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 to Canadian & US readers. 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! 

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! »

Skincare travel essentials | Currently in my bag (literally)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Travel essentials and must haves
So, for all of you who don’t follow me on social media (and why aren’t you? Twitter/Instagram), I’m currently in Toronto visiting friends, seeing family, and checking out what’s new and exciting for Fall 2015.

I’ve been living out of a suitcase for about a week and I have one more left to go, so my travel essentials right now are actually what I have with me — they’re not some theoretical “oh, I’d totally take this with me.” Here’s what I can’t go without… and what I totally should have done differently.

Aveeno fresh essentials moisturizer SPF 30 review


Aveeno Fresh Essentials Daily Nourishing Moisturizer SPF 15 ($19.99 CAD) – this is a recent acquisition, but so far, I’m liking it! It’s silicone-free but with a chemical sunscreen component, and while it’s a little heavy (not a problem for my dry skin) and smells quite sunscreen-y, it gets the job done without breaking me out or breaking the bank.

bioderma sensibio tolerance plus review

Bioderma Sensibio Tolerance+ Skin Care ($26.95 CAD) – I reviewed this just this month, and I’m still using it every single day. It’s been doing a great job of minimizing my skin’s reactiveness, and provides the perfect “neutral” base for serums and foundations. Which brings us to…

Kevin Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in 02 – I haven’t really talked about this yet, but I’m a total SSE convert. This silicone-free foundation is a good match for my skintone, and I love how pigmented it is — I mix a little bit (just enough to cover my fingertip) into my Bioderma or Aveeno, add a drop of Odacité serum if I’m feeling dry, and apply to my full face for an even, sheer glow.

Odacité Pomegranate + Rose Geranium Serum Concentrate ($43 USD/$49 CAD) – yup, still totally loving this one. I’ve actually almost finished my bottle — and will be buying a new one this week at The Detox Market! (Hopefully the King Street location, because I’m dying for a Greenhouse Juice. It’s been like a week since I last ate a vegetable.)

Odacite PoR, Kevin Aucoin SSE review

Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion – Always a must-have, whether or not I’m travelling. This is the best thing for treating small spots, small about-to-be-spots, and big AHH! blemishes.


Marcelle 3-in-1 Micellar Water ($19.95 CAD) – I totally should have brought more of both of these, because I’m only at the halfway point of my work-cation and I’m almost all out. HALP.

Nip + Fab Dragon’s Blood Facial Radiance Pads ($14.95 CAD) – same with these. I absolutely LOVE the Dragon’s Blood cleansing pads, and I find that they’re particularly strong performers while travelling — they make removing all of my eye and face makeup (including waterproof) a seconds-long process, and I love not having to use an additional cleanser afterwards. I find that I use these a lot when I’m worried that I’m about to break out, and they always get my face super-clean and ready for moisturizer in a snap.

Clarins tonic oil Mario badescu buffering lotion review


Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil – a mini size! Because oils are a wonderfully compact way to moisturize (no fillers), and this little guy travels like a champ. I’ve been using it every day for the past seven days and I’ve barely made it to the 1/3 point.

Schick Quattro razor – I’ve actually been using Quattro razors since I started shaving, but I bought this one recently for travel/staying over and I love it! Something about the design gives me a much closer shape than the older models (even though I have brand-new cartridges on both), and I think I might replace my at-home razor when I get back. My favourite thing about Schick razors? The fine bars that run perpendicular to the blades — I’ve never cut myself shaving, not even at the very beginning.

And, finally…

Schick Quattro razor Best review

Giovanni Avocado & Olive Oil Ultra-Moist Protective Leave-In Spray – I’ve almost used this one all the way up! It’s silicone-free, practically unscented, and does a great job both of protecting my hair from the heat of my flat iron and moisturizing it so I don’t get fly-aways or dry-looking ends. I probably should have brought the inch of product that I have left in smaller spray bottle, but once this is used up, I will definitely be re-buying it, too.

What are your travel essentials? Are they day-to-day products, or things you only take on trips?

