Aroma Foundry essential oil review, comparison, DIY ideas

    Essential oils - saje dupes review

    There’s a label on the bottom of each Aroma Foundry box that lists the following: “Good for all-natural buffs, environmentally conscious, when guests visit, and smelly rooms.”

    Each item is totally true. I’ve been doing my best to make our home homey just with essential oils, and it’s been going really well so far. My eucalyptus oil blend keeps everything squeaky clean, while my Aroma Foundry diffuser blend (DIY recipe below) makes everything smell fresh.

    (Yes, even the bathroom.)

    Essential oils sourcing

    How each oil compares

    It can be tough to buy your first set of essential oils, and one of the things I’ve always struggled with is knowing how different oils compare. I haven’t been able to find an easy, comprehensible list, so I decided to make one for you!

    The most important thing to do when buying essential oils is to buy from a reputable company. Watch out for labels that don’t say “100% pure” or “essential oil,” and if you’re buying in person, smell the testers. Do they smell “oily” or rancid? Are they bottled in glass or plastic? Is it tough to tell one oil apart from the next just by the fragrance?

    I really like Aroma Foundry because each oil is really high-quality and lists its country of origin clearly. If there’s something that you can’t find at Aroma Foundry, I’m also a fan of Thursday Plantation and Mountain Rose Herbs.

    Lemongrass, Citronella, Bergamot review comparison vs

    Bergamot vs lemongrass vs citronella essential oil comparison

    Bergamot doesn’t really fit into this category. It’s a deep, hearty scent, and it smells like a floral rendition of bitter citrus. In small amounts (like in Earl Grey tea), I really love bergamot.

    Citronella is very lemony, like lemon cleaner and butter. Most cats dislike the smell of it enough that  they’ll avoid any areas scented with it, so I may try using this as a cat repellant on some of my textiles!

    Aroma Foudry’s quality of lemongrass is really lovely. This essential oil smells like grassy lemon candy.

    Peppermint, spearmint review comparison vs

    Spearmint vs peppermint essential oil comparison

    Spearmint smells a lot sweeter and softer than peppermint, like green spearmint gum. Peppermint is a lot spicier, like regular white mints.

    Fir, cedarwood review comparison vs

    Cedarwood vs fir essential oil comparison

    Cedarwood is often used as a fragrance base for all-natural perfumes, but it’s one of my least favourite EO smells. It smells like a wet, bitter sauna–some people love it, but I’m not crazy about it.

    Fir is easier on the palate, and smells almost mentholated. It smells like a very fresh, minty pine tree.

    Mandarin, lime review comparison vs

    Lime vs mandarin essential oil comparison

    Finally, mandarin is citrusy and a little bitter, like the rind of a mandarin orange. Lime, on the other hand, is hella limey and very strong. I was really impressed by the quality of this one – it has fantastic throw and smells so pure I’m surprised it’s not artificially enhanced.

    Aroma Founddry review t

    My DIY home fragrance blend of choice

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    Mother’s Day gift guide | FOREO Luna Mini 2 review

    *sponsored by FOREO 

    Not sure what to get for Mom this Mother’s Day? Neither am I, but here are a few suggestions… If your mom likes candles more than she likes power tools. (What? My mom is hard to buy for.)


    1. Get her buzz on with the FOREO Luna Mini 2

    I’ll be upfront with you guys: I’m a big fan of FOREO, and when they asked me to put together this Mother’s Day gift guide, I jumped at the chance. A facial cleansing device makes for a great gift, because they’re such a little luxury–they’re really effective, but at the same time, they’re not a mandatory part of any skincare regimen.

    I’ve reviewed the Luna Mini before, but the FOREO Luna Mini 2 is a big step up. It has longer bristles and more power, with 8 different power intensities. It’s also larger on the whole, with a softer silicone. It’s a lot closer to the Luna 2 than the Luna Mini was to the Luna, and it really is a joy to use.

    » Get 15% off all devices until May 14th with code FOREO4MOM at

    2. & 3. Add a matching cleanser & mask duo

    I like my skincare matchy-matchy, but with my picky skin, that almost never happens.

    The FOREO Luna Mini 2 comes in a swath of different colours, though, so it’s not too hard to colour-code your skincare. I really like the black Midnight FOREO Luna Mini 2 with a foamy cleanser like Bella Aura’s Gentle Purifying Cleanser & a nice purifying mask (this one is the Boscia Luminizing Black Mask.)

    !FOREO Luna Mini 2

    !Foreo Luna Mini original vs mini 2

    FOREO Luna Mini vs Luna Mini 2

    4. Create a relaxing frame of mind

    I like doing little pamper sessions every now and again, and there’s no better way to set the mood than some soothing tunes and a great fragrance. A candle with a lot of throw, like the Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay candle, will easily do the trick.

