Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween look: Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie

It's exactly 10 days to Halloween! Do you have your costume yet? If you're like me, probably not. I'm a huge procrastinator and the pressure of being creative usually overwhelms me into inaction. This year though I'm actually semi-prepared thanks to the CBB guest post topic for October: Halloween looks. This was the perfect opportunity to force myself to figure out a costume and a fun makeup look.

I've done a zombie makeup look before, but I didn't like the fact that I had to buy fake blood and special makeup to create it as I didn't have a lot of white and black makeup at the time. For this year, I knew I wanted to create a look that I could do with the makeup I had on hand. After a lot of searching around, I found my inspiration: Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie:

And here is the finished look I came up with:

Just J Halloween look: Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie

Just J Halloween look: Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie

Just J Halloween look: Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie

To see how I created this look and the products I used, head on over to Exquisitely Chic for the tutorial!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Obiqo Skincare: Radiant Day Cream and Smoothing Eye Cream review and giveaway

Just J: Obiqo Skincare: Radiant Day Cream and Smoothing Eye Cream review and giveaway

New Zealand has always been on my travel bucket list because of its beautiful landscapes, exotic wildlife and abundance of adventurous activities! Plus I'm a big LOTR fan so of course I'd want to visit Middle Earth! Unfortunately, a ticket to NZ is not in the cards for awhile yet as I'm currently house and wedding poor, but I can get a piece of that New Zealand freshness care of Obiqo Skincare.

Obiqo Skincare is a line of face and body products focused around the restorative and purifying aspects of the New Zealand ocean. Combining the powers of sea kelp, European marine extracts, and the anti-aging French sea lavender, each Obiqo product will restore, repair and rejuvenate your skin.

Another thing that makes Obiqo unique is its commitment to naturally sourced ingredients. The sea kelp Obiqo uses is Ecklonia Radiate and is harvested only from kelp that washes ashore and their organic sea lavender is certified 100% natural by ECOCERT.

The Products
Obiqo was kind enough to send me two products to review: the Radiant Day Cream and the Smoothing Eye Cream.

The Radiant Day Cream is a light, yet deeply hydrating moisturizer that has been enriched with sea kelp, sea lavender and various New Zealand plant extracts to help prep your skin for the day.

The Smoothing Eye Cream is a silky soft cream that provides a hit of hydration and anti-aging extracts to reduce fine lines and brighten tired eyes.

The Guts
The Radiant Day Cream's top ingredients include:

  • Capric triglyceride - an emollient derived from coconut oil and glycerin that helps repair skin and prevent moisture loss
  • Sweet almond oil - an emollient that also helps naturally prevent acne by cleansing pores
  • Glycerin - a moisturizer
  • Glycerol stearate - a naturally derived ingredient that provides a slippery feel to the product
Besides the above, this cream also contains algae extract (emollient), hydrolized collagen, hydrolized elastin (both anti-aging), sea lavender (anti-aging), kiwi fruit extract (antioxidant), and Pohutukawa extract (toning and moisturizing). I love it when products actually follow through on their claims - this cream is packed with natural antioxidants!

The Smoothing Eye Cream's top ingredients include:
  • Capric triglyceride
  • Glycerin
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Glycerol stearate
Surprisingly the eye cream contains the exact same main ingredients as the moisturizer! It also contains algae extract (emollient), hydrolized collagen, hydrolized elastin (both anti-aging), sea lavender (anti-aging), cucumber, kiwi fruit extract (antioxidant), evening primrose oil (emollient) and macadamia nut oil (moisturizing, anti-aging). 

Overall there is not much difference in the ingredients between these two products except some variance in natural extracts. 

Price & Packaging
The Radiant Day Cream retails for $29.99 on Amazon for a 50 mL bottle. For all its luxurious ingredients and branding, the packaging is pretty cheap on this one. It's a simple pump bottle, but for some reason, is really slippery to hold. I dropped this a couple times just onto my bathroom counter and the lid cracked easily. As well, the pump is a bit hard to control so that you either get a big gloop of product or hardly any at all.

