2015 favourites: My skincare must-haves for dry, sensitive skin!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Best of 2015 skincare favourites

As some of you guys might remember, I skipped my 2014 favourites on account of the fact that they were like… 95% exactly the same as my 2013 favourites. My 2015 favourites, however, are a whole other can of fish!

I was lucky enough to not just try out a whole slew of awesome new products this year (mostly skincare), but to find a bunch of new favourites, too. So, I’ve been planning this updated favourites list since October (!), and the list you’ll see is as condensed as possible: these are only my very favourite products; not simply products that I think are the best in their class, but the ones that I use every day, will take with me on overnight stays, and have, in many cases, already re-purchased a couple of times. 

To put it simply, these favourites lists look at a product in relation to its price, packaging, and the other products in its class, unlike my reviews, which examine products on a standalone basis.

My must-have serums for super dry skin

Dry skin favourites

I’ve always really loved makeup, but starting at the end of 2014, I got super into skincare. Everything sort of shifted for me when I tried the Odacité Pomegranate + Rose Geranium Serum Concentrate ($42 USD; review), and realized that, oh, my super-dry skin didn’t actually have to be painful and peeling at all times.

This year, however, I stopped purchasing my beloved Po+R. I still love it to bits, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just too expensive of a habit for me to keep up — my last bottle only lasted me about 8 weeks before the serum crystalized in the bottle (thank you, pomegranate seed oil), though I did manage to use up my previous bottle entirely.

I’m using a blend of pomegranate seed oil from Mountain Rose Herbs and pink grapefruit seed oil from Purple Citrus in my Po+R bottle right now (around a 9:1 ratio), and I’m really happy with the blend. I definitely notice a difference in the quality of the oils (the Mountain Rose Herbs pomegranate seed oil breaks me out unless I add a bit of pink grapefruit to clarify), but for the price difference (about $9/oz vs $247/oz), I don’t think I’ll be going back to the Odacité anytime soon.

Odacite Pomegranate Rose Geranium oil review

I’ve also been using the Paula’s Choice Resist Moisture Renewal Oil Booster ($35 USD; review), which I really love. It’s not thick and comforting the way that pomegranate seed oil is, but it’s lovely. I use two drops of this mixed into my nighttime moisturizer and always wake up with just the most amazing skin–like, since I started using this stuff, I will actually just stop and stare at my skin in mirrors. It’s kind of awkward.

I’m not sure if I’ll re-buy the Paula’s Choice (it’s $52/oz, which I know is still really cheap, but my oil blend is $9/oz) once I run out, but I do really love it. It makes a big difference for my already youthful skin, and if I was five or ten years older, I would definitely re-purchase!

My must-have moisturizers

I’ve got, like, four giant tubs of German Nivea sitting in my basement, and I don’t know what on earth I’m going to do with them because dudes, I have finally moved on.

DHC Extra Nighttime Moistsure review

Right now, I’m switching between two awesome mid-range moisturizers: DHC Extra Nighttime Moisture ($36 USD; reviewin the evenings and Reversa Anti-Redness Soothing Care ($34 CAD; review) in the daytime. Both are excellent delivery mechanisms for other products: they’re scent- and silicone-free and very hydrating, but mix well with whatever serum I’m using or testing that day.

My current mix for Heavenly, Blemish-Free Morning Face™ is a tiny dollop of DHC with two drops of the Paula’s Choice serum I mentioned above — if you have really dry, dehydrated skin, you MUST try these two products!! And, for the daytime, the Reversa stuff is awesome. It doesn’t have SPF (its only failing), but the slight green tint just makes my skin look that little bit better.

My cleansing, acne, and haircare favourites

I’m still loving my Marcelle 3-in-1 Micellar Solution ($19.95 CAD; review), which removes my eye makeup without any stinging or hassle, and my Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion ($19 USD at Nordstrom, Ulta, or UO; outside the US, I think Beauty Bay is the cheapest way to get it — that’s where I buy mine). I think I’m on, like, my fourth bottle of each, or something equally ridiculous–the Marcelle is super gentle, effective, and affordable, and the Mario Badescu is just magic for acne. 

-Skin and haircare favourites

I’m also still all over the Giovanni 2Chic Avocado & Olive Oil Leave-In Spray (review), which I re-bought this year. It’s a great little drugstore find that makes your hair feel silky and super-smooth, but also makes it seem like you have nothing in your hair at all — it’s not greasy or sticky, and the smell evaporates almost immediately.

