Friday, May 22, 2015

Too Much of a Good Thing? A Peek into My Neutral Shadow Palette Collection

This post caused me a lot of stress. You see, I had spent hours photographing and writing this post and then due to wifi tethering and interrupted connections (thanks home internet for dying on me this weekend) my post got lost. As in so lost that I couldn't even find a cached copy in my browser history. How this is possible I don't even know, but I basically raged about it for a good 10 minutes until Mr. Artist told me to take a time-out. Now a couple days later, I'm back and it's time for take two of this post.

I've been sitting on this blog idea for awhile as I wanted to document my love for neutral eyeshadow palettes and to also take a comprehensive look and see if I had a lot of dupes without realizing. While I also love blushes and lipsticks, neutral eyeshadow palettes are kinda my thing. I LOVE them. When I see one that catches my eye, it makes me drool all over my keyboard and rack my brain trying to justify whether I have some as yet unfulfilled color niche in my rainbow of neutral shadows. There's just something about a beautiful array of neutral tones, so perfectly blendable and so easily matchable, that makes my heart beat a little quicker and my fingers stretch for my wallet. Holding a palette in my hand, with makeup brush in the other, I almost feel like an artist, working magic on my face to create depth, light, and an array of looks to match my mood and outfit. Can a blue shadow do that? I think not!

Cargo The Essentials Palette in Dark Neutral

cargo the essentials eyeshadow palette

The Cargo The Essentials palette is the oldest palette in my current collection. I'm not sure why Cargo doesn't get more love online, as I've always had good results with their products and I was choked when Sephora stopped carrying them. This palette is one in a series of quads designed for beginner eyeshadow users. Each pan is etched with a label telling you were to place each color. As well, the pans are physically laid out in the order that you'd apply them. The shades are all matte and have medium color payoff, making them easy to layer and blend out. All the shades in this palette lean warm, so they'd probably suit light to medium neutral or warm skin tones. My only complaint about this palette is that the plastic lid snapped right off after a while, but since this happens to all my plastic packaging, I didn't find this surprising.

The shade breakdown:
  • a matte ivory highlight shade
  • a matte/satin warm beige lid shade
  • a matte slightly darker beige lid/crease shade
  • a matte dark brown outer corner shade
You can purchase this palette for $32 wherever Cargo is sold.

Stila The Natural

stila the natural eyeshadow palette

Next is Stila's The Natural face and eye palette. Sadly, this palette seems to be discontinued, but I think the colors are fairly dupeable. The Natural contains a mix of six different pink toned shades, alongside a warm bronzer and a super shimmery pink highlight. I've always loved a good pink neutral palette, so of course this one was right up my alley. It's a gorgeous mix of matte and shimmer shades that can be worn wet or dry. The sleek palette also comes with a small enclosed mirror and instructions on the lid for two different looks.

I love to use this palette for easy weekend looks by swiping Pure across my brow and Innocent all over my lid. The mattes are kinda powdery, but they last for hours without primer. The mattes are also slightly less pigmented than the shimmers, but can be built up easily; the swatches above for example, are with 3 swipes of my finger.

The shade breakdown:
  • Pure - a matte ivory highlight shade
  • Linen - a matte soft mauve pink
  • Innocent - a matte dusty rose
  • Element - a shimmery bronze
  • Demure - a frosty mauve pink
  • Silk - a shimmery dusty rose

Urban Decay Naked 2

urban decay naked 2 eyeshadow palette

The Urban Decay Naked 2 was the palette that really was the gateway drug to my current collection. It was with this palette that I discovered that there really was a difference between high and low end shadows. All the Urban Decay shadows I've tried are amazing; they give you rich, pigmented color with just one swipe of a brush and when worn with a primer, that color doesn't fade or transfer all day. Each of these shadows feel buttery soft and blend fantastically. I would recommend everyone try one of the Naked palettes. The only downside to these shadows, is that they have a ton of fallout, so you must always tap the excess off your brush before applying. 

The Naked 2 contains predominantly shimmery tones starting from soft golds to bronzes, and then transitioning to taupe and plum, giving it a diverse range to work with. Between the Naked 2 and the Naked 1, it's said that the former is better suited for cool skin tones, but I've found most of the shades easy to work with on my NC 20 skin. 

