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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Veracious Product Review: Illamasqua Fundamental Palette

Hi, everyone! We all know I like a challenge when it comes to bold colour. There are few things more satisfying than taking an intimidating, vibrant shade and making it totally wearable. Or, in the case of today's product, combining seemingly incompatible shades in a harmonized way. Such is the challenge with the Illamasqua Fundamental Palette. At first sight, it's a bit of a head-scratcher. Contrasting shades, multiple textures, vivid hues. It literally made my boyfriend raise an eyebrow- "so you looked at those colours and though, yeah these would go well together?" I raised an eyebrow right back. Challenge accepted. Little risk, little reward! 


The Fundamental Palette comes in a shiny black box with minimal gold lettering and the Illamasqua logo:


The palette itself is also black and shiny (extra shiny here, as it was a very bright morning) made of lightweight yet seemingly durable plastic. It comes in Illamasqua's signature curved square shape, which isn't exactly practical, but looks quite nice! The nerd in me actually spent a few minutes trying to find out what the name of such a shape is... a concave polygon? a superellipse? Anyone know? Ok, I digress...



The back of the palette features a listing of the products as well as a description of what's inside. It touts "a startling blend of colours and textures... a playground for self-expression". That all sounds about right! 

Fundamental includes four eye colours in square-shaped pans. They are:

Powder Shadow in Hype- a slightly green-tinged matte yellow
Liquid Metal in Surge- a slick creamy, slightly warm metallic silver
Cream Pigment in Bedaub- a thick creamy pastel minty seafoam
Powder Shadow in Inception- a satiny jewel-toned purple


There really isn't a dud among them! Here are swatches of the shades on the inside of my arm (NC15 skin tone). Hype is incredibly pigmented and applies quite smoothly. Surge has quite a wet texture and is full-on at first swipe. Bedaub has a drier texture and builds to full opacity quite easily. Inception is the sheerest of the bunch, but layers quite nicely and has a pretty, subtle sheen: 

Fundamental Palette (L-R): Hype, Surge, Bedaub, Inception


Here's a full breakdown of my thoughts on this colourful, quirky palette:

Pros:

  • Extremely pigmented shades- a little goes a long way! Inception is slightly sheerer, but builds up nicely
  • Incredibly unique combination of shades and textures
  • Perfect for those who love creative makeup looks and relish playing with colour!
  • The powder shadow shades have excellent staying power
  • Bedaub works wonderfully as an eye shadow base!

Cons:
  • Not for the faint of heart. These shades are bold!
  • Bedaub tends to crease fairly quickly. Best used as a shadow base, rather than on its own
  • Due to the wetter texture, Surge tends to fade and slip off the skin. You might have to re-apply.
  • At $45 CAD, this is a pricier palette! Though all Illamasqua is now 25% off at The Bay!

Overall, I'm so happy I picked up this eclectic little treasure. Some of the textures might be a bit tricky, but I find it's totally worth a bit of extra effort. It truly is unlike anything I own, which is saying a lot given the size of my stash! While I likely won't reach for it on a regular basis, I know it'll be my go-to when I'm wanting a proper play with colour.

Keep your eyes peeled for a Look of the Day using this palette on Saturday!

Thanks for dropping by! :)

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The Oskia Facial (featuring the Secret Weekend Discovery Kit)

Hi, everyone! Last week I brought to you my recent Cult Beauty Haul that featured more than a few splurge-worthy complexion treats. Perhaps the most pampering among them was the Oskia Secret Weekend Discovery Collection, which includes three generously-sized miniatures from the line. Taken together, they create an evening skin care routine that is nothing short of luxurious!

If you haven't heard of Oskia, you're not alone. This Brit-bred brand hasn't gotten much press across the pond and if it weren't for the likes of Anna from Vivianna Does Makeup, I might have remained oblivious as well. Oskia is a brand that focuses on natural, nutritious, effective skin care. They endorse beauty from the inside out (via their promotion of a healthy diet and their popular MSM-based vitamins) as well as touting that organic, plant-based ingredients can be just as effective as the numerous synthetic offerings out there. Oskia takes a strong stance against animal testing (yay!) and aims to promote the prevention of skin care woes, rather than simply treating damage after the fact. All good things!