Finally, I’ve been using the Paula’s Choice Resist Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser ($18 USD; reviewevery single day since I tried it for the first time! It’s a rich, “plain” cleansing milk that’s (also) super gentle and effective, and even though it’s harder to get my hands on than a bottle of Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Milk, it’s stolen my go-to cleanser spot.

The skincare secrets that I learned this year

SkinCeuticals skincare regimen group

Okay, this is the stuff that you guys really want to tune in for, regardless of your skin type. I learned two big things in 2015: one, that I am way more likely to use a serum if I mix it into my moisturizer, and two, that you should never leave product in your eye dropper.

I know they always tell you to apply serum first, but I almost never do. It’s kind of a hassle, and I hate the way that a lot of them feel — dry and thin and oily all at the same time. If I apply my serum at the same time as my moisturizer, though, I find that I get all of the benefits with none of the icky parts!

As for the other skincare secret? A lot of my favourite serums are stored in eyedropper-type bottles, and I learned this year that you are NEVER supposed to leave product in the actual dropper part! The air in the squeeze-y balloon will oxidize the product while it sits in there, so any actives (ferulic acid, for instance) will degrade before they even make it to your face. (A big, big thank you to SkinCeuticals’ awesome PR rep for this tip!)

Pür Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup SPF 15 review, swatches, photos | Porcelain vs Fair

Monday, December 28, 2015

Pur Minerals 4 in 1 fair review swatches

Pür Minerals 4-in-1 in Fair

The product: Pür Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup Borad Spectrum SPF 15 foundation in Porcelain 

Note: These images look a little off in Chrome. To get a really good idea of what these foundation shades look like, please view this post in a different browser!

According to my editorial calendar, I’m supposed to be writing about my 2015 favourites right now. And I am, technically, but my favourites roundup is going to have to wait just one more day, because this stuff? This stuff is too good for me to not blog about for even just one more minute.

The newly-reformulated Pür Minerals 4-in-1 foundation is, to put it simply, my favourite product of the year. 

Pur Minerals 4 in 1 pressed mineral makeup review

Pur Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup SPF 15 in Porcelain

The formula: I’ve never found a powder foundation that has been just right for me before, so Pür Mineral’s 4-in-1 is kind of like my unicorn product. It kicks up a lot of dust when you pick up product, which is my only complaint about the formula, but it’s lovely — it has just the right amount of medium coverage, and its skin-like satin finish both looks and feels like you’re wearing almost nothing at all.

Pür Minerals’ 4-in-1 foundation is the kind of product that’s so good that it seems almost boring, but where it differs from other powder foundations is where it really shines. (Jayne went through a whopping three pans of the original 4-in-1, which I think really says something about how great it is!!)

I tried both Porcelain and Fair for this review, and weirdly enough, the formula is different for Porcelain vs. the rest of the line. Both formulas wear very well, in my opinion, but I did find that Fair oxidized a bit on me after about an hour!

Pur Minerals foundation review

Pur Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup SPF 15 in Porcelain Pur Minerals Porcelain vs Fair review swatches

Pur Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup SPF 15 in Porcelain (L) and Fair (R)

What makes the 4-in-1 so special: My #1 pet peeve with foundations of any kind is that they can apply just fine, but then feel almost gritty by midday–sort of like a sunscreen, you know? Where they look fine, but if you touch your face with your hands, it feels dirty.

The Pür powder foundation feels velvety from application to removal, though, and the range runs really light — Porcelain is a perfect match for my skintone (I can even use a dense brush with it to apply as concealer), meaning it runs lighter than even the Make Up For Ever foundation range.

(MAC, unfortunately, don’t offer any silicone-free foundations, and mineral lines like Bare Escentuals would need to add another 1-2 light shades before I could find a match.)

Pur Minerals 4 in 1 powder porcelain, fair swatches review

Pur Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup SPF 15 swatched: Porcelain, Fair

How I apply: I’ve been applying my 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Powder with the line’s Chisel Foundation Brush, but the brush is a little rough. Application is a breeze, though (I can finish my entire face in under 60 seconds), and if I want a completely invisible finish, all I have to do is spritz my face with one of my MIYU Beauty Essences and let it dry.

Pür Minerals is launching a number of new brushes in March (you heard it here first!) including a really soft-looking powder foundation brush, but I would love to hear your brush recommendations in the meantime!!

Pur Minerals Pressed Mineral Makeup foundation review

Pur Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup SPF 15 in Porcelain, Fair

The verdict?

I’ve never really fallen in love with a foundation before. I’ve liked products (timeBalm and Sensual Skin Enhancer come to mind), but this–this is a whole other level.

