Deciem The Ordinary reviews: Rose Hip Seed Oil, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Thursday, October 6, 2016


The products: DECIEM The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed OilNiacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

If you haven’t been introduced to The Ordinary yet, well, prepare to be floored. The Ordinary is Deciem’s brand new range of “clinical formulations with integrity,” and they’re anything but ordinary.

The line features incredibly affordable clinical products in order to bring communication and pricing integrity back to the skincare industry. Like any other Deciem product, they are Canadian, cruelty-free, and celebrate innovation and honesty.

» YES, REALLY: The Ordinary is priced at $4.90 CAD-$14.80 CAD for full-sized products. They ship for free, clearly display their ingredients and technologies online, and don’t skimp on the quality.


The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil ($9.90 CAD)

This is my fourth rose hip seed oil of the year, and it is the only one that I’ll be repurchasing. I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that this rose hip seed oil is $5.80/oz (Pai’s blend is $39.43/oz), but I’m beginning to be able to wrap my head around it.

Rosehip seed oil is a rather fragile oil, but it’s a marvel for the skin: it’s full of fatty acids, antioxidants, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and vitamins C and A. As a result, Deciem have sourced only cold-pressed rosehip oil for this product, and packaged it in UV-resistant amber glass.


Depending on the source, crop, and processing, rosehip seed oil can vary greatly. The Ordinary’s rosehip seed oil has a rich, buttery yellow hue and an almost fish oil-like scent. It sinks right into my dry skin and is very hydrating without clogging my pores.

In short, it’s beautiful–and a total steal. I’ve been very disappointed in the other budget-friendly rosehip seed oils that I’ve tried, but my skin loves this one! I’ve been using it solo at night and blended with L’Occitane Divine Youth Oil during the day for the ultimate makeup base/nighttime glow combination.


The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($5.90 CAD)

My skin typically also adores niacinamide, so I knew I had to try this out as soon as I first read about it. I wanted to really put it through its paces for this review, though, so I had Boyfriend test it out.

He has oily skin that’s been hella breaking out recently, so I’ve been making him use this in place of his serum and moisturizer for the past two weeks. (For anyone with normal or dry skin, please make sure to layer this with a separate moisturizer!) Niacinamide and zinc PCA are not treatments for acne, as Deciem points out, but they reduce the look of blemishes and help balance sebaceous activity.


Inflammation and redness play a big role in acne, which is why niacinamide works so well for many people. This 10% solution was no exception: within two weeks, I watched A’s hairline breakout go from an angry red patch to something almost invisible.

The skin around his beard looks less red than usual and now has ZERO visible blemishes, and while the rosehip oil was enough to stop my breakout in its tracks (I was breaking out due to dryness), I’m looking forward to using this on my skin in the future, too.

Also: how good is the note in Deciem’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% description? I totally cracked up when I read it. I can totally see some crotchety young scientist furiously typing it out in the dark, and then passive-aggressively editing it the next morning! (You show ’em, Deciem.)


The verdict?

I literally can’t believe that Deciem can buy glassware at these prices, much less full-on formulations… but they did, and they have. It’s frightening to see how much other companies mark up their skincare products, and I love Deciem all the more for making a statement with this range.

Even more than that, however, I love how accessible this makes good skincare. These are less than drugstore prices, but the products and development are of department-store quality. I would recommend both of these products in a heartbeat, and I will be purchasing additional products soon.

Availability: $4.90 CAD & up at Deciem. Shipping is free to Canada, the US, and the UK, with more locations coming this month.

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TL Cares Box review, photos | A new twist on subscription beauty boxes

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


The product: T•LANGHANS•CARES Subscription Box (quarterly)

I’ve talked about subscription beauty boxes in the past (Wantable, Vegan Cuts, and Birchbox come to mind), but I was recently introduced to a company that does subscription boxes an entirely different way.

The T•LANGHANS•CARES Subscription Box is an eco-friendly Canadian beauty box that was developed by Tova Langhans. It’s designed to provide you with six full-sized essentials rather than introduce you to new products, and 9% of the proceeds from the boxes goes to charity. It’s delivered seasonally and runs at a cost of $148 CAD per box.