The shade breakdown:
  • Foxy - one of the lone mattes, Foxy is a yellow-white shade that exactly matches my skin - you can't even see it in the swatches!
  • Half-backed - a shimmery gold
  • Bootycall - a shimmery soft white pink
  • Chopper - a shimmery peach copper
  • Tease - a matte tawny brown
  • Snakebite - a rich, shimmery chocolate brown
  • Suspect - a shimmery golden beige
  • Pistol - a shimmery gunmetal with taupe undertones
  • Verve - a shimmery cool silver
  • YDK - a shimmery pink gold
  • Busted - a shimmery plum
  • Blackout - a matte black
You can purchase the Naked 2 at Sephora for $64.

Urban Decay Naked 3

urban decay naked 3 eyeshadow palette

Since I was so in love with the Naked 2, I knew that I had to get my hands on the Naked 3 as soon it was released back in 2013. Naked 3 is big departure from the other two Naked palettes as it's decidedly within a certain color spectrum, but it has become my favourite of the Naked palettes. The Naked 3 is dominated by soft, dreamy pink, mauve and gold tones, making this palette perfect for creating romantic, feminine looks (think: BRIDAL). Just like the Naked 2, every shade here is soft, blendable and very pigmented, but they also experience a similar level of fallout.

While many complained that the Naked 3 has less versatility than the other Naked palettes, I would beg to differ. I love how focused the Naked 3 is. If you're a pink/mauve/gold tone lover like I am, it's amazing to be offered such a wide variety of shades within that color family as opposed to same baby pink and plum mauves all the time as in other palettes. These types of colors are hard to overdo and can be worked well by anyone, making it an easy palette to use whether you're a beginner or a professional. While a lot of the shades are shimmery, they aren't as metallic looking as those in the other Naked palettes, which also means this one works better for day and for creating subtle smoky eyes. In my opinion, it's a rookie mistake for people to think a rainbow of colors = value, when what you should really be purchasing for in a palette is to maximize the amount of shades you will actually use. I use every single shade in this palette and I couldn't be happier.

The shade breakdown:
  • Strange - a matte ivory
  • Dust - a glittery pink
  • Burnout - a soft satin cherry blossom pink
  • Limit - a matte dusty pink-brown
  • Buzz - a shimmery dusty rose
  • Trick - a shimmery champagne-pink
  • Nooner - a matte medium brown
  • Liar - a shimmery light brown
  • Factory - a shimmery chocolate brown
  • Mugshot - a shimmery light metal grey
  • Darkside - a shimmery dark grey
  • Blackheart - a shimmery black shot through with pink sparkles
You can purchase the Naked 3 at Sephora for $64.

Urban Decay Naked 1 Basics

naked 1 basics eyeshadow palette

2014 was all about the matte for me and after purchasing both the Naked 2 and 3, I had reach max shimmer. I was done with shimmer. 2014 fall and winter was all about matte everything for me. I was all about having matte creased eyes and nude/pink-brown lips care of Kylie Jenner's ode to the 90's. How sad am I? So I went on a hunt for a matte, neutral palette and inevitably it led me right back to the UD aisle at Sephora. I swear that I didn't intend to purchase yet another Naked palette, but goddamnit they are just too good to resist! 

The Naked Basics palettes aren't what I first expected them to be, which is capsule versions of their larger counterparts. The Naked Basics are basically all matte shades and the colors are quite muted compared to their predecessors. The Naked 1 Basics is made up of cool toned shades ranging from a pearly white to a flat black. Half of the palette is made up of highlight and base colors, while the other half can be used as crease and liner shades. My favourite shades to use are Venus (brow), Naked 2 (lid) and Faint (crease) to create a perfect sculpted eye. 

The shade breakdown:
  • Venus - a shimmery pure white
  • Foxy - a dupe from the Naked 2
  • W.O.S (walk of shame) - a matte ivory
  • Naked 2 - a matte light taupe
  • Faint - a matte medium brown
  • Crave - a matte black
You can purchase the Naked 1 Basics palette at Sephora for $34.

L'Oreal LA Nude 2 Palette

l'oreal la nude 2 eyeshadow palette

My most recent addition to my neutral palette collection is the L'Oreal LA Nude 2 palette. After reading all the rave reviews, I was really curious to see how this drugstore palette performed against its higher end counterparts. There are two renditions of the Nude palettes: Nude 1 features more brown and gold shades, while Nude 2 has more pinks and purple tones. Of course you know by now which I went for!

