Annabelle Smokey Nudes Eyeshadow Palette review, swatches, photos

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Annabelle Smoky Nudes review swatches photos

The product: Annabelle Cosmetics Smokey Nudes Dark Lights Eyeshadow Palette

Okay, so here’s the thing. This palette? Pretty great. But that name? It is KILLING me! Your palettes can be smokey or they can be natural, makeup world, but they CANNOT BE BOTH.

Except. Except maybe not this one! Sure, the name is an oxymoron, but the shades… somehow, they make it work. The left side is all nudes; the right side, all smoke. It’s the perfect drugstore neutrals palette, with lots of options for both night and day looks and no bright pops of colour.

Annabelle fall winter 2015 collection review

Annabelle Smokey Nudes Dark Lights eyeshadow palette review swatches photos

The formula: If you’re a fan of Annabelle eyeshadows already, the Smokey Nudes Dark Lights palette definitely won’t disappoint. The eyeshadows are on the drier side, like the rest of the brand’s eyeshadows, with not a dud in sight.

The lightest shades are a touch chalky, but all ten shades (even the two mattes on the end) blend well and layer up to medium opacity. For drugstore eyeshadows, I really like Annabelle’s — they’re not as pigmented as something really buttery or crumbly may be, but they have very little fallout and lend themselves well to a shimmery, effortless makeup look.

Annabelle Smokey Nudes Dark Lights palette review swatches photos

The shades: The Smokey Nudes eyeshadow palette was designed with versatility in mind, and Annabelle did a great job achieving that! It contains both warm and cool tones (cool tones in the top row; warm tones in the bottom row), and none of the shades contain too much red — something that I find that a lot of “versatile” palettes mistakenly do.

As usual, I’m completely smitten with the taupe in the top row, but I’m pretty keen on the last two brown shades, too. (Especially that gold-flecked one!)

Annabelle Smokey Nudes Dark Lights swatches review

Annabelle Smokey Nudes Eyeshadow Palette swatched over primer (top row/cool tones)

Annabelle Smokey Nudes eyeshadow palette swatches review

Annabelle Smokey Nudes Eyeshadow Palette swatched over primer (bottom row/warm tones)

The verdict?

For less than the cost of one MAC eyeshadow (and we all know how hit and miss those can be), Smokey Nudes is a steal. It’s an excellent naked/smokey/beginner’s palette, with five cool-toned and five warm-toned eyeshadows that mix and match like a champ and a soft shimmer finish that’ll work well for an expert artist or one that’s just starting out.

Annabelle just put out a Natural Nudes palette as well, but this one seems a lot more wearable to me. I recommend snapping it up before it’s gone, and maybe buying a backup for the holiday season!

Availability: $12.95 CAD at and in drugstores across Canada.

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September Birchbox (CA) review & unboxing! | Davines Sea Salt Spray, Japonesque Eye Shadow, 100% Pure Eye Cream, and more

Saturday, October 3, 2015

September 2015 Birchbox review

The product: Birchbox (Canada), September 2015 box

I’ve always been wary of monthly subscription boxes. I mean, I’ve tried one or two in the past, but subscription boxes tend to be full of silicone-y products that I can’t try and creamy eyeliners that just wouldn’t work for me.

But when I was asked to try the September Birchbox, I had to say yes. It’s the company’s five-year anniversary, and I’m on the site all the time – it’s chock-full of reviews, funny product descriptions, and (most importantly) ingredients lists! I figured I was probably long overdue to try an actual box.

Birchbox unboxing review canada september 2015

The overall box: September is customer appreciation month at Birchbox, so my box came with the usual five products (actually, it came with six by mistake; there was a double of the Japonesque eyeshadow) plus a 20% off code for the store.

For $14.95 including shipping, the contents of this year’s September box really impressed me. The box itself was just gorgeous (I’m using it to store stuff now!) and it contained a sheet mask, a full-sized eyeshadow, a VERY generous haircare sample, and two “regular” samples. I did the math for comparison’s sake, and compared to the full-sizes based on ounces, the samples in this box are valued at $44.20.

Tocca Giulietta scrub review, 100 percent pure coffee bean eye cream

The products: Honestly, the most important factor in all of this was luck. I happened upon a box that was perfect for me, so I got to use all five of the silicone-free, paraben-free goodies — and two of them, again, just so happened to be products that I’ve been meaning to try for a while anyways.

(My mom always tells me that I’ve got horseshoes up my butt, which I can assure you, I absolutely do NOT. That sounds dangerous and also horrifically painful.)