Now onto the product at hand. The Secret Weekend Discovery Collection includes three of their best-selling products, ideal for travel or, as in my case,  sampling the brand before committing to a full-sized product. The kit is housed in a sleek rectangular box that slides away to reveal three circular glass jars with decorated lids. How beautiful! 




The back of the box not only includes handy product descriptions and application advice for each goody inside, it also features full ingredient listings. Transparency regarding product content is very important to me, so I really appreciate this inclusion! 





As mentioned earlier, I like to use all three of these products in tandem for an ultimately pampering facial. The first step in the ritual is the Perfect Cleanser Nutri-Active Cleansing & Nourishing Balm. It's designed to remove all traces of makeup while purifying and deeply hydrating the skin. I must say, this stuff is thick. Most definitely the richest cleansing balm I've tried, like a richer version of Lush Ultrabland. You only need the tiniest amount- I warm up a dime-sized dollop between my hands and massage well all over my face. It does feel quite luxurious! I remove the balm with warm water-soaked cotton pads and a washcloth would do just fine as well. It really does remove all traces of makeup! As this does not emulsify completely with warm water, however, it will leave a bit of a residue on the skin. For those with dry complexions, it might be a welcome feeling! For oily skinned gals like me, a second cleanse is necessary. I followed it up with my Kiehl's Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash


After my double cleanse, it's time for Oskia's ultra lovely Renaissance Nutri-Active Brightening and Resurfacing Mask. This is somewhat of a cult product, and with good reason! It looks and smells of fruity jam and is designed to gently exfoliate, brighten, and rejuvenate the skin thanks to lactic acids and natural papaya, lemon, and pineapple fruit extracts. In the jar it appears as a peachy gel-cream, yet as it's massaged into the skin, it transforms into a milky white paste. Oskia claims that this metamorphosis signifies that the key ingredients in the mask are now activated and working their magic! Their is a slight tingle to confirm that things are happening, but far from a level of discomfort. The mask removes easily with warm water only, though you can certainly use a cotton pad or cloth to be extra thorough. My skin is left very bright and even-looking, with no signs of irritation. 



The final step in the facial routine is the Bedtime Beauty Boost Nutri-Active Nourishing and Regenerating Night Cream. This ultra rich cream hydrates and treats the skin with the likes of MSM, jojoba oil, shea butter, rose hip oil, and niacinamide. As you can see from the photo below, it's much like custard in terms of colour and texture. I usually don't opt for such an intense night cream, but this is a lovely exception. While it is intensely nourishing, this does sink into skin effortlessly and does not leave a heavy feel behind. It really leaves my skin looking glowy, not greasy! And the tiniest amount does the trick. 


Here's a shot of me post-Oskia facial (makeup-less, eek!). While my complexion isn't perfection, you can see that these products have given my face a healthy glow without any excessive redness or shine. Simply a happy face! 


Overall, my first experience with Oskia has been quite lovely! The textures of the products are rich and luxurious, but are not too heavy for my oily skin. They are a pleasure to use and the results are visible without any harshness. Moving forward, I think I will reserve the Perfect Cleanser for travel, as it is much more compact and mess-free than my Shu Cleansing Oil. I can see it being a perfect holiday treat over my Thanksgiving or Christmas travels. The Renaissance Mask is something I plan to use once weekly till it's used up. There are a good 5-6 more uses in the pot left to go, and while it's tempting to use it more sparingly, I do want to integrate it regularly enough to determine just how suited it is for my skin. A full-size might be in the cards! As for the Bedtime Beauty Boost, I think I'm going to stash this one away until wintertime. It is so beautifully rich and concentrated, that I can see it keeping my skin nourished and calm throughout the entire frigid season!

I definitely have other Oskia products on my radar (the Renaissance Cleansing Gel and the Micro Exfoliating Balm in particular), but for now I will savour this handy little luxurious kit!

Have you tried anything from Oskia? What are your favourite skin care splurges?