Telling myself that I was lacking purples, I opted for the Nude 2. I've only had this palette a couple weeks, but so far I'm impressed! The pigmentation and texture of these shades is really stellar; in fact, there are some shades that are even more pigmented that I would have guessed! The shadows also experience little fallout. Unfortunately, you definitely need a primer with these as they crease horribly, but other than that I'm really happy with this purchase. It probably helps as L'Oreal owns a whole family of higher end brands and was able to take advantage of that for these, but hopefully this means more expansive palettes like this one will be appearing on drugstore shelves in future.

The shade breakdown:
  • a matte yellow-pink
  • a satin pink rose
  • a matte light taupe
  • a matte dark brown
  • a satin silver-grey
  • a matte red-brown
  • a satin red-brown
  • a matte baby pink
  • a matte plum
  • a matte deep grape
You can purchase the L'Oreal Nude 2 palette at drugstores in Canada for around $30, but if you live near the border, I'd recommend purchasing it in the US where it's as cheap as $15!

Burberry Complete Eye Palette in Pink Taupe

burberry pink taupe eyeshadow palette

Last, but not least, is the Burberry Complete Eye palette in Pink Taupe. I received this after visiting the new Burberry boutique in Richmond Centre and I haven't been able to stop using it since. This is my first time using Burberry eyeshadows and I'm in love. Each color in the Pink Taupe palette is true to pan. The shadows are soft, pigmented and experience little fallout. My collection was lacking in green shades and I'm so glad I chose this one as its mossy green tones are super flattering. Besides having high quality shadows, what really marks Burberry as a high end product, is that the palette comes with included brushes that are actually useful and not just after thoughts and the whole thing is encased in a velvet dust bag! It's details like this that really make products special.

The shadow breakdown:
  • a satin dark brown
  • a satin soft pink-mauve
  • a satin mossy green
  • a satin brown taupe
You can purchase the Burberry Complete Eye palette at Burberry Beauty counters for $60

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my makeup closet and that it swayed you into wanting some new additions to your own makeup arsenal! 

Now I want to hear:

What are your favourite neutral palettes? 
Tell me in the comments! 

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Aerin Lauder Fragrance Set | A floral orgasm for the senses

Aerin Lauder fragrance set

The title of this post may sound hyperbolic, but it's really the truth. Ever since I first smelled the Aerin Lauder fragrance collection last year while on a girl's trip to Seattle, I have been head over heels in love with it! I think it's safe to say that if I wasn't a perfume person before, I definitely am now.

Each of the fragrances in the collection are unique, but all renditions of popular floral scents. What makes the Aerin Lauder fragrances unique (and very expensive) though is how rich and nuanced they are. I usually prefer to wear more straightforward fragrances, such as ones from my L'Occitane and CLEAN collections, but there's something about the Aerin Lauder ones that have opened my eyes to more complex smells. Each ones feels layered and seductively teasing as the scents change as you wear them. They can also be mixed and matched together to create even more intricate mixes.

During the holidays, I snagged this sample set of all the Aerin perfumes at Sephora. Normally, a regular sized bottle is around $125 each, but these 2 ml bottles are good enough for me as I haven't even used up the original sample vials I got last year!

Aerin lauder perfumes

Now here is a lowdown on each of the fragrances in this set:

Gardenia Rattan
By far my favourite of the set, Gardenia Rattan smells like a fresh garden. It has a very heavy, lush floral scent that is mixed with fresh marine notes. I could wear this one everyday!

  • Top notes: sea water
  • Middle notes: gardenia, tuberose, tahitian tiare
  • Base notes: amber

Amber Musk
Amber Musk is surprisingly my second favourite of the set! Normally, I prefer lighter, fresher scents, but Amber Musk has been my gateway to sexier, deeper notes. I originally got a sample of this as it's a great fragrance to layer with all the others, but I grew to love wearing it on its own too. Amber Musk has a very vanilla scent to it, but there's also a touch of sweetness that keeps it from feeling too heavy. It's a scent that feels womanly, but not overly so.
  • Top notes: amber
  • Middle notes: coconut, rose, benzoin
  • Base notes: musk

Lilac Path
This one is probably my least favourite of the set if I had to choose. Lilac Path smells pretty and feels very appropriate for spring or for someone who is into very ethereal scents, but for me, it all feels too delicate. It's really funny how your mind processes scents, but when I smell a fragrance, it conjures up images and colors to me and this one makes me think of a very pale, blond waif walking through tall fields of lavender - everything that is opposite of me, as I'm short, dark and very allergic to fields.
  • Top notes: galbanum
  • Middle notes: angelica, jasmine
  • Base notes: orange blossom

