Benefit

What I’ve Been Loving Lately…

It’s been a while since my last post, and I couldn’t be more excited to get back into the swing of things!  The products I’ve discovered these past few months are some of my all-time favourites, and I hope you’ll love them, too!

1. MantraBand “Smile, Breath, and Go Slowly” Bracelet

I discovered MantraBand during a trip to the USA this past summer.  Being someone who loves motivational quotes, I was immediately intrigued by these bracelets, which are sleek and simple in design (available in silver, rose gold, or yellow gold), and adorn various fun, inspirational messages.  In particular, I was drawn to the saying, “Smile, Breath, and Go Slowly“.  The MantraBand website describes this bracelet as a reminder to, “Remember to focus on one thing at a time and give it your all. Stay calm, look on the bright side, and keep going. Because it’s all about the journey, not the destination.”  I, like many others, often times find myself rushing to get things done, and I can easily forget to slow down and enjoy the process.  Naturally, I’m now hooked on these bracelets and have a handful of others on my wishlist: “Hakuna Matata“, “Ohana“, and “Que Sera Sera“, just to name a few!

2. L’Oreal Paris Hair Expertise Extraordinary Clay Shampoo and Conditioner

I’ve waited a long time for an affordable shampoo and conditioner that were specially formulated for oily roots, and guess what?  It’s finally arrived! L’Oreal’s Extraordinary Clay line is perfect for those who have hair the equivalent to “combination skin”: an oily scalp, with ends that could use some love.  These products use the power of various clays (white, blue, and green) to cleanse, moisturize, and revitalize the hair and scalp, leaving hair balanced for up to 72 hours!  The shampoo lathers beautifully and leaves your hair and scalp feeling clean and refreshed, and the conditioner is super moisturizing and lightweight.  Oh, and both products smell amazing.  Using the shampoo and conditioner, I noticed a difference in my hair within just two uses.  Next on my list to try is the Pre-Shampoo Clay Mask.

3. Benefit Cosmetics Dallas Box o’Powder Blush

I’d always heard great things about Benefit Cosmetic’s boxed blushes, but had never actually purchased or tried one for myself.  I decided it was time to hop on the bandwagon, and chose the shade “Dallas” (described as a rosy-bronze hue).  Trust me, the shade you see in the box does not do this product justice.  Once applied, it wears as a gorgeous, warm bronze that gives you a healthy glow, and is perfect for Fall.  You can even use it as a bronzer, or to contour, and it suits nearly every skin tone.

4. Quo Effortless Curl Mascara in “Black”

I’m someone who’s lucky enough to have long lashes naturally, but if I don’t use the right mascara, they just fall flat and can end up looking sparse.  I’m therefore always on the lookout for affordable options that give volume and hold curl.  I received this particular mascara in a gift bag from a Quo event, and was hooked after trying it just once.  The formula is glossy and super pigmented, the curved silicone brush adds curl, and it apples clump-free and lasts all day.  This mascara easily compares to high-end versions, and is just a fraction of the price. Definitely recommend!

5. Michael Kors Eau de Parfum in “Sexy Amber”

This is a perfume that has been on my wishlist for a long time, but due to it’s higher-than-average price tag, I always hesitated.  When Shoppers Drug Mart hosted their recent redeem your points event, I decided to finally take the plunge.  First off, this product is an Eau de Parfum, meaning a little bit goes a long way (making it a good value for money). It comes in a gorgeous glass bottle with gold accents, and the signature Michael Kors logo.  The scent itself has notes of warm amber, sandalwood, and white flowers.  It’s warm and musky but still feminine, and it’s perfect for the colder months ahead.

6. Bath and Body Works Ultra Shea Body Cream in “Golden Pear & Brown Sugar”

Surprise! Another warm, musky scent that I can’t get enough of.  Until it was recently discontinued, Bath and Body Works’ “Twilight Woods” was always one of my favourites.  However their new scent, “Golden Pear & Brown Sugar” has now replaced it as my number one.  It has notes of almond creme, Bartlett pear, brown sugar, toasted hazelnut, silken vanilla, and decadent pistachio mousse (hungry yet?).  It’s a pretty, sexy scent, but is also subtle and not overpowering.  I pair the shower gel in the same scent with the Ultra Shea Body Cream for an extra scent boost.  Note to self: stock up on this before it’s gone!