Thanks for dropping by! xo

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Look of the Day: Summer Budget

Hi, everyone! Given the fab response I received on my Spring Budget Look of the Day, I figured I'd update things with a new summer installment! For today's look, I gathered all of my favourite warm weather appropriate drugstore beauty bits that have been ruling my makeup arsenal of late. We all love a splurge, but sometimes it's ultra refreshing to see a cohort of uber-affordable products do their thing, and with great impact! To create this look, I opted for lightly bronzed skin, warm shimmery eyes with a pop of turquoise, and cool cherry cheeks and lips. 


Here's a peek at all of the budget-friendly goodies that went into this look:



For the complexion, I started with my favourite lighter-weight drugstore base, Garnier's Miracle Skin BB Cream in the Combination/Oily formula. Great for withstanding the summer heat! To add a subtle matte touch, I set the BB Cream with Revlon Nearly Naked Pressed Powder. I find the Light shade to be noticeably dark on me in wintertime, but it works quite nicely for summer! To add some warmth to the skin, I applied Essence Beach Cruisers Bronzing Powder in Life's A Beach (picked up in a recent Shoppers Haul) on the hollows of my cheeks, my temples, and lightly across the bridge of my nose and my forehead. The packaging is adorable and I'm pretty sure it smells like coconut (don't think I was hallucinating). And it was $3! For a pop of colour on the cheeks, I grabbed the new and eye-catching MUA Blush Perfection Cream Blusher in Lush, which I received in a recent UK Drugstore Swap. It's a gorgeous candy pink that looks lovely with a bit of a tan! 



Instead of a typical eye shadow primer, I opted for a warm, ultra-shimmery cream shadow to create a dazzling foundation for the eye look. I used Hard Candy All Lid Up in Fancy Pants, applying it all over my lid, blending up to the brow bone and popping a bit on the inner corners of my eyes. I then brought out my all-time favourite drugstore eye shadow palette, Wet N' Wild's Style Icon Eye Shadow Collection in Comfort Zone. The shadows are ultra smooth and pigmented and can create an endless combo of warm, shimmery looks. I used all four shades from the left side of the palette, applying the ivory shade as a highlight, the rosy beige shade all over the lid, the chocolate brown across the crease and outer corner, and the deepest shade for some extra definition. I finished off the eyes with two bold waterproof liners, Prestige Total Intensity Liner in Black on the upper lash line (this stuff is seriously pigmented and does not budge!) and the ArtDeco Waterproof Long-Wearing Eye Shadow Stick in Tropical Monsoon (a lovely seafoam shade from the ArtDeco Miami Collection) along the lower lash line. 

The lips were a no-brainer. I went with my newest lip obsession, a beautiful belated birthday gift from my sister, Revlon's ColourStay Moisture Stain in Barcelona Nights. It's a lush, glossy cool-tone fuchsia that leaves the lips ultra shiny and hydrated. A perfect summer lip product! 


The Breakdown:

Foundation: Garnier Miracle Skin BB Cream Combination/Oily Formula in Light
Concealer: Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place High Cover Concealer in W1
Powder: Revlon Nearly Naked Pressed Powder in Light

Bronzer: Essence Beach Cruisers Bronzing Powder in Life is a Beach
Blush: MUA Blush Perfection Cream Blusher in Lush 


Brows: Maybelline Define-A-Brow in Dark Blonde
Eye Shadows: Hard Candy All Lid Up Cream Shadow in Fancy Pants (used all over lid up to brow, as a shimmery primer), (from the Wet N' Wild Colour Icon Eye Shadow Collection in Comfort Zone): rosy bronze shade (all over the lid), dark brown shade (blended over the crease and outer corner), deep chocolate/burgundy shade (applied precisely to the crease for extra definition), ArtDeco Waterproof Long-Lasting Eye Shadow Stick in Tropical Monsoon (applied under lower lash line)

Eyeliner: Prestige Total Intensity Liner in Black
Mascara: Revlon Lash Potion Waterproof Mascara in Black

Lips: Revlon ColourStay Moisture Stain in Barcelona Nights



And a few more shots of the look: 





Despite my penchant for luxurious makeup bits, there really are a ton of drugstore goodies in my everyday routine and it was fun featuring them here today! Comfort Zone is one of my all-time favourite palettes and the Revlon Moisture Stain in Barcelona Nights has already become a summer staple. Goes to show that budget buys can often make you feel just as fresh and pretty as their high-end counterparts! 

