oil

February/March 2016 Favourites!

Happy Easter! It’s hard to believe that the end of March is already upon us, and Spring has finally arrived. Here are some of the things I’ve been loving for the past couple of months:

1. Yankee Candle Company Tumbler Candle in “Chocolate Layer Cake”

If you want your house to smell like the most delicious chocolate cake ever baked (who doesn’t?), this is for you.  It’s rich, decadent, and incredibly fragrant (you can smell it without even lighting it!).  I purchased this candle along with an adorable cake-stand holder (that I featured on Instagram here) for Valentine’s Day, but I plan on burning this candle through Easter and beyond.

2.  NYX Micro Brow Pencil in “Ash Brown”

I’ve mentioned my love for the Anastasia Brow Wiz in a previous favourites post, and it’s still one of my favourite brow products to date.  Late last year, I attended the grand opening of the NYX store in Square One Shopping Centre, and decided to try out their Micro Brow Pencil.  It’s very similar to the Brow Wiz in performance and design (one side is a thin retractable pencil, and the other is a spooley), but it’s a fraction of the cost at just $12.00 (Brow Wiz is $27.00)!

3. Physicians Formula Argan Wear Ultra-Nourishing Argan Oil Bronzer

I received this product in a gift bag during last year’s Spark Sessions conference and stored it away in my “products to try” drawer.  Recently, the life of my beloved Nars Bronzing Powder in “Laguna” came to an end, and I decided it was time to take this product for a test drive.  Truthfully, I was a little intimidated at first by the layer of gold shimmer on top (I’ve never been one for sparkle in my face makeup).  I simply took a tissue, and was relieved to discover it was simply a light layer on top of the product (for presentation purposes I’m assuming; it’s beautiful!). Once the gold sparkles were removed, the product applied beautifully and evenly, and created a subtle glow on the skin.  As the name suggests, this bronzer is actually infused with 100% Pure Argan Oil, which nourishes, conditions, and brightens skin.  It comes with a mirror and small brush, but I prefer to apply mine with a big, fluffy one.  You can purchase this product right now on Well.ca for just $13.99 (the Nars bronzer is $52.00)!

4. “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo

I don’t get to read as often as I’d like to (time: there’s just never enough of it!), but occasionally, I ‘ll find a book that sparks my interest and I’ll slowly make my way through it after work or before bed.  I’d seen this book in stores and on social media, but was curious to read it for myself after checking out an article on a mother who had implemented the practices of this book on her home.  It’s undeniable to me, how many things we (more specifically, I), own that we keep “just because”.  The premise of this book is that you should declutter your life, keeping only things that “spark joy”: that, when you hold them, make you truly happy.  It seems like such a simple, almost obvious, concept when it comes to cleaning, but it’s one that is so easily and commonly overlooked.  This book is a short, easy read that’s definitely worth checking out.

5. Marc Anthony Nourishing Argan Oil of Morocco 3 Day Smooth Perfect Blow Dry Smoothing Cream

Now, that is a mouthful!  Using the power of Argan Oil, this product promises to hold hair “straight, frizz-free and shiny for up to 3 days”.  I’ve never really been one to use a blow dry cream, but received a sample in my monthly Ipsy Glam Bag, and decided to give it a try.  I really do notice that my blowout lasts significantly longer when I use this product.  My hair stays smoother, has less fly-aways, and is easier to manage.  I simply apply it when my hair is damp, focusing mainly on the ends of my hair.  This product is made for all hair types, and, if your hair tends to be especially frizzy, you can even reapply to to dry hair on days 2 or 3 for touch-ups.

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

Farmacy Lip Blooms: Natural Ingredients for Soft, Smooth Lips

A good lip balm is hard to find.  You want something that moisturizes and protects your lips, but also one that looks and feels nice (and if it can double as a lipstick or gloss, even better!).  Personally, I use lip balms around the clock: before bed to moisturize overnight, in the morning to prep my lips for lipstick, and during the day to revive my lip colour.

