5 AHAVA salt & mud products you need to try (& a giveaway to win a set for yourself!)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

AHAVA salt mud skincare giveaway

I have something a little different for you today, dear reader: a countdown of my five favourite silicone-free products from AHAVA, plus a giveaway at the end so that you can try out some of my favourite products from the line!

AHAVA is an Israeli brand with a pretty cool origin story (but not the supervillain kind). Founded in 1988, the brand’s products are based around what they call the Osmoter — a concentrated, proprietary extract of mineral-rich Dead Sea water.

Since ’88, they’ve built a brand around the magic of the Dead Sea, with a plant-based Water Return Process that cleans their manufacturing facility’s waste water without chemicals so that it can be returned back to the region and used again. All of their products are paraben-free, GMO-free, and petroleum-free, and the company itself is cruelty-free!

» Skip to the giveaway!! «

AHAVA Liquid Dead Sea Salt review

5. AHAVA Liquid Dead Sea Salt ($22.50 USD)

I wanted to start today with one of AHAVA’s coolest products: their liquid salt body mask, a shower-gel-like detoxifying product that can be used as a 2-minute body mask or as a liquid bath salt. The formula contains vitamin E, Dunaliella Algae, and Grapefruit Oil to enhance the skin’s natural defence system and moisture level — think of it like a transportable soak in the Dead Sea. 

I’ve never used a liquid salt product before, so (of course) I had to make sure that there really was salt in there… And the verdict is that, yup, very salty; would not recommend licking.

AHAVA dead sea mud purifying soap review

4. AHAVA Moisturizing Salt Soap / AHAVA Purifying Mud Soap ($10 USD/each)

For a Dead Sea shower staple product, AHAVA offers two face-friendly bar soaps: a salt soap for dry skin, and a mud soap for oily skin.

The softly-scented Moisturizing Salt Soap is definitely better suited for my skin, and I’ve been enjoying its rich, non-stripping lather in the shower every night. It features AHAVA’s exclusive Osmoter, a blend of Dead Sea minerals designed to replenish and rehydrate the skin.

AHAVA Deadesa Salt moisturizing soap review

The Purifying Mud Soap is definitely the more unique option of the two, though, so I had to give it a try, too! My skin was actually pretty happy with it — it’s an anti-bacterial, oil-free cleansing bar for the face and body, and it got my skin nice and clean without drying it out. The mud soap bar is also made with the AHAVA Osmoter complex, and contains black mineral mud from the Dead Sea region.

AHAVA Dead Sea Plants body oil review

3. AHAVA Precious Desert Oils ($42 USD)

I’ve always been a sucker for a good body oil, and this one — this one is good. It’s not as hydrating as some of the 100% oil blends that I own, but it soaks all the way into the skin for a soft, non-greasy finish (and isn’t that always the trade-off). Its formula includes jojoba, sesame, and desert date oils, as well as a little bit of myrrh oil, the AHAVA Osmoter, and Dead Sea algae extract.

At $42 USD, it’s a little pricier than the rest of the line, but the packaging and subtle fragrance are an absolute treat.

AHAVA precious desert oils body treatement review

2. AHAVA Hydration Cream Mask ($30 USD)

The AHAVA Hydration Cream Mask ties with their Softening Butter Salt Scrub for me, except for one thing: the salt scrub smells inordinately delicious (so, of course, it had to take first place).

AHAVA Time to Hydrate Cream Mask review

I am so, so into this hydrating mask, though! It’s a 3-5 minute mask that’s designed to be used 1-2 times each week, or you can leave it on overnight, as I do. It has a soft floral fragrance and feels very spa-like as it’s worked into the skin, soaking in instantly and making my face feel immediately hydrated and supple.

The formula is loaded up with ingredients like shea butter, Dead Sea water, lactic acid, and aloe, and I always wake up to smooth, fine-line-free skin in the morning — it’s like an overnight radiance facial. 

AHAVA Deadsea Salt Softening Butter Salt Scrub review

1. AHAVA Softening Butter Salt Scrub ($24 USD)

My favourite product, by far, from the AHAVA line is this one: the Softening Butter Salt Scrub. This is one product that I think everybody needs to have in their shower, no matter their skin type or shower habits!

