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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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.

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Pai Instant Radiance Collection (Kukui & Jojoba Bead Exfoliator, Rosehip BioRegenerate Rollerball)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

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The product: Pai Skincare Instant Radiance Collection

There’s a little two-piece duo in Pai’s holiday gift selection this year, and it’s a terrible gift to give. No–really. It’s perfectly sized for travel and charmingly small, and if you buy it as a gift, you’re never going to be able to bring yourself to give it away.

You’ll need two, I think. At least.

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The kit is the brand’s new Instant Radiance Collection ($28 USD), and it contains their cult classic Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil Rollerball (10ml) with their Kukui & Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Exfoliator (15ml). The full size products retail for $40 and $44 respectively, so although this kit is very small, it’s a nice way to try out each product before committing to the full size.

I reviewed Pai’s Rosehip Oil this summer, but as a recap, it’s a light, fragrant oil with really potent anti-ageing properties. I think of it as serum rather than an oil, because it doesn’t provide a ton of hydration–I usually need to mix it with a moisturizer, or follow up with one right away.

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Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil – rollerball vs full size comparison

I liked the ingenuity of putting a facial oil in a rollerball, but I struggled to use the Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil Rollerball. It’s very pretty and well-made, but rollerballs simply don’t dispense a lot of oil! I found myself having to go over each area of my face 2-3x just to get enough product.

The rollerball format was very clean, though, especially because Pai’s rosehip seed oil is on the thin side–my dropper bottle version certainly gets a little greasy around the rim. So, while it wouldn’t be ideal for everyday use, it’s PERFECT for travel: neat and compact, with no chance of in-flight spillage.

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Pai Kukui & Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Exfoliator gel suspension

Pai’s Kukui & Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Exfoliator was new to me in this kit, but I really liked it. It’s microbead-free and designed for use 1-2x/week, and it gets used in a non-traditional manner. You massage it into dry skin with dry hands, then you add water and massage again for a gentle-but-thorough exfoliation. 

I greatly preferred the feeling of these spherical jojoba beads to the feeling of a muslin cloth, and I liked the gel-to-oil texture of the exfoliator base, too. It was really rich and hydrating (which is really important to pair with your exfoliation), and my only issue with the product was how small the tube is. I’ve been trying my best to stretch the product out, but when using a comfortable amount, I’d guess there’s only four-ish uses in it.

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The verdict?

The Pai Instant Radiance Collection is a great way to try out two of Pai’s bestselling products, but the exfoliator makes it feel a little too small to be a proper gift. It would make a really lovely stocking stuffer, though, and it would be a great purchase for yourself if you’re going on holiday this winter.

The products are sized like deluxe samples, and if you’re unsure of the products and want to give them a test before buying the full-sized versions, they’ll make excellent travel companions even after you’ve taken the leap!

Availability: $28 USD at Pai, Mankind, and Look Fantastic.

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Neal’s Yard Orange Flower Facial Oil, Wild Rose Beauty Balm review, photos

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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The products: Neal’s Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm & Orange Flower Facial Oil

In the beauty industry right now, one of the toughest things to figure out is whether or not the “natural” brand you’re working with is truly natural or not. Sometimes their ingredients lists can be deceptive; sometimes their practices don’t quite line up with the natural beauty ethos.

Neal’s Yard Remedies, however, is the real deal. It’s a massive beauty brand that has maintained all-natural, cruelty-free, organic-when-possible ingredients since their inception in 1981, and they’re family-run by different families in each country that they exist in.

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Neal’s Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm ($72 CAD)

This beauty balm did none of the things that I wanted it to. It wasn’t hydrating enough to use as a moisturizer on my super-dehydrated skin, and (I think because of the hemp seed oil,) it had a tendency to make me break out if I tried to make it work anyways.

But: it was so humbly amazing at so many other things that it has become one of my favourite “luxury” products anyways.

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The Neal’s Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm is just that: luxurious. Unlike most beauty balms, it melts upon contact and is smooth and silky, so it doesn’t tug at your skin. Its first ingredient is organic wild rose seed oil (hence the price tag). It smells even more amazing than you’d expect, and every time I pick up the heavy glass bottle, I can’t help but feel a little bit spoiled.

My two favourite ways to use it are as a cleansing-exfoliating balm with a muslin cloth (included) and for facial massages. I gave Boyfriend his first-ever facial using this stuff, and he was GLOWING when I was done!

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Neal’s Yard Remedies Orange Flower Facial Oil ($55 CAD)

I was also sent the Neal’s Yard Remedies Orange Flower Facial Oil, because the Wild Rose Beauty Balm wasn’t quite hydrating enough for me. The Orange Flower Facial Oil is definitely more hydrating, but the two together don’t quite do the trick for me – I’m VERY dehydrated in addition to being dry, so while the two are really lovely together, I still need a little bit more.

