Paula’s Choice RESIST Brightening Essence | Getting picture-perfect for the holidays

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

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Paula’s Choice RESIST Brightening Essence review

The product: Paula’s Choice RESIST Brightening Essence

I like to start every brightening/whitening post the same way: with a reminder that I don’t think that whiter or brighter skin is “more beautiful” than darker skin, ethnic skin, or hyperpigmented skin. Brightening products are a great option to have for those who choose to use them, but I don’t think anyone should feel the need to.

(You’re beautiful just the way you are!) 

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Why use a brightening product?: I have had countless sales associates tell me that I need to brighten my skin due to my ethnicity, but respectfully: fuck that noise.

I was really interested in this product because my skin holds a tan, and I don’t want my choice of holiday dress this year to be limited by my tan lines. But that’s not the only reason to use a brightening product: if you feel like your skin looks a little dull and you want a bit more glow, or if you have pigmentation that makes you uncomfortable and you’d like a slightly more even skintone, then brightening products could really help you outN. If you want extreme results, then opt for a peel or treatment instead.

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How it works: I like the Paula’s Choice RESIST Brightening Essence ($42 USD) in particular because it’s very gentle. It’s not sensitizing the way peels can be, so just make sure to layer under sunscreen during the daytime and use sparingly — the formula pills if you over-apply.

The formula uses licorice extract, arbutin, vitamin C, and niacinamide to brighten the complexion, plus a blend of sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid to add moisture to the epidermis. It’s free of silicones, parabens, and fragrances, and it hasn’t been tested on animals.

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But does it work?: In short, yes. I used this “essence” twice a day on my chest tan (a rather unfortunate cross between a scoop neck and a v-neck) for two weeks straight, and I think my skin looked brighter and more even at the end of the test.

The only thing that confused me about this product is that it’s marketed as an essence, but it’s NOT a K-beauty essence. It’s applied like a serum and it acts like one, so why not just call it a serum? I mean, I know it’s just a thing that brands are doing nowadays, but… it’s confusing. Stop it, skincare industry. Stop it.

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The verdict?

If you’re nervous about holiday photos and you want to get a leg up over the competition (everyone has that hot cousin who always looks better than you in photographs; goddammit, Kylie, why are you so pretty), then right now is exactly the right time to start a brightening regimen.

The Paula’s Choice RESIST Brightening Essence is effective and unobtrusive, and more or less feels like a “nothing” step in your skincare routine wherein you’re applying water and waking up two weeks later with results. (Huzzah for skincare products that are easily added to/removed from your routine!)

Availability: $42 USD at Paula’s Choice and Nordstrom.

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Saje Natural Perfume Collection + Goddess, Ananda | The Gift Guide

Monday, November 28, 2016

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The products: Saje Natural Perfume Collection; Goddess and Ananda Perfumes

You know how I shared my top holiday splurge recommendation on the blog last week? Well, Saje’s Natural Perfume Collection is my top budget pick. This review is all about the why (and I have plenty of reasons!)

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Saje Natural Perfumes

I LOVE everything Saje, and the Saje Natural Perfumes ($29.95 CAD) are no exception. They’re absolutely beautifully designed products, and they feature something that I have never seen on the market before: gemstone rollerballs.

Each fragrance is based in jojoba seed oil and has a different gemstone associated with it. While I don’t fully buy into mysticism, part of me loves it. (Yes, I still go to witches’ markets a few times a year.) I adore the idea of associating fragrance with a goal, and I love the mindfulness that each gemstone brings.

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Take, for instance, Ananda: a sweet, floral citrus with notes of grapefruit, juniper berry, and ylang ylang. It directs the wearer to “embrace your truth,” and features a tiger’s eye gemstone to guide the wearer into identifying their needs versus their desires. (Tiger’s eye is said to be extremely grounding, and enhances willpower.)

I love Ananda–it may be my favourite of all five–but it’s a very “bright” scent. For an earthier floral that’s still very popular, there’s always Goddess: a floral citrus with a vanilla base. It features strong notes of rose otto and jasmine, and its gemstone is rose quartz.

