The best beauty advent calendars of 2016


    I love Christmas, but I don’t go all-out the way some people do. As a result, my advent game is far from strong: I usually just pick up a terrible chocolate one at the grocery store for the nostalgia factor, or a Lindt calendar if I’m actually looking forward to eating it.

    Really outlandish advent calendars are something that I always lust after, but I find the pricing on them to be just obscene–even if they’re a deal for what you do get. As a result, “budget-range” calendars are much more my speed!

    Advent calendars under $200


    Take the NYX Wanderlust Advent Calendar ($50 USD), for instance. It’s the cheapest advent calendar that I’ve seen so far, but it features a full 24 minis. No word on what all is in the calendar yet (which I appreciate), but it’ll definitely include at least a few mini lip products.

    Also in the budget range is the Ciaté London Mini Mani Month Nail Polish Set ($59 USD/$70 CAD), which houses 18 mini paint pots, a nail file, 2 nail glitters, 2 nail treatments, and a full-sized nail polish. If you never finish your nail polishes but like having a lot on hand, this one’s actually a great deal!



    If skincare is more your speed, the L’Occitane Advent Calendar 2016 ($59 CAD) is now available online, and it features 24 beauty minis from toner to hand cream.

    Finally in this category, there’s not one, but two offerings from The Body Shop. Both feature 24 products, but they’re catered to two different budgets. The first, The Body Shop Beauty Advent Calendar ($99 CAD), features more basic bath and body products alongside makeup tools.

    The second, The Body Shop Ultimate Beauty Advent Calendar ($169 CAD), features a lot more facial skincare products and “upgraded” versions of some of the basic box’s items: for instance, a muslin cloth instead of a facial sponge, or a 100ml hand cream instead of a 30 ml hand cream. Shipping is free on both.


    Beauty splurges over $200


    If you want to pull out the big guns this holiday season, the Diptyque 2016 Advent Calendar ($390 USD) is available for pre-order right now. It contains 7 Eau de Toilette samples (including the cult-classic Philosykos), 2 mini skincare products, a whopping 15 of Diptyque’s 35g mini candles, and a 70g mini of the brand’s limited edition Le Roi Sapin candle.

    Other advent calendar splurges that caught my eye were the Jo Malone Advent Calendar ($430 USD), which has already sold out in a number of stores, and the Charlotte Tilbury World of Legendary Parties 2016 Holiday Advent Calendar ($200 USD/$250 CAD). The Jo Malone calendar features 24 mini products in a townhouse-styled box; at half its price, the Tilbury calendar features only 12.


    What’s still coming?

    This is far from an exhaustive list of 2016’s beauty advent calendars, so here’s quick peek into what is yet to come. Lush will be putting out their 2016 advent calendar, of course, as will Clarins, Benefit, and Bare Minerals. But while images of each have been leaked, none of them are available to purchase or pre-order just yet!

    Which 2016 beauty advent calendar do you have your eye on?


    Neal’s Yard Orange Flower Facial Oil, Wild Rose Beauty Balm review, photos


    The products: Neal’s Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm & Orange Flower Facial Oil

    In the beauty industry right now, one of the toughest things to figure out is whether or not the “natural” brand you’re working with is truly natural or not. Sometimes their ingredients lists can be deceptive; sometimes their practices don’t quite line up with the natural beauty ethos.

    Neal’s Yard Remedies, however, is the real deal. It’s a massive beauty brand that has maintained all-natural, cruelty-free, organic-when-possible ingredients since their inception in 1981, and they’re family-run by different families in each country that they exist in.


    Neal’s Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm ($72 CAD)

    This beauty balm did none of the things that I wanted it to. It wasn’t hydrating enough to use as a moisturizer on my super-dehydrated skin, and (I think because of the hemp seed oil,) it had a tendency to make me break out if I tried to make it work anyways.

    But: it was so humbly amazing at so many other things that it has become one of my favourite “luxury” products anyways.


    The Neal’s Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm is just that: luxurious. Unlike most beauty balms, it melts upon contact and is smooth and silky, so it doesn’t tug at your skin. Its first ingredient is organic wild rose seed oil (hence the price tag). It smells even more amazing than you’d expect, and every time I pick up the heavy glass bottle, I can’t help but feel a little bit spoiled.

    My two favourite ways to use it are as a cleansing-exfoliating balm with a muslin cloth (included) and for facial massages. I gave Boyfriend his first-ever facial using this stuff, and he was GLOWING when I was done!


    Neal’s Yard Remedies Orange Flower Facial Oil ($55 CAD)

    I was also sent the Neal’s Yard Remedies Orange Flower Facial Oil, because the Wild Rose Beauty Balm wasn’t quite hydrating enough for me. The Orange Flower Facial Oil is definitely more hydrating, but the two together don’t quite do the trick for me – I’m VERY dehydrated in addition to being dry, so while the two are really lovely together, I still need a little bit more.

