Friday, June 26, 2015

It takes forever to finish a beauty product: My latest acomplishments

Hit Pan Beauty Items 2

If it's your first time getting a glimpse of my beauty vanity, you'd probably conclude that I have enough products to stock a small boutique. You'd be right at that too. The joy and curiosity of trying new products sometimes, okay maybe very often, overrides the practicality of finishing up each and every jar and bottle. Funny enough, I do consider myself a kind of sample store for any friends who are curious in a beauty product and I always have a little stash of jars ready to scoop samples. Yet on the rare occasion that I finish a product practically all by myself, this calls for a proper celebration!

Andalou FRESH SkinInc Skincare

Of all things, I think skincare is probably the first item that gets used and replaced frequently because we use it twice a day, day in day out. But as someone who likes to have options (hey, variety is the spice of life right?) it actually takes me a surprisingly long time to see the bottom of a jar.

My latest accomplishments  however have been two face creams and a deluxe sample skin serum. First up the Andalou Probiotic +C Renewal Cream (reviewed) is something I stored away for the winter but have since fallen back in love with it and quickly hit bottom since the weather warmed up. The light texture is perfect for layering and even more perfect for fickle combination skin like mine. Now the FRESH Creme Ancienne* (reviewed) is something I never thought I'd see the bottom of, granted it's 100ml, however between a sample given to my best friend and naughtily indulging in this all over my neck and chest, I can proudly announce that there's only about a week left in this jar also. My motto with this luxury is, why be stingy when it has an expiry date? I've had a well deserving winter fling with this and would gladly have it back in my life in the future. Lastly,  I've working to the last bits of a deluxe sample of SkinInc's Anti-aging Serum* for an upcoming review. Don't you just love these sizes? Enough to get a real feel for the product without the looming pressure of having to use it up fast!

Hit Pan Beauty Items 3

Now with three products set to clear from my vanity, I'm already plotting their replacements but that is for another post and another day. But one thing I'd love to know is, how long does it take you to finish up a beauty product? Especially skincare? Share your experience (and maybe some funny stories) down below!

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lifestyle: Blogilates 1 Month Workout Update & Thoughts

Did you actually see this day coming? Two weeks ago I finally finished my one month fitness routine, the first in a very long time to getting myself on some kind of regular, scheduled workout plan. If you recall my last post on the subject, I was feeling terribly sluggish for weeks and really wanted to get back into an energized state. Plus, it inevitably came to my attention that all the lovely vintage sewing projects I've been working on are now stretching a little thin so shedding an inch or two all the way around was in order.

There were plenty of options to choose from but since I didn't have much knowledge to sort out a balanced plan myself, I turned to Youtuber Cassey Ho's Blogilates Beginners workout routine to get warmed up to the feel of things. Between the groaning, moaning and sore abs, here's my thoughts on the program and my progress!

A quick look at the details of the calendar and you'll find it doesn't look too hard but as I said, don't underestimate those harmless looking pilates positions! (The amount of times I've just tipped and rolled over on my mat is proof enough.) The first week was definitely the hardest, not only because everything was new but rather that it's a process to getting reacquainted with all the muscles I forgot I had. (Oh hello there hip flexors!) Overall, I'm glad I got started this way as it was an easy to merge back into a routine. I'm still moving forward on her June calendar as of now but I'm definitely looking to expand the experience so do leave me your fitness recommendations!


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Diving into luxury hair products - Oribe, Bumble Bumble, Pureology

oribe bumble purology haircare A

I've said it once and I'll say it again. I am pretty low maintenance when it comes to my hair. Yet lately my attention has frequently been diverted to the haircare side of Sephora. Now all this hair on my head usually ends up in one of two situations; a lopsided ponytail or a 10 minute messy curl (this one is much more likeable). But on the days when my hair falls just right and swishes nicely as I walk, I feel extra sassy. So in attempt to keep the sass, I've been indulging a little in the luxury side of haircare.