What drugstore items go into your current summer makeup routine?

Thanks for stopping by! xo

Friday, 15 August 2014

Veracious Product Review: Stila Convertible Colour in Camellia

Hi, everyone! Summer is absolutely flying by and before the next season is upon us, I thought that I should feature some of my latest warm-weather acquisitions. A few weeks ago, Shoppers Drug Mart had a fabulous promotion underway, which led me to an unexpected, yet fortuitous purchase, Stila Convertible Colour in Camellia. When it comes to blush, ya'll know I'm all about bold colour. Corals, oranges, even reds- bring them on! I find that neutral blushes tend to wash me out, but there was something about Camellia that spoke to me. It seemed to be the perfect beach babe sort of blush, and who doesn't want to channel a bit of that?!



As with all Convertible Colours, Camellia came housed in a round plastic, flower-laden compact, coloured to match the shade inside. It's initially nestled in a cardboard box with the full ingredient listing on the back: 



Convertible Colours are designed for both the lips and cheeks, though the texture has always been more conducive to cheek wear, in my opinion. The formula aims to be ultra creamy but completely non-greasy and offers sheer, but buildable colour coverage. 



I'd describe Camellia as caramel-bronze shade with warm peachy undertones. Not quite as brown as a typical bronzer, but definitely more muted than most peachy blushes I've tried. I find that it really gives a warm summery glow to my fair skin!

Here are shots of Camellia both in the pan (above) and swatched on my inner arm (below, on the left):



And here's what Camellia looks like on my face, first applied freshly over foundation...


...then in the context of a completed makeup look. I apologize for the somewhat shoddy shots here- my camera battery was dying and I was running late for work (hence the sleepy gaze), but hopefully you get a sense of how Camellia shows up on my skin tone! And wow, I should have also applied it on my lips- you can blame that omission on my 8am brain as well! ;)



Here's a full lowdown of my thoughts about this new summery blush:

Pros:

  • blends easily into the skin without disrupting foundation underneath
  • creamy and easy to work with, without a heavy feel
  • quite impressive wear time for a cream blush- was still pretty much intact after my 8 hour work day!
  • applies sheerly at first but can be built up fairly effortlessly 
  • Camellia warms the cheeks nicely without any muddiness on my fair skin 
  • acts as a blush and bronzer in one for those with lighter skin tones!

Cons:
  • This might feel a bit too dewy for those who experience oiliness in the cheek area
  • As this colour leans quite warm, it may look a bit muddy on cooler complexions
  • At $33 CAD, this is a bit of a splurge! 

Overall, I'm so happy that I picked up this shade! While I already knew I was a fan of Stila Convertible Colours (Gerbera is a holy grail of mine) Camellia is a shade that I would have normally passed over. But something about the summer sun drew me to its warm caramel goodness and my cheeks are thanking me! 

Is Camellia a shade that you would wear? What are your favourite cream blush formulas?

Thanks for stopping by! xo

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

My Skin Care Consultation with Kiehl's!

Hi, everyone! If you haven't noticed, I've been on quite the skin care kick over the past several weeks. Whilst (semi-successfully) paring down my makeup purchases, I've been aiming more at investing in products that will keep my skin healthy, address first signs of aging, and help my complexion adapt to this ever-changing Toronto weather. My recent love affair with Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Eye really re-sparked my interest in the brand, one that I have been using on and off for a decade, but had much ignored lately. This past weekend, the Kiehl's counter at The Bay was having a skin care consultation event, in which you could sit down for a 5-minute consultation and walk home with 5 free samples. The Bay also had a "Spend $75, save $10" special at the time, so perhaps an ideal time to fully reacquaint myself with what Kiehl's has to offer my skin and maybe (definitely) bring a couple goodies home with me. 