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The Saje Natural Perfume Collection 

There are a lot of similarities between all of Saje’s scents, which is why I love the concept of their Saje Natural Perfume Collection ($49.95 CAD). It’s just as delicately made as their full sizes, but it allows you (or a loved one) to try each scent on your own schedule. Each one will last for weeks of use, so don’t be wary of the smaller rollerballs!

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For instance, if you didn’t love Goddess and Ananda you’re insane and we can’t be friends, because Ananda is perfection, perhaps you might like Shanthi. Its rollerball is made from white marble to inspire mindfulness, and it smells like an herb garden – lots of lime, lemongrass, basil, and nutmeg. Smelling like an herb garden isn’t my thing, but I have to admit: it smells bloody tasty. 

For a very “incense-y” scent, there’s Yoga, which smells a bit like an alt clothing store or meditation studio. Its gemstone is an amethyst, and it smells mostly of michelia champaca oil.

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If you’re looking to get busy, there’s always Tantra, too.

Tantra is weird for me, because it does NOT smell like a sexy fragrance to me. I like it a lot, but… mostly it smells like incense and ginger ale: delicious, and also like diabetes. Its gemstone is a cheeky jade sphere (you know, because jade is lucky), and it’s a really complex scent. It has notes of champa, like Yoga, but it gets its “ginger ale” vibes from sweet palmarosa and spicy ginger.

Even if you’re not planning on buying, I’d suggest going into a Saje someday just to give Tantra a try. Olfactorily*, it’s a lot of fun!

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The verdict?

Saje’s natural perfumes are one of my top gift picks for so many reasons. I love the concept of gemstone rollerballs, but more than that, I love that they’re made from essential oils. Anyone who has worn a purely essential oil perfume before will know two things: they wear very close to the skin, and they fade quickly.

For that reason, they hit a middle ground between “perfume” and “self-care” that sits so well with me. They can most certainly be worn in conjunction with a favourite perfume, and they’re very inoffensive – whether you were to gift someone one or the entire set, there is something in each to appreciate.

Especially in Tantra.

Availability: Single perfumes are $29.95 CAD at Saje; the set is $49.95 CAD. (Get 20% off everything until the end of today!)

*Autocorrect and I are having an argument over this one, but I KNOW WORDS. If the OED says that I’m allowed to say it, I’m allowed to say it. 

L’Occitane Immortelle Divine Youth Oil | A holiday treat for yourself!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

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The product: L’Occitane Immortelle Divine Youth Oil

This season while I was planning out my editorial calendar, I asked myself one question: if I could treat myself to only one expensive makeup or skincare item this season, what would it be? 

I was surprised by my answer: the L’Occitane Divine Youth Oil.

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The L’Occitane Immortelle Divine Youth Oil ($108 USD/$110 CADis a product that doesn’t quite work for me, which is why my selection of it is so odd. It’s a little too dry-finish and not quite hydrating enough, and yet… I love it.

It’s an all-natural, silicone-free oil that works well for an enormous range of skin types. Yes, it’s designed to be anti-ageing, but that’s not why I love it. (I’m far too young to be boasting about the effectiveness of anti-ageing products!) But this oil feels velvety, not oily, and it sinks right into both dry and oily skin alike.

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On top of all of that, the Divine Youth Oil leaves the skin with a satin finish and is beautifully perfumed – perhaps the most beautifully perfumed skincare product I have ever owned. I’ve been using it sparingly simply to extend the lifetime of its scent, and every single person who I’ve let share my bottle has loved both the oil’s scent and finish.

Because my skin is so dry, I use this oil in one of two ways: the first, mixed in with a moisturizer; the second, mixed in a 1:2 ratio with rosehip seed oil. Both methods mean that I get the moisture of the second product, plus the scent and satin finish of the Divine Youth Oil. It helps me extend the life of this oil while still getting all of its benefits, which makes the $110 price tag a little easier to swallow.

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The verdict?

The L’Occitane Divine Youth Oil comes with a hefty price tag, but if you’d like to treat yourself (or someone else), I think it’s worth it. No other oil that I’ve ever tried has smelled so beautiful and luxurious, and no other oil has been quite so soft and velvety.

Currently at L’Occitane, if you buy the Divine Youth Oil in a duo with their Immortelle Cleansing Oil, you essentially get the cleansing oil for $5 with free shipping!

Availability: $108 USD/$110 CAD at Sephora, L’Occitane CA, and Nordstrom.