I was presented with the opportunity to review Farmacy Beauty’s Lip Bloom in “Lavender Mint”, and was excited to give it a try.  I’ve seen their products at Sephora, and have heard great things about their skincare made from farm-grown, hand-picked ingredients.  Their trademarked ingredient (and one that can be found in their Lip Blooms) is Echinacea GreenEnvy (a variant of Echinacea Purpurea), which is a natural antioxidant that helps protect and firm the skin, and inhibit collagen breakdown.  In fact, the Echinacea GreenEnvy is cultivated in upstate New York and travels only 2 hours to the Farmacy lab, where it is then cold-pressed.  Farmacy’s Lip Blooms also contain Castor Seed Oil and Sunflower Seed Oil for hydration, smoothness, and protection of the delicate skin on the lips.

So what do I think of the Lavender Mint Lip Bloom? Aside from the pretty (not overpowering) scent, what I love most about this product is its versatility.  You can wear it as a lip balm on its own, pair it over top of a lipstick for a glossy shine, or even wear it on the eyelids over top or underneath eye shadow for a high-fashion, dewy finish.  The packaging is simple, chic, and compact, making it perfect to throw in your purse or makeup bag.  It applies smoothly and evenly, is a nice (not sticky) consistency, and leaves lips feeling soft and moisturized.

Lip Blooms are available for purchase on the Farmacy Beauty website and also in-store and online at Sephora.  Other flavours include Strawberry Basil, Honey Ginger, Vanilla Mint, Citrus Lemongrass, and Apple Rosemary. Yum!

Have you tried Farmacy’s Lip Blooms, or any of their other products?  Let me know in the comments below!

*Product provided for consideration.  All thoughts and opinions are honest and are my own.

A Trip to the Beach (In your Shower!)

I love pretty much anything that reminds me of the beach: Pina Coladas, pineapples, seashells, and, of course, coconuts (fun fact: I used to wear sunscreen to school in the Winter because I loved the scent that much).  Thanks to Hask Beauty, taking a trip to the beach is as easy as taking your morning shower with their Monoi Coconut Oil collection.  So what is Monoi Coconut Oil, you ask?  It’s a mixture of pure coconut oil and Tahitian gardenias; a combination commonly used by Polynesian women to nourish and protect their hair from the elements (sand, wind, and sun).  Even better? All of Hasks’s products are free of sulfates, parabens, gluten, artificial colours, and drying alcohols.  Their products are also used on many film and television sets (more than any other brand!).   I mean, who doesn’t want to use the same styling products as Olivia Pope?!  You can find their products in many countries throughout the world; visit their website to find a retailer near you! But for now, keep reading to learn more about the products pictured above from the Monoi Coconut line (which are safe for all hair types).

1.Monoi Coconut Oil Nourishing Shampoo

This shampoo is perfection:  from the scent, to the formula, and the results.  As someone with oily hair, I’m always looking for products that won’t add any weight or residue.  This shampoo lathers nicely and evenly, leaves hair feeling clean, and obviously, smells amazing.

2.Monoi Coconut Oil Nourishing Conditioner

As I mentioned before, having oily hair means that conditioning products can sometimes be a little scary.  I want my hair to feel soft and look shiny, but most importantly I want it to look and feel clean.   I apply this conditioner in the shower after shampooing, and leave it in for a few minutes while I wash my body, shave, or sing (come on, you do it too!).  When I wash it out, my hair is left feeling soft, detangled, and moisturized without any extra weight or greasiness.   Oh yeah, and did I mention these products smell fantastic?…

 3.Monoi Coconut Oil Nourishing Deep Conditioner

Used 1-2 times per week, this deep conditioner helps moisturize and repair damage.  Just apply to wet, clean hair, leave in for 10 minutes or so, and rinse well.  My preference is to start by applying it to the ends of my hair (where I have more damage) and work my way up to my scalp.  This product (along with the SHINE Oil below) is so popular that one is purchased every 5 seconds!

 4.Monoi Coconut Oil Nourishing SHINE Oil

I’ve always used and loved hair oils because of their versatility.  You can use them on wet hair to help moisturize and detangle, or you can use them on dry hair to help tame frizzy hair and add shine.  This oil is the perfect consistency and weight, allowing it to absorb quickly and work its magic without making hair greasy or oily.  Just remember to use a small amount, and concentrate on the ends of your hair (avoid applying directly to your roots).