The Smoothing Eye Cream retails for $29.99 on Amazon as well for 30 mL. This is quite honestly the largest eye cream jar I've ever had! Maybe the round shape is kinda deceiving as most eye creams come in a tube format, but I'll admit that I'm fooled. The packaging for the Smoothing Eye Cream totally makes me feel like I'm really getting value for my money! One thing to note though -  if you're not a fan of jar creams you'll be disappointed as this one doesn't come with a plastic applicator.

As per usual, I tried out these products dutifully for 4 weeks. Both feel light, absorb quickly and leave my skin feeling plump and hydrated.

The Radiant Day Cream is a perfect daytime moisturizer. It absorbs quickly and a little goes a long way. One little pump is enough to cover my entire face and it spreads readily. If you have oily skin, you may find this a little too rich for you, but for my normal-dry skin, it was perfect. I actually think this would make a good night cream as well with all its anti-aging properties; just apply it a little heavier and you're good to go!

The Smoothing Eye Cream is a little trickier to apply. As it's rather slick, it spreads a lot and takes awhile to absorb. The jar format also makes it really easy to over-apply, no matter how lightly I dabbed my finger. My eye area did feel really soft and moist after using this cream. I'd definitely keep using it as a night eye cream, but as for daytime use, I'm not so sure. It didn't keep my lines away, although I found that on my makeup free days, it fared better. 

Oddly enough, I actually feel like this cream is more like an overall moisturizer than an exclusive to the eye product. I've even tried smoothing it over my forehead to target my dry lines there and it works pretty well that way too! This cream would be great if you're a really low maintenance person or travelling as an all-in-one night treatment.

Final Verdict
Buy - both products are affordable, contain awesome ingredients and could work for a variety of uses and not just what is says on the label.

Now for the fun part! I am giving away both of these products to one lucky reader to try! Just fill out the entries below. Sorry, this contest is open to Canadian residents only. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, October 17, 2014

A Book Devoured: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride is a story of a young girl named Li Lan who finds herself haunted by the ghost of a spoiled merchant's son in her hometown of Malacca, Malaysia. Even worse, her father, a heavily in debt opium addict, is considering a marriage proposal from the ghost's parents who wish for her to become their son's "ghost bride". Li Lan of course finds the idea repugnant, but as the dreams become more intense, and the pressure on her father grows, Li Lan despairs of ever escaping her ghostly suitor. In desperation, Li Lan decides to take matters into her own hands and what unfolds next is a series of events that takes her down a path of family scandals, affairs, murder and into the afterlife itself.

I was pretty surprised to see the twists and turns of this story as it morphs from something I thought would be more reminiscent of an Amy Tan novel into a full-on ghost story with Li Lan stumbling onto a plot of corruption among the Judges of Hell. If you grew up in a more traditional Chinese household, then the creatures, rituals and characters in this book will feel pretty familiar. The book also borrows heavily from ideas of reincarnation and of cause and effect. Actions from generations past are relived repeatedly in the spirit world. Old hurts, untamed ambitions and simmering resentments tangle together in an underworld that is as eerily convoluted and bureaucratic as the real world. Li Lan starts out as a dreamy young girl, but learns quickly to rely upon her wits and determination as she struggles to reclaim her life from ghosts and to escape the spirit world.

I found this book to be very entertaining and imaginative, although when I tried to explain the plot to Mr. Artist later, he proclaimed it to be "ridiculous." Part romance, historical drama and fantasy, I think there's enough of all three to keep anyone guessing. The ending in particular took me for a bit of a surprise... but that's all I'm going to say about that! One thing's for sure, I will definitely keep an eye out for the next Yangsze Choo novel!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver

Guerlain. Even the name sounds glamourous. I was so very excited to attend the first Guerlain beauty event in Vancouver recently alongside a few of my blogger friends at this very small, intimate event. Taking place at Holt Renfrew, I immediately felt under-dressed as I had come straight from work and I'm pretty sure even the Guerlain products were chicer looking than me at that moment!