Keep reading! »

Make Up For Ever Pro Light Fusion 01 Golden Pink

Monday, November 21, 2016

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The product: Make Up For Ever Pro Light Fusion in 01 Golden Pink 

When Make Up For Ever released their Pro Sculpting Duo in 01 Pink Beige ($39 USD/$46 CADreview here) earlier this year, us makeup addicts begged them to release the highlighter on its own–and guess what? They did.

The Pro Light Fusion highlighters are single versions of the Pro Sculpting highlighters, and this review will cover both what makes them amazing and how they’re (very minutely!) different from the originals.

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Make Up For Ever Pro Light Fusion 01 Golden Pink review, swatches, photos

What they say about it: The Make Up For Ever Pro Light Fusion ($39 USD/$48 CADhighlighter is said to have a “soft-shimmer gel formula” in powdered form. It uses mica reflects for a really lovey glow, paired with spherical powders for staying powder and a soft-focus finish.

If you were a 01 Pink Beige in the Pro Sculpting Duo, your Pro Light Fusion shade is 01 Golden Pink. If you were an 02 Golden, your Pro Light Fusion shade is 02 Gold. As they’re highlighters, though, I say screw it: wear whichever one you like more!

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Make Up For Ever Pro Light Fusion “Golden Pink” swatched 1x/2x; Make Up For Ever Pro Sculpting Duo “Pink Beige” swatched 2x

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Make Up For Ever Pro Light Fusion (bottom, middle) and Pro Sculpting Duo highlighter (top)

What makes this highlighter so special: The Make Up For Ever Pro Light Fusion highlighter isn’t my favourite highlighter ever, but I love it. It really delivers on its promises of a soft-focus glow, and it wears well.

It’s easy to apply and hardly even needs to be blended, and like all highlighters, it really “pops” in artificial lighting. It’s glowy without being glittery, and for a more full-on effect, it responds well to being used with a dense brush.

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What makes it different: While this product is supposed to be identical to the Pro Sculpting Duo highlighter, I noticed a few very subtle differences. As a consumer, I think they’re completely unremarkable, but as a blogger, I felt the need to point them out. (So yes, if you find your duo and single highlighter to be a tiny bit different, you’re not crazy!)

The base colour in the Golden Pink is just a little bit more gold (and less platinum) than that of the highlighter in Pink Beige. It’s also a little more firmly pressed, so the formula feels less buttery and applies with less density. Both products have a finely milled gold/pink shift and are quite solid.

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The verdict?

The Make Up For Ever Pro Light Fusion highlighter in 01 Golden Pink is an absolutely stunning product, and it delivers a soft, fairy-like glow.

It’s not an exact match for the highlighter in my Pro Sculpting Duo, but the differences are so tiny that I’m not confident that Make Up For Ever changed the formula at all. They may have simply received a new batch of mica from their supplier, or used a differently calibrated make up press.

If you loved the Pro Sculpting highlighter but didn’t like the contour, I would absolutely recommend buying a pan of Pro Light Fusion. Now get on – go kill it in those holiday photos.

Availability: $39 USD/$48 CAD at Sephora.

Rodial Airbrush Make-Up review update

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

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It’s no fun to rescind a rave review, but today… I’m kinda up against a wall. I’ve updated my Rodial Airbrush Make-Up review to reflect a recent change, but I wanted to publish a follow-up post as well for anyone who’s been thinking about buying it since my original review.

While I still think that the Airbrush Make-Up an excellent (if extremely shade-limited) foundation, its packaging features a major flaw: the threads of the jar become compromised by the oils that naturally separate out of the foundation itself. My jar’s “twist” portion sheared off completely when I went to open it today. Until this problem is fixed, I can’t in good conscience continue to recommend this product.

Rodial Airbrush Make-up heavy duty foundation 01 swatches review

Photo from original review
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Photo from today

From the crunching sound that it made when I twisted the lid, I’m guessing that the base of the jar’s threads simply became too brittle with constant exposure to the foundation. So, in the spirit of constructive criticism, here are three suggestions as to how Rodial could fix this problem by repackaging!

  1. Use glass jars instead of plastic.
  2. Switch to a thicker-walled, less brittle plastic.
  3. Switch to a deeper, inkwell-style pot, so the foundation cannot seep into the lid and does not touch its base.

