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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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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LUSH Halloween 2016 review, photos, swatches | The majesty of Goth Fairy

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

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The products: LUSH Halloween 2016 Goth Fairy Shimmer Bar, Boo Luxury Bath Melt, Fireside Soap, and Pumpkin Bath Bomb

I’m not really a Halloween-y person, but for some reason, I’ve gotten kind of into it this year. I’m right in the middle of planning a Halloween dinner party (you can watch Mean Girls on Halloween, right? That’s totally situationally-appropriate?), and I’m thinking about making some Halloween-themed cutouts to decorate the apartment with.

Really, I’m just psyched for Halloween candy bars, but these Lush products are up there on the list, too.

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Bath time treats

I checked out two bath products this time around, and while I’m honestly tempted to break my no-bath rule to try the creamy, citrusy Boo Luxury Bath Melt ($5.95 CAD), I had to box up the Pumpkin Bath Bomb ($6.95 CAD) immediately. It’s super crumbly and sticky-sweet, which is so not my jam.

Boo smells nice, though! It’s nice and citrusy, with a plant-like ginger base. It’s also full of cocoa butter and essential oils, so there are no synthetic preservatives in it–the formula simply doesn’t need them.

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Bars of mystery

I also tried out Fireside, Goth Fairy, and one other Lush product (more on that soon), to much better results. I find Lush soap to be too stripping for my skin, but Lush’s Fireside Soap Bar ($8.95 CAD) is a lovely “guest soap” bar – it’s cute, with its cartoon fire design, and it smells like really good tea. Clove oil gives it a spicy kick, and all in all, it’s a mouthwatering fall soap!

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Lush Goth Fairy Shimmer Bar swatch

The Goth Fairy Shimmer Bar ($7.95 CAD) is even cooler. It’s lightly moisturizing, with illipe and cupuacu butter in the formula, and smells juicy and fruity. The best part of all, though, is HOW MUCH shimmer Lush has managed to pack into this bar–it’s honestly astounding. A single swipe across my chest spread all the way to my shoulders, across my décolletage, and up my neck.

This shimmer bar is a little small, but it’s so dense with shimmer that it’ll get you to Glitter Level: Stripper Boobs in a heartbeat. In other words, it’s #lifegoals, and I love it.

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The verdict?

As always, I feel the need to mention that Lush is not a natural company, despite its advertising. Their products contain an assortment of SLS, parabens, and synthetic fragrances and dyes. 

With that in mind, however, they offer wonderful themed products for pretty much every holiday, and a number of them are huge hits. I know countless bath lovers who swear by Lush, and I’m definitely going to be keeping that Goth Fairy Shimmer Bar close at hand! It’s pretty unique and very fun, and no one really does fun like Lush.

Availability: Limited edition right now at LUSH!

Deciem The Ordinary reviews: Rose Hip Seed Oil, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Thursday, October 6, 2016

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The products: DECIEM The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed OilNiacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

If you haven’t been introduced to The Ordinary yet, well, prepare to be floored. The Ordinary is Deciem’s brand new range of “clinical formulations with integrity,” and they’re anything but ordinary.

The line features incredibly affordable clinical products in order to bring communication and pricing integrity back to the skincare industry. Like any other Deciem product, they are Canadian, cruelty-free, and celebrate innovation and honesty.

» YES, REALLY: The Ordinary is priced at $4.90 CAD-$14.80 CAD for full-sized products. They ship for free, clearly display their ingredients and technologies online, and don’t skimp on the quality.

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The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil ($9.90 CAD)

This is my fourth rose hip seed oil of the year, and it is the only one that I’ll be repurchasing. I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that this rose hip seed oil is $5.80/oz (Pai’s blend is $39.43/oz), but I’m beginning to be able to wrap my head around it.

Rosehip seed oil is a rather fragile oil, but it’s a marvel for the skin: it’s full of fatty acids, antioxidants, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and vitamins C and A. As a result, Deciem have sourced only cold-pressed rosehip oil for this product, and packaged it in UV-resistant amber glass.

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Depending on the source, crop, and processing, rosehip seed oil can vary greatly. The Ordinary’s rosehip seed oil has a rich, buttery yellow hue and an almost fish oil-like scent. It sinks right into my dry skin and is very hydrating without clogging my pores.

In short, it’s beautiful–and a total steal. I’ve been very disappointed in the other budget-friendly rosehip seed oils that I’ve tried, but my skin loves this one! I’ve been using it solo at night and blended with L’Occitane Divine Youth Oil during the day for the ultimate makeup base/nighttime glow combination.

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The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($5.90 CAD)

My skin typically also adores niacinamide, so I knew I had to try this out as soon as I first read about it. I wanted to really put it through its paces for this review, though, so I had Boyfriend test it out.

He has oily skin that’s been hella breaking out recently, so I’ve been making him use this in place of his serum and moisturizer for the past two weeks. (For anyone with normal or dry skin, please make sure to layer this with a separate moisturizer!) Niacinamide and zinc PCA are not treatments for acne, as Deciem points out, but they reduce the look of blemishes and help balance sebaceous activity.

