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.


KISS Tornado 360 Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Dryer review, photos

Thursday, November 26, 2015

KISS products tornado 360 review

The product: KISS Products Tornado 360 Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Dryer

I had a lot of fun putting together Monday’s post, so I figured well, why not keep it up and just turn this week into something of a hair week?

The name needs a little work, I’ll admit, but I have checked out a lot of pretty cool hair products and tools recently (with more yet to come). Today’s hair feature is a pretty cool hairdryer from the drugstore by KISS!

KISS Tornado 360 air booster review

The technology: KISS touts their Tornado dryer as a revolutionary tool that minimizes heat damage with a “360˚ rotating air booster,” which basically just means that this dryer comes with a unique-looking attachment that whirs around and redirects air into a larger circle. 

The “Air Booster” promises to save time, promote even heat distribution, and replace the need for shaking the dryer — which, I mean, is that a thing? Because I’ve always done it, but the more I think about it, the more I think it might just be one of those weird things that we all think you’re supposed to do but actually totally aren’t, like putting bobby pins into your mouth or shaking a Polaroid.

KISS tornado 360 ceramic blow dryer review

The specs: The Tornado 360˚ dryer is a 1875 hairdryer weighing (according to Amazon) 2.09 lbs. It features 3 temperature levels and 2 airflow levels, and can be used alone or with an attachment head (the Air Booster or a conventional flattened concentrator, both included). It uses ceramic tourmaline ion technology to reduce frizz and is powered by 1875 watts.

It’s also, it is worth noting, kind of big. It’s still within normal range, but it’s on the bulkier side of things.

KISS dryer review concentrator attachment

KISS Tornado 360 dryer review

In practice: I liked the KISS Tornado dryer, and I liked the concept behind it, but… well, it definitely didn’t dry my hair 3x faster, as promised. And, while the air booster tornado-maker thingy is nifty, it’s also quite noisy, and it makes this dryer produce a whIRR! whIRR! whIRR! noise instead of a HHHHH hum.

I really like that the temperature and airflow controls are separate, but this dryer just feels a little too heavy and bulky for what it is, you know? It gets my hair dried a little faster than my last dryer (a 10-year-old Conair relic), but for the weight trade-off, I think I might just end up going back to my old guy — chipped lacquer and all.

Drugstore blow dryer review KISS tornado

The verdict?

At $24, I think this hair dryer is a great buy: it gets the job done quickly, and the controls are great. However, at $35, I hesitate to recommend it — it is, after all, pretty heavy and bulky, and while it’s not bad by any means, I’m kinda hoping that there’s still something better out there.

So, if you have a favourite dryer under $50, please let me know what it is in the comments. My search for the perfect drugstore blow dryer continues!

Availability: $24 USD/$34.96 CAD at Walmart (US & Canada).

Keep reading! »

Give the GiftofGOLD with Kérastase

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kerastase Gift of Gold

I like to get all of my holiday shopping done before, if possible, the second week of December. It’s a great setup: you start planning in July, finish up in November, and then you have all of December to bake cookies, hang tinsel, and pick a tree.

That being said, “like to” and “actually do” are two very, very different things. So, if you’re just starting your holiday gift acquisition right now, here’s a little something to help you get started!

Kerastase Bain Densité shampoo review

Kérastase PARIS is running a great promotion in all Kérastase PARIS salons and on the website right now: buy a styling product and conditioner and get the corresponding shampoo free!

They’re calling it the Gift of Gold promo, and it’s a haircare lover’s dream. The gift sets start at $83 CAD, and there are eleven sets available, including:

Kerastase Densifique Masque Densite review

There aren’t a ton of silicone-free Kérastase PARIS products, but I’ve been testing some of the Chronologiste and Densifique ranges this month.

Densifique comes packaged in simple, pretty, champagne-beige packaging, and the Mousse Densimorphose, Bain Densité (shampoo), and Masque Densité (conditioner) are all ‘cone-free. I’d like more hydration for my already-dry prairie hair, but a little goes a long way with this range! I use about 1/3 of my normal amount of shampoo with Kérastase, and it’s still more than enough.

Kerastase Chronologiste Scalp Exfoliator

The coolest product that I tested from the gift sets, however, was definitely the Chronologiste Revitalizing Exfoliating Care Rinse-Out Pre-Shampoo treatment. The Chronologiste line is gorgeously packaged to begin with (that black! That gold!), and the treatment is silicone-free.

To use, you take a large dollop of the Revitalizing Exfoliating Care, work it through your hair in sections, and massage it onto the scalp for five minutes before rinsing out. It’s a little hard on the arms, but quite unique overall: the product is flecked with gold and red for a great sensory experience, and it does a great job of exfoliating away any little scalp-flakies that the winter has “gifted” upon you!

Kérastase Chronologiste review scalp and hair exfoliator (more…)

Fresh Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy review, photos

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fresh Sugar Lip Serum review

The product: Fresh Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy

I skipped over the Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Serum ($35 USD/$41 CAD) while reviewing the Fresh Sugar Lip Lovers set yesterday, but with good reason: I wanted to give it a full review today for everyone else who has been curious about this one.

Fresh Advanced Lip Therapy Serum review

The premise: Lip serums are becoming more and more popular nowadays, but they’re still a rarity in the beauty world. Fresh’s Sugar Lip Serum is one of just a few that I can think of. I know that Lancer and Murad do one, and the Hourglass No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil and NIOD Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate are similar, but nothing else comes to mind.

The Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy is made to nourish the lips and improve definition, so maybe I’m not the best candidate for it — after all, I’m not really in the market for “fuller, younger-looking lips.” But I had hoped that all of those skin-firming amino acids would result in a more hydrated, plush lip area, so I did as I was told and dispensed a drop every morning and night to spread over my lips. 

Fresh Sugar Advanced Lip Therapy Serum review

The practice: Sadly, after using this one on and off for a month and a half, I can’t report that I saw results with this one. My lip contour area was not “immediately nourished and soothed;” my lips did not look “firmer and toned;” the serum did not immediately decrease lip roughness.

Instead, I found that this serum tasted bad, made my lips feel tight, and needed a healthy heaping of lip balm immediately thereafter to prevent dryness and cracking. Not only did it not smooth my lip area, I think it actually dried out my lips — and while I know that it doesn’t promise to be the ultimate nourishing lip balm, I certainly don’t think a lip product should dry out your lips!

Fresh Sugar Advanced Lip Therapy Serum review

The verdict?

I’m really glad that I tried this one out, because as cool as I think it is, and as much as I adore its packaging, I think it’s a solid “fail” for me. I’ll continue using up this mini bottle if I can, just to see if I get results at any point, but for now… I’m not impressed.

The Fresh Sugar Lip Serum made my lips feel tight and dry, and comes with a metaphorically bitter $41 CAD price tag and a literally bitter formula. I say skip this serum, spend your $40 on a new pair of Fresh Tinted Lip Treatments, and apply an anti-ageing moisturizer to your lip area instead!

Availability:$35 USD/$41 CAD at Sephora.

Keep reading! »

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! »

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