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 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!

Burberry Beauty at Nordstrom Vancouver, The Bay, & Sephora

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Burberry Beauty launches Canada Vancouver Nordstrom

I remember when Burberry Beauty first stepped onto the scene. It wasn’t too long ago, but the brand was one of the first high fashion lines (other than Chanel, of course) to step outside of fragrance and start producing luxury cosmetics, too.

And, despite making up just a tiny morsel of the brand’s overall sales, the Burberry cosmetics line has done well for itself–well enough that other fashion brands, like Gucci and Michael Kors, have followed suit. Bloggers and consumers alike have been smitten with the products’ smooth formulas and chic packaging for the past half-decade, and the love just doesn’t seem to be waning.

Burberry Ash Brown eyebrow definer review

Burberry Effortless Eyebrow Definer in Ash Brown ($36 CAD)

Burberry Poppy Black nail polish review

Burberry Nail Polish in Poppy Black ($23 CAD)

So, dear reader, it’s been particularly exciting to slowly watch Burberry cosmetics become available in person across Canada this year.

There are quite a few high-end makeup brands that are next to impossible to find in Canada, but you can now find Burberry Beauty at the brand-new Nordstrom in Vancouver. Or, if you’re outside of Vancouver, look for the brand at Nordstrom Ottawa, select Hudson’s Bay locations, and online at and

Happy shopping!

Burberry Khaki Green Nail Polish review

Burberry Nail Polish in Khaki Green ($23 CAD limited edition)

Burberry kip cheek bloom poppy review

Burberry Lip & Cheek Bloom in Poppy ($33 CAD)

Photographed here: Burberry Cashmere Foundation in Porcelain ($60 CAD), Lip Velvet in Honeysuckle ($38 CAD), Lip & Cheek Bloom in Poppy ($33 CAD), Effortless Eyebrow Definer in Ash Brown ($36 CAD).

Additional photos & more »

Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil in Ash review, swatches, photos

Monday, September 21, 2015

Hourglass Arch Brow Pencil Ash review tip

The product: Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil in Ash

I’ve tried a lot of brow products this year, but the prettiest by far has been the Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil. The brand recently launched a few more shades (for a total of nine), including one that caught my attention: Ash, a cool-toned grey that’s perfect for those with dark hair and cool-toned skin.

Hourglass Arch Brow Pencil review box

Ash grey cool brow filler review - Hourglass Arch Brow Pencil Ash

Great for: The Arch Brow Sculpting Pencils feature a wide, angled, triangular pencil tip one end, and a spoolie to groom the brows on the other. Together, the two work to create the perfect, super-full brow in under two minutes–think Cara Delevingne brows; bushy and full.

The formula of the pencil is soft but waxy, which is ideal for on-the-go but (in my opinion) doesn’t lend itself particularly well to that really sharp, crisp Instagram brow. I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re not a fan of the “wild” look that’s all over runways and magazines right now!

Hourglass Arch Brow Pencil Ash swatch review

Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil in Ash swatched

Grey eyebrow pencil review - Hourglass Ash

Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil review

The formula and shade: The formula of the Arch Brow Pencils said to “combine the benefits and technique of a powder, pencil, and wax,” which sounds like marketing-speak to me, but I do like it. It’s soft and very easy to blend, giving the diffused look of a powder but with the expediency of a pencil.

I find that the Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil gives me the fullest (and fastest) brow look of any of the brow pencils or powders that I own, and the colour stays in place all day long. Ash is a great shade for me; it looks grey in the tube, but on my skin, I find that it looks like a very natural, cool dark brown. True to its name, it’s quite an ashy shade, and it’s an excellent choice if you find that most brow products look way too red on you.

Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil review Ash

The price per ounce: I flinched at the$32 USD/$37 CAD price tag of the Arch Brow Sculpting Pencils, but after doing a price-per-oz breakdown out of curiosity, I feel quite a bit better about it.

Of the angled brow pencils that I looked at, the Hourglass pencil was actually the cheapest per oz by a wide margin. It contains way more product than most twist-up brow pencils, so if you’re looking for a single workhorse product to add to your kit, the Arch pencils are actually a very economical option!

  • Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil (0.014 oz/$32 USD) = $2286 per ounce
  • Anastasia Brow Wiz (0.003 oz/$21 USD) = $8000 per ounce *not an angled pencil; just added to serve as a popular comparison!
  • Smashbox Brow Tech to Go (0.007 oz/$28 USD) = $4000 per ounce
  • Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Long-Wear Brow Pencil (0.01 oz/$42 USD) = $4200 per ounce

Hourglass brow pencil filler review

The verdict?

I wasn’t expecting to, but over the past few weeks, I’ve become very fond of the Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencils. Ash is a great match for my skintone/hair colour, and it looks very natural on me — even if I just sort of scribble the pencil into each brow and blend by mussing up the product with the brow spoolie.

I like my brows quite understated, so I have to be careful with the Arch brow pencils. For those who like a full brow, though, I would very much recommend these! They’re gorgeously packaged, very economical per oz, and blend and wear beautifully. 

Availability: $32 USD/$37 CAD at Sephora.

