2015 favourites: My skincare must-haves for dry, sensitive skin!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Best of 2015 skincare favourites

As some of you guys might remember, I skipped my 2014 favourites on account of the fact that they were like… 95% exactly the same as my 2013 favourites. My 2015 favourites, however, are a whole other can of fish!

I was lucky enough to not just try out a whole slew of awesome new products this year (mostly skincare), but to find a bunch of new favourites, too. So, I’ve been planning this updated favourites list since October (!), and the list you’ll see is as condensed as possible: these are only my very favourite products; not simply products that I think are the best in their class, but the ones that I use every day, will take with me on overnight stays, and have, in many cases, already re-purchased a couple of times. 

To put it simply, these favourites lists look at a product in relation to its price, packaging, and the other products in its class, unlike my reviews, which examine products on a standalone basis.

My must-have serums for super dry skin

Dry skin favourites

I’ve always really loved makeup, but starting at the end of 2014, I got super into skincare. Everything sort of shifted for me when I tried the Odacité Pomegranate + Rose Geranium Serum Concentrate ($42 USD; review), and realized that, oh, my super-dry skin didn’t actually have to be painful and peeling at all times.

This year, however, I stopped purchasing my beloved Po+R. I still love it to bits, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just too expensive of a habit for me to keep up — my last bottle only lasted me about 8 weeks before the serum crystalized in the bottle (thank you, pomegranate seed oil), though I did manage to use up my previous bottle entirely.

I’m using a blend of pomegranate seed oil from Mountain Rose Herbs and pink grapefruit seed oil from Purple Citrus in my Po+R bottle right now (around a 9:1 ratio), and I’m really happy with the blend. I definitely notice a difference in the quality of the oils (the Mountain Rose Herbs pomegranate seed oil breaks me out unless I add a bit of pink grapefruit to clarify), but for the price difference (about $9/oz vs $247/oz), I don’t think I’ll be going back to the Odacité anytime soon.

Odacite Pomegranate Rose Geranium oil review

I’ve also been using the Paula’s Choice Resist Moisture Renewal Oil Booster ($35 USD; review), which I really love. It’s not thick and comforting the way that pomegranate seed oil is, but it’s lovely. I use two drops of this mixed into my nighttime moisturizer and always wake up with just the most amazing skin–like, since I started using this stuff, I will actually just stop and stare at my skin in mirrors. It’s kind of awkward.

I’m not sure if I’ll re-buy the Paula’s Choice (it’s $52/oz, which I know is still really cheap, but my oil blend is $9/oz) once I run out, but I do really love it. It makes a big difference for my already youthful skin, and if I was five or ten years older, I would definitely re-purchase!

My must-have moisturizers

I’ve got, like, four giant tubs of German Nivea sitting in my basement, and I don’t know what on earth I’m going to do with them because dudes, I have finally moved on.

DHC Extra Nighttime Moistsure review

Right now, I’m switching between two awesome mid-range moisturizers: DHC Extra Nighttime Moisture ($36 USD; reviewin the evenings and Reversa Anti-Redness Soothing Care ($34 CAD; review) in the daytime. Both are excellent delivery mechanisms for other products: they’re scent- and silicone-free and very hydrating, but mix well with whatever serum I’m using or testing that day.

My current mix for Heavenly, Blemish-Free Morning Face™ is a tiny dollop of DHC with two drops of the Paula’s Choice serum I mentioned above — if you have really dry, dehydrated skin, you MUST try these two products!! And, for the daytime, the Reversa stuff is awesome. It doesn’t have SPF (its only failing), but the slight green tint just makes my skin look that little bit better.

My cleansing, acne, and haircare favourites

I’m still loving my Marcelle 3-in-1 Micellar Solution ($19.95 CAD; review), which removes my eye makeup without any stinging or hassle, and my Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion ($19 USD at Nordstrom, Ulta, or UO; outside the US, I think Beauty Bay is the cheapest way to get it — that’s where I buy mine). I think I’m on, like, my fourth bottle of each, or something equally ridiculous–the Marcelle is super gentle, effective, and affordable, and the Mario Badescu is just magic for acne. 

-Skin and haircare favourites

I’m also still all over the Giovanni 2Chic Avocado & Olive Oil Leave-In Spray (review), which I re-bought this year. It’s a great little drugstore find that makes your hair feel silky and super-smooth, but also makes it seem like you have nothing in your hair at all — it’s not greasy or sticky, and the smell evaporates almost immediately.