The Pür Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup really does make me look like I’ve applied a flawless layer of foundation, concealer, and powder in under a minute (I’ve timed it), and it comes with unnoticeable SPF 15 (thanks to weightless titanium dioxide) and a silicone-, fragrance-, and paraben-free formula. 

I wish that this was a little less than $32, of course, but for the perfect shade, formula, and packaging, I’m willing to pay it!

Availability: $28 USD/$32 CAD at Shopper’s Drug Mart (and online at their Beauty Boutique!), Ulta, Beauty.com, and Pür Minerals.

Keep reading! »

LUSH Winter Garden set review: Gorgeous, Snowcake, Rose Jam, Dream Cream, Rub Rub Rub

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

LUSH winter garden review gift set

The product: LUSH Winter Garden Wrapped Gift

↳ Snowcake bar soap, Rose Jam shower gel, Gorgeous moisturizer, Dream Cream hand and body lotion, and the brand new Rub Rub Rub body scrub bar

For all of you out there who are still still, three days before Christmas, struggling to finish your Christmas shopping… here’s a set from Lush that you might find handy! The Winter Garden Wrapped Gift comes in a ready-to-go little ball and includes five popular Lush products for a really affordable $37.95 CAD (including one of my all-time faves!)

LUSH Snowcake soap review

Snowcake Soap ($7.95 CAD)

Snowcake is one of my yearly holiday favourites, so I figured we’d start off here! It’s a lovely, almond-y confection covered (this year) with a plentiful heaping of golden dust.

This year’s Snowcake smells a touch less spicy than my last bar (2013), but it’s definitely still something that I’d buy again! I know a lot of people are fans of L’Occitane’s almond line, but I like Snowcake more. It’s sweeter and Christmasy-er, and doesn’t have that hard, headache-inducing edge that Amande does! 

LUSH Rose Jam shower gel review

Rose Jam Shower Gel ($9.95 CAD)

I was really pleased to find Rose Jam in this set, too. It’s another cult-followed limited edition Lush product, and one that I had never tried before now!

Unfortunately, I think Rose Jam is too sweet for me (it’s quite jammy), but I can definitely see why this delicious fragrance has such a following. It smells distinctly like rose and vanilla, and the sweetness lingers on the skin long after you rinse off.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Gorgeous Facial Moisturizer ($87.95 CAD)

The Winter Garden set also includes a tiny sample of Lush’s Gorgeous moisturizer, which… I mean, am I the only one who thinks Lush charges insane prices for Gorgeous? As a brand that mostly subsists on $8 bath bombs and $25 facial moisturizers, it’s weird that consumers have to pay THAT MUCH more for organic and cold pressed ingredients.

To be fair, though, Gorgeous is pretty gorgeous. It’s light-textured and creamy, and absorbs into the skin with almost startling speed. My skin loves the formulation and velvety finish, but it just doesn’t feel like a $90 moisturizer.

I have to apply two layers of Gorgeous to compensate for Alberta’s dry air, and though the formula really is excellent, Gorgeous still contains parabens and synthetic fragrance ingredients. Neither of those are things that bug my skin, but for almost $90, I feel like consumers deserve a moisturizer that really is all-natural if it’s marketed as such. 

All in all, I really do like Gorgeous. It’s a great moisturizer. But it’s not the only great moisturizer, and to say that it outclasses all of my $30 and $40 moisturizers would be a lie!

LUSH Dream Cream hand lotion review

Dream Cream Hand and Body Lotion ($27.95 CAD)

On the other hand, there’s Dream Cream — my unexpected love hit of the Winter Garden set.

Dream Cream is sort of the body version (texture-wise) of Gorgeous, and its formula is equally great. It lists oat milk, rose water, organic extra virgin olive oil, and organic cocoa butter as its first four ingredients, and is also enriched with soothing and hydrating ingredients like benzoin (which I just ordered a vial of out of curiosity; it’s a very sticky, sweet-smelling essential oil!), rose absolute, and lavender.

$27 is a little pricey for a body lotion compared to the drugstore stuff, but the ingredients in this one are great. In this case, I think $27 for a 240g jar is worth the price!

LUSH Rub Rub Rub scrub review

Rub Rub Rub Body Scrub ($9.95 CAD)

The last treat in this gift set is Lush’s Rub Rub Rub body scrub, the solid version of Lush’s Rub Rub Rub Shower Scrub. I was really excited to give it a try (this season is the first time that Lush has done salt cubes like this one), but it was a big miss for me–the only one in the set.