Sink-side products 

The TLC Subscription box comes with three sink-side products: Liquid Castile Soap, Castile Bars, and a Hand & Body Cream.

I absolutely adored the T Langhans Hand & Body Cream, so we’ll start there. The formula is rich and creamy, and the House Blend scent smells fantastic. It contains lots of skin-friendly ingredients like olive oil and avocado oil, and a light layer keeps my dry skin moisturized all day long. It’s just as good on the hands as it is on the body–which is a very rare find–and the cream has a lemony, spa-like scent.


I was less taken with the box’s Liquid Castile Soap and Castile Bars. The liquid soap leaked out of its pump every time I used it, and both the liquid and bar soaps left my skin feeling dry and itchy. 

Sold separately, the T Langhans bar soap is $12.38 per 100 grams, compared to Rocky Mountain Soap’s $5.25 or Osmia Organic’s $9.62 for the same amount. For double the industry’s average price, I think a bar of soap be twice as good, not twice as stripping!

EDIT 23/09/16: Tova emailed me to inform me that the price of her soap is higher than average because her Castile formulas feature only virgin olive oil, rather than a blend of olive oil along with cheaper oils. She also noted that they contain 15% un-saponified olive oil and sugar beet extract for extra moisture, so you may not have the same reaction to these soaps that I did!


Shower products 

My friend Tracy LOVES Tova’s Cleansing Conditioner, but neither of these shower products worked well for me. I have a dry, flakey scalp (thanks, Alberta), and I just couldn’t wash out all of my flakes with this cleansing conditioner. It sounds like it’s excellent for fine or coloured hair, but it was a no-go for my dry scalp!

The Liquid Castile Shower Gel is just just a larger version of the Liquid Castile Soap, so it might work well for you if you have reactive skin. Tova’s soaps are all simple and are scented only with essential oils, so they’re perfect for allergies or reactivity, but they’re not so great for dry skin or eczema.


Spa products

The final T Langhans products I got to try out in this box were the brand’s Sugar Polish and Cuticle Oil. I didn’t get a lot of use out of the cuticle oil, but I LOVED the Sugar Polish. 

It’s formulated with sugar, coconut oil, olive oil, and honey (full ingredients on their site), and it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s so moisturizing that it can double as an in-shower moisturizer, and the sugar granules and oils work to lock in moisture and exfoliate the skin without irritating it in the slightest bit. There’s even a bit of glycolic acid in this polish, which provides a very mild chemical peel to pair alongside your gentle manual exfoliation!


The verdict?

I like the concept of the TLC Subscription Box, and I think that Tova seems like a really wonderful, genuine human being. But the cost of the box ($24.60 per product, or $592 per year) is too steep for me to recommend it right now.

Tova’s House Blend Hand and Body Cream ($30 CAD) and Sugar Polish ($30 CADare absolutely beautiful products, and I would wholeheartedly recommend both. But for $148 CAD, I was disappointed to see the “Hotel Collection” soap slices instead of full-sized bars of soap, and I was turned off by just how stripping the cleansing products were. My hands got so dry that they bled when I started testing for this post, and I still have the scabs to prove it.

My final critique is that if a consumer is paying luxury prices, I think they deserve to have luxury packaging and branding, too – even if that means that the company has to spend a little more on packaging. The TLC Subscription Box is off to a great start, but it still has a lot of room to grow!

Availability: Get the products here and the box here. The box ships for free within Canada!

Keep reading! »

Deciem NIOD Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate review, before & after photos

Saturday, September 17, 2016


The product: Deciem NIOD Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate

When I met with Deciem’s PR genius (and total #ladyboss) last summer, she mentioned offhandedly that she was using NIOD (Non-Invasive Options in Dermal Science)’s Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate. She has one of the best pouts that I’ve seen in the biz, so I knew immediately that I had to get my hands on a bottle!


The science behind the NIOD Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate: Deciem’s NIOD line is all about innovative technologies in skincare, and this lip plumper is no exception. It’s a very concentrated dry oil that is designed to “the looks of lip colour, volume, texture, softness and contour,” and it hits the mark on every point.

Just some of the ingredients used in NIOD’s Lip Bio-Lipid include an isolated sugarcane hemisqualane and sea buckthorn oil base, Lipid Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 Complex to mimic dermal elastin and increase firmness, and Nicotinic Acid Methyl Ester, a traditional muscle relief ointment that’s used here to redden the lips.