Have you ever used a product whose packaging was make-or-break? How would you fix it?

Keep reading! »

Lise Watier Arabesque Holiday 2016 collection

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

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Lise Watier Baiser Velours in Swan Kiss swatch & review (after 3 hours’ wear!)

The products: Lise Watier Arabesque collection (Holiday 2016)

Inspired by the ballet, the Lise Watier Arabesque collection is full of see-through foils and sultry burgundies. This review covers the collection’s highs and lows–and you might be surprised which is which.

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Lise Watier Arabesque review – Coppélia

What to save your pennies on 

Lise Watier’s holiday eye palettes are usually the strongest point of their holiday showing, but I found this year’s Lise Watier Arabesque 5-Colour Eyeshadows (limited edition, $42 CAD) to be lacking. I haven’t swatched them for this review, but for good reason: though they look pretty when swatched, their formula totally pulls one over on you. 

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Lise Watier Arabesque review – Isadora

I’m used to seeing really vivid, buttery shades from Lise Watier’s holiday collection, and these palettes just didn’t have it. Even when applied over primer, they blended away quickly to nothingness, leaving not even a hint of colour behind.

I adore flakey shimmers, so I was psyched when I swatched the middle shades of each palette, but I felt like I had been tricked when I tried to use them. I literally could not make these shadows show up on my lids. Zilch, nada, nothing. I’d apply, and then the second I would go to blend, they would just disappear into nothingness, like last season’s booty call.

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Index finger: Lise Watier Arabesque Nail Varnish swatch (2 coats) / Middle finger: Lise Watier Cerise Noir swatch (2 coats) / See this post for that gorgeous glitter!

Similarly, I was really let down by the Arabesque Nail Varnish (both limited edition, $9 CAD). Unlike Cerise Noir, which applied with breathtaking ease and opacity (it almost reminded me of a YSL nail varnish – not quite, but almost), Arabesque is too sheer for its own good.

As a topcoat, it’s passable, but on its own, it straight up just makes my nails look dirty around the edges. I did my toes in Arabesque last week, and I spent an entire morning this past weekend trying to confusedly scrub the dirt off of my feet. Eventually, I realized that my feet weren’t inexplicably dirty – that’s just what the polish looks like.

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I could go either way on the Lise Watier Twist and Sharp Eyeliner in Platine (new permanent, $23 CAD) and the Lise Watier Haute Lumiere Lipgloss in Gold Glory (limited edition, $24 CAD)Platine is a platinum eyeliner with metallic flakes of colour (it would be beautiful on darker skintones), but Gold Glory just boring. C’mon, guys; we’ve seen gold shimmer in clear gloss a million times!

I think that Lise Watier can do better, and they did–within this very collection, as a matter of fact.

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Lise Watier Rouge Gourmand Lipstick in Cerise Noir review (left), Cerise Noir with Gold Glory Haute Lumiere Lipgloss on top (swatched at right)

What to buy immediately (in duplicate, even)

Where this collection really shines is in its matte and creme shades. I first swatched the Lise Watier Rouge Gourmand Lipstick in Cerise Noir (new permanent, $25 CAD), which is a beautiful, glossy black cherry shade. Dark lipsticks tend to be a bit too high-maintenance for me, though, so I moved on from this fruity-scented lipstick pretty quickly.

The next product I tried–and the one that I fell completely in love with–was the Lise Watier Baiser Velours Liquid Lipstick in Swan Kiss (limited edition, $28 CAD). I reviewed the Baiser Velours formula originally in February, and I wasn’t impressed. But this time around, with a different shade, I could not have been more floored.

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Lise Watier Baiser Velours in Swan Kiss review, swatches

Swan Kiss is a flattering, sexy, brown-based lip shade. It makes my lips look enormous, and its matte formula was very comfortable to wear. I tested it out for four hours and ate an entire ice cream bar while wearing it, and it barely showed a single sign of wear.

There’s a major Kylie Jenner vibe to Swan Kiss, and it holds up better to kissing than you’d expect. I’m not usually a fan of the Kardashian/Jenner crowd, but if the trends they created are going to make my lips look this good, I’ll take it!

Keep reading! »

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