To put it simply, the Rub Rub Rub Body Scrub is way too freaking scratchy. No matter how lightly I drag this along my skin, or whether I do it before my shower or during, it hurts to use. The salt chunks are big and sharp, and this Body Scrub leaves me with big red friction welts on my arms instead of soft, exfoliated skin. (I wasn’t brave enough to use this on my legs, which are currently dealing with a little bout of eczema.)

LUSH Winter Garden Christmas packaging review

The verdict?

If you need a quick Christmas gift fix (or you need to decompress after all of your holiday planning), the Lush Winter Garden wrapped gift is a great place to start looking.

Lush’s Home for Christmas gift set ($27.95 CAD) is an even better choice, though, if you ask me — it’s a pared-down version of this one, and by skipping out on a tiny sample of Gorgeous and that awful Rub Rub Rub Body Scrub, you save yourself $10 to use elsewhere!

Availability: $37.95 CAD at LUSH stores; sold out online.

MIYU Soirée Essentials review, photos | The (Canadian!) Gift Guide

Thursday, December 17, 2015

MIYU Beauty Soiree Essentials kit review

The product: MIYU Beauty Soirée Essentials kit

Every Christmas, I like to pick out a couple “quick fix” gift ideas. Kits for under $100 that are luxurious, easy to wrap, easy to buy, and (most importantly of all) sure to please many. They’re a step above your standard hostess gift, but juuuust generic enough that you probably have 3 or 4 people in your life (if not more) that would absolutely love them.

MIYU Beauty Soiree Essentials kit

MIYU Beauty mirror

MIYU Soiree Essentials love juliet earrings

The MIYU Soirée Essentials kit ($69 CAD) contains a full-sized Hydrate Mi Beauty Essence and Hydrate Mi Tea, along with a Hydrate Mi Beauty Essence Mini to throw into your clutch or leave on your nightstand. But what I really love about this kit is that it isn’t only beauty products — it’s a complete, well-rounded gift, ready to wrap with a compact mirror and a set of sparkling pearl & crystal 14K gold plated drop earrings by Love Juliet.

I’ve reviewed the MIYU Beauty Essences before, so I won’t go too much into detail about Hydrate Mi, but I’m happy to say that I’m still using (and loving!) both my Hydrate Mi and De-Stress Mi Beauty Essences religiously.

I find that I actually my essences more now than I did when I wrote my review — they’re perfect for adding a veil of moisture to my super-dry skin right before bed or just as I wake up, and unlike all other beauty essences, they can be spritzed on to freshen up winter-dry foundation.

MIYU Beauty Hydrate Mi Beauty Essence, Tea review

I thought it was silly at first that MIYU put two Hydrate Mi essences in to this kit, but then it hit me: one is totally not enough. I keep a De-Stress Mi in my bathroom, and bottles of Hydrate Mi at my desk, in the bathroom cabinet at my partner’s place, and on my side of the bed. (I like to think of it as my portable humidifier, because it does about the same thing for my skin.)

If you’re searching for an awesome last-minute gift, or if you want to treat yourself for the holidays, the MIYU Beauty Soirée Essentials Kit ($69 CAD) is a great way to do it!

» Why gift MIYU? I love the MIYU brand because it’s a small Canadian business built around two absolutely inspiring ladies. CEO Connie Tai grew up here in Edmonton and has an extensive background in cosmetic chemistry and product development, so she actually gets it — she’s not just a pretty celebrity face behind a thrown-together brand.

Keep reading! »

L’Occitane Cedrat Shower Gel & After-Shave review, photos | The Gift Guide

Thursday, December 3, 2015

L'Occitane Cedrat After-Shave gel lotion review

The product: L’Occitane Cédrat Shower Gel and After-Shave Cream Gel for him

The one thing that strikes me every Decem-burr (yay!) is that I never do enough of a “gift guide for him.” Dudes deserve product too, so if you have a Mr. in your life who needs a little spoiling this season, this post is for you!

(And him.)

L'Occitane Cedrat After-Shave review

My partner and I couldn’t test out the Cedrat After-Shave Cream Gel ($36 CAD) because it contains silicones, but I had to include it in this post–it’s just so gorgeously packaged! Formulated with Corsican cédrat (citron), it’s meant to hydrate, mattify, and energize the skin, reducing irritation after shaving with a lightweight “melting texture.”

Hilariously, L’Occitane describes the cedrat as an “eminently masculine fruit” with its “thick and rough bark,” which is so unbelievably, comically unnecessary. Men’s marketing, you guys. It gets me every time.