Finally, I’ve been using the Paula’s Choice Resist Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser ($18 USD; reviewevery single day since I tried it for the first time! It’s a rich, “plain” cleansing milk that’s (also) super gentle and effective, and even though it’s harder to get my hands on than a bottle of Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Milk, it’s stolen my go-to cleanser spot.

The skincare secrets that I learned this year

SkinCeuticals skincare regimen group

Okay, this is the stuff that you guys really want to tune in for, regardless of your skin type. I learned two big things in 2015: one, that I am way more likely to use a serum if I mix it into my moisturizer, and two, that you should never leave product in your eye dropper.

I know they always tell you to apply serum first, but I almost never do. It’s kind of a hassle, and I hate the way that a lot of them feel — dry and thin and oily all at the same time. If I apply my serum at the same time as my moisturizer, though, I find that I get all of the benefits with none of the icky parts!

As for the other skincare secret? A lot of my favourite serums are stored in eyedropper-type bottles, and I learned this year that you are NEVER supposed to leave product in the actual dropper part! The air in the squeeze-y balloon will oxidize the product while it sits in there, so any actives (ferulic acid, for instance) will degrade before they even make it to your face. (A big, big thank you to SkinCeuticals’ awesome PR rep for this tip!)

L’Occitane Cedrat Shower Gel & After-Shave review, photos | The Gift Guide

Thursday, December 3, 2015

L'Occitane Cedrat After-Shave gel lotion review

The product: L’Occitane Cédrat Shower Gel and After-Shave Cream Gel for him

The one thing that strikes me every Decem-burr (yay!) is that I never do enough of a “gift guide for him.” Dudes deserve product too, so if you have a Mr. in your life who needs a little spoiling this season, this post is for you!

(And him.)

L'Occitane Cedrat After-Shave review

My partner and I couldn’t test out the Cedrat After-Shave Cream Gel ($36 CAD) because it contains silicones, but I had to include it in this post–it’s just so gorgeously packaged! Formulated with Corsican cédrat (citron), it’s meant to hydrate, mattify, and energize the skin, reducing irritation after shaving with a lightweight “melting texture.”

Hilariously, L’Occitane describes the cedrat as an “eminently masculine fruit” with its “thick and rough bark,” which is so unbelievably, comically unnecessary. Men’s marketing, you guys. It gets me every time.

L'Occitane cedrat shower gel review citron

I did give the Cedrat Shower Gel ($22 CAD) a go, though, and I was happily impressed. It’s a 2-in-1 cleanser for the body and hair, and it does a great job of both. It’s lightly scented with a faint herby-citrus fragrance and a hint (not a hit) of woods in the base, and it is great as a shampoo — richly lathering, yet completely non-stripping. 

(I’m serious, you guys. I went from Kérastase to this, and I liked this one more.)

L'Occitane Cedrat review men's skincare

The verdict?

The L’Occitane Cédrat line has a very unexpected, earthy-citrus fragrance to it, but I was really impressed with what I saw from the range. I think it’ll be a big hit for fans of vetiver and other earthy, subtle scents — just make sure not to get it confused with the brand’s Cèdre range, like I foolishly did!

Availability: $8.50 CAD & up at L’Occitane stores and online.

Keep reading! »

KISS Tornado 360 Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Dryer review, photos

Thursday, November 26, 2015

KISS products tornado 360 review

The product: KISS Products Tornado 360 Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Dryer

I had a lot of fun putting together Monday’s post, so I figured well, why not keep it up and just turn this week into something of a hair week?

The name needs a little work, I’ll admit, but I have checked out a lot of pretty cool hair products and tools recently (with more yet to come). Today’s hair feature is a pretty cool hairdryer from the drugstore by KISS!

KISS Tornado 360 air booster review

The technology: KISS touts their Tornado dryer as a revolutionary tool that minimizes heat damage with a “360˚ rotating air booster,” which basically just means that this dryer comes with a unique-looking attachment that whirs around and redirects air into a larger circle. 

The “Air Booster” promises to save time, promote even heat distribution, and replace the need for shaking the dryer — which, I mean, is that a thing? Because I’ve always done it, but the more I think about it, the more I think it might just be one of those weird things that we all think you’re supposed to do but actually totally aren’t, like putting bobby pins into your mouth or shaking a Polaroid.

KISS tornado 360 ceramic blow dryer review

The specs: The Tornado 360˚ dryer is a 1875 hairdryer weighing (according to Amazon) 2.09 lbs. It features 3 temperature levels and 2 airflow levels, and can be used alone or with an attachment head (the Air Booster or a conventional flattened concentrator, both included). It uses ceramic tourmaline ion technology to reduce frizz and is powered by 1875 watts.