First up, I've been stalking the Bumble and Bumble line of products for years. My stylist Kazue uses them every time I go in for a cut and my hair would have that perfect "I woke up like this" look for days (of course until I have to reluctantly wash it down the drain). I decided to start off small and picked up the Does It All Styling Spray which is a heat protecting, light holding, brushable setting mist for all your daily needs. It sounded great for those days I'm not into layering a ton of product and just want something quick, easy, done. Next came the Oribe Apres Beach Wave and Shine Spray I picked up at IMATS after being generously misted by the sales lady at the booth. Not only did it smell delicious (and I assume this would be exactly what JLO smells like on the regular as the range was created by her stylist), I loved how it gave my curled hair great definition without feeling gritty or sticky. In the bag it went. Lastly, in a new experimental hair routine, I've been testing the Pureology Precious Oil* as a hair conditioning treatment in lieu of conditioner on days where I am just not in the mood to smother myself in thick heavy products. It's formulated to be super versatile as a pre-treatment, hair mask booster or a styling aid. More experimentation is still in progress but I'm sure loving that my hair smells amazing every day.

So for all you hair masters out there, what is your favourite high end hair product or what hair item makes you feel extra sassy? I want to know!


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review: Guerlain | Blanc de Perle Whitening Skincare (before & after)

Guerlain BlancDePearl Reviews

Skincare lovers, today's post is just for you. A few months ago, I did a quick preview of Guerlain's Blanc de Perle skincare range which was released in January. Having been popular in Asia for quite some time, I was anxious, excited yet ever so slightly nervous to write my review.


This is a very extensive range and there is quite a lot to say but let's start with a review of the basics. Guerlain is no stranger to the skincare realm, having created skin tone correcting products for decades before it even became a hot topic in North America. Blanc de Perle is the newest update to their whitening/brightening range meant to reveal your most beautiful luminous skin.

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review

"Rare and precious, the pearl is a fascinating jewel: pure and immaculately white, it glows with a deep, rich radiance. A genuine miracle of nature, pearls create themselves, layer after layer, to become perfect. The BLANC DE PERLE range, a complete skincare routine with the P.E.A.R.L complex, accomplishes this miracle of perfection on the skin by revealing its extraordinary whitening power."
                                                                        - Guerlain

Now whenever we talk about luxury skincare, I think it's important to know that in this realm (and price point), skincare is not just about what's inside the bottle but also what is outside. From the presentation, to the design and overall skincare experience, all of that is considered an essential aspect of the product.

With this, Guerlain has done an impeccable job. Colours of beige, pearl white and sliver really bring together the range cohesively and fits the brightening theme perfectly. Packaging is appropriate to the product but done up in sophisticated presentation from satisfying glass jars to easy dispensing droppers and pumps. All the products are scented with a soft sweet floral note but delicately done so there's no overwhelming lingering fragrance and I actually find it more manageable than some of their other skincare products which can borderline on perfume.

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 05

Because of the large range of products here, I'm going to talk briefly about each one, whether or not it will stay in my personal routine moving forward and lastly a quick before and after comparison of one month of usage.

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 13

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 14

GUERLAIN | Blanc de Perle Cleansing Foam*
Price: $65 CAD (150ml) | Staying in my routine: Yes

Every day's morning and night routine started off with this thick moussey cleanser. And when I say thick, I mean you have to really massage the tube to get the product softened enough to come out of the single whole dispenser. A small amount is all you need to foam this cleanser into a soft and rich texture. It doesn't make the thickest foam I've encountered but it's a very gentle clean that did not irritate or dry out my combination skin. My skin felt refreshed and soft after every wash. Small exfoliating beads are present but they are so sparse and so small that you might as well forget about them. I recommend a slow and thorough massage with this before rinsing off with warm water.

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 19

GUERLAIN | Blanc de Perle Brightening Lotion*
Price: $78 CAD (200ml) | Staying in my routine: Yes

Post cleansing, I take 2 pumps of this brightening toner either on a cotton wool or simply on my hands and pat/sweep it over my skin. It does contain some alcohol but I never felt any stinging or discomfort and in fact I really enjoy how light weight and gently moisturizing it is. If my skin is feeling extra rough or dull during the day, I'll do a refresher with this toner as a quick pick me up! Notable ingredients include Japanese "dragon's beard" (an herbal plant), sea lettuce (anti-oxidant), yeast extract and sophora angustifolia extract (suppression of darkening melanin). The formulation itself feels like water but leaves behind an ever so slight film on the skin.