L'Occitane cedrat shower gel review citron

I did give the Cedrat Shower Gel ($22 CAD) a go, though, and I was happily impressed. It’s a 2-in-1 cleanser for the body and hair, and it does a great job of both. It’s lightly scented with a faint herby-citrus fragrance and a hint (not a hit) of woods in the base, and it is great as a shampoo — richly lathering, yet completely non-stripping. 

(I’m serious, you guys. I went from Kérastase to this, and I liked this one more.)

L'Occitane Cedrat review men's skincare

The verdict?

The L’Occitane Cédrat line has a very unexpected, earthy-citrus fragrance to it, but I was really impressed with what I saw from the range. I think it’ll be a big hit for fans of vetiver and other earthy, subtle scents — just make sure not to get it confused with the brand’s Cèdre range, like I foolishly did!

Availability: $8.50 CAD & up at L’Occitane stores and online.

Keep reading! »

LUSH Celebrate, Baked Alaska, Old Father Time review, photos | Christmas 2015

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

LUSH celebrate, old father time, baked alaska review

The products: LUSH Baked Alaska, Old Father Time, and Celebrate Hand and Body Lotion

Happy Decem-burr, dear readers! I’m super jazzed for the holidays this year despite the eerily warm weather we’ve been having, so I’m very temporarily suspending my regular to-review shelf in favour of some more festive finds.

Up first are a few cruelty-free, vegan products from LUSH’s holiday range. Or, as they like to call it, the Christmas collection! (Because fuck political correctness, I guess?) (Um. Also, sorry for swearing at you bright and early on a Wednesday morning.)

LUSH Celebrate Hand and Body Lotion review

Celebrate Hand and Body Lotion ($32.95 CAD)

LUSH went a different route from most brands this winter & released a bunch of fruity and citrusy products for the holidays, so (of course) I had to check at least a few of them out!

Celebrate is one such product, and it’s great — not really all that festive, but it’s hydrating and lightweight and it smells super tasty. (True fact, my partner put his head in my lap yesterday, looked up at me, and said, “Your knee smells really good,” with an almost reverent in his eyes.)

Love the scent? Celebrate is made with the same fragrance as Lush’s Golden Wonder Bath Bomb.

This one is formulated with almond oil and cocoa butter, and scented with orange flower, lime, benzoin, and cognac oil. I get almost a lime/grapefruit feel from the scent, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was back for a third year in 2016 — it’s that good.

LUSH Baked Alaska soap review

Baked Alaska Soap ($7.95 CAD)

Another fruity holiday product from LUSH this year is their Baked Alaska soap, which is fluorescent and cheerful and smells as zingy as it looks. I was expecting a sweeter/more gourmand scent based on the name, but I think the lemon myrtle, grapefruit, and ylang ylang blend really suits this bright cube of yellow and green!

Fun fact: Baked Alaska was actually inspired by “The Baked Alaska Story,” a book about a snow empire built on a foundation of multi-coloured ice cream!

(I cut mine into a square after taking these photos, and goddamn, it is really cute square.)

Baked Alaska does smell a little bit lemon cleaner-y, so if you don’t like your citrus scents bitter or sour at all, maybe skip this one.

LUSH Old Father Time soap review

Old Father Time Soap ($7.95 CAD)

Old Father Time is a “properly” festive scent, dolled up in deep red and gold with notes of sage, thyme, and myrrh. This was the product that I was most excited to try from Lush’s holiday range, but funnily enough, it was my least favourite!

I’m not crazy about the dark red colour that this tints the water with, and the scent is kind of weird. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool, but it’s… weird. It smells like spiced Kool-Aid blended with motor oil, and I am 100% certain that a lot of Lushies are going to LOVE it, but it’s a very strong, saccharine scent. If you can, smell this one in person before buying — and if you love, stock up. It’s only around for the holidays!

LUSH Holiday 2015 reviews

The verdict?

The LUSH holiday catalogue is, as usual, huge — and there’s something in it for everyone, I think. I wasn’t as smitten with these three products as I have been with other LUSH holiday products (the Sikkim Girls Body Lotion and Snowcake soap come to mind as particularly great ones), but it’s awesome to see a brand doing something other than cinnamon and spice for the winter months. 

I would definitely recommend checking out the Celebrate Hand and Body Lotion if you like citrus, and make sure to keep your eyes peeled for another LUSH feature soon — I have a great little gift set to review in a couple of weeks!

Availability: Currently on shelves and online at LUSH. Limited edition!

Ingredients and stuff »

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