Bioderma Sensibio (Créaline) Tolerance+, Cleansing Milk review, photos | Skincare for intolerant skin

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bioderma Sensibio Crealine tolerance+, cleansing milk review

The products: Bioderma Sensibio (Créaline) Tolerance Plus+ Moisturizer, 3-in-1 One Step Cleansing Milk

Like many of you guys (I’m convinced that theNotice is becoming some sort of hub for the ill and the allergic) and a reported 62% of women, my skin can be extremely reactive. It freaks out in the presence of silicones, it hurts when I touch it too much, and certain sensitive-skin-approved products still make it burn or break out in a rash.

Bioderma Sensibio tolerance plus review results moisturizer

Bioderma Sensibio Tolerance + for neutralizing hypersensitivity ($26.95 CAD)

The science: According to Bioderma, there are two types of skin reactivity: sensitive skin and intolerant skin. Sensitive skin only really rears its head when the skin’s tolerance threshold is reduced, but intolerant skin reacts to stimuli nearly constantly. It’s caused by a hyper-excitability of the skin’s nerve fibres, a weakened barrier function, and inflammation (both keratinocytic and neurogenic).

The Sensibio line is aimed at intolerant or allergic skin, and Tolerance + uses a neutralizing hypersensitivity agent to reduce the hyper-excitability of the skin’s nerve fibres and diminish the skin’s inflammatory cascade reaction. It also helps fortify barrier function with Sodium PCA and comes in simple, functional packaging with a 100% airtight hermetic seal (so it’s preservative-free at no risk to your skin.)

Bioderma Crealine Tolerance + review results moisturizer

The formula: Tolerance +  is a simple, fragrance-free moisturizer with a very dermatological feel. It’s thin and smooth, but it leaves my skin feeling velvety and thoroughly protected — and it never makes my face burn or tingle, no matter how dry or irritated it is.

A couple of the products that I’m using right now to help lift some old scars make my skin sting a little, so I’ve been applying them mixed with Tolerance + or in alternating applications. It’s a hard to say quantitatively how much the Tolerance + has helped, but my skin feels less reactive to touch and cleansing throughout the day, and the moisturizer itself is pleasant to use even without the “neutralizing hypersensitivity” aspect.

Bioderma Sensibio Tolerance + ingredients:

Aqua, Cocoglycerides, Glycerin, Silica, Glyceryl Stearate, Sodium Citrate, Capryloyl Glycine, Mannitol, Xylitol, Rhamnose, Sodium PCA, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-15, Undecylenoyl Glycine, Sclerotium Gum, Sodium Hydroxide. 

Bioderma Sensibio 3-in-1 One Step Cleansing Milk ($18.95 CAD)

The Sensibio line now contains a cleansing milk too, which cleanses, tones, and removes eye makeup. (I think it replaced the old Sensibio Lait.) Like the Tolerance + moisturizer, this 3-in-1 milk is gentle and fragrance free, and contains Toléridine to soothe and decrease inflammation.

The packaging sort of reminds me of SACHAJUAN, for some reason, and the cleansing milk itself is made to be a rinse-free, surfactant-free formula. (I totally rinse it off anyways, though. No-rinse cleansers are way too weird for me.) It’s most similar to my Neutrogena Creamy Cleanser (similar), but the two are actually so different that the small price jump feels totally justified.

Bioderma Crealine Lait 3 in 1 cleansing milk review

Bioderma’s Sensibio cleansing milk is a white, milky gel, and it doesn’t have that “cushy” feeling going on that some gel cleansers do — but it washes away leaving my skin feeling more comfortable than almost anything else from the drugstore, and it’s not at all stripping.

Those with really oily skin will probably feel like this one leaves a bit of a film behind, but for my dry, sensitive skin, this is pretty much the dream. 

Bioderma Sensibio 3-in-1 One Step Cleansing Milk ingredients:

Aqua, Glycerin, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Mineral Oil, Polypropylene Terephthalate, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Mannitol, Xylitol, Rhamnose, Fructooligosaccharides, Laminaria Ochroleuca Extract, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Pentylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium Edta, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sodium Hydroxide.

Bioderma skincare for sensitive skin reviews

The verdict?

If you like your skincare simple, the Bioderma Sensibio line is going to be right up your alley. More importantly, however, if your skin is sensitive or reactive, I think you’ll like these products a lot. They’re very affordable for treatment products, and even if you can’t commit to them for a whole month, my skin really loves both of these products when it’s feeling sensitive.

