Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Argan Styling Balm | Nature's Republic

There's something about smart design in a beauty product that really catches my eye. Having a great product is one thing but if it's difficult to use then I'm not going to reach for it as often as the easy one. I think most people would agree that when it comes to their daily routine, sometimes it's a beauty of convenience.

Brand: Nature's Republic
Product: Argan Essential Styling Hair Balm*
Size: 14 grams
Price: $10.05 USD
Details: Argan Oil, Rosehip Oil, Evening Primrose Oil
Availability: W2Beauty online
Would I (re)purchase: No

Korean brand Nature's Republic is known for its natural based beauty products and their Argan Essential line focuses on repairing hair damage with the use of the ever popular argania spinosa tree kernel. With everything from shampoo to hair essence, the Styling Hair Balm caught my attention with it's easy to use portable design. A twist up balm with treatment and shine in a convenient stick you say? Yes please!

Fitting easily into the palm of my hand, this hair balm contains a combination of argan, rosehip and evening primrose oil extracts. It has an ever so slight fresh scent that is undetectable once applied. Infused into a smooth wax/balm base, the oils aren't at all heavy but instead spreads easily when warmed up between my fingers before using this in my hair.

For everyday use, it adds just a bit of piecy definition if you have a layered hairstyle and also a touch of shine but since this balm doesn't have any hold to it, its best used in conjunction with other products. I feel that the repairing aspect of this product is more for preventative measures and as an extension of your pre-existing argan haircare routine rather than a stand alone treatment product. As with most of the line from Nature's Republic, this does not contain any parabens, artificial colours and talc.

This Argan Essential Styling Hair Balm is a convenient concept that could be much better with some slight changes in formulation, mainly the fact that it lacks a style keeping holding agent. A lightweight hair product infused with nourishing argan, primrose and rosehip extracts which is great to keep in your purse for a mid day hair touch up especially if you have fine hair but dry ends. Personally, I didn't find it to be hard working enough for a repurchase after I finish it up.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: Boots No. 7 | Hot Cloth Cleanser

Following the massive hot cloth cleanser craze from the UK, I've spent a good couple of months hunting down some options available here in Canada with unsatisfying results. At that time most of the popular options were either country specific or had a ridiculous international shipping fee attached. But following the lead of a blog post I read one day, I frantically ran to Shoppers Drug Mart and picked up the Boots. No.7 Hot Cloth Cleanser.

Brand: BOOTS No. 7
Product: Beautiful Skin Hot Cloth Cleanser
Size: 200ml
Price: $10-12 CAD
Details: All skin types, hypo-allergenic.
Availability: Shoppers Drug Mart (Canada), ULTA (USA)
Would I repurchase: Undecided.

From the countless number of blogger raves about hot cloth cleansers, I had high expectations of it's magically skin perfecting properties. Maybe it's the weather or just a trend but it seems these creamy buff off cleansers are far more popular than the foaming options we're so used to over here.

Straight out of the bottle, the No. 7 cleanser has a very thick emollient consistency similar to that of a cold cream, contains a smattering of cocoa seed butter but has a rather prominent sweet fragrance. Expecting more of a lightweight lotion or cream, this really surprised me with how dense and lush the texture is, in fact after continuously massaging this onto my skin it remained that way and never thinned out or dried up at all.

Packaged in quite a substantial plastic pump bottle dispenser, it contains 200ml of product and comes with it's own muslin cloth. For those new to hot cloth cleansers the premises sounded simple enough, apply to dry skin with dry hands, massage thoroughly, compress with a damp hot cloth then buff away and rinse.

While I usually prefer to use this on bare skin days, it does work equally well with a face full of makeup (eye products excluded as I use a separate makeup remover for that). In my demo photo, I have blush, lipstick and foundation which all easily emulsified and buffed away with the hot cloth cleanser after a minute or so of massage. On the face, it takes about four pumps of product to get the job done thoroughly.

The finished result leaves me with velvety soft skin and no greasy residue at all. If I am using this to remove face makeup, I do follow up with double cleanse using a foaming cleanser. Altogether, I feel the whole procedure of the massaging, the hot cloth and the buffing is something that takes some practice to get familiar with. It's a nice luxurious treat on a winter's night when you're looking for something pampering but it's certainly not a routine I've adopted for everyday. Quite frankly, I'm not sure I'm completely sold on the hot cloth method or that it does anything spectacular for my skin compared to using other cream or cold cream cleansing products.

