Bamboo Moisture

Kendi
Expensive hair products are not really up my alley most of the time, but every now and again I find a gem I can’t get enough of despite my wallet’s protests. Brand-wise, Alterna has to be the only high-end haircare line I’ve ever really gotten into. My love for the Kendi Oil Treatment has been documented on this blog, but I have also tried the variations from them, the Dry Oil Mist and Thermal Protectant Spray, which in my opinion are decent, but not worth the money. I’ve also tried a few products from the Caviar range and love them, though that was as a 500-point perk from Sephora–I simply cannot be bothered to spend $40/bottle for the full-sized shampoo and conditioner. I have quite long and very thick hair, so I would go through a bottle in about three weeks.

Hair treatments though, are an entirely different animal. I’m pretty sure the first time I tried the Kendi Oil, the heavens opened up and angels sang. While I’m trying to wean myself off the stuff, and other expensive hair treatments (cough*Macadamia Oil*cough) it’s been hard to find products that work as well. Luckily, a few weeks ago, I stumbled into my local Winners, and while I was having a look ’round their beauty section, I happened upon the Smooth Moisture Masque selling for $14.99, which normally retails for $32.00 CAD, so I was pretty overjoyed. $15 isn’t cheap, but I snatched it up immediately. I’ve been using it for a couple weeks now and I have to say that it’s quite good. It’s not as thick or nourishing as the Macadamia Oil one, which retails for around $50 CAD here, but it does a good job of leaving your hair soft and manageable afterwards. And like the rest of the Bamboo/Kendi range, it doesn’t ever weigh down the hair or make it extra greasy, which is something I really have to watch out for, and is great as we go into the warmer months, since I won’t be abusing my hair as much with my straightener. I’m not sure if I will repurchase this mask, but if I ever see it again on sale or at Winners, I may just have to grab one again..

What is your current favourite hair treatment and have you ever tried anything from Alterna?

Taking It All Off

off
However much I love applying makeup every morning, equally as satisfying is taking it all off after a long day. I’ve tried a good number of makeup removers through the years and I’ve finally managed to narrow my favourites down to the point where repurchases have been made, multiple times – difficult to do sometimes in a world where we are spoiled for choice.

My ultimate favourite is the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm. I’ve spoken about this one before – it’s simple, colourless, fragrance-free, and it does the job exceptionally well without any fuss. On a daily basis I wear both waterproof liquid eyeliner and mascara, so it’s important to have a good product that doesn’t require too much rubbing. I just take a fingertip-sized amount, gently massage it into dry skin, and everything dissolves pretty much instantly. Because I go through the Clinique so fast (almost done my second tub!), and it’s not exactly cheap, I have just bought another bottle of the Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil, which is a much more economical option and has pretty much the exact same effect as the Clinique. For me, it just comes down to personal preference where texture is concerned. I find the cleansing balm is less messy and easier to spread, whereas the oil tends to escape my hands sometimes. But they both do exactly what they say, don’t leave a film on the face, and work really great for my naturally oily skin.

For days when I haven’t worn a full-face of makeup (sometimes I will just go with concealer and a smidgen of eyeliner on the weekends), I tend to opt for a cotton pad and a bit of either the Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover, or the Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover. Both are bi-phase products that require a bit of shaking before using and they both work wonderfully. My only gripe is that they leave an oily residue, but not a big deal as I almost always hop into the shower after I remove my makeup.

When it comes to makeup wipes, I have tried several brands, and the ones that have stood out the most are the MAC ones, but I tend not to buy them since I find them wasteful and am afraid they will dry out. I also dislike the way they remove eye makeup, which is why I opt for a balm or oil, which doesn’t need as much rubbing. Basically, I prefer one-product solutions, which is why, controversially, I’m not the biggest fan of Bioderma. It’s lovely and refreshing and all that, but it doesn’t even come close to removing my eye makeup, so why not just use something that gets the whole face done? But that’s just my opinion. It probably works great on people who don’t need to wear waterproof formulas.

