Paula’s Choice skincare review: Simple, no-nonsense treatments for dry skin & keratosis pilaris

Monday, November 30, 2015

Paula's Choice skincare review

*sponsored post

When I was asked if I wanted to try a Paula’s Choice skincare regimen through Pretty in My Pocket (download the free PRIMP app here; it’s a sort of lookbook/shopping list/review panel/beauty newsfeed), my immediate answer was yes!

I’ve been curious about the Paula’s Choice line for a while, and I wish I had given it a try sooner. The brand is cruelty- and fragrance-free with simple, coordinated packaging, and they actually have a surprising number of silicone-free options!

The consultation (and how to get 20% off!)

The Paula’s Choice skincare range is huge, so the brand offers free personal skincare consultations by phone to help customers figure out their ideal skincare regimen. Mine took about 10 minutes, and it made choosing the best products for me super easy.

Plus, as a Pretty in My Pocket Power Primer, I get to offer you guys 20% off plus free US shipping with the promo code PRIMPFALL20. It lasts until the end of the year, so if you’re looking to update your skincare regimen (or if you need to add an extra product or two for the winter), make sure you do it before December 31st!

» shop 20% off with free shipping! «

Paula's Choice PRIMP review

The hydrating products

Moisture Boost Essential Hydrating Toner ($17 USD)Paula's Choice Moistsure Boost Toner review


I didn’t love all of the products that I tried, but I definitely liked the Moisture Boost Essential Hydrating Toner! It’s a soothing, scent-free, alcohol-free toner, and it helps boost hydration immediately after cleansing. It’s not a must-have for me, but I feel like it leaves my skin a little smoother; a little more hydrated — in other words, it’s everything that I wish the Cremorlab Beauty Essence was.

Plus, it’s only $17 (compared to Cremorlab’s $42), so you can’t go wrong!

Resist Moisture Renewal Oil Booster ($35 USD)Paula's choice Resist oil booster review

THIS OIL, you guys. love this oil.

The Paula’s Choice Resist Moisture Renewal Oil Booster is packed with plant oils like jojoba, apricot, and borage, and blended with ceramides for the ultimate smoothing treatment. At just $35, I think it may be my new favourite overnight product! It’s not as luxurious and thick as my beloved Po+R, but it’s way more cost-effective ($52/oz vs $247/oz) and my dry skin just loves it.

For anyone who gets “dryness breakouts,” I recommend this one (not something with actives) as your best option for an acne fix-it.

Resist Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser ($18 USD)

Paula's Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser review

The other Paula’s Choice product that I really loved was the brand’s Resist Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser, which is totally taking over as my new daily cleansing milk. (Sorry, Marcelle.) It’s a measly $2.81 per ounce, and it gets the job done, removing my makeup and the grime of the day without stripping my skin. 

I’d love to see this one re-packaged to be, uh, a little less boring, but other than that, I have no complaints!!

The treatment products

Resist Barrier Repair Moisturizer with Retinol ($37 USD)

Paula's Choice Resist Barrier Repair Moisturizer with retinol review

Okay, so it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The Paula’s Choice Resist Barrier Repair Moisturizer was the first product that I tried, and I… kind of hated it.


Fresh Sugar Lip Lovers review, swatches, photos | THE GIFT GUIDE

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fresh Sugar rose, advanced lip therapy, scrub review

The product: Fresh Sugar Lip Lovers set

I get pretty excited about the Fresh gift sets each holiday season, but this year was a good year for the brand. Their Fresh Sugar Lip Lovers set ($45 USD/$55 CAD) contains minis of one of my favourite Fresh products (the Sugar Rosé Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15), plus four other products that I was dying to try.

Fresh Sugar Rose tinted lip balm review

Fresh Sugar Rosé Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15 ($22.50 USD/$26 CAD)

The Sugar Lip Lovers set contains one of my favourites, the Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15 ($22.50 USD/$26 CAD). But, while I think it’s great to include a bestseller in your sets every now and again, Rosé is becoming the MAC Carbon or NARS Laguna of the Fresh brand — beloved, but in way too many things

So, while I think Rosé is a great inclusion for a gift set, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for a different shade in 2016. Rosé is far from their only wearable colour, and I can’t be the only beauty junkie out there who now has three of them kicking around!