Keep reading! »

Clinique Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara review, swatches, photos

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Clinique Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara review

The product: Clinique Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara in 01 Jumbo Jet, 02 Portly Plum, and 04 Massive Midnight

The collection that I have, without a doubt, fallen the most in love with this fall is Clinique’s. Usually, when I’m testing makeup products, I really go at it for about a week and then let them fall by the wayside as the next big thing comes along. But with these Clinique launches…

I mean. I’ve had these mascaras since July, and I’m still wearing them almost every single day this September. In the words of ’90s Posh Spice, they are major.

Clinique massive midnight chubby mascara swatch review

The shades: The new Chubby Lash mascaras are currently available in a few different shades, depending on where you are. If you’re at Nordstrom, for instance, you can pick up Jumbo Jet (black), Massive Midnight (blue), and Two Ton Teal — but if you’re at a Sephora, you have at your disposal Jumbo Jet and Portly Plum (eggplant).

I’ve tried this mascara in black, blue, and eggplant, and I love them ALL — but Massive Midnight is by far my favourite. It’s a beautiful royal blue that shows up even on my black lashes, and it’s perfectly done: in some lighting conditions, my lashes just look black; in others, the blue is so evident that I can see it in the mirror from a meter away.

Clinique Portly Plum Chubby Lash Mascara swatch

Clinique Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara in Portly Plum (1 coat, plus the Pretty Easy liquid liner)

Clinique Chubby Lash mascara swatches midnight eggplant

Clinique Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara swatches (L-R): 04 Massive Midnight, 02 Portly Plum, 01 Jumbo Jet

The formula: If the allure of perfectly-tinted lashes wasn’t enough, Clinique hit it out of the ballpark with the Chubby Lash formula and packaging, too. These feature a chubby silicone brush tipped all around with short, thin bristles, and they really deliver.

All three of these mascaras give me completely clump-free, voluminous lashes, and the formula holds a curl well. They wear for a good 10-12 hours (!!!) without dropping the curl, flaking, or smudging, and give me results that are extremely similar to the Charlotte Tilbury mascara ($29 USDat a fraction of the price.

Clinique Massive Midnight Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara swatches review Clinique Portly Plum chubby mascara swatch review

The verdict?

For once, I can’t think of a single way that I could improve these mascaras — and that’s saying something. They’re well-priced, come in a beautiful range of colours, and deliver a voluminous, clump-free lash that wears for 12 hours with zero smudging.

These are some of the best mascaras that I’ve ever tried, and I think it’ll be a good, long time before something replaces them as my favourite!

Availability: $17 USD/$20 CAD at Sephora, Nordstrom, and Clinique. New permanent items, available in different shades depending on where you buy from!

Keep reading! »

Unusual beauty finds | The Edit

Monday, August 24, 2015

The beauty world has been coming out with some pretty cool new innovations this year, so for the newest instalment of The Edit, I’ve selected nine products that have something different about them. They’re mostly skincare (what? I’ve been on a skincare kick this month), but don’t let that fool you: there’s some really nifty stuff coming out of the makeup department, too!

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click the links!

Beauty Essences

Beauty essences are far from new (they’ve been popular in Korea and the rest of Asia for years), but they’ve been tricky to get ahold of here in North America until just recently. I picked out two for this edit: a classic, the Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence ($42 USD), which is now easily accessible outside of Asia thanks to Peach and Lily (get a $10 off code here!); and a personal favourite, the Canadian-made MIYU Beauty Hydrate Mi Beauty Essence ($34 CAD), which touts all the benefits of a traditional beauty essence but applies conveniently as a spray.

Mask On, Mask Off 

I also picked out two cool masks for this feature: one for oily skin, and one for dry. Clinique’s new Pore Refining Solutions Mask ($27 CAD) is one of three masks that the brand is putting out this fall, and targets problem skin with its charcoal-based formula — its muddy-charcoal texture looks super cool coming out of the tube.

On the total opposite end of the spectrum is Odacité’s Hydration Masque ($55 CAD; sample size pictured), which is bright white and is a great choice for dry skin. And, still working off of K-beauty trends, it makes an awesome sleeping mask for those inclined!

!NIOD Copper Amino Isolate, Odacite Hydration Masque

Make-Up Shake-Up 

I love a newfangled makeup product, so I picked out the Shu Uemura Laque Supreme ($35 CAD) and the Annabelle EyeInk2 Mistake-Proof Eyeliner ($10.95 CAD) for this feature. I reviewed the Shu just last week, and have been playing around with the Annabelle — the formula hasn’t been working out for my oily lids, but I love the long, thin, reversible (!!) felt-tip applicator and the built-in double-ended touch-up pen!

Cutting-Edge Technologies 

And, finally, the coolest of the coolest. NIOD (by Deciem) has a new Copper Amino Isolate Serum 1.00% ($60 CAD) available this fall, and it packs a major anti-ageing punch — most brands only bother to put a 0.01 to 0.10% concentration into their products, which doesn’t give you the same effects.

Also from Deciem is a range of drinkables from FOUNTAIN, including this bioavailable hyaluronic acid supplement, The Hyaluronic Molecule ($38 CAD). And, from Estee Lauder, something that’s (also!) altogether new: the New Dimensions Expert Liquid Tape ($70 USD), which creates a thin, flexible layer over the skin that tightens over the course of ten minutes to literally lift and smooth the area!

What’s the coolest beauty product you’ve tried this year?

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