For the consultation, I sat down with the uber friendly and knowledgeable Hektor, who had been working with the brand for several years. He asked me to describe my skin, then proceeded to procure two dime-sized stickers that acted as "oil gauges" on my skin. He adhered one to my forehead (assessing my t-zone) and one to my cheek, and let them sit for about 30 seconds. After removing them, the saturation of the sticker (portions darkened by oil; gross, but cool!) determined just how oily my skin was. 

This was about 3 hours post-morning face wash, and the stickers deemed my t-zone to be Normal to Oily and my cheeks to be Normal to Dry. It all sounded about right, though I know my cheeks definitely lead towards the more normal/oily side by later in the day. He also prompted me to identify my main skin care concerns, which  are to Diminish Acne and Minimize Dark Spots and Uneven Skin Tone. After discussing other factors like age and skin sensitivity, he generated the following recommendations: 

Cleanser- Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash
Toner- Calendula Herbal Extract Toner
Moisturizer (Day)- Ultra Facial Oil Free Lotion
Moisturizer (Night)- Midnight Recovery Concentrate
Targeted Treatments- Blue Herbal Spot Treatment and Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution
Eye Cream (Day)- Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Eye Cream
Eye Cream (Night)- continue with my Midnight Recovery Eye

I have to say that his recommendations seemed quite accurate and were very helpful! He didn't push any products that would be harsh for my sensitive skin, nor did he stress an unnecessarily aggressive anti-aging routine. Everything really did feel like a proper match! He wrote all of his recommendations down on this handy form and promised to call in two weeks' time to check in on my experience with the products. 

At the end of the day, I took home the Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash and the Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Eye Cream. I selected the face wash because I'd sampled it recently and totally fell in love. I'd been on the market for a new morning cleanser and the Calendula Face Wash creates a rich lather without leaving my skin feeling tight or squeaky clean. A foaming face wash miracle! I opted for the eye cream because I'd been forever on the hunt for an eye cream that I can wear underneath makeup without causing my mascara to smudge and travel. He convinced me that this was rich, yet very lightweight and perfect for use under makeup. I was sold! Hektor also gave me samples of the Calendula Herbal Extract Toner (which I used to use, but hadn't repurchased because of the price), the Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner (another gentle option on my radar), the Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution (to tackle my post-acne marks), the Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream (for lightweight daytime oil control and hydration), and a little vial of the Midnight Recovery Concentrate (always a treat!). The sampling is already underway, so look out for reviews shortly!

I had a really great experience with this consultation, as it produced some fitting recommendations and really reignited my interest in the brand. Three cheers for Kiehl's!

Do you have any favourites from Kiehl's? What have been your recent skin care purchases?

Cheers! xo

Monday, 11 August 2014

Cult Beauty Skin Care Haul!

Hi, everyone! We all know that I'm a huge sucker for skin care and there's no denying that one of my favourite online sources for luxurious, hard to find complexion pick-me-ups is Cult Beauty. They have an amazing selection of cult favourite brands that aren't available here in Canada, so when they had a site-wide sale last month, I snapped up a few goodies. 



Oskia is a brand I've heard raved about by several UK-based bloggers, most notably Anna from Vivianna Does Makeup. The range features beautiful naturally-based, but highly effective pampering treats, and I thought my best foray into the brand would be via their adorable little travel kit, the Oskia Secret Weekend Discovery Collection. It contains their Perfect Cleanser (a rich, soothing, moisturizing cleansing balm), Bedtime Beauty Boost (a lightweight reviving night cream) and the Renaissance Mask, designed to gently slough off dead skin while brightening and refining. I've sampled each and I have to say the textures of all three are beyond lovely! 

My second selection is a mask I've been lusting after for ages, mostly due to numerous raves from Ruth at A Model Recommends. She has touted the Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask as the most effective clarifying mask in her arsenal, so who am I to argue? This posh clay-based mask is rich with minerals and vitamins thanks to locally-sourced Hungarian muds and waters and aims to mattify, even skin tone, and brighten. It has a rich grey creamy texture that feels warm on the skin initially, then cools ever so nicely. It really did a great job at thoroughly cleansing my skin without any irritation!

