Make Up For Ever Water Blend Foundation review, swatches, photos | R210, Y215, Y225

Friday, September 23, 2016


The product: Make Up For Ever Water Blend Face & Body Foundation in R210 Pink Alabaster, Y215 Yellow Alabaster, and Y225 Marble

I’ve reviewed quite a few silicone-free foundations that I’ve loved recently, but each and every one of those reviews has come with some small caveat or another.

Not today, Satan!


The promises: The new Make Up For Ever Water Blend foundation is an updated, silicone-free version of their classic Face & Body foundation. (Yes, the one with the fun gel texture that makeup artists are constantly raving about!) Water Blend Face & Body is formulated with 80% purified water, pro-vitamin B5, glycerine, and mango butter.

It promises a buildable application, a dewy glow, and a waterproof, transfer-proof finish, and it could not have delivered better. `


The application and wear: This stuff is the bomb dot com (except it’s not digital and it’s very safe. No explosions here, no siree.) It wears for a full 12 hours, applies flawlessly with very little effort, and really does give that “skin” finish!

Its finish is nice and dewy, but not too dewy – I look moisturized with only this on, but not greasy. I do set it with a translucent powder, however, because I typically go over my eyelids with my foundation and this stuff makes my eyeliner track like crazy. I find that it can can feel a little dry around my mouth area by the end of the day unless I really moisturize or prime before applying it, but it’s nothing that a single spritz of facial mist can’t fix.

Just, like, make sure it’s actually facial mist. Don’t accidentally get yourself in the eye with perfume (because that shit hurts.)


Make Up For Ever Water Blend Face & Body Foundation swatches – R210, Y215, Y225


Make Up For Ever Water Blend swatches – R210, Y215, Y225 in indirect sunlight

Water Blend’s formula is more liquid and less gel-like than the original Face & Body, but I personally find that it performs better than its predecessor. It looks more like skin, catches on my dry skin less, and layers better – I can get anywhere from very sheer to medium coverage with this; nothing heavy enough to make my freckles or blemishes invisible, but enough coverage to really even out my complexion.

I find that Water Blend applies best when I “dot” it onto a dense buffing brush, speckle it all over my face, and then buff it in.


Make Up For Ever Water Blend Foundation before (left) and after (right) – click to enlarge. My shade is Y215 and my skin is otherwise unaltered; I am not wearing primer or powder in either of these photos.


The shade range: As usual, Make Up For Ever’s Water Blend Face & Body shade range covers a large range of shades – 20, to be exact. It was remarkably easy to find my shade in this foundation, as it only goes up to a medium coverage. Maybe it’s because I’ve got a bit of a tan right now, but look! A foundation that matches my face!! My poor, sad little ghost face!

R210 Pink Alabaster isn’t too much pinker than Y215 Yellow Alabaster, and both are fairly neutral. Y225 Marble is considerably darker than Y215 Yellow Alabaster, and it has a strong yellow undertone.


The verdict?

My verdict on Make Up For Ever’s new Water Blend Face & Body foundation is a resounding YES. It’s an extremely pleasant formula to work with, it layers well, and it feels lighter even than some of my moisturizers, much less other waterproof foundations. The shade range is excellent (and stretches slightly further than the brand’s Ultra HD foundation, at least on the lighter end), and I honestly like the way that it smells – lightly powdery, sweet, and almost a little bit fruity.

If you’re looking for a new light to medium coverage lightweight foundation, this one is excellent.

Availability: $43 USD/$54 CAD at Sephora.

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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!

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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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Clarins Repair, Detox, Energy Booster serum review, photos

Friday, September 9, 2016


The products: Clarins Repair, Detox, and Energy Boosters

I know I’ve been writing a lot about skincare recently, but there have been a LOT of really cool new skincare launches this season, okay?

Take the new Clarins Boosters, for instance. They’re designed to serve one purpose, so you’re not hefting over $600 for an anti-redness, anti-shine, anti-ageing, anti-death serum. You can use them whenever you want to; as a pick-me-up or as part of your skincare regimen. Whatever works for you.


The packaging: The Clarins Boosters are tiny, with really brilliant packaging. You just press on the soft, curved bottom “button” to dispense drops of product, and you can dispense as many or as few drops as you want. The entire design concept is SO MUCH smarter than awkward eye dropper-style bottles, and it’s just a joy to us.


The boosters: These three different booster serums can be mixed and matched,  and are made to be blended with your moisturizer whenever you need them. The orange Energy Booster is meant to help with tone and radiance using ginseng extract, and it’s the least hydrating of the three boosters. It’s easy to use, but I didn’t see a huge change after 2-3 days of use. (These are designed to be single-day-use if needed, so I’ve tested them as such!)

The green Detox Booster is the one that I’ve been using the most, and honestly, it’s pretty phenomenal. The green coffee extract is intended to detoxify and plump the skin after over-indulging, and while I don’t really believe in antioxidants and stuff, it certainly does make my skin look fuller – I can actually see the difference in how plump the skin around my eyes is.


Finally, the blue Repair Booster is meant to strengthen your skin barrier and reduce discomfort. It feels very protective when my skin is irritated, but it’s very sticky and contains a generous portion of glycerin. I’d recommend it primarily as a preventative measure, but it also contains mimosa tenuiflora extract and allantoin for epidermal repair and soothing.

Clarins recommends that you use 3-5 drops of serum mixed into your moisturizer or mask, but that was way too many for me. 2 drops seemed to be the best balance for my face; any less and it wasn’t enough, but any more and my skin would feel tacky for hours.