Deciem recommends that you use just a drop of this oil before bed and in the morning, but I’ve been using about a half-drop only in the mornings. It’s more than enough to plump my lips up, but doesn’t require any extra forethought!


Niod Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate before / after


Niod Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate before / after

But does it work? Like most lip plumpers, Lip Bio-Lipid burns – a lot. With that cinnamon-y feeling, however, comes a dramatic increase in both lip redness and lip volume. 

I don’t have the most defined lip line, so I find that the area around my lips becomes reddened for a few minutes as well. After the 5-minute initial discomfort, however, the redness around my lips returns to normal, while my lips themselves stay plump and pinked.

I haven’t used this consistently enough to garner long-term results, but I definitely see a difference immediately after using the Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate. My lips look fuller, redder, and smoother for the day, and they even look noticeably bigger with lipstick overtop. (This oil is Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride-based, so it doesn’t make your lipstick slide off the way something like castor seed oil would!)


The verdict?

I’ve never put a lot of faith into lip plumpers, but this stuff is seriously like a lip augmentation in a bottle. It’s spicy and effective, and you get a LOT for what you pay for. Per ounce, it’s less than half the price of the Too Faced Lip Injection Extreme or comparable products, and it’s paraben- and silicone-free to boot.

NIOD’s Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate own’t give you quite as Instagrammable a pout as Mira’s, but it’ll push enough temporary volume into your lips that it’ll look like a light lip job. Check it out!

Availability: $60 CAD at Deciem online or in-store!

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MIYU Hydrate Mi tea review, photos | The prettiest teas in Canada!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


The product: MIYU Beauty Hydrate Mi Beauty Tea (Pairing No. 1)

Two years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing MIYU’s original essences and tea pairings for you guys. Today, I have the chance to re-review their recently repackaged Hydrate Mi Beauty Tea , and I could not be more excited to share my thoughts!

» MIYU Beauty is a Canadian company founded by cosmetic chemist and former blogger Connie Tai. Connie and her husband Peter just welcomed their second little one into the world in August (hi, baby Christian!)


The new packaging: The new MIYU packaging features premium loose leaf tea in eco-friendly packaging, and you guys, I am in love. The tins are gorgeous and totally gift-worthy, and they seal up quite tightly to keep your tea fresh for as long as possible!

Even the new labels are more eco-friendly – they’re printed on Forest Stewardship Certified paper.

The teas now come in refillable Deluxe Edition and Everyday Edition format, which feature tin canister and resealable foiled pouch packaging, respectively. MIYU is also now offering drawstring-style tea filters to pair with their loose leaf tea, which, again, somehow seem more luxe than the stuff you’d get at the grocery store. (They scrunch up nice and tightly!)




Hydrate Mi vs De-Stress Mi: MIYU’s Hydrate Mi tea is now made without sugar pearls, and it features green rooibos with vitamin C-packed goji berries, rose petals, and notes of pear. I find the tea to be quite light and well-rounded, with floral and fruity notes.

The De-Stress Mi tea, now also free of sugar, blends peppermint tea, Chinese liquorice, and chamomile blossoms for an uplifting and anti-inflammatory blend.


The verdict?

I’ve probably gone through a good four bottles of MIYU Beauty Essence since my original review, and I’m happy to start drinking the Hydrate Mi tea pairing again, too.

The MIYU teas really turn tea-drinking into an experience – you’re not just sitting down with a grey David’s Tea bag or an old box of Lipton’s. Instead, the MIYU teas feel like they could have just fallen off of a shelf in a Parisian boutique, and they’re feel-good teas all around: they’re made to be good for you, your skin, and the environment.

Availability: $14 CAD-$25 USD at MIYU Beauty.

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Lashing up with the new Annabelle #ABMascaras range

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Annabelle Expandable mascara

Are you subscribed to the Annabelle newsletter yet? You should be… ;)

Annabelle (one of my favourite cruelty-free companies) dropped something BIG: an entire new lineup of mascaras. They released not one, not two, but FOUR totally new mascaras in addition to the three favourites in their old permanent collection.

