Saturday, 26 October 2013

Call For Hydration With Pure+Simple Organic Rosehip Face Oil

My love of natural skincare and general quest for a healthier lifestyle has introduced me to several amazing brands that would have been otherwise overlooked had I not done the necessary research. In the past few years I have found myself paying close attention to clean, natural or organic ingredients in all my personal care products - skeptical at first (as usual!) but at this point the transformation and the obvious visible results are impossible to deny.

One of the main reasons I resisted the "natural path" was simply my own ignorance and the preconceived notions that these new "hippy with a side of hype" new brands couldnt possibly compete with the big beauty names who have all kinds of money and research to quote over-and-over again! Lets not forget that a lot of "natural" products also have a very different feel and look when it comes to their packaging and formula texture. It doesnt help that I simply despise the oily, tacky consistency and residue of anything  that comes into contact with my ridiculously girly persona. I was also completely hooked on the nice, clean fragrances that my "regular" brands come with, while the natural products had scents that were a bit more concentrated, herb-like and in some cases even pungent. My signature scent is PRADA Candy and that should tell you just how deep my girly notions can be!

Discovery of essential oils and their super individual powers changed everything about my attitude and how I viewed the field of natural-organic direction.The introduction and popularity of facial oils into the mainstream beauty world  changed my mind about the improvement in the oil medium textures and my own aversion to them. However it was essentially finding brands like the Canadian Pure+Simple Spa company that solidified my resolve to explore my options again and finally realize that the Big-Beauty-Brands might not be everything the vehemently claimed they were.
I guess you can say I had to eat my words and get re-educated!

If you know this blog then you are already aware how passionate I am when it comes to all kinds of skincare but the products I appreciate the most are definitely treatment serums and facial oil concoctions. In fact I already have several posts regarding those categories and if you want to see what other oils I recommend just click here! 

Today I wanted to introduce you to one of the first oil treatments that I started out with - the fact that this product  has been repurchased several times and used by a lot of people I personally know, is a testament to the quality and result driven formulation.
My own affinity to rose oils and love for multi-purpose products doesn't hurt either. 

Without further ado I give you -  Pure+Simple Organic Rosehip Face Oil ($39.95 for 50 ml) 

Official Description;
Rosehip oil contains 80% essential fatty acids (EFAs), predominantly linoleic
(Omega 3) and linolenic (Omega 6) and is naturally enriched with antioxidants like
beta-carotene and lycopene.
Naturally contains Trans-Retinoic Acids that helps regenerate damaged skin tissue
Helps to decrease and prevent hyperpigmentation, wrinkles + scars
A perfect skin rehydrator that restores moisture balance

Organic Rosa Mosqueta (Rosehip) Oil

Directions for uses;
Use as a hot oil treatment for brittle, damaged hair or as a scalp treatment
Use in place of a moisturizer day and/or night
Use under your moisturizer for ultra hydration and/or to prevent/correct fine lines and pigmentation

The texture of this Organic Rosehip Facial Oil is one of the things I love most about using it. The oil is very lightweight, lighter than the Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil and even my favorite REN Rose O12 Moisture Defense Serum, making it perfect for the transitioning season period (Fall or Spring) for most skin types. I can imagine that girls with oily skin can get away with using this under a moisturizer in the winter or apply it alone in the summer. Since my skin is a little bit drier the Pure+Simple Organic Rosehip Face Oil works beautifully year round as a basic skincare hydration boost treatment.
Its the perfect everyday care oil that will not interfere with the rest of your skincare or even makeup like some of the richer formulations out there. The silky liquid sinks into the skin wonderfully and doesn't leave any tacky or greasy residue on the surface, making sure that the only thing you end up with  is hydration and deep nourishment. The complexion you get is soft, healthy, radiant and pampered.