Fresh Sugar Rose Shine Lip Treatment review gloss

Fresh Sugar Rosé Shine Lip Treatment ($18.50 USD/$22 CAD)

Now, being a longtime fan of the original Tinted Lip Treatments, I’ve been meaning to try the Fresh Sugar Shine Lip Treatments ($18.50 USD/$22 CAD) since they launched. And, I am happy to report, I really like them, too!

Fresh Sugar Rose lip gloss swatch review

Fresh Sugar Rosé Lip Shine Treatment swatches

They’re not as hydrating as, say, the new Estee Lauder Lip Volumizer, but then, almost nothing is. They are, however, scented with the same sugar lemon scent as Fresh’s other tinted lip products, and they have a great shine and comfortable texture to accompany their sheer pigmentation. 

I’m not chomping at the bit to buy a full-sized tube of any of these, but the mini size has been in my handbag for the last two weeks and I’m still pulling it out daily!

Fresh Sugar Lip Lovers swatches review

Swatched L-R: Fresh Sugar Rosé Lip Shine (gloss), Fresh Sugar Rosé Lip Treatment (stick), Fresh Sugar Lip Polish, Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy (stick), Fresh Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy (cream)

Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy lip balm review

Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment ($25 USD/$29 CAD)

And now the good stuff: Fresh’s Advanced Therapy line. These products are entirely new to me (I know; I’m late to the game), but, sadly, they didn’t quite live up to my expectations. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m really glad that I finally tried them, but the Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment ($25 USD/$29 CAD) lip balm didn’t do any more for my lips than the regular one. I tested it for a few days at a time on three or four occasions, because I figured hey, I must just be confounding my testing somehow, but… nope.

If you get great results with this one, I would love to hear about it in the comments, because it’s just not working for me!

Fresh Sugar Lip Serum review

Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Serum ($35 USD/$41 CAD)

The Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Serum ($35 USD/$41 CAD) was the biggest appeal of the Fresh Sugar Lip Lovers set for me, and I hate to keep you in suspense, but… I want to take a little more time to go over it on the blog.

Come back tomorrow for a full review of this one! ;)

Fresh Sugar Lip Polish review

Fresh Sugar Lip Polish ($22.50 USD/$26 CAD)

And, finally, we have the Fresh Sugar Lip Polish ($22.50 USD/$26 CAD). I was the least excited about this one (I mean, $26? For a lip scrub?) but I was surprised to find that it was actually one of my favourites of the bunch!

The Fresh Sugar Lip Polish tastes, smells, and looks like brown sugar creamed with butter, and it leaves my lips feeling super soft and extremely hydrated. It’s very scrubby, so I have to remember to apply it with a light hand, but a little goes a very long way — you barely need half a pea-sized amount for each use. 

Fresh Sugar Lip Lovers review holiday gift set

The verdict?

As someone who never finishes products, I am always very reluctant to buy Fresh products at full price. Come the holidays, however, I am always sure to stock up!

The Fresh Sugar Lip Lovers set is a great way to try out a whole bunch of Fresh products at a pretty reasonable price (especially if you use Ebates/, and it would make a fantastic holiday gift for a lucky loved one in your life. This one gets two big thumbs up from me!

Availability: $45 USD/$55 CAD at Sephora.

Keep reading! »

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Defining Wet/Dry Eyeshadow, Lip Volumizer, Matte Sculpting Lipstick review, swatches, photos

Friday, November 13, 2015

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy lipstick Commanding review swatches

The products: Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy collection

↳ Lip Volumizer, Matte Sculpting Lipstick in Commanding, Defining Eye Shadow Wet/Dry in Blue Fury

Pure Color Envy Lip Volumizer ($28 USD/$32 CAD)

I love a good pH-adjusting lip product, so I wanted to start off today’s post with the Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Lip Volumizer ($28 USD/$32 CAD), a plumping gloss that adjusts to a sheer pink once applied.

Estee Lauder Lip Volumizer review swatches

The Estée Lauder fall launches this year mainly consist of two collections: the New Dimensions range, which I talked about on Monday, and the Pure Color Envy line, which is an extension of the brand’s colour cosmetics range.

All of the Pure Color Envy products are just gorgeously packaged (especially the lipsticks), and this volumizing gloss is no exception. I don’t really see plumping results with this one, but it definitely delivers on sheer colour (nothing like the hot pink applicator!) and an extremely moisturizing, shiny, minty finish. 