Ikat Jasmine
Ikat Jasmine and Gardenia Rattan are the most similar to me and I love them both, with Gardenia Rattan edging out ahead a teeny bit more. Ikat Jasmine smells lush and appropriately jasminey. It reminds me of being in a tropical paradise full of colors and moist, inviting air.
  • Top notes: jasmine, egyptian jasmine
  • Middle notes: tuberose, honeysuckle
  • Base notes: sandalwood

Evening Rose
Finally, there is Evening Rose. I feel very ambivalent towards anything rose. Yes, it smells lovely and they look lovely too. Yes, roses are timeless and anyone of any age can wear rose perfumes, but doesn't make rose that much more... generic? To me, this fragrance is nice, but bland. I still like it more than other rose fragrances and if you like rose, you'll probably love this, but I would likely use this more as a layering fragrance than something I'd wear on its own unless I want to feel particularly elegant and lady-like.
  • Top notes: cognac, blackberry
  • Middle notes: rose, bulgarian rose
  • Base notes: incense

Interested in trying Aerin Lauder perfumes yourself? Find them at Sephora, and Nordstrom!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

CBB Guest Post: Orange FOTD by Beauty Infinitum

Hi everyone! This is Stephanie from Beauty Infinitum guest posting as part of the Canadian Beauty Bloggers. This month's theme is Orange, a colour I don't normally reach for in my makeup routine, but I wanted to challenge myself! I tried an orange eye look with coral-ish lips and cheeks, and I hope you like it. :)

I know that orange shades are supposed to work well with blue eyes, due to colour theory (orange complements blue as they are opposite each other on the colour wheel). There is a wonderful orange shade, Ignite, in the Smashbox Photo Op palette (part of the Glam Femme set, which I completely recommend as it's a great deal and each product is stellar), which I used on the lid with Esoteric Aesthetic's Hedgeriding loose shadow in the crease. I then added Wine from the same Smashbox palette to define the crease, and Vanilla (same palette) to highlight and in the inner corners. The look is a bit more brown-y than orange in this photo, but it does look more orange in real life. Adding the deep brown Wine helped balance it. I finished off with Urban Decay 24/7 Liner in Whiskey and two coats of Lancôme Hypnôse mascara.

Here's a better look at the eyes:

For the cheeks, I turned to the infamous NARS Orgasm blush. It's not orange, but leans a bit coral on me, and it has gold shimmer.. so I suppose that's close! On the lips I used NARS Lip Gloss, also in Orgasm, which I find so incredibly lovely with the pronounced gold highlight!

Overall, I think this is a subtle, work/day-friendly way to incorporate orange tones in your look. I definitely want to venture outside my comfort zone a lot more now!

Complete products used:

Annabelle CC Instant Perfecting Base Luminous Finish*
Rodial BB Venom Skin Tint SPF 15 in Capri
Lise Watier Portfolio Correcteurs in Les Beiges
NARS Blush in Orgasm
Annabelle Perfect Bronze in Sun Breeze*
Smashbox Soft Lights in Shimmer

Hard Candy Eyes the Limit Eye Primer
Smashbox Eyeshadows in Ignite (lid), Wine (crease), and Vanilla (inner corner, highlight)
Esoteric Aesthetic Eyeshadow in Hedgeriding* (crease)
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Whiskey
Lancôme Hypnôse Mascara
Essence Eyebrow Designer Pencil in Blonde

NARS Lip Gloss in Orgasm 

Products marked with an asterisk (*) are PR samples.

Thank you, MizzJ, for having me on your blog! And thank you to the CBB for the theme!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

RoC Clarifiant Serum Review | Capturing the power of soy for clear, bright skin

RoC Clarifiant serum

I'm always a sucker for products that promise you the skin of angels. As you grow older, the fight against dull, thick skin becomes greater in importance, so I'm trying to be as proactive as possible.

The RoC Clarifiant Concentrated Clarifying Serum is an intensely concentrated serum containing a powerful mix of soy extracts, niacinimide, phenylethyl resorcinol and other antioxidants that help reduce dark spots and calm irritated skin.

I was already familiar with RoC as an anti-aging line targeting older women, but the Clarifiant serum is a product that women of all ages can use as it's not targeted towards a specific age group.