The verdict?

I really like the idea of an as-needed booster instead of a mandatory daily serum, and the Clarins Detox Booster is excellent.

And hey, skincare industry? If you could just go ahead and package everything in droppers like these… That’d be cool of you. Thanks.

Availability: $39 USD/$40 CAD at, Sephora, and Nordstrom.

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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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KYE for Shu Uemura collection review, swatches, photos

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Kye for shu collection review, photos

The products: KYE for Shu Uemura Summer 2016 collection

The KYE for Shu collection is this summer’s Shu Uemura capsule collection, designed by fashion designer Kathleen Kye. It’s inspired by the “new era fashion culture and hype beauty,” and is chock full of trendy products and things that could basically just be summed as “edgy but also fresh.”

I’m not always taken by celeb-designed makeup collections, not even Shu Uemura’s, but the KYE collection really gets me. It feels very authentic, and I love that it celebrates a youthful energy and gender fluidity. 

Kye for shu uemura eyebrow palette cappuccino, dark rose review photos

kye for shu “cappuccino/dark rose” brow:palette review

The brow products

The KYE for shu brow products are all about graphic, edgy eyebrows – and in this case, that means colour. 

I tried out the Shu Uemura Eyebrow Manicure in Dark Violet ($26 CAD) and brow:palette in cappuccino/dark rose ($55 CAD), and you know what? I really liked both of them. Shu does brows well, and these tinted versions of their regular products really hit the spot for me – although I wouldn’t give you $55 for the brow powder.

shu uemura violet brows swatches review photos

kye for shu swatches – ME pink 12 and M white 91 on eyes, eyebrow manicure in dark violet (left) and brow:palette in cappuccino/dark rose (right)

The Eyebrow Manicure is really where it’s at. The formula is easy to apply and doesn’t leave too much product on your skin, giving you definition and shape without really adding visual weight. And Dark Violet? It’s gorgeous. It brushes up gently against the skin, leaving a muted lilac brow that glistens in its wake... it’s a really lovely way to do colourful eyebrows while still looking totally daytime-appropriate.

(Yes, really!)

KYE for shu uemura eyebrow manicure dark violet review photos swatches

kye for shu “dark violet” eyebrow manicure review

Kye for Shu xxxxx

kye for shu “glow in pink” sheer colour balm review

The cheek & lip products

Okay, so full disclosure: these two product formats happen to be ones that I’m predisposed towards, so I’m maybe being a little lenient here.

I love alternative blush formats, so the KYE for Shu Fresh Cushion Blush ($39 CAD) caught my eye immediately. Hibiscus Orange is full of silicones and the sold-out Hisibscus Pink one would almost certainly look better on me, but the formula is just so cool watery, sheer, shimmer-free, and dewy. It’s a very Korean-inspired blush, right down to the names, but I hope we see more cushion blushes from Shu in the future.

For the lips, I also really liked the Shu Uemura Sheer Colour Lip Balm in Glow in Pink ($36 CAD), but I think they’re overpriced. The KYE Sheer Colour Balms are all translucent, pH-adjusting neons, and they’re really comfortable… but at the price, they’re not a must.

Shu Uemura kye collection swatches review

kye for shu swatches in indirect sunlight: hibiscus orange cushion blush, glow in pink sheer colour balm, cappuccino/dark rose brow:palette, dark violet eyebrow manicure, M white 91 drawing pencil, ME pink 12 drawing pencil.

Kye for shu hibiscus orange blush review swatches

kye for shu hibiscus orange fresh cushion blush review

The eye products

I tried out two of the KYE Drawing Pencils ($28 CAD each), which are eyeliners from Shu’s regular collection done up in adorable KYE packaging.

I’ve never been a fan of the Shu Drawing Pencil formula, and these are consistent with my past experiences. The matte M white 91 is a gorgeously opaque white eyeliner, but it snapped off on me the second I tried to swatch it. (And then again, and again, and again.)

The intense, metallic ME pink 12 fared better, but it too is very soft – the metallics are so buttery that you have to re-shape them as you line your eyes. However, they’re also a total pain in the butt to smudge or remove, so if you have any upcoming end-of-summer pool parties planned, ME pink 12 is pretty much mandatory. It’s like glittery indelible ink for your eyes!

Kye for shu eyeliners M white 91, ME pink 12 swatches review

kye for shu drawing pencils in M white 91, ME pink 12

kye for shu collection swatches

kye for shu swatches: hibiscus orange blush, glow in pink lip balm, cappuccino/dark rose brow:palette, dark violet eyebrow manicure, M white 91, and ME pink 12 eyeliners

Everything else

The KYE for Shu collection also includes a few cleansing oils and conditioners, but as they’re just re-packaged classics, I won’t be reviewing them here. I will note, however, that the pink Porefinist Fresh Cleansing Oil ($38-82 CAD) is my favorite Shu cleansing oil, though, and that the KYE packaging is even cuter in person!

Kye for shu uemura absolute conditioners review

kye for shu art of hair conditioners

The verdict?

Shu Uemura releases a lot of really big makeup collections, but the KYE collection is my favourite Shu release in recent history. There isn’t a single product that disappoints (well, the eyeliners are a pain, but they wear like a champ as long as you pretend they’re gel pots), and the prices are very reasonable for Shu.

My top recommendations are the Dark Violet Eyebrow Manicure and Fresh Cushion Blush, but you really can’t go wrong with anything here!

Availability: Limited edition summer 2016 at,, and in-stores at select Holt Renfrew & Sephora locations.

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