What have you been loving lately?  Let me know in the comments below!

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WhatDidSheFind Gift Guide: Day Fourteen

Photos and logo as seen on Sephora.com

Photos and logo as seen on Sephora.com

This value set is almost too good to be true.  Filled with 12 of Sephora’s best sellers, this “Sephora Favorites: Superstars” set retails for $90.00 CDN, and comes with 7 full-size products and 5 deluxe samples: a $270.00 value!  What’s great about this set, is that you can either gift it as-is, or separate the items and give to multiple people.  I’ve personally tried (and love) many of the items in this set including: the blush, eye shadow, eyebrow pencil, liquid liner, primer, mascara, and lip treatment.  Check out the full product list, below!

Full-Size Products: 

-Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Dark Brown

-Chloè by Chloè Rollerball

-Formula X Nail Color in Ignite

-Nars Cosmetics Blush in Orgasm

-Smashbox Cosmetics Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 35 in Light

-Stila Cosmetics Stay All Day® Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner In Intense Black

-Urban Decay Eye shadow in Sin

Deluxe Samples/Minis:

-Benefit Cosmetics POREfessional

-Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real Mascara In Jet Black

-Fresh Sugar Rosè Tinted Lip Treatment

-Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil

-Bumble And Bumble Surf Spray

Previous Days:

Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, Day Five, Day Six, Day Seven, Day Eight, Day Nine, Day Ten, Day Eleven, Day Twelve, Day Thirteen

Spark Sessions 2014: My Experience

Spark Sessions 10

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Spark Sessions: Canada’s first fashion and beauty blogger conference.  In summary, the Toronto conference encompassed 2 full days of learning, networking with PR professionals, and mingling with (over 250) fellow fashion and beauty bloggers. I can’t say enough good things about this conference, and as promised, here is a review of my experience!

The Workshops and Speakers

Over the 2 day conference, there were approximately 7 sessions covering various blogging-related topics, as well as keynote speakers. You can check out the agenda, linked in my previous post.

Some of the speaker highlights for me include:

a) Vanessa Craft (Beauty Director at Elle Canada) was one of the keynote speakers on Day 1.  In her speech, she talked about the importance of being true to yourself, your vision, and your voice.  I felt compelled to pass this along, as I think it’s relevant whether you’re a blogger or not.  All too often we catch ourselves saying making excuses for who we are: I’m “just” an intern, I’m “just” a coordinator, I’m “just” the new girl.  Vanessa’s thoughts on this really resonated with me: “The only way to find your voice is by using it”.

Spark Sessions 8

b) Lena Almeida (Lisentolena.com) ran a session on “The Business of Blogging”.  She talked about her journey as a blogger, and how she turned her hobby into a full-time business.  Lena started her blog, resigned from her full-time job in the corporate world, and was determined to make blogging her career within 5 years.  She did (and in less than 5 I might add!).  Lena’s story taught me the importance of trusting your heart, taking leaps of faith, but also, the need to work hard, and recognize your potential.

c) Cheryl Hickey (Host of Entertainment Tonight Canada) was the closing keynote speaker at Spark Sessions on Day 2.  I think we often assume that those in the spotlight have had their careers handed to them; that they were offered success on a silver platter.  Cheryl’s story is both real and inspiring.  She talked about all the challenges she’s faced, sacrifices she’s made, and chances she’s had to take to get where she is today.  She is incredibly humble and down-to-earth, and even took time after her speech to meet and greet with attendees.  She also spoke about her new natural skincare line, “Ours by Cheryl Hickey”, which you can check out here.

Spark Sessions 1

The Sponsors 

The conference had a wide variety of sponsors, ranging from clothing companies, to makeup and skincare brands, to a bakery that made the most delicious (and beautiful) sweets. Below are just some of the many awesome sponsors who’s kindness and generosity helped make the conference that much more amazing!