The Guts:
It was very difficult to find any information online regarding this serum's ingredients, so I can only speak to the ones mentioned in its description:

  • Soy extract - a natural ingredient that helps calm and soothe skin for a more even tone. It's also high in vitamin E, which helps its anti-aging properties.
  • Niacinimide - fights hyperpigmentation
  • Phenylethyl resorcinol - fights hyperpigmentation
  • Bisabolol - derived from chamomile, this soothing ingredients restores suppleness to skin, conditions it and reduces redness

Price & Packaging
A 40 ml bottle retails for $49 at drugstores. It's a little pricey for a drugstore product, but not overly so as 40 ml is a good size to last you for months. The Clarifiant serum is housed in a simple, tall plastic bottle with a cap and pump system.

Products that claim to fight hyperpigmentation generally takes months to have effect and I've only been using this one for a month, so take my comments with a grain of salt. I've been using this serum every night before bed and I love its rich, moisturizing texture. The serum is a creamy, ivory color with a medium-thick texture. It spreads easily and absorbs fairly quickly, leaving the skin with a slightly tacky feeling. I use two pumps to cover my entire face and since using this serum, I have noticed that my skin hasn't flared up in terms of breakouts, and looks more even. As far as brightness or dark spot reduction goes, I haven't noticed any difference, but again, it could just take more time for this serum to have a noticeable effect.

Final Verdict
Buy - a moisturizing serum that works gently to calm my skin.

PS. Happy Victoria Day everyone! I hope you're all enjoying that extra day of sleeping in :)

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Revlon Photoready Prime + Antishine Primer Review | Good primer, but cheap packaging

Despite being someone who doesn't wear primer on the regular, I seem to have a lot of them! Primers are relatively new to the beauty market, as I don't remember them even existing when I first started wearing makeup, but now they're everywhere and cover a variety of purposes. There are primers that erase pores, one that increase makeup longevity or mattify skin or hydrate or color correct, or illuminate, and probably soon there will be ones able to do your taxes (which I'd love!).

For today's review though, I'll be sharing a primer that is fairly straightforward for even the lowest maintenance people out there.

revlon prime and anti shine primer

The Product
The Revlon Photoready Prime + Antishine Primer is a clear, balm-like primer that is designed to do just three things: provide a long-lasting base for makeup, create a silky surface on your skin and give it a velvety matte finish. Unlike most primers, which are liquids, the Photoready Prime + Antishine is a clear balm, so there's no worries about color matching or spillage when traveling, and it comes in a slim compact for easy touch-ups on the go. Designed to be worn underneath or over makeup, you could even wear it solo for a minimal, put-together look.

The Guts
  • Dimethicone - a silicone that is widely used in makeup and beauty products as an emollient and  for its ability to combat redness, moisture loss and for creating a silky seal on top of skin
  • Talc - a natural mineral that absorbs oil and shine
  • Vinyl dimethicone/methicone silsesquioxane crosspolymer - a silicone blend that thickens products
  • Silica - a natural mineral that absorbs oil and gives skin a matte finish
If you're not a fan of silicone based primers, then run away now. The Photoready Prime + Antishine contains a lot of silicones and oil absorbing ingredients, similar to most other mattifying primers. While there's nothing wrong with silicones health-wise, some people may be sensitive to them and since their purpose is to create a protective, matte layer on your skin, that will have the effect of not letting your skin breathe or able to absorb other beneficial ingredients.

Price & Packaging
The Photoready Prime + Antishine sells for around $18 at drugstores. I'm not sure how much product is in each compact, but the compact is quite slim and about the length of my hand, so if you used this quite heavily, you might run out fairly quickly. The compact itself is made of plastic with a clear lid. I'm already cringing every time I open it as I'm positive that eventually the lid will just crack off as all my cheap plastic compacts do. 

revlon prime and anti shine

Inside, the compact is split between the primer itself and a similarly sized sponge. The bottom also is open with a little grid pattern to allow air I suppose to hit the sponge - perhaps to reduce bacteria growth? While I like the sponge and balm format, I do wish Revlon had invested in more luxurious packaging. Would it have been too much to ask for a regular pressed powder style compact with a mirror?

To use the Photoready Prime + Antishine, simply swipe your trusty sponge along the surface and then across your skin wherever you need it. If I'm wearing a full face of makeup, I like to apply this over my whole face, but for normal days I'll just apply it to my forehead, upper lip and nose; basically wherever I get the oilies. 