What is your favourite makeup remover?

Bye-Bye Berry….

Berries
As the weather has finally been getting warmer and the snow is melting from the sidewalks, I’ve been getting extremely excited – and though this may be up for debate, that sadly means that the berries will have to go into hibernation while spring pinks and summer corals will soon be making an appearing on the lips and cheeks. Since 2014 was the year I “discovered” lipstick, I would say that my biggest obsession in that department was berry-toned lip products, and somehow I managed to acquire quite a number in just a few months.

To recap, I have a light-medium skintone with a varied mix of both pink and yellow undertones , so I’d say I can pull off most shades of lipstick without looking ridiculous – the only ones I have to really stay away from are pale nudes and certain reds that tend to wash me out. I found that the not-quite-purple pinks are really gorgeous for all occasions and I don’t feel too weird wearing on a daily basis. My lips tend to be quite pale and bloodless in the morning so berries are great to add some life to my face in the morning.

Here are my five favourites. Starting with the sheerest of them all, and oldest in my collection is the Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Berry Allure, which I normally keep in my purse and am nearly done with. I’ll need to re-stock soon! Next is the CoverGirl Lip Perfection Jumbo Gloss Balm in Jam Twist, which I find has a sheer, but buildable formula – it  definitely acts more like a stain than an opaque/creamy lipstick. This is something I really like, aside from the fact that it’s a tad drying and I often layer another lip balm underneath. Next is a cult favourite: the Revlon Lip Butter in Berry Smoothie. I had been eying this one up for months, but finally decided to cave and get it when a sale was on at the drugstore. This is easily the most wearable and comfortable formula – no mirror required, and it doesn’t fade in a weird or chunky manner.

In terms of actual lipsticks, a few months ago I grabbed the Marc Jacobs Kiss Pop Lip Colour Stick in Headliner 608, which is described as a berry sangria. This colour is absolutely gorgeous, and the matte formula lasts ages, but make sure your lips are adequately hydrated, because this will suck the moisture out of them. I often layer the Revlon lip gloss over this one to stop it from being quite so drying. The most recent and exciting purchase is the NARS Audacious Lipstick in Vera. Like I said in a previous post, I had been chasing this one for a good while, and I actually bought the Marc Jacobs one in lieu of the NARS just because I wanted a proper berry lipstick for so long. Colour-wise there is practically no discernible difference between the NARS and Marc Jacobs, but the former is much creamier and less drying to wear.

What are your favourite berry-toned lipsticks, and do you think it’s acceptable to wear them in the spring and summer?

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Exotic Gifts from Across the Pond

Europe
So recently, some people in my life have either been sending me or bringing back some exciting beauty products from Europe – England and France, to be exact. Thanks to the wonderful world of YouTube and beauty blogging, there are loads of products I have been dying to try. The products that are available in Canada are a bit of a weird mix – we can get most mainstream American brands, but also quite a lot of French brands, such as Bioderma, which I know for a while were almost impossible to get in both the UK and the US.

I was really excited to receive some items that have helped filled the gap in available products. Firstly, I was so happy to get a few drugstore items that you just can find here, such as Soap and Glory’s One Heck of a Blot – we have a limited range of Soap & Glory products here, especially on the skincare and makeup side.  Also, I got four shades of the much-talked about Barry M Gelly Hi Shine Nail Paint – Lychee, Rose Hip, Chilli and Cocoa. I have tried a couple of them, and I find that they have a lovely finish, but chip quite easily. Last but not least, the Max Factor Excess Shimmer Eyeshadow in Bronze, which I’ve written about already.