A rich and enveloping cream product, the Boots No.7 Hot Cloth Cleanser is gentle and effective for both bare skin days and makeup days. While this won't leave you with the satisfying refreshing feeling of a foaming cleanser, it does leave you with soft velvety skin and would be an especially good option for drier skin types. If you're new to hot cloth cleansers, this inexpensive option is worth picking up to see if the general feel and method is suitable for you.


Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Alcohol, Myristyl Myristate, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Glycerin, Tribehenin, Butylene Glycol, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Phenoxyethanol, Panthenol, Methylparaben, Fragrance, Dipropylene Glycol, Ethylparaben, Acrylates/C10 30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Potassium Hydroxide.

Monday, April 21, 2014

iHerb Haul & Giveaway | Food & Beauty

This one took some real self control. I had made some food purchases from iHerb some time ago and have been well behaved in saving the loot so I can show you all of it in a video unboxing. This meant, no poking at the packaging, no taste testing, no cooking and definitely no eating of anything. Now if you'd like share this little video with me, I can now finally bust them all open tomorrow.

Nantucket Off-Shore | Mt. Olympus Rub |
Calbee | Snapea Crisps |
Andalou Naturals | Probiotic +C Renewal Cream |
Andalou Naturals | Glycolic Pumpkin Honey Mask |
Now Foods | Organic Quinoa |
Rapunzel | Vegan Vegetable Bouillon |
Alba Botanica | Sea Algae Enzyme Scrub |
Hurraw! | Organic Lip Balms | reviewed
Hakubaku | Organic Udon Noodles |
Eden Foods | Organic Seaweed Gomasio |
Ordering from iHerb for the first time?
 Gives you $5OFF (orders less than $40), $10OFF (orders more than $40)*

Oh food, the food. I can't wait to cook with everything, especially the meat rub and quinoa which so many of you have been very helpful with. A little background story to that, I was originally debating between either couscous or quinoa but thought I'd go with the later since I've never tried it before. Of course, I think this calls for a future Foodie Tuesday post where we'll talk about my delicious or perhaps questionable quinoa results.

Rules & Details
Giveaway open Internationally.
Giveaway ends Thursday, May 1st 2014, 12:00am PST

Please follow the steps to enter in the Rafflecoopter widget below, only entries logged in the widget will be counted.

Winners will be contact by me using your Rafflecopter entry email so make sure it's current. I will also announce the winner via my Facebook and Twitter. Good luck!

* 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 20, 2014

Review: ALMAY | Gentle Waterproof Eyemake Remover

Just as waterproof mascara is an indispensable part of my regular makeup routine, taking off all that eye makeup requires some serious makeup remover. Since finishing up my last bottle of Neutrogena, I popped open something new this time from Almay, a brand which has built it's reputation on gentle, hypoallergenic products for the face.

Brand: Almay
Product: Longwear & Waterproof Gentle Eye Makeup Remover*
Size: 118ml / 4 oz.
Price: $7.50CAD
Detail: Fragrance free, hypo-allergenic, bi-phase product
Availability: Drugstores nationwide
Would I (re)purchase: No.

Like most waterproof targeted eye makeup removers, Almay's version is a bi-phase product consisting of two different liquids that must been mixed together in order to activate its cleansing properties. Fragrance free and with a lightweight consistency, it has a simple hole opening which makes it easy to pour out the product onto a cotton round.

Now as this is a waterproof makeup remover, it's only fair that I put it to the full test. On a regular basis, I wear a combination of waterproof liner, mascara and false lashes so I have some of that swatched on my hand (below) along with a bit of eyeshadow as well. Applied to a cotton wool and held to my skin for 10 seconds, the first wipe emulsified a good amount makeup and 3-4 passes later everything was gone.

The results are very similar when used on my eyes and if I have a bit more patience at that time of the night, this does do it's job. However I find that compared to other waterproof removers, it not only takes a bit more product to fully take off my makeup but it also takes more time for it to emulsify everything. For anyone wearing false lashes, this also seems to make eyelash glue more sticky and wet instead of sliding it right off my natural lashes. And while this doesn't leave any noticeable oiliness or residue on the skin afterwards, there's still a little something there that doesn't feel completely fresh and I'd usually rinse with water afterwards.