The Photoready Prime + Antishine applies silky smooth thanks to all the silicones and right away you can tell the difference between my primed and non-primed skin; the primed areas become instantly matte and have a very silky, velvety texture. 

In terms of whether it helped my foundation apply better or last longer, I haven't noticed any differences. What is noticeable is that this primer does a great job of holding off my dreaded afternoon oil slick. Yes, my face is still "glowy" by the end of the work day, but it's not nearly as bad as it normally is where I easily soak through my blotting paper.

One thing to note is that you do want to swipe pretty hard on the balm with your sponge to get a good amount of product. While that might seem annoying, I actually love this method of application as it guarantees the thinnest layer of primer as possible. I'm always paranoid about clogging my pores with silicones and liquid primers are much trickier to apply thinly, so this format was a total difference maker to me. I've been loving using this primer in conjunction with my Lise Watier Luminous Correcting Primer. I simply apply the Lise Watier primer wherever I have redness then apply the Photoready Prime + Antishine where I want to minimize shine. Both feel super lightweight and give my skin the flawless look I love.

Final Verdict
Buy - the unique balm format ensures thin, flawless coverage that combats shine and oil all day long..

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Aveeno Fresh Essentials Review | #FreshEssentials for everyday radiance

aveeno fresh essentials

Oh boy, this review is quite late! I first received these products in December, but my skincare backlog has been so backed up, that I only got to try out the Aveeno Fresh Essentials line recently.

Designed as a gentle approach to clear, radiant skin, the Fresh Essentials line utilizes the power of nature with the antioxidant benefits of southernwood flowers and vitamins A and E. The Fresh Essentials line covers all your basic skin care needs, by including a daily cleanser, moisturizer and night cream. I've only tried a couple Aveeno products in the past as they're a little higher end at drugstores, but the ones I have tried I've enjoyed as they've always been very gentle on my skin. Plus, their spokeswoman is Jennifer Aniston who is the epitome of natural, wholesome beauty! After all the different things I throw onto my skin everyday, I was eager to try out a skincare line that seemed to hearken back to simpler, pure ingredients and a gentle approach to cleansing.

Aveeno Fresh Essentials Daily Exfoliating Scrub

aveeno fresh essentials daily exfoliating scrub

The Product: The Aveeno Fresh Essentials Daily Exfoliating Scrub is an exfoliating facial scrub that sloughs away dead skin cells, dirt and impurities thoroughly, yet gently enough to be used daily. This scrub claims to contain natural luffa and coconut pulp as its main exfoliants.

The Guts:
  • Water
  • Glycerin - a moisturizer
  • Ammonium lauryl sulfate - a foaming and cleansing ingredient derived from coconut
  • Polyethylene - a form of plastic, aka microbeads that form the main exfoliating grain in this scrub. While harmless to your skin, these are known to be extremely harmful to the environment as they wash downstream and into water systems where they can be eaten by fish and other creatures.
  • Glyceryl stearate - thickens the product and acts as a surfactant and moisture capturing ingredient
Price & Packaging: A 145 ml tube costs around $13 at local drugstores like London Drugs and Walmart. The price and packaging of this product are pretty standard and of good value. I love squeeze tubes and this one isn't so big that you couldn't pack it easily away for travel, although not in a carry-on of course.

Effectiveness: Unfortunately, because of the polyethylene, I couldn't bring myself to properly test this scrub and had to trash it (which in itself is probably questionable). I did try it twice though just for this review and found it to be a gentle scrub with little fragrance that I can recall. It didn't leave my skin feeling tingly, nor particularly renewed as one might expect after a good exfoliation, but considering this is meant as a daily scrub, I wasn't expecting too much. My guess would be that this would be more effective when used over the long haul. 

Final Verdict: Ditch

Aveeno Fresh Essentials Daily Moisturizer

aveeno fresh essentials daily moisturizer

The Product: The Aveeno Fresh Essentials Daily Moisturizer is a light, oil-free daytime moisturizer containing SPF 30. Light, moisturizing, SPF - all these things are my must-haves for a daytime lotion so I was feeling pretty good about trying this one out. Besides the star ingredient southernwood, this moisturizer also contains vitamins A, C and E for extra age-fighting powers.

The Guts
  • Artemisia abrotanum extract - aka southernwood extract, which Aveeno claims to have antioxidant properties. I couldn't find a lot of supporting evidence to this claim.
  • Butylene glycol - a common solvent 
  • Caesalpinia spinosa gum - a thickener and skin conditioner
  • Candelilla/jojoba/rice bran polyglyceryl-3 esters - an emulsifier and stabilizer that helps keep the product together
I'm so impressed that Aveeno made their star ingredient the FIRST ingredient in this product! That is so rare for any brand to do, so I really want to point it out here. 

