Kitty Kitty Yum Yum | And now, for something a little different!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

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The product: Kitty Kitty Yum Yum Baba’s Best Meal

You know those weeks where you know exactly what you should be doing, but you just can’t focus? Yeah: I’m having one of those weeks.

I was going through my to-do list and trying to decide what to talk about today, and these adorable cat toys came to mind. I had picked them up last year for my then-girlfriend’s cats, and I snapped a few quick photos of them before wrapping them up.

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Aren’t they cute?? They’re a locally handmade set of pierogi and sausages, filled to the brim with catnip. The first time I saw Vincent (one of their three cats) playing with a pierogi, I cried a little–the sight of his massive Maine Coon-cross paws clubbing the tiny, helpless >.< faced pierogi to death was too good for this world.

Or, as Kitty Kitty Yum Yum’s creator calls them, purrrrogies.

Availability: $20 CAD on Etsy. (I picked them up at the Royal Bison, for any Edmontonians out there!)

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

Friday, September 23, 2016

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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!

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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. `

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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.)

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Keep reading! »

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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

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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!

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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!

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Niod Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate before / after

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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!)

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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!

Keep reading! »

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

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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!)

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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!)

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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.

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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.

Keep reading! »

Clarins Repair, Detox, Energy Booster serum review, photos

Friday, September 9, 2016

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Clarins.ca, Sephora, and Nordstrom.

Keep reading! »

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