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 20

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 21

GUERLAIN | Blanc de Perle Whitening Day & Night Treatment*
Price: $260 CAD/set (15ml x 2) | Staying in my routine: Undecided.

Formulated with the most concentrated amount of Guerlain's active P.E.A.R.L. Complex, this set of day and night treatment is meant to be the power booster in your routine. Sealed in small pump dispenser bottles, the day treatment is formulated with protective properties while the night treatment is created to rapidly dispense dark spot correcting ingredients to the skin. Although they look very fluid in the bottle, the day variation has a more watery consistency whereas the night option is thicker with a slightly gel-like feeling on the skin. In addition to the aforementioned medicinal ingredients in the toner, the day treatment also contains sunflower seed extract and evening primrose extract while the night treatment boasts a cocktail of vitamin C and lactic acid for mild exfoliation. Unfortunately, nothing about this duo really stood out to me and still remains a major mystery of this range. I alternate between using this as well as the Essence.

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 10

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 11

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 12

GUERLAIN | Blanc de Perle Whitening Essence/Serum*
Price: $150 CAD (30ml) | Staying in my routine: Yes

Much more suited to my personal taste, this serum/essence dispenses via a dropper as a milky viscous fluid which turns almost watery when massaged into the skin. While light weight, it doesn't leave any uncomfortable residue behind yet does a notable job of hydrating my skin without added greasiness. It's easy to layer with other products and I've used it both on its on but also mixed right into my day cream when I'm in a rush. Either way, this seems to do much better for me while having an extremely similar mix of ingredients as the Night Treatment.

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 15

GUERLAIN | Blanc de Perle Whitening Sleeping Concentrate Night Cream*
Price: $120 CAD (50ml) | Staying in my routine: No

Formulated to protect the skin from oxidative stress during sleep, this triple duty night cream is meant to hydrate, repair and protect. It has a gel cream texture that feels light to the touch but which I found quite hard to spread evenly. This meant I either used more product than I though necessary or I had to mix the essence to make it more blendable. Strangely this actually felt a little heavy on my skin and often pilled as well when rubbed too extensively. It didn't seem to layer well with other products in the range although it did a fine job of moisturizing my skin. This contains sodium hyaluronate for hydration, isoparafin (a mineral oil complex), peach extract, citric acid, vitamin C as well as similar ingredients to the treatments. Throughout the month I was almost inclined to say this clogged my pores a little so I often used the day cream at night instead. Now looking at it's mineral oil content, something my skin just does not like, it all made sense. If you're very breakout prone, skip this night concentrate.

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 16

GUERLAIN | Blanc de Perle Whitening Refreshing Day Cream*
Price: $110 CAD (50ml) | Staying in my routine: Yes

With a light, milky soft consistency this day cream is indeed refreshing and perfectly suited to my skin type. It's moisturizing yet feels balanced even when layered over the treatments and essence. No suffocating feeling here at all and my skin just feels plump, soft and with a healthy glow that's fresh, not greasy! This does not contain mineral oil but instead adds white lily bulb extract as well as sanguisorba officinalis root extract which is known to have medicinal healing properties. One of my favourite textures from this range by far and a pleasure to put on every time.

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 17

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 18

GUERLAIN | Blanc de Perle Whitening Sleeping Mask*
Price: $100 CAD (60ml) | Staying in my routine: Probably yes

If you're new to Asian skincare, the concept of a sleeping mask probably sounds rather perplexing. In short, it's usually a hydrating treatment (much like a facial mask) that comes in a cream/gel form and is used overnight. In the case of Blanc de Perle, this mask is mean to accelerate the effect of the active ingredients of your serums while also helping to repair daily UV damage. It has quite a nifty silicone spatula applicator which, after much fiddling, I decided was too cumbersome to use. Ideally it helps to smooth the product evenly over the skin but I found it easier to just use my fingers instead. The mask itself is quite lovely with a milky light consistency unlike most of the heavier sleeping products I've used previously. It leaves a slightly moist layer on the skin but I always wake up to well rested, smooth baby skin after using this. No breakouts, no extra greasiness. Marketed as a treatment product, this can be used 2-3x a week or as needed. It contains similar ingredients as the other products without the mineral oil.