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Inflammation and redness play a big role in acne, which is why niacinamide works so well for many people. This 10% solution was no exception: within two weeks, I watched A’s hairline breakout go from an angry red patch to something almost invisible.

The skin around his beard looks less red than usual and now has ZERO visible blemishes, and while the rosehip oil was enough to stop my breakout in its tracks (I was breaking out due to dryness), I’m looking forward to using this on my skin in the future, too.

Also: how good is the note in Deciem’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% description? I totally cracked up when I read it. I can totally see some crotchety young scientist furiously typing it out in the dark, and then passive-aggressively editing it the next morning! (You show ’em, Deciem.)

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The verdict?

I literally can’t believe that Deciem can buy glassware at these prices, much less full-on formulations… but they did, and they have. It’s frightening to see how much other companies mark up their skincare products, and I love Deciem all the more for making a statement with this range.

Even more than that, however, I love how accessible this makes good skincare. These are less than drugstore prices, but the products and development are of department-store quality. I would recommend both of these products in a heartbeat, and I will be purchasing additional products soon.

Availability: $4.90 CAD & up at Deciem. Shipping is free to Canada, the US, and the UK, with more locations coming this month.

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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.

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Duckish Lotion Stick, Body Butter, Bath Salts review, photos | DIY Pedicure Kit

Monday, July 25, 2016

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The product: Duckish DIY Pedicure Kit (customized) – Duckish Mint Bath Salts, Pink Grapefruit Body Butter, and Lavender Lotion Stick

Okay, so I really wanted to feature Duckish as part of my Small Business Saturdays series, but things keep coming up on Friday nights and I really didn’t want to wait any longer. So we’ll call this one Small Business Mondays instead, I guess!

Duckish is an all-natural Canadian beauty brand with just the absolute cutest packaging. (I want to own basically everything they make.) Their products are all cruelty-free, handmade, and free of icky things like parabens, synthetic fragrances, and silicones.

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Mint Bath Salts ($9.99 CAD)

I wanted to focus my review on Duckish’s body butter and lotion stick, because I’ve been dying to try them out for what feels like forever–but this kit includes bath salts and a pumice stone on a rock, too. The pumice stone is pretty standard fare, but the bath salts are more then just plain ‘ol rock salt.

They’re a blend of Dead Sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, and Epsom salts, with sweet almond oil and organic coconut oil to add a bit of hydration to your bath or foot soak. Each scent comes with a unique blend of essential oils, too; the Mint one is made with eucalyptus and peppermint (two of my all-time favourite oils.)

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Pink Grapefruit Body Butter ($11.99 CAD)

Funnily enough, I was most excited for the Duckish Body Butter, but their lotion stick stole the show for me. The Body Butters, I think, are best for those with dry or weathered skin – not so much for Sahara-like dehydration.

The Duckish Body Butter formula is definitely a classic one, with a thick, creamy formula that’s heavy on the shea, and honestly… I didn’t like it. It’s surprisingly creamy for an indie body butter, but non-“mainstream” (The Body Shop, L’Occitane, Bliss, etc.) butters just don’t seem to be hydrating enough for me – this one just kinda sits on my skin, leaving hands feeling both vaguely greasy and so dry that they’re itchy.

Some people love these kinds of body butters, though, so just keep it in mind when ordering! Oh, and a warning for all my fellow crazy cat ladies: there’s just enough citrus oil in Pink Grapefruit to scare Tunakitten away from me when I’m using this, but not quite enough to make the olive oil in the formula palatable to my nose. :(

Duckish lavender lotion stick review

Lavender Mini Lotion Stick ($6.99 CAD)

Duckish’s description for their lotion sticks is:

“Lotion? In a stick? Is this real life? Yes, yes it is!”

And you know what? They couldn’t have been more accurate with that statement. These lotion sticks are crazily good – the mini one is perfect for mess-free application on the go, and the formula is spot-on.

I have really dehydrated skin, and the Duckish lotion stick definitely works better for me than their body butter. It melts immediately upon contact, basically turning into a light oil that absorbs immediately into the skin, and it feels so lovely – not greasy at all.
Duckish DIY Pedicure Kit review

The verdict?

I love buying Canadian when I can, and Duckish makes that really easy. You’re not sacrificing packaging or price, and my only two reservations about the line are small ones: I’d have liked to see a bit more fragrance in their EO and a wider online availability, but both of these are things that will be remediated naturally, as the brand grows.

If bought separately, the three Duckish products in this kit come out to $28.97, so buying the kit essentially gets you a free pumice stone. If I was re-ordering for myself, though, I’d take all $29.99 and put it toward a hoard of lotion sticks!!

Availability: $29.99 CAD. Duckish just recently began shipping to the US in addition to Canada, so use code DUCKISHUSA to get $5 off all US orders over $20 until the end of the month.

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