The scent is very mild and certainly fits in the non-offensive category although I have heard certain people mention that they sense a slightly fishy fragrance. If you are very sensitive to odor this might be a slight issue but keep in mind that even this slight natural scent disappears within minutes once applied to the skin.
The purpose of the oil treatment is geared towards preventative anti-aging and soothing sensitive, irritated dry skin.
However where the Organic Rosehip Facial Oil truly shines and delivers the most is the area of sun damage or hyper-pigmentation trouble spots. For me this is one of the few products that has actually made a difference when it comes to fading darker post-acne scars and the unfortunate sun spots caused by sunscreen neglect. I paid the price for skimping on proper skin protection during my teenage years! Like with all skincare the transformation doesnt come overnight but after a few weeks the change will be very obvious in the mirror!

Heed my warning - sunscreen the heck out of it because as you probably already know its a lot easier to prevent something than to have fix, conceal or treat later!

Have you tried the Pure+Simple Organic Rosehip Face Oil ($39.95 for 50 ml)?
What is your favorite facial oil?

Thank you for reading



Wednesday, 23 October 2013

C.O. Bigelow My Favourite Night Balm NO. 306 - The Cockiest Lip Treatment Around?

What's in a name? 
The art of assigning a particular name or title when it comes to all products in general can be one of the driving forces that can heavily influence the brands commercial success or unfortunate market failure. This particular phenomenon might be most prominent in the cosmetic industry where branding, advertising and memorable product dubs are all intricately designed to attract the consumers and make them remember the item in question long after they leave the store. These days the beauty market is beautifully over-saturated with various formulations of products that share similar purpose and design, meaning that creativity is more important than ever to make something stand out and maintain longevity in the industry itself. 

Cutesy product packaging, clever advertisements and "catchy" names or descriptions are all wonderful ways to get noticed and stay memorable in the minds of your target audience. 

The C.O. Bigelow My Favorite Night Balm No. 306 ($7.50) is a relatively new addition to my lip treatment balm collection which starts growing at an exponential rate during this time of year. The freezing cold and windy Canadian winters are anything but kind and tolerable for my dry, sensitive skin and my lips seem to suffer the most due to these unfortunate weather elements. Lets face it dry, chapped, cracked and windburned lips are not a good look for anybody and it goes without saying that even your best lipstick or lip gloss will not look its best if the base is not taken care of first. 

The C.O. Bigelow My Favorite Night Balm No. 306 caught my attention immediately with its cocky name and despite the fact that I had absolutely no knowledge about the brand itself, that little blurb guaranteed its purchase quite easily. A big hand of applause for the C.O. Bigelow marketing team - their efforts obviously paid off and I am sure I wasn't the only beauty connoisseur that fell hard for such a clever name almost instantly. 
The scientist in me really wanted to test the lip treatment that claimed to be My Favorite Night Balm right from the get go. 
Bold statements like that should be able to produce bold results as well!

Official Description;
Heal your lips while you sleep with this deeply moisturizing night balm. Leaves lips soft and smooth. Contains healing Shea Butter

Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Petrolatum, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Ozokerite, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-1, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Mineral Oil, Lanolin Oil, C18-38 Alkyl Hydroxystearoyl Stearate, Diisostearyl Malate, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax (CAndeilla Cera, Cire de Candelilla), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Isoprpyl Palmitate, Slica Silylate, Stearalkonius Hectorite, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, Propylene CArbonate, Sodium Saccharin, BHT
The winter and environmental factors around here have a tendency to irritate and dry out my lip tissue and the vermilion border surrounding it. The sensation of slight burning and redness associated with it can be extremely uncomfortable and further element exposure can even add itchiness and flaking to the already "pretty" sight. Daily lip protection can be achieved with sunscreen infused rich lip balms, reapplied regularly and continuously however there are days when that just proves not to be enough. Heavy-duty, nourishing and hydrating night lip treatments provide healing and rejuvenation overnight, making them an essential step in my nightly skincare routine.
All my other lip balms, that used to be perfect for my summertime lips, now become basically useless and simply not good enough to tackle such extreme issues. Oh, what's a girl to do?