I think that $32 is a lot to pay for a gloss, but if price was no object, I’d be recommending it to everyone! It’s crazy hydrating, super-smooth, and smells delicious — definitely one of the most comfortable glosses that I own.

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Lip Volumizer review

Pure Color Envy Matte Sculpting Lipstick in Commanding ($30 USD/$34 CAD)

I also tried out the brand new Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Matte Sculpting Lipstick in Commanding ($30 USD/$34 CAD), which comes in just the most exquisite, weighty, magnetic packaging.

Commanding is too bold for my tastes (all 12 of the Matte Sculpting Lipstick shades are “statement” shades), but the formula of these is fantastic — even a shade this dark feels creamy and smooth as it’s applied, and the finish is as velvety and comfortable as it is opaque.

Estee Lauder Commanding swatches review Matte Sculpting lipstick

I couldn’t wear Commanding for a full evening without topping up with lip balm, but I’m not kidding, you guys: the Pure Color Envy Matte Sculpting Lipstick formula is the #1 most comfortable matte that I own. I’m just a serious dryness wimp!

(Note: these are not, however, a “hard matte” the way that MAC Ruby Woo & co. are. Rather, they’re fairly matte, but have a slight creme sheen to them.)

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy reviews swatches

Swatched L-R: Estee Lauder Commanding Matte Lipstick, Lip Volumizer, and Blue Fury Wet/Dry Eyeshadow (dry, then wet)

Pure Color Envy Defining Eye Shadow Wet/Dry in Blue Fury ($25 USD/$28 CAD)

And, finally, my least favourite Pure Color Envy product: the Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Defining Eye Shadow Wet/Dry in Blue Fury ($25 USD/$28 CAD).

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Blue Fury swatches review

I can’t speak for the rest of the Pure Color Envy eyeshadows (Ominous, for instance, looks absolutely stunning ), but Blue Fury is just kind of underwhelming. Like every single other dark blue eyeshadow out there, it applies as a sheer, patchy charcoal with blue shimmer when used dry, and shines only when used wet: it’s luminous, pigmented, and even, with a lovely dark blue glow.

Estée promises a “tri-brid” formula with these, though, combining “the best properties of a cream, powder and gel,” but all I really see here are the old Estée Lauder eyeshadows, rebranded with a made-up word.

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy reviews

Would you ever buy a “tri-brid” product? Or would you just angrily yell “THE WORD YOU’RE LOOKING FOR IS HYBRID” while shaking your fist at the sky?

Check out these other Pure Color Envy reviews:

  • Temptalia – wet/dry eyeshadow reviews by shade (not all of them are great, and not all are terrible!)
  • Writing Whimsy – wet/dry eyeshadow and matte lipstick reviews
  • A Beautiful Zen – featuring Joan Smalls’ matte violet lipstick and one of the matte wet/dry eyeshadows
  • Fun Size Beauty – a rave for the wet/dry eyeshadows!

Shu Uemura Haute Street review, swatches, photos | Vision of Beauty Vol. 02

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Shu Uemura Haute Street Vision of Beauty collection reviews photos swatches

The products: Shu Uemura Vision of Beauty Collection – Vol. 02 Haute Street

Haute Street is shu uemura’s interpretation of street art for the face. However, the brand’s artistic director, Uchiide, is adamant that this collection (which is the second in a series; see Vol. 01 Brave Beauty hereis not “graffiti for the face.”

Instead, it’s meant to bring the “essence” of street art into everyday makeup looks, but here’s the thing: street art, and especially graffiti (which the visuals of this collection centre around) isn’t about beautifying streets or letting overprivileged youth express themselves. It’s a form of protest and a way to claim spaces; a way to disrupt, interrupt, and change the discourse when your voices aren’t being heard.

So, while I think the bright hues and mixed-media textures of the Haute Street collection are wonderful, I also think it’s kind of uncool that shu uemura is re-appropriating graffiti culture to sell $90 luxury eyeshadow palettes.

Shu Uemura eye color pencil cool chic review swatches

Shu Uemura Dual-Ended Eye Color Pencil in Cool x Chic

Cool x Chic

The Haute Street collection is a really big one, so it’s separated into “cool x chic” colours and “warm x vibrant” colours. I started, of course, with the cool tones!