Have you tried any Hask Beauty products before?  Let me know in the comments below!

*Products provided for consideration.  All thoughts and opinions are honest and are my own.

Miracle 10 for Acne Prone/Oily Skin

Whether it is uneven skin tone, wrinkles, breakouts, or dryness, we’re all looking for a miracle when it comes to our skin.  More recently, I’ve been facing my own struggle with acne.  So, when Miracle 10 reached out to me, asking if I’d like to review their kit for acne-prone skin, I couldn’t have been more excited and optimistic.  The kit includes 5 products: a cleanser, solution, serum, AHA gel, and veil, all specially formulated for oily, acne-prone skin.  But the benefits go far beyond just blemishes and oiliness; they also helps with hyperpigmentation and scarring, minimizing pores, and fighting signs of aging.  So why Miracle “10″, you ask?  Because the brand is confident that you’ll see real results quickly: an increase in smoothness and clarity in just 10 hours, a decrease of discoloration and dullness in 10 days, and a lessened appearance of wrinkles and pore size in 10 weeks. There are also products and sets specially formulated for Normal/Maturing Skin, and Delicate/Dry Skin.  Keep reading to learn more about my experience and personal results, and also, to get a sneak peak of an upcoming Instagram giveaway!

The Products:

Cleanser II:

This cleanser leaves my skin feeling smooth and clean, without any residue.  Antioxidants deep clean and exfoliate skin without any irritation (thanks to its pH balanced formulation).  This product is used morning and night.

Solution I:

To be honest, I’ve never really used toners (they tend to irritate my skin).  But what I loved about this product is that, thanks to Glycolic and Lactic acids, it is more of an exfoliant (with pore-minimizing and antibacterial benefits) than a toner.  It leaves my skin feeling extra clean and balanced without any redness or irritation. This product is used morning and night.

Light Serum:

This is my favourite product of all.  It gives your skin the moisture it needs without being heavy or greasy.  Vitamins A, B, D3, E, and K replenish and balance your skin, and makeup applies beautifully overtop.  This product is used in the morning.

AHA Gel I:

Formulated with Glycolic and Salicylic acids, this gel helps resurface skin while also combating acne bacteria while you sleep.  The gel feels light and applies evenly, and a little bit goes a long way.  This product is used at night.

Veil:

This lightweight, oil-free moisturizer soothes and calms the skin while working to re-texture and reduce oily skin conditions.  This product is used at night.

My Experience and Results:

My favourite thing about all of these products is that they are super light-weight, which is something oily-skinned individuals such as myself really appreciate.  Every single step left my skin feeling calm, smooth, and clean.

Within just a few days, my skin’s texture and appearance had dramatically improved and my makeup was lasting longer throughout the day.  The scarring from previous acne was disappearing (I even stopped using a concealer!), and each morning I’d wake up to a face that was better than the day before (which I credit in part to the AHA Gel I; I love it!).  I also appreciate that each of the products applies evenly and easily, and you only need a small amount of product for your entire face.  I like that the packaging is simple and chic, and that most of the products have their own pump for easy application and reduced waste of product.

All in all, these products truly are impressive.  They are high-quality, made of effective ingredients, and are part of a foolproof system tailored to your skin type.  They are all fragrance-free, paraben-free, not tested on animals, and made in Canada, and are developed by skincare experts themselves: The Plastic Surgery Clinic, which specializes in non-surgical skincare. There’s a reason why these products are raved about in magazines, on TV, and beyond!  If you’re curious about learning more, or want to determine your own skin type, simply visit miracle10.com, or visit a Miracle 10 boutique if you’re in the greater Toronto area.  And don’t forget to sign up for emails to get 15% off your first order!

The Giveaway:

Miracle 10 has generously offered to provide one of you with your very own travel kit customized to your skin type (a $135.00 value)!  This giveaway will be hosted on my Instagram account in the coming days, and will be open to Canadian residents (excluding Quebec). Stay tuned!