    I noticed that Neal’s Yard doesn’t make very many products that specifically target extremely dry skin, so the range is perhaps beset for those with normal, oily, or lightly dry skin types – just something to keep in mind.


    With its $72 CAD price tag and perfectly-toned artwork, I thought that the Wild Rose Beauty Balm was Neal’s Yard’s one big product… Until I tried this oil. It’s just as gorgeous as the balm, if not more so, and it isn’t just an overpriced bottle of orange flower oil, either.

    Instead, it’s a carefully thought-out blend of organic macadamia seed, jojoba, hemp, and pomegranate seed oil (I bloody LOVE pomegranate seed oil), amongst others, and it’s scented with neroli, ylang ylang, and mandarin peel oil.


    The verdict?

    I really loved both of these products, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them – as indulgences. (Hmm… perhaps for a special someone in your life this Christmas?) They’re not hydrating enough for someone with extremely dry skin to use as part of a daily regimen, but they are nothing short of a joy to use. 

    If you do a lot of at-home facials or spa days, the Wild Rose Beauty Balm is a must, and if you love neroli, then the Orange Flower Facial Oil definitely is, too.

    Availability: Available at Neal’s Yard Remedies worldwide. Both permanent products.

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    Charlotte Tilbury The Queen Matte Revolution Lipstick swatches, review, photos


    The product: Charlotte Tilbury The Queen Matte Revolution Lipstick

    The formula: The Matte Revolution formula (which I’ll describe the wear of shortly) is a “luminous modern matte” that promises long-lasting, hydrating, buildable colour with lipstick tree and orchid flower extract. It’s available in 10 shades, and it definitely holds up to its claims: it’s easy to build, and it wears very well for a matte lipstick.

    These lipsticks also feature a square tip to mimic the shape of a lip brush, which I thought was really cool. (And hey, it works well, too!)



    The shade: The Queen, inspired by Her Majesty, Elizabeth II, is a “rich and rosy crown-jewel pink.” It’s a deep fuchsia pink with blue undertones that practically glows, and it’s obscenely beautiful in a matte finish.

    Of course, my favourite thing about Charlotte Tilbury is that they simulate their swatches on a wide variety of different skintones–none of that “three skintones covers everyone” business. These are shown on ten models of different skintones, ages, and ethnicities, and the result (which I’ve collaged above) is both helpful and gorgeous!


    Wearing The Queen (and otherwise looking a mess)


    Charlotte Tilbury The Queen Matte Revolution Lipstick swatched in indirect sunlight


    Charlotte Tilbury The Queen Matte Revolution Lipstick swatched in indirect sunlight

    The wear: The Matte Revolution lipsticks are very pigmented, and they have an even, forgiving matte finish. Though they look like soft mattes, they feel as hydrating as an opaque cream lipstick. I get 3-6 hours of wear with these lipsticks, depending on how much eating I do; today, The Queen held up through an entire coconut milk smoothie with only very minimal fading and was still going strong by dinner.

    Optimally, I’d recommend reapplying every 3-4 hours with this formula for comfort, but if you leave it on undisturbed, the vivid colour will hold up for longer.


    The verdict?

    I really like the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution formula, which is as hydrating and comfortable to wear as a great creme-finish lipstick. I was also totally smitten with The Queen, which is a flattering, eye-catching opaque fuchsia pink.

    If you’re looking for a comfortable holiday lipstick, this range is definitely one to check out!

    Availability: $32 USD/$38 CAD exclusive to Charlotte Tilbury online.

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    This is how happy Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash makes me… | One in, one out


    How happy does this much Aveeno’s Skin Relief Chamomile Body Wash make me? Well… about this happy:

    Happier than fresh beaver tails pastries at a food truck. Happier than fresh-cut grass and a warm summer day. Happier than watching ducks splash around in pools of water. Happier than – okay, almost as happy as a little kid playing with a puppy dog.


    These are a few of my ride-or-die skincare products: Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash, and their Fresh Essentials Moisturizer SPF 30.

    I have hella dry skin that’s intolerant to silicones, as I’m sure all of my longtime readers know by now, and these two products really help get me sorted. The Skin Relief Body Washes smell amazing and leave my skin more hydrated than it was before soaping up (they’re like in-shower body moisturizers that cleanse), and they’re so good that both Boyfriend and I swear by them.


    Daydreaming about chamomile body wash showers…

    During my post-shower routine, the Fresh Essentials Moisturizer provides me with daytime SPF 30 coverage at a really affordable price point. I need to add a couple drops of serum or oil to it when I apply, but it’s well worth the extra step–and for that matter, I have yet to find any moisturizer with SPF that I can use on its own.

    I’m on my second bottle of Fresh Essentials Moisturizer and my third bottle of the Skin Relief Body Wash, so when I say that this is good stuff, I mean it!


    Lush Sympathy for the Skin Body Lotion review, photos


    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.


    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!


    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.


    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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