Price & Packaging: A 75 ml tube retails for around $20. As I mentioned, Aveeno is a little pricier for a drugstore brand, but in terms of packaging, it's sturdy, functional and doesn't feel cheap.

Effectiveness: I gotta say, this face cream is great! It ticks off everything on my list for a daytime moisturizer. It's deeply nourishing to my skin, but isn't so rich that it feels too heavy in springtime weather. A little goes a long way as well as it's very easy to spread, but I do prefer to layer a little generously to ensure even SPF coverage. There's a very faint floral fragrance to this lotion, but it dissipates quickly. While I think the Aveeno Fresh Essentials Daily Moisturizer is a solid basic product, I do have to say that I didn't notice any increased radiance or significant anti-aging effects, so if you're specifically looking for that, then I wouldn't bother with this one. If you are however in the market for a decent moisturizer with SPF that keeps your skin soft and doesn't make you break out, then this is a winner.

Final Verdict: Buy

Aveeno Fresh Essentials Hydrating Night Cream

aveeno fresh essentials night cream

The Product: The Aveeno Fresh Essentials Hydrating Night Cream is the powerhouse of the Fresh Essentials line as it's while we sleep that our skincare products can penetrate and work most deeply. This rich night cream contains southernwood extract, as well as vitamins A, C and E.

The Guts
  • Water
  • Octyldodecyl neopentanoate - an emollient that helps give this product structure and helps oily compositions feel less slippery
  • Dicaprylyl carbonate - an emollient that helps other ingredients penetrate skin more easily, while protecting the skin from moisture loss by creating a protective barrier. It also makes the product feel light and spread easily without leaving behind any greasy residue.
  • Glycerin - a moisturizer
  • Candelilla/jojoba/rice bran polyglyceryl-3 esters
This cream also contains mango seed butter (moisturizing), panthenol (moisturizing) and retinyl palmitate (anti-aging).

Price & Packaging: A 49 ml jar retails for around $20, which isn't a bad price at all for a night cream. Unfortunately, I've read that jars are not good containers for anti-aging products as all the antioxidants will evaporate away, so I try to keep the lid on as much as possible. True to the ingredients, this cream feels light and creamy. It spreads easily and coats my skin in a protective layer of moisture, yet doesn't feel greasy or tacky. You definitely need very very little product per use, which gives this product great value. I usually just lightly skim a finger across the cream's surface and I get enough product to cover one cheek. Similar to the day cream, I think if you're just looking for a moisturizer that doesn't feel too heavy, then this would be a good option. I would definitely recommend this for teenagers with dry, sensitive skins as it feels very gentle and isn't heavy. If you're like me though and you're wanting a bit more oomph to your nightly skincare, then this cream comes up lacking.

aveeno fresh essentials night cream

Final Verdict: Buy

What are your thoughts on the Fresh Essentials line - does it work for you?

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Monday, May 11, 2015

L'Oreal Paris Hair Expertise Fibralogy Review | A drugstore solution that works

l'oreal paris fibralogy thickening hair care line

A few weeks ago I got the chance to try out the new L'Oreal Paris HairExpertise Fibralogy line thanks to Influenster Canada. Consisting of a shampoo, conditioner and thickening treatment, the Fibralogy line is designed to give limp hair body and thickness in just 5 shampoos! To create this effect, L'Oreal developed Filloxane, a special molecule that penetrates the hair strand and then expands when dry to simulate thicker hair for up to 10 shampoos! Whether you have fine, limp hair like myself, or you just need a temporary boost, this line can work for everyone.

Now onto the individual products!

L'Oreal Paris Fibralogy Shampoo

l'oreal paris fibralogy shampoo

The Product: The L'Oreal Paris Fibralogy Shampoo is the workhorse of this line, promising to gently clean while depositing Filloxane evenly across hair for maximum volume.