And that new range? It’s nothing short of stellar.

Annabelle lash launcher, supernova review photos swatches

Why would anyone need seven mascaras?!

My first thought, of course, was “why.” Seven mascaras in a single range seems excessive, but strangely enough, once you try out all of them, it makes sense. Each one serves a very different purpose, and none of these mascaras look alike on the lashes. Even of my two favourites from the new Annabelle lash line (Expandable and Supernova), I wouldn’t dream of replacing one with the other.

There’s very much a mascara for every preference in this range, and I’m quite impressed with the way that Annabelle has curated the collection to have zero redundancies. 

Annabelle blast off, bigshow, outlash mascara review

ABmascaras review photos

Because the effects of a single mascara can differ so much from lash to lash–and even application to application–I didn’t take mascara swatch photos to share with you today.

Instead, I thought I’d go old school and simply describe the wear and application of each. I tested all of them again and again over the course of the month, and my notes on them definitely give a better depiction of the lash than my photos did (at least in my opinion!)

Unfortunately, I lost the photos that I took of Expandable and Supernova on my lashes in an incredibly frustrating computer blip, so I’ve borrowed my old swatch photos of Expandable and will be featuring Supernova in an eye makeup look soon.

Annabelle Expandable x theNotice

The mascaras

The new mascara range is divided into two halves: BigShow Mascaras, with lots of volume and drama, and Lash Launcher Mascaras, with lots of definition and length.

Best for VOLUME – BigShow

BigShow ($9.95 CAD) – BigShow gives a nice, sooty lash, but I find that it smudges on me within 8 hours. It’s a little clumpier and more “traditional” than the rest of Annabelle’s mascaras, so if you like a lot of volume, it’s a good choice.

BigShow Waterproof ($9.95 CAD) – BigShow Waterproof is very similar to the original. It holds a curl well and is super pretty, but I find that it smudges on me every few hours. If I had to choose, I’d recommend BigShow over BigShow waterproof; the latter still smudged on me, but was a pain in the butt to remove on top of that.

Expandable ($10.95 CAD) – Expandable has been my favourite mascara for years, and I still love it. I use it with the wand scrunched-up for more length than volume, and it produces a full, natural-looking lash.

Outlash ($9.95 CAD) – Outlash’s twisted brush does a great job of packing mascara onto the lashes while also giving great separation. It wears for a full 12 hours on my lashes (quite the feat!), but it’s too heavy for my stick-straight lashes – it really takes the curl right out of them.

Annabelle mascara wands - bigshow, expandable, outlash, lash launcher

Best for LENGTH: Lash Launcher

Lash Launcher ($9.95 CAD) – Lash Launcher is very much a length-based mascara, which isn’t really my cup of tea – I need more curl and volume. It offers a lot of length and separation, but I’d definitely recommend it most for those who have naturally voluminous lashes to begin with.

Supernova ($9.95 CAD) – Okay, this green tube is my new favourite thing ever. It gives serious false lash-like length, with good separation and volume as well. The falsie-like length is really natural-looking, too – more like a small set of extensions than a criss-crossed false lash strip. I get anywhere from 8-12 hours of smudge-free wear from this, and I would highly recommend it!

Blast Off ($9.95 CAD) – Blast Off is a little heavy for my tastes, and it brings my lash curl down quite a bit. The formula smudges wildly on me, but might work better for someone with very curly lashes to begin with.

Annabelle Expandable mascara review

Annabelle Expandable mascara review – old packaging (bottom) vs new (top). The brush is unchanged.

The verdict?

If you’re lucky enough to live in Canada and can pop over to your nearest drugstore for a mascara fix, consider yourself lucky. Annabelle has brought its entire game to their new mascara range, and if literally all other brands stopped making mascaras tomorrow, I think I’d feel just fine about it. 

I’ve loved Expandable for years and still adore it, but the new Supernova mascara may be even better. If you’re looking for something with mega volume that still wears well & looks natural, I’d definitely recommend those two to start with!

Availability: $9.95-$10.95 CAD each; permanent as of July 2016. Available at drugstores and mass market retailers througout Canada and online at (US & Can), where the entire #ABMascaras range is currently on sale.