  • 100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream ($26 CAD full-sized) – I had a hell of a time opening this one (it still had that little bud-thingy that needed to be cut off), but it smells JUST like sugary breakfast cereal! It’s smooth and rich, and definitely best for vanilla-lovers.
  • BioRepublic Skincare Aloe Rescue Revitalizing Sheet Mask ($21 CAD for 3) – I’m not really a sheet mask girl, but if I was, this would have been the perfect mask for me! It’s a fiber mask (so it’s all ready to go), and it’s perfect for dry, sensitive skin like mine.

Davines This is a Sea Salt Spray review

  • Davines This is a Sea Salt Spray ($30 CAD full-sized) – Okay, so I maybe actually squealed a little bit when I saw this in my box. The sample itself is practically full-sized, and I’ve been meaning to buy a salt spray for months. Now, I won’t have to: the This is a Sea Salt Spray, which smells deliciously like vanilla and coconut, gives my hair lots of texture and body and makes it feel lush and full. 
  • Japonesque Velvet Touch Eye Shadow in Shade 02 ($12 CAD; this is full-size) – This was the other product that I really wanted to try! It’s a light green/gold with a soft metallic finish, but honestly, I’m glad I didn’t spend $12 on it alone — it’s smooth and blendable, but definitely on the sheer side.
  • TOCCA Esfoliante da Corpo in Giulietta ($38 CAD full-sized) – Am I going to get heckled if I admit to not really “getting” the TOCCA line? All of the scents seem so watered-down and dated to me, and while I love the packaging… I need a little more punch. Giulietta smells, to my nose, kind of like generic green apple hand soap in a mid-range restaurant, but I do really like the scrub itself — it’s a lovely, gritty sugar scrub that leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized.

Japonesque 02 eyeshadow review

The verdict?

With a box whose contents change on a monthly basis, there’s no way that I can tell you that you’re going to love the Birchbox every month. What I can tell you is this: I was really happy with my box, and it contained only full-sized products and deluxe samples — nothing that you could just pick up a sample of at Sephora.

I found two products that I loved, two products that I’m glad I got to try (so that I could learn that they’re not really for me), and one product that I’m still looking forward to trying, which… I mean, isn’t that kind of the whole point of a sampling subscription? To get to try a bunch of stuff that you’re interested in without spending a lot of money, and find some loves and losses along the way?

Availability: $14.95 CAD shipping/month. I would love if you used my friend referral (I’d get “Birchbox points,” but no actual $$), but it’s up to you!

Hylamide SubQ Serum, Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Concentrate & Body Mist review | 3 high-tech ways to get your daily dose of hyaluronic acid

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Deciem Hylamide Hand Chemistry review

The products: Deciem Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age Advanced Serum; Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Concentrate and Hyaluronic Body Mist

Every brand has a Thing. You know: that one big company identifier; that product that really puts a brand on the map. A first-on-the-scene eye primer, a founder with a knack for creating Hollywood-worthy brows, a line of high-pigment products with explicit names–you get my gist. (How many of those did you get right?)

For Deciem, that thing is creating super-sciencey products and, when applicable, loading them up with top-of-the-line hyaluronic acid. Here are three of their best hyaluronic products to check out!

Hylamide SubQ anti-age review

Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age Advanced Serum ($38 CAD)

The science: The Hylamide line focuses on “controlled depth of penetration” via varying molecular sizes/multiple weights of hyaluronic acid, which then settle to hydrate different layers of the skin: larger molecules for topical hydration and smaller molecules to sneak into your dermis and hydrate deep down.

The SubQ Anti-Age is also meant to minimize lines, wrinkles, and textural damage, so it’s loaded with stuff like:

  • Copper Lysinate/Prolinate (to stimulate collagen production),
  • Nonapeptide-3 Retino-Complex (to deliver anti-ageing results without the irritation typically seen with retinol products),
  • Saccharideisomerate (to improve skin texture and barrier function)

…Along with five forms of hyaluronic acid.

Deciem hyaluronic acid review lg

The results: Surprisingly enough, I really like the Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age–despite the fact that I’m not showing signs of ageing just yet. It’s fantastically priced (at $38 CAD, it’s by far the most affordable serum that I own), and it’s very much a “nothing” product: it feels like heavy water, and it disappears on the skin.

As for the effects? With twice-daily use, I feel like my skin is a little more moisturized all ’round, but it did take a couple of weeks before I saw a difference. On my other half older half, however, I see an immediate difference. He applies five or six drops without any additional moisturizer (he has combination skin), and after just a couple of uses, there’s a slight but definite reduction of fine lines. 

Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age serum review

At under $40, honestly, you can’t lose. The Hylamide SubQ is an awesome hydration booster for my dry skin, an awesome serum/moisturizer for my partner’s fine lines, and an awesome anti-ageing serum for Edmonton’s friendliest beauty blogger over 45.