The Guts:
  • Aqua (water)
  • Sodium laureth sulfate - a common cleansing agent in shampoos and other beauty products. It's commonly confused with sodium lauryl sulfate, but this is said to be a milder version of that chemical, although they have basically the same purpose.
  • Coco-betaine - a gentle cleansing agent derived from coconut oil and which also provides smoothing effects on hair
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate - as mentioned, this is a common cleansing agent found in shampoos; however it's known to be highly irritating to those with sensitive skin. 
  • Sodium chloride - aka salt! Usually used as a thickener.
Price & Packaging: A 385 ml bottle retails for $5.99 from drugstores ($3.99 from London Drugs right now!). You can't beat this kind of pricing. All L'Oreal hair products I've tried seem to come in huge bottles for low prices, making this super difficult to beat in value. As well, you hardly need to use any at all per use; typically I use a nickel-sized amount to shampoo my just above shoulder-length hair.

Effectiveness: The downside to all this value is unfortunately that I do not like this shampoo at all. Just looking at the ingredients list, it's easy to understand why. The shampoo suds up great, which is to be expected with all the SLS' in this product, but it also leaves my scalp feeling parched. After just a couple of uses, my scalp felt super itchy and irritated. After a few more tries, my scalp settled down, but still felt moderately irritated. As well, I also found that this shampoo is too harsh for color-treated hair as it's so stripping that it noticeably lightened my hair color.

Final Verdict: Ditch

L'Oreal Paris Fibralogy Conditioner 

l'oreal paris fibralogy conditioner

The Product: The L'Oreal Paris Fibralogy Conditioner is a lightweight, creamy conditioner that douses your hair with moisture, while also amplifying its volume.

The Guts:
  • Aqua
  • Cetearyl alcohol - an emulsifier and cleanser
  • Behentrimonium chloride - prevents static in hair, but can be an irritant to eyes
  • Aminopropyl triethoxysilane - this appears to be the "money maker" ingredient that does the actual thickening of your hair. The Beauty Brains have a good analysis on this ingredient as information is scarce elsewhere online.
  • Starch acetate - a conditioning and smoothing ingredient
Price & Packaging: The Fibralogy Conditioner is the same size as the shampoo, clocking in a 385 ml for $5.99 at local drugstores. The only difference between the two containers is that the conditioner has the lid at the bottom, whereas the shampoo has it at the top. To be honest, I hate this style of packaging for L'Oreal conditioners. As with the straightening conditioner that they sent me, this one also has the same issue where water leaks into this weird space between the interior and exterior. It's fine if you just keep this bottle in the shower, but if you take it anywhere, it will leak everywhere.

Effectiveness: As a conditioner, this one worked fairly well, but was nothing to write home about. My hair felt soft, if a teeny bit drier than normal. What this conditioner lacks in well, conditioning power though, it makes up for in voluminizing. After just a couple of weeks, I did notice a difference in my hair in that it was significantly bouncier and fuller! Usually when I first wash and blowdry my hair, it looks bouncy, but when using the Fibralogy line, this effect lasted for over a day, which for me, is amazing results!

Final Verdict: Buy

L'Oreal Paris Fibralogy Thickening Booster

l'oreal paris fibralogy thickening booster

The Product: The Fibralogy Thickening Booster is a voluminizing treatment that you apply between your shampoo and your conditioner. With the highest concentration of Filloxane of any of the Fibralogy products, this product is meant to be used 1-2 times a week for an extra power boost of volume.  

The Guts
  • Aqua
  • Aminopropyl triethoxysilane
  • PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil - an emollient
  • Lactic acid - various purposes but likely used here as a humectant
  • Parfum/fragrance
Price & Packaging: A 30 ml tube costs $5.99 at local drugstores. This sleek tube has a thin, pin-point dispenser for precise application, although it seems overkill to me as the instructions state to apply this to palms and then spread evenly through hair. Because of the pointed tip, you have to lay this flat on your shower counter, which takes up more space. I would have preferred it to have a flat top so you can stand it vertically.

Effectiveness: With Filloxane as its second ingredient, this treatment booster definitely infuses your hair with volume. It comes out as a clear, watery liquid that you apply to damp hair and it has no discernible scent, although that could just be because the shampoo and conditioner are so heavily scented that it drowns this one out. Since I'm always using this one with the Fibralogy conditioner, it's hard to separate out the benefits of this one product, but I think it's safe to say that more is more with this special L'Oreal ingredient so I'm sure it's been playing apart in my new-found volume. 

Final Verdict: Buy 

Overall, the L'Oreal Paris Fibralogy line is an affordable, easy to incorporate set of products that provides amplified volume to hair. I'll for sure keep the conditioner and the booster in my shower routine, but I will no longer be using the shampoo as it irritated my scalp a lot and was too stripping.  


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