CrowdSocial was onsite  offering free Essie polishes, temporary hair dye (I chose pink!), and the best macarons I’ve ever tasted (no exaggeration).

Spark Sessions 9
Nicole by OPI was displaying some of their gorgeous polishes (all of which I want!).

Spark Sessions 3

Aside from fun bottles of branded water, Bench Canada brought with them some items from their Spring 2015 collection.  While they’ve taken a slight detour from the style you might be familiar with, the new pieces are modern, chic, and wearable: you’ll want them all!

Spark Sessions 6

Vitabath offered conference-goers the opportunity to take a fun “sudsy selfie”; here’s mine below!

Spark Sessions 4

 Vitamin Water provided water in every flavour and colour imaginable, which complimented meals and snacks perfectly (I unfortunately didn’t get pictures of the meals, but both days offered delicious spreads). Keurig Canada was also onsite, ensuring attendees had their morning and afternoon dose of caffeine.  Check out the rainbow of Vitamin Water below!

Spark Sessions 5

Benefit Cosmetics was offering attendees an “Insta Eye Lift” using some of their highly-coveted (and super fun) products.  Funny enough, I was already wearing one of the products they were sampling that day (I blogged about it previously here).

Spark Sessions 7

The Swag Bag

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this was one (of the many) highlights of the conference for me.  I mean, how amazing is this swag bag?!  Packed full with products from the very generous sponsors, I could not wait to get home and try out these awesome goodies.  Some additional sponsors, not already mentioned above, include: Nivea, Pretty Tea, Happy Plugs, Biore, John Frieda, Clarisonic, Jergens, Clear Scalp & Hair, and more!

Spark Sessions 2

I am so grateful to have attended Spark Sessions this year, and am already looking forward to seeing what 2015’s conference has in store.  Whether you’re just starting out, or are already an established beauty and fashion blogger, Spark Sessions has a lot to offer.  Not only did I learn an entire notebook full of new things, I also built friendships that I look forward to growing in the months and years to come.

“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets” ~Leonardo Da Vinci 

Products I Regret Buying (and What You Should Buy Instead)

Products I Regret Buying

It’s happened to the best of us: we hop on the “hype” train when a new product comes out, only to discover it really wasn’t worth the trip in the first place. Bummer.  For drugstore products, you usually have to bite the bullet and pass them on to a friend (or a garbage can), and, so long as you’ve purchased those higher-priced items at Sephora, you’re in the good hands of a solid customer return policy.  The following are items I regret buying, as well as those I recommend you spend your hard-earned dollars on instead.

1. First Aid Beauty Dual Repair Eye Cream $50.00

When purchasing this product, I’d already become a big fan of First Aid Beauty’s “Facial Radiance Polish” and “Daily Face Cream“, so I was disappointed to discover that this eye cream did nothing for me (especially at such a high price point).  It didn’t moisturize or calm my skin, (in fact, I actually had a reaction to it).  In it’s place, I’d recommend Jurlique’s “Herbal Recovery Eye Cream”, that gently hydrates and smells amazing.

2. Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real Remover $22.00

They’re Real Mascara is my an all-time favourite of mine (I posted about it previously here), and I was thrilled to discover that Benefit had come up with a solution to the sometimes-hard-to-remove holy-grail mascara.  I wanted so badly to love this product as much as I love the mascara, but sadly, all it did was burn and sting my eyes, and barely removed the mascara at all.  There are two products I’d recommend in this remover’s place: 1. Clinique’s “Wash-Away Gel Cleanser”, and 2. The Body Shop’s “Camomile Gentle Eye Makeup Remover”.  Both of these remove makeup like a pro, and have been longtime favourites of mine.