I noticed that Neal’s Yard doesn’t make very many products that specifically target extremely dry skin, so the range is perhaps beset for those with normal, oily, or lightly dry skin types – just something to keep in mind.

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With its $72 CAD price tag and perfectly-toned artwork, I thought that the Wild Rose Beauty Balm was Neal’s Yard’s one big product… Until I tried this oil. It’s just as gorgeous as the balm, if not more so, and it isn’t just an overpriced bottle of orange flower oil, either.

Instead, it’s a carefully thought-out blend of organic macadamia seed, jojoba, hemp, and pomegranate seed oil (I bloody LOVE pomegranate seed oil), amongst others, and it’s scented with neroli, ylang ylang, and mandarin peel oil.

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The verdict?

I really loved both of these products, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them – as indulgences. (Hmm… perhaps for a special someone in your life this Christmas?) They’re not hydrating enough for someone with extremely dry skin to use as part of a daily regimen, but they are nothing short of a joy to use. 

If you do a lot of at-home facials or spa days, the Wild Rose Beauty Balm is a must, and if you love neroli, then the Orange Flower Facial Oil definitely is, too.

Availability: Available at Neal’s Yard Remedies worldwide. Both permanent products.

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This is how happy Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash makes me… | One in, one out

Monday, October 17, 2016

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How happy does this much Aveeno’s Skin Relief Chamomile Body Wash make me? Well… about this happy:

Happier than fresh beaver tails pastries at a food truck. Happier than fresh-cut grass and a warm summer day. Happier than watching ducks splash around in pools of water. Happier than – okay, almost as happy as a little kid playing with a puppy dog.

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These are a few of my ride-or-die skincare products: Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash, and their Fresh Essentials Moisturizer SPF 30.

I have hella dry skin that’s intolerant to silicones, as I’m sure all of my longtime readers know by now, and these two products really help get me sorted. The Skin Relief Body Washes smell amazing and leave my skin more hydrated than it was before soaping up (they’re like in-shower body moisturizers that cleanse), and they’re so good that both Boyfriend and I swear by them.

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Daydreaming about chamomile body wash showers…

During my post-shower routine, the Fresh Essentials Moisturizer provides me with daytime SPF 30 coverage at a really affordable price point. I need to add a couple drops of serum or oil to it when I apply, but it’s well worth the extra step–and for that matter, I have yet to find any moisturizer with SPF that I can use on its own.

I’m on my second bottle of Fresh Essentials Moisturizer and my third bottle of the Skin Relief Body Wash, so when I say that this is good stuff, I mean it!

Lush Sympathy for the Skin Body Lotion review, photos

Friday, October 14, 2016

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The product: LUSH Sympathy for the Skin Hand and Body Lotion

In my Lush Halloween 2016 review on Tuesday, I mentioned that the brand’s soaps and bath bombs tended to be a little too stripping for my skin, as many of them contain SLS. But when I had requested “no soaps, please!” last month, Lush did something really surprising: instead of leaving their classic bar soaps out of the package, they sent an additional body moisturizer.

Sympathy for the Skin is one of Lush’s original products, and I quickly saw why it has been part of their brand since day one. I have never fallen for a Lush product the way I fell for this one, but… man. It’s gorgeous.

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What it is: Sympathy for the Skin is a “creamy, banana custard body lotion for soft skin.” It smells of sweet, all-natural vanilla (as a custard should!), and it’s made with fresh organic bananas mashed up into it.

The ingredients that make it smell delicious are the same ones that make your skin oh-so-soft, and it also features organic, fair trade cocoa butter, brightening lemon oil, soothing vanilla pods and vanilla extract to minimize redness, and sandalwood oil to tone.

Basically, it’s a wonder-moisturizer, and it smells twice as good as it looks. It’s also cruelty-free and vegan, although it does contain parabens to keep those bananas in good condition!

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Mmmm, custard…

How it performs: In short? Really well. Sympathy for the Skin smells absolutely delicious, and though it’s a very thin lotion, it’s extremely hydrating. It leaves my skin feeling nourished and buttery-soft to the touch, and is even hydrating enough to use as a hand cream.

It’s more nourishing than Lush’s Dream Cream Hand and Body Lotion, with strong vanilla notes that make it smell more luxurious, too. And the scent sticks around – if I moisturize with this in the morning, my skin still smells cozy the next day when I wake up.

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The verdict?

If you haven’t tried Sympathy for the Skin yet, DO. Apart from the pricey Gorgeous, it’s easily the best Lush product I have ever experienced. It makes Lush junkies make sense, and I can totally see why it’s been a mainstay of the brand’s lineup since they began.

With fair trade organic cocoa butter, a vanilla pod infusion, and fresh organic bananas, Sympathy for the Skin is lightweight, nourishing, and delicious. Just don’t eat it – it smells tasty, but trust me, it tastes gross.

Availability: $29.95 CAD/240g at Lush. Permanent.

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