Our hosts for the evening included representatives from Guerlain flown all the way in from Paris to introduce us to the brand's illustrious history. There was also a very special guest for the night as well - Dr. Frederic BonteDirector of LVMH research for Guerlain Paris.

For those unfamiliar with Guerlain, here is a quick primer. Founded in France in 1828, Guerlain is known for their luxurious packaging and unique ingredients sourced from nature. As one of the oldest perfumerie houses Guerlain is known for their iconic fragrances and for innovation in the industry, such as:
  • producing the first modern moisturizing cream
  • being one of the first to market and sell lipstick
  • pioneering the first whitening products with the original Blanc de Perle line
  • opening the world's first spa in 1939

Just J: Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver
I wonder how these compare to Joe Malone or Diptyque?

The focus of the evening was not however just on the past, but on Guerlain's very modern research into hyperpigmentation and the causes for dark spots due to aging and sun damage. Turns out, that dark spots are a byproduct of our skin's natural sun protection process gone awry. Normally, melanin in our skin diffuses throughout the epidermis evenly, but sometimes, and more frequently as we age, the melanin gets stuck together and coalesces into a spot. Products like the Blanc de Perle line help prevent that process from occurring and lessen the effects of existing dark spots within 1 month of use. 

Debuting soon in Canada, the Blanc de Perle line includes an essence, serum, mask, night and day targeted spot treatments and a variety of sun-protecting bases with up to SPF 40. I got a chance to play around with some of the products at hand and I have to say they feel amazing! I put a single drop of the Advanced White P.E.A.R.L Drop Essence on my hand (likely worth $20 right there) and my skin felt so smooth, hydrated and I swear more luminous already! Sadly, I didn't get any samples of this or the other Blanc de Perle products in my swag bag, so I won't be able to speak to its magical properties, but I'm definitely considering purchasing one in future!

If you are interesting in trying out any of Guerlain's amazing products, just visit your local Holt Renfrew or other high-end department store.

Just J: Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver

Just J: Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver

Just J: Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver

Just J: Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver

Just J: Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver
Me and Dr. Bonte.
Photo: Gerry

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

FOTD: Candlelit dinner eyes with the Urban Decay Naked 1 Basics

You, that special someone, a bottle of wine and some oh-so-flattering candlelight. What is it about flames that just make everyone look so soft, luminous and instantly better looking? It's better than an Ambient powder except that one is obviously more portable. After much internal hand-wringing, I took the plunge and satisfied my matte shadow palette lust with the classic Naked 1 Basics. A smaller, capsule collection of the original Naked 1, I thought this was a nice complement to my growing neutral palette arsenal.

While candlelit dinner eyes implies Date Night, this look could really be worn on any night. Even one without candlelight, but I think it sounds better to relegate this to candlelight only don't you think? Certainly gratifying was the reaction to this look by my dinner companions was "there's something different about you - did you get new contacts?" NO IT'S JUST MY EXPERT SHADOW SKILLZ.

Just J - FOTD: Candlelit dinner eyes with the Urban Decay Naked 1 Basics

To create this look, I used entirely Naked 1 Basics colors for my eyes, but the shades here are such classics that you could easily find comparable colours in other brands. I'm partial to the Naked series because of their excellent pigmentation, blendability and wear. Just be warned that there is fall out, so always tap your brushes before application. Now onwards to the look!