More recently, I was able to get my hands on some even rarer stuff – La Roche Posay Serozinc OMG. This toner is practically the stuff of legend at this point, especially because it’s literally impossible to buy outside of France. I was kindly gifted two bottles and I’m almost afraid to try them since there’s so much hype surrounding this cult product that I’m scared it won’t work and I’ll be horribly disappointed. …that’s the spirit, right?
A trip to SpaceNK, which is a store that hasn’t quite reached our shores yet, despite them existing south of the border, resulted in a recommendation from a salesperson, the Elemental Herbology Facial Detox Purifying Facial Mask, which looks perfect for my oily, congested skin and I am super excited to try. I believe the brand is only available in the UK so far, though since it’s on feelunique.com, you can get it shipped to other countries.

All in all, I am incredibly pleased with the latest boatload of products I’ve accumulated in this short while, and will be trying them all out in the near future.

What hard-to-get or foreign products have you tried recently, and have you been loving them?

Birthday Haul, Part 2: Sephora

Sephora Haul
Every year since 2011, I’ve been making an online Sephora order for my birthday, to get my beauty insider birthday gift (which have been getting better and better each year! Does anyone remember the trio of Sephora lip gloss tubes from way back when?) and to capitalize on all the goodies you can get online, like samples, and beauty deals, etc.

This year was no different, and there were a couple things I was itching to get my hands on, but I’ve been patiently waiting until now to add it to the order. I’ve either not tried or just briefly swatched these items, except for one, so I will go through the really quickly and then potentially post more details on them after I’ve used them.

In terms of skincare, I was really keen on trying the Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment, which has a blend of sulfur and AHAs to help treat acne – finally a sulfur product in my life! I’ve also been dying to try some Peter Thomas Roth items, after seeing ViviannaDoesMakeup rave about the pumpkin enzyme mask, and a recent store visit in which the sales associate highly recommended PTR products, so I decided to go with the Mini Mask Magic Kit. I have to say this is another case of deceptive packaging – the tubs of masks, which are extremely cute, are much smaller than the box they come in. Why they have to do that, I don’t know. Either way, the kit comes with minis of the Cucumber Gel mask, which is supposed to be soothing, the Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask, which is anti-aging, and the Pumpkin Enzyme mask, which is meant to decongest and brighten skin. I also picked up a free deluxe sample of my beloved Murad Pore Reform Skin Smoothing Polish and the 500-point gift set is one from Algenist.

Makeup-wise, I have absolutely been dying to get the NARS Audacious Lipstick in Vera, ever since I discovered berry tone lipsticks (post coming later on my whole collection of them!), but it’s a shade that’s only sold at a couple Sephoras in the city, and the one closest to me was always sold out. Even online, it was sold out until recently, so I’m over the moon that I finally got my paws on this bad boy. Also, being a huge lover of the Naked line, I had to grab one of the new Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Concealers. I got the shade Medium Light Neutral, which works great under my eyes and on my cheeks – I may have to swatch the shades in store to find one that works for the rest of my face, probably Medium Neutral. It has a very light, creamy consistency, but I think in terms of coverage and blendability, I still prefer the NARS Creamy Radiant Concealers, though I will say that I find those far too cakey under the eyes. Also for the face, I got one of the new Sephora Collection Teint Infusion Ethereal Natural Finish Foundations, but I will be returning this one, as the shade I got completely doesn’t suit me. Also, I’m not sure I like the texture – it’s just as heavy as a regular cream foundation from the drugstore. Being a lover of pen-style liquid eyeliners, I also just had to grab the Sephora Collection Fine Line: Waterproof 24 Hour Fine Liner, which retails for $18 CAD, which is a bit cheaper than some other ones sold at Sephora. Haven’t tried it yet, but will keep you updated if I like it or not!

The last couple of items lurking at the bottom of the picture are the NARS birthday gift, which includes two of the lip pencils, and a Larger than Life mini eyeliner for VIB Rouge members. I also got a mini of the Beauty Blender Cleanser Solid as a 100-point gift.

And that concludes my birthday haul for 2015! I’m really looking forward to trying these products out, and seeing how they work.

Sephora Haul 2