*The products in this post were provided by Miracle 10.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

5 Products to Help Heal and Hide a Breakout

Breakout Survival Kit

First off, happy New Year!  I hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing holiday season.  My holidays were filled with lots of food, fun, and family activities, and unfortunately, a breakout that proved trying on my nerves and emotions.  I’d struggled with acne for a few years in my late teens and early twenties, but have been lucky enough to have it under control for the past 5 years or so.  In early November of last year, my skin went crazy.  After changing all of my makeup, skincare, laundry detergent, even pillows, I finally came to the realization that it was likely a hormonal breakout (lucky me).  Let’s face it (pun intended): acne is not fun, but the good news is that there are some amazing products out there that can help you treat, heal, and hide your breakouts.  Today, I want to share with you 5 of the products that have helped me out these past few months; ones that I’m super happy to have found and will continue to use long after I’ve broken up with my breakout.

1. Neutrogena Naturals Acne Foaming Scrub

What I love about this scrub is that it’s gentle but effective.  Naturally derived salicylic acid treats your breakout while also exfoliating by removing dirt, oil, and dead skin.  When you have a breakout, you’ll want to resist the urge to use harsh, grainy exfoliants which will only irritate and inflame your skin.  This cleanser leaves my skin feeling fresh, clean, and calm.  Aside from a few ingredients to help maintain freshness, it is 93% naturally derived, meaning it won’t harm the environment on the way down the drain, either.

2. Vichy Normaderm Tri-Activ Mask

While you can use this product daily as an exfoliating cleanser, my preference is to use it as a mask (1-2 times per week).  Clay, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid create a “peeling effect” on your skin to help with uneven texture, acne, dilated pores, and excess oil (results that last up to 3 days!).  Simply apply the product to cleansed skin, leave on for 5 minutes, and then rinse with warm water, moving your fingertips in circular motions to help further exfoliate the skin.  Oh, and don’t attempt to carry on any serious conversations during the 5 minute drying time: this mask seriously dries and hardens (which is actually really fun to experience).  A soothing agent avoids any dryness or discomfort once the mask is removed, and it is hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin.

3. Dermalogica Hydrablur Primer

I was lucky enough to receive samples of this product during the most recent Spark Sessions blogger conference, and haven’t looked back since.  Whether you have acne or not, this product is impressive (for all skin conditions).  Hydrablur locks in moisture (thanks to Abyssinian Seed Oil), decreases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduces the appearance of pores (courtesy of Mushroom Extract), mattifies, and enhances skin’s radiance (Wu-Zhu-Yu Fruit Extract boots microcirculation).  Essentially, it creates a soft blurring effect on your skin helping to hide imperfections, while also helping skin look and feel moisturized throughout the day.  You can pair this primer with your favourite foundation, or, thanks to micro-encapsulated tint, you can also wear it alone.  It’s lightweight, non-greasy, and really does create the perfect canvas for makeup application.  Because of all these amazing benefits, this product has proved especially helpful in covering up acne and other imperfections.

4. Vichy Dermablend Corrective Fluid Foundation

This foundation has become one of my all-time favourites.  I went to Shoppers Drug Mart in search of a high-coverage foundation (my exact words: “I’d like the highest coverage humanly possible”), and was recommended this product by the Beauty Boutique representative.  Note: new packaging means you might find it as Dermafinish instead of Dermablend.  This foundation is extremely lightweight, but provides impressive, full coverage (so much so, that you might not even need a concealer).  It boasts an impressive 16 hour wear, has SPF 30, and is non-drying.  It’s hypoallergenic, allergy tested, and is safe for sensitive skin.  I wear the shade 25 Nude and like to apply this product with my fingers.  I apply a base coat first, and if needed, go over any visible imperfections with a second layer.  Highly recommend!

5. Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer

Until recently when my breakout started, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the coverage abilities of this product.  It applies evenly, is non-drying (in fact it moisturizes the skin), and builds from medium to full coverage.  I pair mine (in the shade “Custard”) over top of the foundation above, and they blend perfectly.  This concealer is also effective at covering dark circles, hiding fine lines and wrinkles, and reducing redness.  Perfect for all skin types and in a range of 10 shades, there’s a reason why it’s a blogger, vlogger, and makeup artist favourite!

Have you tried any of these products? Are there other must-have products that help you with breakouts?  Let me know in the comments below!