The Softening Butter Salt Scrub smells absolutely amazing (it’s scented with a delicious blend of essential oils; think fruity and floral, not herbs and citrus) and is both super scrubby and gentle on the skin. You take a scoop of this stuff, buff it into your skin BEFORE showering, and then rinse off in the shower to turn it into a light, silky lotion.

For me, this shower butter/salt scrub is the best of both worlds. It leaves my skin feeling SO soft, smells fantastic, and acts as an in-shower body moisturizer or moisturizing shaving cream as long as I don’t scrub it off under the spray.

AHAVA salt mud skincare giveaway

The giveaway

And, lastly, I have something exciting to share with all of you guys: a chance to win your very own at home AHAVA spa kit! (Worth up to $64 USD.)

To enter, use the form below and make sure to tell me if you want a handpicked DEAD SEA SALT SET (for normal to dry skin; includes the AHAVA Hydration Cream Mask, Softening Butter Salt Scrub, and Moisturizing Salt Soap bar) or the DEAD SEA MUD SET (for normal to oily skin; includes the AHAVA Softening Butter Salt Scrub, Purifying Mud Soap bar, and Natural Dead Sea Mud body mask).

This giveaway will be open for two weeks, until October 22nd at 11:59 PM MST, and is open internationally. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, but all of the opinions are still my own. I chose, tested, cut, and re-tested every single product in this post, and I hope you like them as much as I do! 

September Birchbox (CA) review & unboxing! | Davines Sea Salt Spray, Japonesque Eye Shadow, 100% Pure Eye Cream, and more

Saturday, October 3, 2015

September 2015 Birchbox review

The product: Birchbox (Canada), September 2015 box

I’ve always been wary of monthly subscription boxes. I mean, I’ve tried one or two in the past, but subscription boxes tend to be full of silicone-y products that I can’t try and creamy eyeliners that just wouldn’t work for me.

But when I was asked to try the September Birchbox, I had to say yes. It’s the company’s five-year anniversary, and I’m on the site all the time – it’s chock-full of reviews, funny product descriptions, and (most importantly) ingredients lists! I figured I was probably long overdue to try an actual box.

Birchbox unboxing review canada september 2015

The overall box: September is customer appreciation month at Birchbox, so my box came with the usual five products (actually, it came with six by mistake; there was a double of the Japonesque eyeshadow) plus a 20% off code for the Birchbox.ca store.

For $14.95 including shipping, the contents of this year’s September box really impressed me. The box itself was just gorgeous (I’m using it to store stuff now!) and it contained a sheet mask, a full-sized eyeshadow, a VERY generous haircare sample, and two “regular” samples. I did the math for comparison’s sake, and compared to the full-sizes based on ounces, the samples in this box are valued at $44.20.

Tocca Giulietta scrub review, 100 percent pure coffee bean eye cream

The products: Honestly, the most important factor in all of this was luck. I happened upon a box that was perfect for me, so I got to use all five of the silicone-free, paraben-free goodies — and two of them, again, just so happened to be products that I’ve been meaning to try for a while anyways.

(My mom always tells me that I’ve got horseshoes up my butt, which I can assure you, I absolutely do NOT. That sounds dangerous and also horrifically painful.)

  • 100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream ($26 CAD full-sized) – I had a hell of a time opening this one (it still had that little bud-thingy that needed to be cut off), but it smells JUST like sugary breakfast cereal! It’s smooth and rich, and definitely best for vanilla-lovers.
  • BioRepublic Skincare Aloe Rescue Revitalizing Sheet Mask ($21 CAD for 3) – I’m not really a sheet mask girl, but if I was, this would have been the perfect mask for me! It’s a fiber mask (so it’s all ready to go), and it’s perfect for dry, sensitive skin like mine.