(Who is Edmonton’s friendliest beauty blogger under 45, you ask? That would be me. I will aggressively friend at you until you bleed.)

↳ Get it at: Deciem/Hylamide with FREE worldwide shipping!

The Hylamide SubQ Anti-Ageing Advanced Serum ingredients:

Aqua, Glycerin, Ethoxydiglycol, Hydrolyzed Yeast Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Pentylene Glycol, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum, Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract, Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polyacrylatecrosspolymer-6, Trisodiumethylenediamine Disuccinate, Lactobacillus/Eriodictyoncalifornicum Ferment Extract, Saccharideisomerate, Copperlysinate/Prolinate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, Myristoyl Nonapeptide-3, Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Methylglucoside Phosphate, Cetylhydroxyethylcellulose, Hydroxypropylcyclodextrin, Polyglucuronic Acid, Hexylene Glycol, Salicylic Acid, Lecithin, Phospholipids, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate. 

Hand Chemistry hyaluronic gel review

Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Concentrate ($30 CAD)

Dry skin doesn’t stop at the neck, however–especially not in climates like mine. So, for those with dry skin on their bodies, Deciem has a couple cool (and affordable!) hyaluronic options in their Hand Chemistry line, too.

The science: The gel-format Hyaluronic Concentrate is formulated with three types/weights of ultra-pure hyaluronic acid, plus complexes derived from mushrooms, tamarind, and red marine algae that help promote epidermal water retention and increase skin elasticity.

But what makes the Hyaluronic Concentrate really cool isn’t the science–it’s the fact that it comes in a whopping 8 ounce pump bottle. 

Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Concentrate review

The results: I always used to wish that I could apply my Indeed Labs Hydraluron to my body, but at around $30 per ounce, it seemed like a pipe dream.

But no longer. The Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Concentrate is eight times the size at the same price, and while it’s designed for use on the hands and body, it’s not all that different from Hydraluron. I mean, okay, so the formulas are totally different, but the textures? Eerily similar. The Indeed Labs version feels a little cushier compared to the Hand Chemistry’s barely-there stickiness, but I can (and have!) used both on my face with identical results. 

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Perfumed objects & pretty lipsticks | New 27/09/15

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Objects of pleasure

And then there’s the Hermès Rêverie collection. I’ve been noticing more and more brands offering perfumed objects recently, from Lisa Hoffman’s Fragrance Earrings to the Frederic Malle Rubber Incense strips, and Hermès is the latest to jump on the trend.

This fall, the brand is offering ceramic pebbles & paper origami horses, pre-perfumed with scents inspired by perfumer Céline Ellena’s daydreams. (Yes, that Céline Ellena — as in perfume royalty; the Different Company; daughter of Hermès’ in-house perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena.) The origami horses, for all of you perfume nerds out there, are actually far more affordable than I had expected: $79 USD for a set of four.

Clinique #FaceForward: What advice would you give your future self?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Clinique Face Forward Fall 2015 Turnaround facial mask

“If you could give your future-self any advice, what would it be?”

Right now, Clinique is challenging millenials to ask themselves a question: “If you could give your future-self any advice, what would it be?”

The #FaceForward campaign flips the usual conversation (“what advice would you give your past self?”) and encourages women to break boundaries, challenge themselves, and reach their goals. To #FaceForward toward the future, if you will ;)

Clinique Even Better mask, Pore Refining charcoal mask

I’ve been thinking a lot about this question recently, and I think that if I could only give my future self one piece of advice, it would be this:

Keep saying YES.

Keep saying yes is the mantra that I’ve been operating on since the summer (paired with my old standby, GO HARD), and it has inspired and encouraged me every single day since then. To me, it means be better than you are – not to be better than your peers, but to be better tomorrow than you are today. It means saying yes to new opportunities and challenges, no matter how scary, and operating in a way that would make your past self proud.

Together, “keep saying yes” and “go hard” are a way to conduct yourself that leaves you always striving: if, at any given point, your very best is the comparison point for not good enough, then there’s always something pushing you.

Clinique Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen

It was easy to keep saying yes while I was away, but it’s more difficult now that the summer is over. When you’re no longer surrounded by creatives and cityscapes and beauty left and right, staying on track is like trying to get your six glasses of water a day: hard, likely to make you pee a lot, and as gruelling as it is rewarding.

Here on the prairies, everything is so far, and the ground beneath my feet never feels quite like home. I find that I struggle to stay inspired, but I’ve been keeping my little #FaceForward on my desk to remind myself to look to the future and keep saying yes. 

And you know what? I think it’s helping.

Clinique Face Forward Even Better mask

What piece advice would you give your future self?

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