It’s also, it is worth noting, kind of big. It’s still within normal range, but it’s on the bulkier side of things.

KISS dryer review concentrator attachment

KISS Tornado 360 dryer review

In practice: I liked the KISS Tornado dryer, and I liked the concept behind it, but… well, it definitely didn’t dry my hair 3x faster, as promised. And, while the air booster tornado-maker thingy is nifty, it’s also quite noisy, and it makes this dryer produce a whIRR! whIRR! whIRR! noise instead of a HHHHH hum.

I really like that the temperature and airflow controls are separate, but this dryer just feels a little too heavy and bulky for what it is, you know? It gets my hair dried a little faster than my last dryer (a 10-year-old Conair relic), but for the weight trade-off, I think I might just end up going back to my old guy — chipped lacquer and all.

Drugstore blow dryer review KISS tornado

The verdict?

At $24, I think this hair dryer is a great buy: it gets the job done quickly, and the controls are great. However, at $35, I hesitate to recommend it — it is, after all, pretty heavy and bulky, and while it’s not bad by any means, I’m kinda hoping that there’s still something better out there.

So, if you have a favourite dryer under $50, please let me know what it is in the comments. My search for the perfect drugstore blow dryer continues!

Availability: $24 USD/$34.96 CAD at Walmart (US & Canada).

Keep reading! »

Give the GiftofGOLD with Kérastase

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kerastase Gift of Gold

I like to get all of my holiday shopping done before, if possible, the second week of December. It’s a great setup: you start planning in July, finish up in November, and then you have all of December to bake cookies, hang tinsel, and pick a tree.

That being said, “like to” and “actually do” are two very, very different things. So, if you’re just starting your holiday gift acquisition right now, here’s a little something to help you get started!

Kerastase Bain Densité shampoo review

Kérastase PARIS is running a great promotion in all Kérastase PARIS salons and on the Kerastase.ca website right now: buy a styling product and conditioner and get the corresponding shampoo free!

They’re calling it the Gift of Gold promo, and it’s a haircare lover’s dream. The gift sets start at $83 CAD, and there are eleven sets available, including:

Kerastase Densifique Masque Densite review

There aren’t a ton of silicone-free Kérastase PARIS products, but I’ve been testing some of the Chronologiste and Densifique ranges this month.

Densifique comes packaged in simple, pretty, champagne-beige packaging, and the Mousse Densimorphose, Bain Densité (shampoo), and Masque Densité (conditioner) are all ‘cone-free. I’d like more hydration for my already-dry prairie hair, but a little goes a long way with this range! I use about 1/3 of my normal amount of shampoo with Kérastase, and it’s still more than enough.

Kerastase Chronologiste Scalp Exfoliator

The coolest product that I tested from the gift sets, however, was definitely the Chronologiste Revitalizing Exfoliating Care Rinse-Out Pre-Shampoo treatment. The Chronologiste line is gorgeously packaged to begin with (that black! That gold!), and the treatment is silicone-free.

To use, you take a large dollop of the Revitalizing Exfoliating Care, work it through your hair in sections, and massage it onto the scalp for five minutes before rinsing out. It’s a little hard on the arms, but quite unique overall: the product is flecked with gold and red for a great sensory experience, and it does a great job of exfoliating away any little scalp-flakies that the winter has “gifted” upon you!

Kérastase Chronologiste review scalp and hair exfoliator (more…)

Halloween ideas: Wonder Woman! (3wishes costume review)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Wonder Woman Halloween how to

I haven’t dressed up for Halloween since I was… oh, god. Maybe twelve or thirteen? But I’m also not a fool, so when 3wishes asked me if I wanted to cover anything from their site this year, I jumped at the chance. Because SUPERHEROES, YOU GUYS. Superheroes.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

I tried on their American Hero Costume in a S/M, which is made from swimsuit fabric and comes with a Lasso of Truth and a stretchy Wonder Woman headband. (I mean, I’m not usually a DC girl, but you don’t mess with the classics, you know?)

The costume was comfy and actually really good quality, but it was very small for a S/M — I’m 5″2 and I usually wear a size 4, but because the gold waist area of this costume doesn’t stretch, it was really difficult for me to get into. If you can, I would recommend going 1 or even 2 sizes up from what you usually are! (I am always, always a small or extra small, but a 3wishes M/L definitely would have fit me better.)

One of the other reasons that I picked a Wonder Woman-type costume is that, well, I’m not super into showing a lot of skin — and this one could definitely be styled differently. Grab a pair of shorts, some tall boots, and a sweater, and suddenly you’re all covered up and ready to go!

Wonder Woman Halloween makeup

Shop this look »

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!

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