Just J - FOTD: Candlelit dinner eyes with the Urban Decay Naked 1 Basics

To create just follow these steps:
  1. Prime your eyes with your favourite eye primer
  2. Apply Venus across lids, concentrating on highlighting your browbone and the inner corner of the eyes. This brightens your look and widens close-set eyes.
  3. Apply Foxy with a wide brush over lid to just under the browbone.
  4. With a smaller wide brush, take a good amount of Faint and apply to your crease. Your crease is the area that folds in when you open your eyes, so you want to take the color along that line, as if you're drawing a thick line across it. Then apply some more color just on the other corners as above. This will look really obvious as you haven't blended yet. For Asians with monolids, don't follow these instructions but do more of a gradient from the outer third of the lid to the middle; I've kinda done that here as I have hooded Asian lids.
  5. Now it's time to blend! Take Naked 2 and starting from the middle of your lids, use the color to smudge everything together so that there are no harsh lines.Continue using Naked 2 and alternate with bits of Foxy until the colors are blended.
  6. With a tapered brush or eyeliner brush, apply Naked 2 along the lower lashline and then Faint along the outer third of lower lash line
  7. With the same brush take Crave or a black eyeliner pencil and use it to line the outer third of your top and bottom lashlines.
  8. Apply 2 coats of your favourite mascara.
  9. Fill in your brows a bit heavier than normal so that they balance out your strong eyes.
  10. Take a rosy blush (I'm using Makeup Forever HD cream blush in 310) to add color to your cheeks. Without any blush, you could look washed out.
  11. Apply a pinky gloss, or if you want to be bold, a raspberry lip stain (I'd recommend Annabelle TwistUp lipstick pencil in Royale!)

And here's the final look:

Just J - FOTD: Candlelit dinner eyes with the Urban Decay Naked 1 Basics

Just J - FOTD: Candlelit dinner eyes with the Urban Decay Naked 1 Basics

I hope you enjoyed this FOTD breakdown! I've been having some fun thinking of these types of looks, so if you have any requests, just let me know!

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Friday, October 10, 2014

How to make homemade xiao long bao

Haha fooled you - did you really I would know how to make this? Well, if I were to try, then this recipe seems like a great tutorial to learn from. Now I know the secret of how they get the soup into the dumplings!! Seriously though, these are one of my favourite types of Chinese dumplings: delicious, juicy and super flavourful. I could eat a whole tray of these myself if that was socially acceptable.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

September beauty favourites

Just J: September beauty favourites

Can you believe it's October already?! September was the month that felt like it never was as it went by so quickly. My new job has been keeping me pretty busy as has wedding research. I've been venue hunting and putting together ideas for the look and feel for my wedding and I think I have a fairly solid vision now of what I want everything to look like! It's now basically a year from when we plan to get married and I feel like I've been planning this event for awhile already yet the only thing we've actually booked is our photographer! Mr. Artist and I are still hunting for that perfect venue. Getting close, but I don't want to give anything away until it's real!

At least I can freely share my beauty opinions with you all. Here are some of my favourites for this past month:

1. Cargo Cosmetics Essential Palette in Dark Neutral - this is an oldie but goodie in my shadow collection. I've been really into matte shadows lately and a cool, smokey brown eye paired with a bright lip is everything I'm about at the moment. These shadows blend beautifully, last all day and can do everything from a barely there, to full on drama. Worth every penny.

2. L'Occitane Control Styling Prep Cream - this leave-in conditioning cream smells amazing and leaves my hair feeling silky soft. This cream contains an intoxicating mix of jojoba oil, almond oil, lavender and rosemary. View full review.

3. The Body Shop Morroccan Wild Argan Oil body lotion and solid oil lip treatment - alongside my hair, my skin and lips have been feeling super soft as well thanks to these products c/o The Body Shop. These were my first argan oil products and I'm pretty pleased by the results! View full review.

4. EcoTools Large powder brush - this was an impulse buy after much research into affordable powder brushes to replace my old Sephora one. I'd been all geared up to purchase the Real Techniques powder brush, but on a whim I decided to purchase this one. As Ecotools believes in cruelty-free products, all their brushes are made of synthetic hairs and recycled materials. The bristles on this brush are silky smooth and soft so even though they're synthetic, I don't feel as if I'm missing out on a thing. This brush just glides over my skin and delivers a light, natural finish. Plus, it's under $10!

5. The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture cream - lately my skin has been acting up by turning all greasy during the day while also being dehydrated. The result? Breakouts! I think this could be due to my use of products that clogged my pores. Since I've been using this travel sized bottle of the TBS Vitamin E cream as my night cream, my skin has miraculously balanced back out. This cream hydrates my skin, doesn't feel sticky, and most importantly, lets my skin breathe. I'm definitely going out and buying a bigger jar!

What were your beauty favourites last month?

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