Davines This is a Sea Salt Spray review

  • Davines This is a Sea Salt Spray ($30 CAD full-sized) – Okay, so I maybe actually squealed a little bit when I saw this in my box. The sample itself is practically full-sized, and I’ve been meaning to buy a salt spray for months. Now, I won’t have to: the This is a Sea Salt Spray, which smells deliciously like vanilla and coconut, gives my hair lots of texture and body and makes it feel lush and full. 
  • Japonesque Velvet Touch Eye Shadow in Shade 02 ($12 CAD; this is full-size) – This was the other product that I really wanted to try! It’s a light green/gold with a soft metallic finish, but honestly, I’m glad I didn’t spend $12 on it alone — it’s smooth and blendable, but definitely on the sheer side.
  • TOCCA Esfoliante da Corpo in Giulietta ($38 CAD full-sized) – Am I going to get heckled if I admit to not really “getting” the TOCCA line? All of the scents seem so watered-down and dated to me, and while I love the packaging… I need a little more punch. Giulietta smells, to my nose, kind of like generic green apple hand soap in a mid-range restaurant, but I do really like the scrub itself — it’s a lovely, gritty sugar scrub that leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized.

Japonesque 02 eyeshadow review

The verdict?

With a box whose contents change on a monthly basis, there’s no way that I can tell you that you’re going to love the Birchbox every month. What I can tell you is this: I was really happy with my box, and it contained only full-sized products and deluxe samples — nothing that you could just pick up a sample of at Sephora.

I found two products that I loved, two products that I’m glad I got to try (so that I could learn that they’re not really for me), and one product that I’m still looking forward to trying, which… I mean, isn’t that kind of the whole point of a sampling subscription? To get to try a bunch of stuff that you’re interested in without spending a lot of money, and find some loves and losses along the way?

Availability: $14.95 CAD shipping/month. I would love if you used my friend referral (I’d get “Birchbox points,” but no actual $$), but it’s up to you!

Hylamide SubQ Serum, Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Concentrate & Body Mist review | 3 high-tech ways to get your daily dose of hyaluronic acid

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Deciem Hylamide Hand Chemistry review

The products: Deciem Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age Advanced Serum; Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Concentrate and Hyaluronic Body Mist

Every brand has a Thing. You know: that one big company identifier; that product that really puts a brand on the map. A first-on-the-scene eye primer, a founder with a knack for creating Hollywood-worthy brows, a line of high-pigment products with explicit names–you get my gist. (How many of those did you get right?)

For Deciem, that thing is creating super-sciencey products and, when applicable, loading them up with top-of-the-line hyaluronic acid. Here are three of their best hyaluronic products to check out!

Hylamide SubQ anti-age review

Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age Advanced Serum ($38 CAD)

The science: The Hylamide line focuses on “controlled depth of penetration” via varying molecular sizes/multiple weights of hyaluronic acid, which then settle to hydrate different layers of the skin: larger molecules for topical hydration and smaller molecules to sneak into your dermis and hydrate deep down.

The SubQ Anti-Age is also meant to minimize lines, wrinkles, and textural damage, so it’s loaded with stuff like:

  • Copper Lysinate/Prolinate (to stimulate collagen production),
  • Nonapeptide-3 Retino-Complex (to deliver anti-ageing results without the irritation typically seen with retinol products),
  • Saccharideisomerate (to improve skin texture and barrier function)

…Along with five forms of hyaluronic acid.

Deciem hyaluronic acid review lg

The results: Surprisingly enough, I really like the Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age–despite the fact that I’m not showing signs of ageing just yet. It’s fantastically priced (at $38 CAD, it’s by far the most affordable serum that I own), and it’s very much a “nothing” product: it feels like heavy water, and it disappears on the skin.

As for the effects? With twice-daily use, I feel like my skin is a little more moisturized all ’round, but it did take a couple of weeks before I saw a difference. On my other half older half, however, I see an immediate difference. He applies five or six drops without any additional moisturizer (he has combination skin), and after just a couple of uses, there’s a slight but definite reduction of fine lines. 

Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age serum review

At under $40, honestly, you can’t lose. The Hylamide SubQ is an awesome hydration booster for my dry skin, an awesome serum/moisturizer for my partner’s fine lines, and an awesome anti-ageing serum for Edmonton’s friendliest beauty blogger over 45.