    5. Add some height

    Okay, so it’s time for some real talk: once you’re over the hill, things change. I had a great talk with my mom the other day about, you know, dryness, but that’s not the only way in which things change after menopause.

    Most women find that their hair naturally thins once they’re over the hill, so a little volume boosting root powder never goes awry. I really like the new generation of gritty, water-based root powders like the Matrix Height Riser for fast, easy volume.

    6. Get obnoxiously matchy-matchy

    My mom and I are pretty close. So a few weeks ago, while shopping online for a few new essentials, we bought matching flash drives.

    It’s not necessarily a big gesture, but it’s one of my favourite Mother’s Day gift ideas. Whether it’s matching thumb drives, matching phone cases, or matching FOREOs, buying in twos is just a really lovely way to say “hey, I love you and I want to carry you around everywhere with me, mom.”

    What are you doing for Mother’s Day this year? 


    Tatcha The Essence Plumping Skin Softener review, photos

    Tatcha The Essence review

    The product: Tatcha The Essence Plumping Skin Softener

    How the Tatcha Essence works

    The Essence is 98.7% made up of Tatcha’s “hadasei-3” complex, which, honestly, I’m a little unclear on. It’s a filtrate of a combination of ingredients, which could mean a lot of things.

    Tatcha The Essence Plumping Skin Softener

    From the sounds of it, the hadasei-3 complex is water infused with green tea, rice, algae, and yeast, and then filtered for impurities. (Think Whole Foods asparagus water, but with skin-conditioning agents and antioxidants.)

    I am inherently wary of paying more than $100 for water in any context, but the fermentation of the ingredients produces low levels of lactic acid. It’s always nice to have something in your skincare regimen that will gently try encourage cell turnover, and a small amount over a long period of time is a great way to introduce acids if you have sensitive skin.

    Tatcha The Essence Plumping Skin Softener review

    My experience with the Tatcha Essence

    One of the first things that I noticed about the Tatcha Essence (I’m sorry; I just can’t bring myself to say “the Tatcha The Essence”) was that it doesn’t contain any glycerine. Instead, it’s light and hydrating without any heaviness or stickiness.

    Beauty essences are basically just fancy toners that you use without cottons, but I really like this one. The packaging is luxurious and easy to use, and it’s easy to press just the right amount of The Essence into your skin. The essence itself pours slowly out of a sculpted spout, and it has the texture of a heavy water.

    As a young and spry 24-year-old, I can’t speak toward dramatic anti-ageing results. But after just a few weeks using the Tatcha Essence, my skin does look pretty good. The fine lines that I’m starting to get around my mouth (thanks, super dry skin) are less noticeable, and I’m feeling less dry around the perimeter of my face.

    Tatcha The Essence Plumping Skin Softener packaging

    The Tatcha Essence verdict?

    I was never a fan of the toner movement, but I’m kind of into essences. They’re a splurge, but they’re lightly hydrating and easy to add into your skincare regimen. Tatcha’s The Essence is beautifully formulated and packaged, and for each bottle sold, some of the profits go to Tatcha’s Beautiful Faces, Beautiful Futures partnership.

    The most surprising thing that I learned while writing this review, however, was that the price point for the Tatcha Essence is totally on-par with the market. Niche beauty essences typically seem to run anywhere from $80-140 CAD, and that’s not even the high end. SK-II’s sits at $225 CAD for the same amount, so $114 isn’t that bad–but it’s still pretty crazy.

    I think I could definitely live without The Essence in my life, but as far as beauty essences go, I do very much enjoy this one.

    Availability: $95 USD/$114 CAD at Sephora, Spring, and Barneys.

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    Ecotools Perfecting Blender Duo, Real Techniques Eye Shade + Blend review, photos | Drugstore gems

    Ecotools sponges, real techniques eye brushes review

    The products: Ecotools Perfecting Blender Duo complexion sponge, Real Techniques Eye Shade + Blend eye brushes

    When I started wearing makeup, it was tough to find affordable tools and brushes that were actually good. The market has really opened up in recent years, though, and two of the brands at the forefront of everything are Ecotools and Real Techniques.

    Ecotools perfecting blender duo review

    Ecotools Perfecting Blender Duo ($15.99 CAD/intl)

    Ecotools were one of the first super-soft synthetic makeup brushes on the market, but they can be a bit of a mixed bag. Some of their brushes can be poorly made (I can’t tell you how many of my Ecotools ferrules have just popped right off their handles), and their bristles are a little too soft. They can feel almost staticky or oily, which is a little bit too much like being petted by the Penguin–or a penguin–for my tastes.

    Ecotools perfecting blender duo review lg sponge

    Where the brand excels, though, is its breadth. They make makeup brushes, konjac sponges, exfoliating puffs, dry brushes, hair brushes… the list goes on.

