with one swipe (no second dips here), you have full smooth and glossy colour. 

The texture is similar to that of double cream and feels very comfortable to put on however it does not make friends with dry lips so be sure to exfoliate extra well and prep with balm 10 minutes before putting this on. In fact, I would say the colour saturation and general feel of this product to be extremely similar to the Rimmel Apocalips but this smells better and lasts longer though it's not transfer proof. Still, I consider this a step up in the right direction and would take this over Apocalips anyday.

To help avoid this high pigment lipstick from settling into fine lines (as most products of this nature tends to do) I recommend applying a few dots on to prepped lips first, smoothing it with your finger for even coverage while blending around the edges and then topping off with more product in the center. Forget the flawless photos in the promo, this lipstick does need some work to show it's true potential but once you've got it on, I do think it has such a pretty finish and is very spring appropriate. Wear time is an average 2-3 hours maximum but doing the double layering method (like I suggested) does stretch this more towards the 3hr mark.

This Colour in Liquid Lips Lipstick from Etude House delievers on colour, smoothness and a covetable rainbow of shades. The formula is indeed lightweight and is neither greasy nor uncomfortable to wear however coaxing it to it's full potential takes some time, prep and effort so it's not the easiest of formulas to use. I would not recommend this for anyone with very mature skin or if you find lip colours often settle into your lip lines. A very similar product with a slightly different texture but with great shine and much easier to wear, go for NYX's Xtreme Shine Lip Cream. For those who are fans of products like the Rimmel Apocalips and you love big colour then it may be worth while snagging a few of these Etude lippies. In that case may I recommend PK009 and OR205 for your wearing pleasure.