(Who is Edmonton’s friendliest beauty blogger under 45, you ask? That would be me. I will aggressively friend at you until you bleed.)

↳ Get it at: Deciem/Hylamide with FREE worldwide shipping!

The Hylamide SubQ Anti-Ageing Advanced Serum ingredients:

Aqua, Glycerin, Ethoxydiglycol, Hydrolyzed Yeast Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Pentylene Glycol, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum, Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract, Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polyacrylatecrosspolymer-6, Trisodiumethylenediamine Disuccinate, Lactobacillus/Eriodictyoncalifornicum Ferment Extract, Saccharideisomerate, Copperlysinate/Prolinate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, Myristoyl Nonapeptide-3, Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Methylglucoside Phosphate, Cetylhydroxyethylcellulose, Hydroxypropylcyclodextrin, Polyglucuronic Acid, Hexylene Glycol, Salicylic Acid, Lecithin, Phospholipids, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate. 

Hand Chemistry hyaluronic gel review

Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Concentrate ($30 CAD)

Dry skin doesn’t stop at the neck, however–especially not in climates like mine. So, for those with dry skin on their bodies, Deciem has a couple cool (and affordable!) hyaluronic options in their Hand Chemistry line, too.

The science: The gel-format Hyaluronic Concentrate is formulated with three types/weights of ultra-pure hyaluronic acid, plus complexes derived from mushrooms, tamarind, and red marine algae that help promote epidermal water retention and increase skin elasticity.

But what makes the Hyaluronic Concentrate really cool isn’t the science–it’s the fact that it comes in a whopping 8 ounce pump bottle. 

Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Concentrate review

The results: I always used to wish that I could apply my Indeed Labs Hydraluron to my body, but at around $30 per ounce, it seemed like a pipe dream.

But no longer. The Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Concentrate is eight times the size at the same price, and while it’s designed for use on the hands and body, it’s not all that different from Hydraluron. I mean, okay, so the formulas are totally different, but the textures? Eerily similar. The Indeed Labs version feels a little cushier compared to the Hand Chemistry’s barely-there stickiness, but I can (and have!) used both on my face with identical results. 

Keep reading! »

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré review | The BEST primer for dry skin

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre review moisturizer

The product: Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré Nourishing Moisturizer

I don’t typically buy products due to hype, but when the Pixiwoo sisters say something is really good… I have a tendency to believe them & buy. (What? Anyone with that much makeup prowess and standards high enough to make my favourite brush range is to be trusted implicitly.)

Net a Porter Embryolisse review

The Lait-Crème magic 

I was pulled to the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré because it was one of the only cult-followed, silicone-free moisturizers that I had left to try, but the real magic (and the thing that pulls most people in) is how brilliantly it works as a primer.

This “milk-cream” formula is the silkiest skincare product I’ve ever tried, and creates a gorgeous, hydrating veil over my dry skin. It does a better job smoothing over my dry patches than even the popular Korres silicone-free primers (available at Beautylish), and multi-functions as a moisturizer and primer in one.

Embryolisse review lait creme concentre

Embryolisse says the Lait-Crème Concentré can be used on all skin types as a moisturizer, makeup remover, mask, after-shave cream, or baby-care product, but I think where it really shines is as a moisturizing primer. I use it on my “bad skin days” and whenever I feel like giving my skin a bit of a treat; with its French pharmacy packaging and subtly perfumed formula, it feels simultaneously utilitarian and luxurious. 

Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre primer review

The verdict?

Embryolisse’s Lait-Crème Concentré is French pharmacy goodness at its best. I love the silky, glossy texture of this moisturizer, and it is both the best primer I have ever found for dry skin and the best silicone-free primer I’ve ever tried.

To top it all off, the Lait-Crème Concentré is delicately scented and extremely affordable, and currently ships free at both Look Fantastic and Birchbox (US)!

Availability: 30 ml for $16 USD at Net-A-Porter, $20 with free shipping at Look Fantastic (use code LFNEW for 10% off); $16 USD with free shipping at Birchbox; $16 at Beautylish.