3. Physicians Formula Happy Booster Glow and Mood Boosting Blush $15.99

To be fair, the idea behind this blush is adorable: “Infused with our Happy Boost Blend, featuring Happy Skin and Euphoryl, natural plant extracts which have been shown to promote a feeling of happiness by mimicking the effect of Endorphins and helping protect the skin from environmental stress. The sweet scent of Violet provides a feeling of joy each time you apply!” (Well.ca).  The packaging is cute, the colours in the mix are pretty, and the payoff is good, I just can’t say this blush made me any “happier” than others I own.  For drugstore makeup, it’s also on the higher-priced side, and I think there are others you can buy that will make you just as…happy.  For example, the Hard Candy boxed blushes I talked about here for a fraction of the price.

4. Essie Sleek Sticks Nail Appliques $12.99

It’s no secret that Essie is a front-runner in the nail polish industry, so I assumed their nail stickers would be equally as impressive.  Wrong.  The application was fast and easy, but within less than 24 hours of wear there were chips on almost all of my nails.  As I have many times before, I highly recommend purchasing the Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips.  These are the only strips I’ve found that live up to the “long-wear” claims (mine really do last upwards of 10 days).

What products do you regret buying?  Let me know in the comments below!    

Lash Out: A Mascara for Every Budget

Mascaras for Every Budget

Drugstore, department store, or speciality store, I’ve certainly tried my fair share of mascaras over the years.  In my opinion, mascara is a product that can really make your look: what’s a smoky eye without lush, voluminous lashes?  It’s also an integral part of my “3 step process” for when I don’t have enough time to apply a full face of makeup: 1. apply under-eye concealer, 2. curl lashes and apply mascara,  3. apply tinted lip balm.  Fun fact? Egyptians were the first people to use mascara, where both men and women darkened their lashes in an effort to protect their eyes from the desert sun, and ward off evil spirits (after all, the eyes are the window to one’s soul).  Luckily, the formulation and wear of mascara has changed quite a bit since then (honey, dung, and water were the Egyptian’s concoction), and I’ve put together a list of my top 3 modern-day favourites.  Whether you’re looking to spend a little or a “little-more”, any of the mascaras below are sure to cause bouts of lash-batting and selfie-taking. Ready?

1. Drugstore: L’Oreal Telescopic Clean Definition Mascara $10.00

I originally purchased this product as an impulse-buy at the L’Oreal private sale, and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be one of my all-time favourite mascaras.  The thin, comb-like brush separates and coats lashes without clumping, and the fragrance free/ophthalmologist-tested formula is suitable for sensitive eyes and washes off easily at the end of the day.  If you’re looking for extra length, and an extra-wallet friendly deal, definitely give this mascara a try.  Learn more about the L’Oreal Telescopic line here, and purchase it from stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Shoppers Drug Mart, or online at well.ca.

2. Department Store: Mac Zoom Lash Mascara $16.00

I’ve been a fan of Mac Cosmetics for a long time.  Their products are of professional quality, and there’s always a great mix of “fun” and practical goodies to try.  One of my go-to repurchases is their Zoom Lash Mascara, which has a fibre-wand that multiplies the look of lashes (while also elongating) and coats them in a shiny, gel-like formula.  One coat is enough, but you can definitely build coats for more drama without worrying about clumping or caking.  If you want lashes to look bolder and thicker, then allow me to introduce you to your new best friend.  Purchase it in-store, or on the Mac website here.

3. Speciality Store: Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Mascara $29.00

I can’t help but laugh whenever I wear this mascara and someone asks me if I’m sporting fake lashes; I’m sure Benefit would be happy to hear that the name they chose definitely holds true to their product! The perfect combination of separation, length. and volume make this product worth every penny.  For application, you’ll want to stop after 1 or 2 coats to avoid caking (you really won’t need any more).  If I’m looking to revitalize my lashes before going out at night, I’ll simply re-curl them instead of applying more product.  For removal, you’ll want to use some sort of eye makeup remover (soap and water aren’t enough to wash this beauty away).  If you’re thinking that $29.00 is too much for anyone to spend on a tube of mascara, you’re probably on the same boat that I was before I tried it.  My recommendation is to jump-ship, skip a few daily lattes, search your couch for spare change, and start saving for this holy-grail product.  You’ll thank me later.