So yes, I was skeptical when I saw C.O. Bigelow My Favorite Night Balm No. 306 ; but the words "8 hour overnight recovery" intrigued me enough to put this lovely blue tube to the favorites test. 
I love that it's texture is very thick, but doesn't feel uncomfortable on the lips. The scent is light, but pleasant; not overpowering in the least and the nourishment is felt almost instantly. It feels and looks like its working almost instantly but the results are not as quick as the sales associated relentlessly claimed when I inquired about the formula itself. My lips felt better and there were observable improvements in lip condition but it took a few days for me to be convinced of its effectiveness. 

The promise of My Favorite Night Balm  formula is definitively solid and produces enviable results for such a small price tag but I can't say that I would classify this as a must-have or even a favorite lip treatment. I like it and would even re-purchase it once I run out but in all honesty there are other balms in my lip stash that preform better and quicker than this particular product. 
However if you are looking for a budget, good quality lip balm that will give you some consistent results then the C.O. Bigelow is definitively a good and reliable choice. 
The My Favorite Night Balm might not be my favorite lippie but I still give it high marks :-)

What is your favorite lip product?

Thank you for reading 



New Skincare - New Skin Hopes - New Arrivals Featuring MuLondon and Melvita

My epic and ever-growing skincare collection has welcomed a significant amount of new hopeful products in the past month or so. Some of these are re-purchases and essential in my beauty routine as is the case with the MuLondon Organic Skincare while others were impulse purchases and gifts from the people in my life that enable my cosmetic addiction quite regularly.

The fact that most of these new-additions are natural and organic in nature is no coincidence since I have been making a gallant effort to transition most of my personal care towards a cleaner ingredient direction. As a matter of fact this change has been translated in other areas of my life as well, in an effort to improve my health and lifestyle in general. There are a lot of things to consider and pay attention to during these alterations but at the end of the day this kind of diligence and determination will and already is proving to be worthwhile. The expression "no pain - no gain" often comes to mind!

The change of seasons can do a number on your skin if precautions and appropriate skincare isn't utilized (see here!), which coupled with over-reactive, sensitive skin types can cause all kinds of trouble for the complexion. Whenever my skin "freaks out" my natural impulse always points me in the new purchase direction, meaning that my haulage can sometimes get out of hand due to desperation alone. Seeing how this time I had a clear cut goal to natural skincare options I was forced to consider, research and think through the new candidates a little bit more, resulting in smarter and more appropriate selections.

My MuLondon purchase was a no brainer! I have fallen in love with the Organic White Chocolate Truffle Moisturizer ($25.00 for 2 oz) (see review here!) which needed to be re-purchased so I took advantage of that instance and invested in a few other skincare products I had been lusting over. I truly believe in Boris and his vision so its my personal goal to spread his genius and his products to anyone who cares to listen (or read!). 

As a huge fan of true rose scents I knew that I wanted to try the Organic Rose Collection which led me to order the MuLondon Organic Rose Foaming Face Cleanser ($27.00 for 5 oz) and the MuLondon Organic Rose, Rosehip & Rosemary Moisturizer ($20.00 for 1 oz). The moisturizer is made with 100% organic Rose otto oil, Rosehip Extract and Rosemary Antioxidant and the fragrance itself is true to its origin completely. You will not smell a more genuine rose scent anywhere else! Both the cleanser and the cream are recommended for dry, irritated and sensitive skin so in theory this should fit my needs perfectly. 
Boris was kind enough to include the MuLondon Organic Marigold, Frankincense & Myrrh Moisturizer ($15.00 for 1 oz) with my order but that particular jar was already confiscated by my mother. Not surprisingly she hasn't stopped raving about it ever since! 

My devotion to the Organic White Chocolate Truffle Moisturizer meant that ordering the MuLondon LE Organic White Chocolate Elbow, Knee & Heal Cream ($32.00 for 2 oz) was pretty much a given, especially since colder, drier weather is approaching and my dry skin will be in need of some major pampering and care very soon. Once again the scent has me intoxicated with its realness - there is absolutely nothing artificial about the White Chocolate fragrance! 