Keep reading! »

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito collection review, photos

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito collection review

The products: The Body Shop Virgin Mojito collection ($9 CAD-$22 CAD)

When I was fifteen, surgery was a cakewalk. Sleep it off in the hospital, grab a burger on the way home, ready for a road trip by Friday. But at 23, and when you find out after the operation that you might not be able to eat normally for up to six weeks? I’m going nuts over here. Telling a Chen she can’t eat is like telling a dog it can’t pee on things. Eating is where I get all of my joy. 

So, I mean, I’ve been hitting the mojitos pretty hard to help cope. Virgin skincare mojitos, that is. (I don’t want to find out what happens when you mix rum with open wounds and morphine.)

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Shower Gel review photos

The scent: I was told that you either love or hate The Body Shop’s new Virgin Mojito scent, but I mean… I love it; my boyfriend loves it; Julie from Swatch and Review and her boyfriend love it; Zoë from Writing Whimsy and Steph from Fun Size Beauty both totally love it.

It’s summery and fresh, and smells like taking a sip of a delicious wall of lime with just a hint of mint and that tart bite of citrus peel. (It’s totally 100% deserving of the cheeky little “NOT FOOD!” labelling.)

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Body Scrub review photos

In the shower

The Body Shop has offered up two ways for you to get your mojito on in the shower this summer: the Virgin Mojito Shower Gel ($9 CAD) and the Virgin Mojito Body Scrub ($22 CAD).

I’m still trying to figure out if the beads in the mojito body scrub are regular beads or micro beads (the latter of which end up in lakes and rivers, basically just hangin’ out and killin’ fishes), but I have to admit defeat, here: I’m not eco-knowledgeable enough to tell the difference, and I need some help to figure out if I can indulge or if I need to pitch this! 

I’m hoping for the former–didn’t The Body Shop swear off micro beads a few years ago?–because that jelly-like texture looks like waaaay too much fun not to use. 

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Shower Gel review

On the other hand, I’ve been guiltlessly indulging in the Virgin Mojito Shower Gel pretty heavily. The Body Shop’s Shower Gels are possibly my favourite product from the brand — they just always smell so good, and at $9 CAD (or less; a bunch of them are on for $5 right now), they’re so cheap.

I love being able to get a Body Shop scent fix at a price tag that I don’t have to think about (I mean, it’s not exactly Byredo, but is far from drugstore stuff). This tall glass of deliciousness is no exception!

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Body Butter review photos

After the shower

Coming out of the shower, you have three options: The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Body Butter ($20 CAD), a classic that has too many ‘cones for me to touch (I used to adore these), the Virgin Mojito Body Splash ($20 CAD), which is delightfully splishy-splashy but honestly kind of a pain to apply (splashes, man. We should have left them behind in the ’90s), and the Virgin Mojito Body Sorbet ($15 CAD).

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Body Splash review photos

The Body Sorbets are a product that I’m split on. On one hand, they’re $15 (sometimes even less!), and they all, without a doubt, smell awesome. But on the other, they’re just not hydrating — like, even when I get other people to use them, they don’t find them to do a thing. And they pill up like a bad primer if you try to make them hydrate more by applying extra.

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito review

Buuut (and there’s always a but) they’re $15. And silicone-free. And I guarantee you, they are the only tasty-smelling ‘cone-free body lotions that you’re going to be able to find for that price — believe me, I’ve looked.

So, you know. I hate them… and also, I own three. (This was, for interest’s sake, the only one of the three that was a press sample. I bought the other two with my own money and darn it, I was happy to.)

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Body Sorbet review photos

The verdict?

Out of all of the limited edition collections that The Body Shop has come out with recently, the Virgin Mojito one has been, by far, my favourite. I love the delicious, limey fragrance (it’s so summery!) and I’m quite happy with the product offerings.

My recommendation? Get the shower gel for sure. Then, if you can use silicones, buy the Body Butter. But for those who can’t… get the Body Sorbet instead. You’ll probably hate me for it, but at the same time, you’re totally not going to regret it in the least.

Availability: $9 CAD & up at thebodyshop.ca and The Body Shop stores. Limited edition.

Keep reading! »

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