    This spring, Ecotools is adding the Ecotools Perfecting Blender Duo to their lineup, and these little guys are absolutely excellent. If you’ve tried the Real Techniques complexion sponges, these are very similar–both brands are owned by Paris Presents.

    Ecotools perfecting blender duo review small sponge

    I prefer using the Ecotools Perfecting Blender Duo damp, although it can also be used dry. Both sponges are soft, bouncy, and durable, and the flat angles are a great compromise between precision and speed. The wedge tip lets you get really sharp edges where and when you need them, and the rounded base stipples them out really easily.

    I know that not everyone always wants two sponges, but the fact that these are sold in a kit is really helpful. The smaller one is firmer and smoother, delivering heavier coverage in a more precise location. It’s also less absorbent, so it’s perfect for creamy undereye concealers.

    Real Techniques eye shade and blend brushes review

    Real Techniques Eye Shade + Blend brushes ($14.99 CAD/intl)

    When it comes to choosing between the two brands, though, Real Techniques is definitely my favourite. They make great products, and I love the long ferrules on their makeup brushes.

    I already own an alarming number of Real Techniques makeup brushes, but these ones don’t seem extraneous. If you don’t own the Real Techniques Starter Set, there was probably a gap in your eye brush collection; these satisfy that need perfectly.

    Real Techniques eye brush review

    I’ve always thought that what made a great brush (or a great anything, really) is that it isn’t interchangeable, and these aren’t. The Deluxe Crease Brush (the rounded dome) is a lot firmer and denser. It picks up a lot of eyeshadow with a light touch, and it blends it out just as rigorously.

    The Base Shadow Brush is more tapered and lightly-packed, and it delivers and blends a medium wash of colour. Both are excellent brushes, if a little bit large for my lids, and neither can be swapped out functionally for the other.

    Real techniques eye shade blend review

    The verdict?

    Sure, it used to be hard to find great tools at the drugstore–but it isn’t anymore. The Real Techniques Eye Shade + Blend brushes round off the Real Techniques range nicely, and the Ecotools Perfecting Blender Duo is an affordable, durable alternative to high-end sponges like the Beauty Blender.

    Availability: Look for these brands at Walmart and Rexall in Canada.


    Dove Shower Foam review, photos

    Dove Shower Foam review

    The product: Dove Shower Foam in Shea Butter with Warm Vanilla, Deep Moisture, and Cucumber & Green Tea Scent 

    Did you know that Dove hasn’t developed a new format for a shower product in 20 years? It’s true: the last time they did, it was 1987.

    This year, they’re changing things up with a skin cleanser that’s altogether new to the brand–a foam. It follows the same mentality as the Bioderma Atoderm Shower Gel that I reviewed last spring, with a lighter texture that rinses off more easily (and gently).

    Dove Shower Foam texture review

    The Dove Shower Foam formula

    The new Dove Shower Foam focuses on cleansing the skin without stripping away its moisture. It uses Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate and Glycinate as its main surfactants, which are gentler alternatives to SLS. (They’re so gentle that they’re used in facial skincare as well!)

    The formula also contains stearic acid and glycerin to help lock moisture into your skin, and it’s easy to rinse off. I’ve been using it all month to soap and shave, and it works well for both.

    I’ve been a little spoiled when it comes to shower products over the past few years, and I can’t remember the last time I used something mass market. But guess what? While they’re a little more stripping than the shower oil that I was using previously, I’m happy to say that the Dove Shower Foam formula is pretty neutral! These foams aren’t too drying, and they never sting.

    Dove shower foam cucumber green tea scent review

    The Dove Shower Foam scents

    Dove released their Shower Foam lineup with three different scents: a soapy “Deep Moisture” scent, a sweet Shea Butter with Warm Vanilla scent, and a light Cucumber and Green Tea scent.

    The three are virtually identical in use, so feel free to choose based on fragrance, not function. I love the way Dove does cucumber scents, so I really like the cucumber and green tea one. I don’t get any green tea notes from it, but it’s a refreshing smell nonetheless!

    Dove shower foam shea butter with warm vanilla review

    The Dove Shower Foam verdict?

    The new Dove Shower Foams are simple, easy products. Each bottle contains more than 250 pumps of product, and they’re just so satisfying–like, they’re inexpensive, but the plastic pumps don’t feel cheap

    The Shower Foam formula is about as hydrating/drying as Dove’s Beauty Bar formula, so let that guide your purchase. I’d definitely reach for one of these over a bar, but I’m biased: I’m not a fan of bar soap, and I’m a sucker for anything whipped or foamy!

    Availability: $7.79 USD/$7.97 CAD at most drugstores, mass market retailers, and grocery stores. Permanent as of January 2017.

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