Additional international products include: Double Action Spot Eraser, Matifying Hydrating Emulsion, UV Shield SPF50/PA+++, UV Protect Spray SPF40/PA+++, Lightening UV Base SPF30/PA+++, Correcting UV Base SPF30/PA+++, Smoothing UV Base SPF30/PA+++

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review beforeafter

Now with all those products working their magic for a month (actually probably a bit more than that), let's look at the before and after results. As always, I started by letting my skin "reset" to a more normal and natural state by using simple skincare with little to no active ingredients before switching over to the Blanc de Perle range. Note that the sun was out in the before photos so my skin looks just a tinge warmer than the after photos.

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review beforeafter 02

From here, I don't see a very significant overall skin improvement, at least not at first glance. The results are not dramatic but what I noticed the most is the refinement of my skin texture throughout the weeks. My skin felt very soft and my pores actually looked less visible on a regular basis. Makeup applied wonderfully over the day cream and even during the colder months my skin felt  well balanced. It did well at maintaining a bright and well rested complexion but did little for my dark spots and red spots (from blemishes) as you can see in my after photograph. The darker area on my forehead saw a minor improvement.

Guerlain BlancDePearl Review 04

The Guerlain Blanc de Perle Whitening Skincare range is a very gentle, well rounded set of products best for the maintenance of bright, luminous skin. The extensive range of items layer well with each other but you can always select your favourites to customize your regime. Overall the textures would sit best with dry to normal skin types as well as slightly mature skin. Blanc de Perle was excellent at balancing my combination skin and I especially liked the results on refining my usually problematic skin texture but it wouldn't be my personal first choice for treating dark spots or scarring. That being said, note that these were my results over only one month of usage and continued usage may provide better results. I will keep some of these products in my routine but I certainly need a few other things to treat my personal skin issues. For those interested in trying Blanc de Perle, I'd recommend the Whitening Essence, Refreshing Hydrating Cream and Sleeping Whitening Mask as my top picks from the set. 

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How to treat large pores (Post Acne) | Video

I could still remember a time when my skin was poreless, I was about 9 years old and I still look back at those photos with great fondness. The realities of puberty and a case of mild (but persistent) acne may have come and gone but pores are now one of my major skincare fusses. And from the great uproar of responses on some of my Instagram postings, it seems I'm not alone!

Throughout the years, I've been the test subject of many pore tightening, diminishing and treatment products in an attempt to balance this part of my beauty routine and in this video I've distilled all that experience into some helpful tips so you can make better peace with your skin.

Now years of exposure to advertising may have you thinking a few of my tips sound counter intuitive. But if there's one single marketing bubble I wish I'd popped sooner, it's the trend of extensively drying out your skin in an attempt to shrink pore size. All this is very temporary and in the long run will have a high chance of dehydrating your skin or worse yet causing your skin to produce more oil to compensate for the surface dryness you've caused. Just don't go there.

All in all, everyone has pores. It's nothing to be ashamed about even if yours are larger but you do deserve to take proper care of care of them! Don't forget to share with me your nuggets of wisdom and if you share any of my pore philosophies.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Review: L'Oreal La Palette Nude Eyeshadow | Look & Swatch

LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger

Drugstore makeup has come a long way now in the past 5 years that you can find just about every single category of product right in the beauty aisle down the block. While breadth has certainly expanded, there's always been one thing lacking for my everyday routine and that is eyeshadow. This spring, L'Oreal is hoping to change my mind (and yours perhaps) with their newly released nude collection eyeshadow palettes.

LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger

Brand: L'Oreal
Product: La Palette Nude 2 *
Variation: Nude 1 for light skin tones, Nude 2 for darker skin tones (shown)
Size: 17.5g total
Price (suggested retail): $29.99 CAD
Availability: Drugstores nationwide
Would I (re)purchase: Undecided.

Another nude palette you ask? Well, that was also my first reaction until I stopped and thought that there really wasn't very many options in a large cohesive format from the drugstore. Sure you can pick and stack your favourite singles, trios or maybe even quads but there's certainly still a need for a one piece does it all palette. To step up the game, this La Palette Nude has two variations in #01 for fair/light skin and #02 for medium/deep skin which is what you're seeing right now.

LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger

Set in a large black plastic casing, the Nude 2 is a selection of 10 eye shadows in finishes of shimmery satin, buttery matte and lustrous sheen according to the press details. This variant is also called Nude Intense for it's richer, deeper shades of taupes, mauves and plums. Now from my eyes and swatches, it was difficult to easily differentiate between the lustrous and satin shades so as far as I'm concerned this palette has 6 visible matte finish colours along with 4 visible shine finish colours.

La Nude #01 is focused on ivory, beige and caramel shades.

LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger

L'Oreal has also included a dual ended applicator with a sponge tip on one end and a small medium density rounded brush on the other. Before you cast this away in the name of useless cheap makeup tools, I actually found this to be well designed for this particular formulation.

The matte shades were all very smooth to the touch and not at all crumbly though quite powdery leading to some fallout but they do have good pigmentation. The shine shades were drier than what I expected (I'm used to wet/soft textures in my shine colours) and pigmentation is good as well, though perhaps slightly less than the mattes.

LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger

One thing to note is that the colours in the pan do not completely coordinate to the infograph on the back of the palette. All the shades however, translate very true from than to the skin but the formula layer badly and I wasn't able to build up the intensity of any of the shades beyond 2 layers. What you get in a single swipe is pretty much all it will ever be. The beautiful intense eye combinations in the promo photos are most definitely achieved by lighting and post production enhancements as I can't see this palette offering that type of depth on it's own.

Wear time is an average of 4-5 hours and I didn't notice any major creasing though as always, a primer is suggested if you have very oily eyelids.

LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger

La Nude #02 | Clockwise from top left: Shades 2, 3, 4, 1

LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger

La Nude #02 | Clockwise from top: Shades 6, 7, 8

LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger

La Nude #02 | Clockwise from top: Shades 8, 9, 10

The look I created (below) uses colours from the darker mauve/plum end of the spectrum with a pop of highlight in the center of of the lid. The palette inspired me to try a smokey hazy variation on a softly contoured eye with lots of heavy shadowing on the lower lash line. This was one of those looks that looked like it was going to be a crazy fail until the last minute when you put on some lashes, lower mascara and suddenly the whole thing pulls itself together!

LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger

LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger

LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger

LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger

With all that being said, there are 2 major downfalls to this palette that keeps it from being a top hit in my collection and they both have to do with the texture and formulation of the powders. For one, they seem to lack adhesion on my lids and often find myself reaching for an eyeshadow primer or a cream base to help it along. As well, the soft very talc heavy texture blends away almost a little too easily and what started out as an intense gradation can accidentally be blended away into a muddy singular colour if you're not careful.

The best way I've found to compensate for the latter is actually to use the sponge tip applicator to lay down and pat-blend the colour gently first before taking a brush to smooth out just the edges of the shadow. Resist the urge to over blend!

LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger

The L'Oreal La Palette Nude is a very welcoming addition to the drugstore beauty lineup which is currently terribly lacking in the big palette selection. The fact that this release comes with two options of a light and dark variant makes it double the creative fun and well suited for a wide range of skin tones. However just as there are things to love about this palette (smoothness and pigmentation) there are equally as many downfalls (lack of adhesion and too much blend out). Also, priced at almost $30 I'd be more inclined to go up to an introductory high end option even if it meant getting a smaller palette. On the other hand if I drugstore was my budget then this would easily be my pick of the bunch. To buy or not to buy? Well, it's your call.


LOreal La Nude 2 Review- Vancouver Blogger