First up: the Shu Uemura Dual-Ended Eye Color Pencil in Cool x Chic ($30 CAD), which is a double-ended matte neon green and neon blue shadow/liner. I loved the bright matte colours of these liners, and the colour payoff is so good, but I couldn’t get behind the “traditional” dry pencil texture.

I find that I have to make multiple stiff passes to get an opaque line with these, and they perform best as an eyeshadow base.

Shu Uemura Haute Street reviews swatches cool x chic

Swatched L-R: Shu Uemura Dual-Ended Eye Color Pencil in Cool x Chic, Rouge Unlimited Lipstick in City Neon, Tint in Gelato in Street Rose (heavily/lightly)

Shu Uemura City Neon swatches review

Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Lipstick in City Neon

Next, we have the Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Lipstick in City Neon ($36 CAD), which is sheer, juicy, and so, so pretty, and the gorgeous Shu Uemura Haute Street Eye Shadow Palette in Cool x Chic ($90 CAD), which is full of beautiful plums, blues, and greens.

Shu Uemura Haute Street Cool x Chic swatches review

Shu Uemura Haute Street Eyeshadow Palette in Cool x Chic

Shu Uemura Cool x Chic eyeshadow palette swatches review

Swatched over primer in indirect sunlight: Shu Uemura Haute Street Eyeshadow Palette in Cool x Chic

Shu Uemura Street Rose swatches review

Shu Uemura Tint in Gelato Lip and Cheek Color in Street Rose

The Tint in Gelato lip/cheek colours (repackaged without a doe-foot in the Haute Street collection) have always fascinated me, but they’ve never worked for me. Something in the formula makes my lips tingle (in a bad way), and on the cheeks, the silicone content always breaks me out — but oh, they are an artist’s dream!

Each Tint in Gelato is wildly pigmented and features a mousse texture with a velvety matte finish, and the Shu Uemura Tint in Gelato Lip Color in Street Rose ($28 CAD) is no exception.

Shu Uemura Tint in Gelato swatches review comparison

Shu Uemura Haute Street Tint in Gelato packaging vs. original/regular packaging

Warm x Vibrant »

Estee Lauder New Dimension reviews: Expert Liquid Tape; Shape + Sculpt Face Kit; FW15 previews

Monday, November 9, 2015

Estee Lauder New Dimensions review

I spent one lovely morning at the dream-inspiring 130 Bloor St. West (also known as the Lauder building) while in Toronto this summer, and at long last, I finally have a post ready to share them with all of you guys about all of the lovely gems I got to learn about while I was there!

I’ve got a Pure Colour Envy makeup follow-up to finish for you guys tomorrow, but for now, here are all the skincare goodies ;)

Estee Lauder New Dimensions Expert Liquid Tape review

Estée Lauder New Dimension collection

The New Dimension collection is your standard high-tech anti-ageing collection, designed to address the structure and volume of the skin to maximize contours and minimize wrinkles, but it contains one product that (I think) makes it really special: the Estée Lauder New Dimension Expert Liquid Tape ($70 USD/$78 CAD).

The Expert Liquid Tape is made to be used like actual tape, which is… kind of super cool. You’ll want to apply it to clean, dry skin and let it tighten and lift the area over the next 10 minutes, laying down thin, even strips of product from the brow bone, undereye, and nasolabial fold to the temple.

Estee Lauder Expert Liquid Tape review

Unfortunately, I didn’t see a lot of lift from the Expert Liquid Tape, and it’s definitely not (as I know some of you were wondering) strong enough to lift a monolid or add a double fold. It’s a very unique product, though, and I think it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a fellow product nerd! ;)

Estee Lauder Sculpt Shape compact review

The other New Dimension product that I really got to test out is the Estée Lauder New Dimension Shape + Sculpt Face Kit ($50 USD/$55 CAD), which features two neutral-toned cream products and a sponge to blend them with.

Like the Expert Liquid Tape, however, the Estée Shape + Sculpt Face Kit didn’t quite work for me. The contour shade was too warm for my skintone, and the cream highlighter was actually darker than my face! (Which, yes, looks just as weird as you think it would.) 

Estee Lauder New Dimension Sculpt Shape Kit swatches

Estée Lauder New Dimension Shape + Sculpt Face Kit swatches

Estee Lauder New Dimensions contour kit review

Everything else! 

Aerin Rose Oil collection preview

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy lip glosses review

Keep reading! »

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