The final full-sized item I chose was the Alpha-H Instant Facial. Alpha-H aims to effectively, yet gently exfoliate problem skin, which is a mantra my sensitive, acne-prone complexion can get behind. The Instant Facial is a liquid treatment that can be used much like a toner in the evening. It features glycolic acid to exfoliate, treat blemishes, and even skin tone, as well as a concoction of natural ingredients like cypress, barley, and thyme to soothe and hydrate. This is probably the most convenient exfoliant I've ever used! 

To round up my purchase, I snagged a couple fancy ass samples. I opted for the Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser, touted to detoxify and exfoliate combination to oily skin, and Omorovicza Gold Hydralifting Mask, designed to add instant radiance to morning skin. Can't wait to give them a go!



I have yet to be disappointed by anything I've picked up from Cult Beauty. The brands are top-notch and truly satisfy any skin care fiend's desires. I'm super pleased with everything in this haul and I'm sure my skin will be as well!

Have you ever ordered from Cult Beauty? Sampled any goodies from Oskia, Omorovicza, Alpha-H, or Sunday Riley? What are your favourite online skin care resources?

Thanks for stopping by and have a fabulous week! xo

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Quickie Review: Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Eye

Hi, everyone! Happy weekend! So, I'm not one to typically construct posts in the "one large artsy photo followed by lots of text" sort of format, as I'm usually all about tons of demonstrative shots and really breaking things down. But some products aren't so amenable to an onslaught of photos and are better featured via a brief, yet love-filled little ode. Such is the case with this wonderful little eye cream, so here we go!


I was perusing the Kiehl's counter in Holt Renfrew a few weeks back, pondering what possible gaps existed in my current skin care routine. I realized that an eye cream staple was seriously lacking in my lineup, so I focused my unmoisturized peepers on their rather extensive selection of eye treatments. I considered my specific needs, recalling that for the past few months my 30+ years on this earth has begun to materialize via some fine lines around my eyes that look rather like the ridges on a dehydrated piece of fruit. Not cute! Now I'm not delusional. I know I'm not contending with any profound signs of aging, but I figured that tackling nature's earliest artifacts of the fact that I was born the year Thriller ruled the charts would be a wise move. I explained my plight to the sales associate and she briskly directed me to this little navy tube of goodness.
 
Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Eye aims to restore the eye area via diminishing the look of fine lines, reducing puffiness, and targeting dark circles. Much like its wildly popular line-mate Midnight Recovery Concentrate, it features several essential oils and botanical ingredients like evening primrose and lavender to hydrate and revive skin. It also includes Butcher's Broom, an evergreen that is supposed to target circulation and inflammation. It is a thick, custard-coloured cream with an incredibly rich but completely non-greasy sort of texture.
 
Let's just say this eye cream was not love at first swipe. Unlike other eye treatments I've used, this does very little, if almost nothing, to immediately improve the look and feel of your eye area. No reflective light particles, no cooling sensation, no tightening, brightening, or highlighting. The finish is rather velvety and matte, which can actually leave things looking a bit flat initially. Despite my anticlimactic first use, the lovely lavender scent and my overall love of Kiehl's drove me to persist. Plus, I've always been skeptical of eye creams that give a lot of instant dazzle-- I usually judge such products to be all style and no substance, and I was hoping that Midnight Recovery Eye would not fall into this camp.

And boy, was I right! What this eye cream lacks in flash is totally made up for in results. I've been using it regularly for two weeks now and I can genuinely say that the fine lines around my eyes are much less visible. Things are generally looking smoother, brighter, plumper, and less like I've entered the fourth decade of my life (geez). Despite the notable scent and concoction of plant oils, this has not irritated my eyes in the slightest and has not led to any breakouts or clogging. Truly, no complaints!

Overall, I'm right smitten with this eye cream. While it doesn't provide instant gratification, it has led to some quite visible results in only a couple weeks' time. At $40 CAD, it's neither a bargain nor an incredible splurge, and has been completely worth the price tag in my books so far. This is the first time that an eye cream has edged its way into my daily routine, so that's saying a lot!

Have you tried any Kiehl's eye products? What's your go-to eye cream?

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend! xo