The Bioderma Sensibio cleansing milk and moisturizer are definitely worth having on hand for use when everything else just burns (filed under: things only those with reactive skin will understand), and I’d say I would be quite likely to re-buy them both once I run out!

Availability: Eyelash wishes & drugstores across Canada.

Neutrogena Naturals vs Bioderma Sensibio H2O Make-up Wipes review, comparison | The Make-Up Removing Wipe Showdown

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bioderma vs Neutrogena makeup removing wipes review

The products: Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Make-Up Removing Wipes vs Bioderma Sensibio H2O (Créaline H2O) Dermatological Wipes

I’m not a makeup remover wipe kind of girl. But I will admit that they do have their appeal, and when these two packages of wipes landed on my desk at around the same time… I mean, I’d have to be a monster to not want to see how they measure up!

(Here’s how.)

!Neutrogena Naturals makeup wipes review

Neutrogena Naturals ($9.99 CAD/25 wipes)

Today’s first contender is a flashy new package of makeup wipes from Neutrogena. These are the brand’s first silicone-free wipes (finally!!!) and launched nationwide this March/April.

!Neutrogena makeup wipes review

They come generously soaked in green-apple-scented makeup remover, aren’t tested on animals, and are both bio-degradable and are made from fibres from sustainably-managed forests. They’re designed as a no-rinse way to remove face and eye makeup, and are formulated with Peruvian Tara Seed bionutrient to gently cleanse without any residue.

I have no idea what Peruvian Tara Seed is, but it sounds cool and I approve of anything that smells this crisp and uplifting.

Bioderma vs Neutrogena Naturals makeup remover wipes review comparison

Bioderma (left) vs Neutrogena Naturals (right) — wipes rubbed 5x over three different eyeliner formulas.

(Shu Uemura Drawing Pencil, Clinique Quickliner for Eyes Intense, and Annabelle Retractable Eyeliner)

!Neutrogena Naturals vs Bioderma makeup remover wipes review comparison

Bioderma (L) vs Neutrogena (R), scrubbed over the liners until nothing else would come off

The fast facts: 

  • $0.40/wipe
  • Paraben- and silicone-free
  • 97% naturally derived
  • Double-sided smooth/bumpy texture

How they compare to the Bioderma wipes:

  • Not as soft and velvety
  • Remove makeup more quickly and effectively (I was really surprised about this, and actually ran three different tests to double check. The Neutrogena wipes won every single time!)

Bioderma Sensibio H20 makeup wipes review

Bioderma Sensibio ($14.95 CAD/25 wipes)

Today’s second contender launched last fall from Bioderma (yes, that Bioderma). The Sensibio H2O wipes–which go by Créaline H2O overseas–are soaked in Bioderma micellar water and are made to cleanse and remove makeup on both the eyes and face.

(Note that these aren’t just saturated with the bottled Bioderma Sensibio water, though; this is a micellar water formulated specifically for these wipes.)

Bioderma Crealine H20 makeup wipes review

These are very gently fragranced (I think they smell kind of clinical and plasticky, honestly) and are very thick and soft.

Weirdly, my very favourite thing about these wipes is that they come in a really luxe, matte cherry package. It’s thicker and smoother than most wipes’ packaging, and it doesn’t crinkle as badly over time — so even 10 wipes in, the package still looks respectable and seals tightly.

The fast facts:

  • $0.59/wipe
  • Silicone-free
  • Great packaging
  • Thick, soft, velvety sheet texture

How they compare to the Neutrogena Naturals wipes:

  • Much more gentle (especially noticeable in the eye area, though both were a little prickly)
  • Leave skin feeling softer

!Neutrogena Naturals makeup removing wipes review texture

Neutrogena vs. Biodrma texture

The verdict?

I’m not a fan of using makeup removing/cleansing wipes everyday, but sometimes, the situation calls for them.

Both of these are great options, but honestly, I’d re-buy the Neutrogena wipes first. They’re a little bit rougher, but they do a better job of removing stubborn makeup… and they smell insanely (INSANELY) good!

Availability: The Neutrogena wipes are $7.49 USD/$9.99 CAD at drugstores across North America; the Bioderma wipes can be found at Murale and select drugstores across Canada for $14.95.

Keep reading! »

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