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Marcelle Pink Lace, Berry Blossom, Show of Pink review, swatches, photos & more | Fall 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

Marcelle fall 2016 collecdtion review

The products: Marcelle Fall 2016 collection – Rouge Xpression Lipstick in 840 Pink Lace, 875 Berry Blossom, and 960 Show of Pink; Ultimate Easy Lash and Ultimate Fringe Effect Mascaras; and Face Powder in Translucent Medium

Have you ever looked at a makeup collection and thought, “Okay, this is me. They made this collection for me? Because that’s exactly how I feel about Marcelle’s fall collection this year.

The collection contains a new Flawless foundation and concealer that, unfortunately, I won’t be able to cover because they contain silicones, but I am all about this collection aside from that. It features three really wearable lipsticks, a couple of mascaras, and my favourite face powder ever, so I knew the second I saw it that I was going to be a fan.

Marcelle rouge xpression 2016 review photos swatches

The Rouge Xpression lipsticks

Three new Rouge Xpression Lipsticks ($11.95 CAD each) are being launched this August from Marcelle, and though the Rouge Xpressions aren’t my favourite Marcelle lipstick formula (give me Rouge Vitality or give me death!!!!), I still quite like them.

The Rouge Xpression lipsticks are creamier and more slick than the Rouge Vitality lipsticks, and they feature a fragrance-free, paraben-free, cruelty-free formula with omega 6 fatty acid-rich avocado oil.

I’ve been getting the most wear out of Pink Lace, a really wearable pink-nude that’s just a shade lighter than my natural lip colour, but the cool pink Berry Blossom and coral-pink Show of Pink are lovely options for bolder shades. I don’t know – I’ve been feeling the muted lip pretty hard recently. Maybe it’s all the 15 degree days we’ve been having this August.

Marcelle Rouge Xpression pink lace, berry blossom, show of pink swatches review photos

Marcelle Rouge Xpression Lipstick swatches: 840 Pink Lace, 875 Berry Blossom, and 960 Show of Pink

Marcelle Pink Lace nude lipstick review swatches photos

Marcelle Pink Lace – a really easy, wearable nude lip

The mascaras

I’m too busy trying out all of the new Annabelle mascaras to test these right now (more on that soon), but I love that they released two separate Ultimate mascaras. Mascara is one of those products that’s really subjective, so it’s cool that they’re recognizing right out of the gate that some people are going to prefer an easy everyday lash while others will want that full-on fringe.

Marcelle Ultimate Fringe Effect mascara review

Marcelle Ultimate Easy Lash mascara review

A good eyeliner is a good eyeliner across the board, but what constitutes the perfect mascara could be either a really natural looking lash, like in the Marcelle Ultimate Easy Lash ($9.95 CAD), or something with as much volume and length as humanly possible, like in the Marcelle Ultimate Fringe Effect ($12.95 CAD).

The ingredients listed online are the same for both, so I’m guessing that these two mascaras feature the same formula with a different brush (à la Eyeko). The Easy Lash mascara has a traditional bristled brush with short bristles on one side and long bristles on the other, while the Ultimate Fringe mascara has a springy, flexible silicone brush with short bristles all around.

Marcelle translucent medium face powder review

The face powder

Marcelle’s loose face powder got a black-and-clear makeover a couple years back (the original featured a white lid), and seeing it being re-promoted to bloggers makes me happy beyond words. I LOVE Marcelle’s Face Powder ($14.95 CAD), and I can’t even begin to tell you how many other makeup lovers I’ve converted over the years.

It’s just so good, you know? It looks totally natural and has a transparent “skin” finish, but it instantly makes your skin look better than normal. Whether you’re trying to make your base product look more like skin or you’re just trying to make your own skin look totally flawless, this stuff just magically makes it happen.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Tunakitten may not know what pants are, but he still knows what’s cool. 

It lasts forever, too – I’ve had my jar of Translucent for half a decade and have spilled huge amounts of it twice, but it’s still half full. For $14.95, it’s a crazy good deal.

(My only complaint? The new packaging is really squeaky, and it makes the experience of using it way less luxurious. I wish you would go back to your old factory, Marcelle!)

Collection availability: Marcelle is available online (US/Can) and in drugstores and mass market retailers across Canada.

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