If you're already an Almay fan who loves their hypoallergenic and fragrance free products, this does get the job done. However for someone who wears heavier eye makeup, there are other products in the drugstore which work more efficiently overall so while I will continue to finish up the bottle, it's not something I would pick up again.


Ingredients: Aqua ((Water) Eau), Poloxamer 184, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Caffine, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Camella Sinensis Leaf (Green Tea) Extract, Disocium Lauroamphoacetate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Hexylene Glycol, Disodium Edta, Citric Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid, 23030.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Beauty Guide | Spring Worthy Polishes

So I might have misdeclared spring a little prematurely because the sky has been raining whales for a good portion of last week. With a tiny break in the clouds today, I snuck out to photograph some of my favourite colours for spring polishes. Of all the elements that you can change in your everyday beauty routine, I find nail polish to be the easiest way to boost you into the warm weather mood.

Preppy pastels in cotton candy hues might be the standard calling for spring season but I rather like the idea of soft nude nails and somewhat more saturated colour options. As I still wear many of the darker neutrals from the linger winter months, these colours work great as transitional shades.

OPI | "Tutti Fruitti Tonga" | Light pearl peachy pink
ELF | "Innocent" | Dusty pink beige
AVON | Gel Finish Polish "Lavender Sky" | Muted Lavender

In the blue green spectrum, shades of mint green or light blue would be the obvious choice but again I've gone for options which have bit more weight to them and which balances both the occasional sweater I'm still wearing or the first spring dresses as well. This muted pistachio creme in particular is a one of a kind colour in my nail stash and I find it to be such an interesting option that lends itself to both summer and winter palettes.

ESSIE | "Da Bush" | Muted pistachio creme
ESSENCE | "You Belong to Me" | Creme turquoise / dupe of China Glaze "For Audrey"

For anyone looking to add that extra sparkle either for an accent nail or on every finger (hey, I'm not judging), a fun topcoat will perk up any of these base colours. Fine shimmers give a more sophisticated finish to pale pinks and nudes while larger sparkles add mo

SALLY HANSEN | Xtreme Wear Polish "Disco Ball" | Translucent multi-coloured micro shimmer
SALLY HANSEN | Xtreme Wear Polish "Strobe light" | Rose micro glitter with silver sparkle
CHINA GLAZE | "Techno" | Hexagonal and fine silver holographic sparkles and glitter
MILANI | Jewel FX in "Gold" | Chunky hexagonal gold sparkle

Now that I've shared with you my spring polish favourites, the only thing left to decide is which one to wear on my hands and which one on my toes. I tend to prefer cream finishes on my hands for the most part but I suppose some twinkle toes wouldn't hurt either.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Life lessons from a Beauty Blog

It dawned on me as I sat sorting out the labyrinth of folders and files that make up my beauty photographs, how much my life has changed since embarking on this blogging journey. On the surface, the day to day tasks of shopping around for new products, editing photos and trying out that latest lipcolour seem trivial and even frivolous. Yet looking at my surroundings today, my life is evidently reflective of the experiences I've gathered through out the days, months and years of running a blog.

It seems rather counter intuitive at first but sharing with others has, in its own secretly rewarding way, led me to discover more about myself. This is especially true when it comes to finding my personal style in both beauty and fashion. In this every changing kaleidoscope of visual imagery, it's hard to define where to fit in and in fact, it may often be easier just to follow the crowd. But taking on the task of blogging has, by the nature of necessity, pushed me to try out new styles and aesthetics that in an alternative universe I might never approach. Whether I'm writing for a new challenge on FASHION Magazine's Beauty Panel or just pulling ideas for a new video, it's trained my mind to always search for something new to share.

It's also very realistic to say that my current blogging life is fully entangled with my personal life and for once, I am embracing this growth instead of being apprehensive. In the pursuit of being a better blogger, I've set my goals on always improving my skills be it with photography, organization or even just speaking on camera and these seemingly disconnected categories have come together in the past year to lead me to some amazing life opportunities. When you focus on bettering yourself, the world notices that energy and (as cliche as it sounds) the right people will be attracted to your life to help you achieve your goals. But the key game changer is to be open and receptive to these (sometimes small) opportunities for you never knew where they might lead you.

Be not afraid of the world for in it's depths you shall find great treasure.