Melvita is yet another French organic skincare company that has been on my radar for a little while now so receiving the Melvita Foaming Facial Scrub ($27.00 for 2.5 oz) and Melvita Essential Oil - Soothing Care ($48.00 for 1 oz) as a birthday gift was especially delightful. The French are well known for their skincare (as evident on this blog) and Melvita is no exception to that statement. I have only used the products a few times so its too early to be specific about the yielded results however I can already tell that the Soothing Care Oil is a definite standout! Full reviews will follow once I have a chance to properly test them out for at least a few weeks.   

I first discovered the Organic Surge Skincare lineup through my love of various UK Beauty Blogs where their products receive huge rave reviews not just for their efficiency and ingredients but also for their reasonable prices as well. I was pretty bummed out to discover that they weren't available in Canada and that online orders were the only means of me getting my hands on their genius formulas. Imagine my surprise when I spotted the Organic Surge First Class Face Mask ($15.00 for 1.66 oz) at my local Winners - Homesense store. I snatched it up without even a second thought and seeing how masks are huge when it comes to my skincare routines I am very excited to see how Organic Surge Skincare compares to the masks I already have in my arsenal. 

I am very happy with all the additions to my overflowing skincare cabinet and for once I can say that my choices this time around were a little more calculated and useful this time around. The fact that its all more or less in the nature department makes me even happier :-)

Have you tried any of these products? What was you last skincare haul?

Thank you reading



Sponge Worthy? The Original Beautyblender - Hype or a Game-changer?

I am not a true believer when it comes to the "necessity" of investing in expensive makeup tools. As much as I respect brands such as MAC, Chanel or NARS I am yet to be convinced of the superiority of their pricy makeup brush collections. That being said I do own a few expensive, highly recommended pieces myself however the ones I reach for are usually from the reasonably priced, high quality brands such as EcoTools or Sigma
Based on experiences such as that one and the fact that I have fallen for the beauty hype numerous times before I was very hesitant when it came to acquiring the cult beauty sponge by Beautyblender. My determination to avoid another purchase mistake held up for a lot longer than I expected and its actually only recently that my curiosity got the better of me and I finally caved. 

The price for us Canadians is a high $26.00 for one or $33.00 for two and the kit that includes the special cleansing agent is a whopping $50.00, making this to be a significantly high end purchase, especially when you realize that what you are getting is basically just a cool shaped, pink sponge. 
I will admit that once my Sephora order came in and I had a chance to examine this must-have makeup tool, my initial reaction was that of disappointment with just a touch of underwhelming amusement. To say I felt let-down is an understatement! 

However true to form I am now "eating my words" and I can honestly say that I judged this little wonder a little too harshly and a little too quickly. After taking a chance to experiment with proper application handling and having tried some "knock-offs" of the original Beautyblender, I can confirm what most of you already know - the pink egg sponge is a definite keeper!

Official Description;
The original beautyblender® is a revolutionary makeup sponge applicator with 360 degrees of usable surface for creating absolute complexion perfection. This five-time Allure Best of Beauty Award-winner is ergonomically designed to meet your makeup needs. beautyblender® is the first high definition, neon pink sponge application tool that gives you everything from amazingly sheer coverage to a buildable full coverage.

I have used makeup brushes, puffs and simple sponges to apply my foundation or tinted moisturizer before but my preferred method is almost always blending everything in using just my fingers. Sure it might be messy but on my skin that technique seems to translate itself into the most natural real-skin finish. 

The Beautyblender sponge comes very close to that kind of result and once I mastered the right "tapping - sweeping" motions the final look resembled very fine air-brushing. I never knew that was even a possibility! The bonus when it comes to using this sponge is that its able to finish and polish not just your base but can even be utilized with concealers, primers and even liquid or cream blush. Girls with prominent pores will be the ones to appreciate this little tool the most because not only does it seem to disguise them but also prevents caking and uneven blotchiness that can only make them look even bigger.   

I have had my Beautyblender sponge now for a little over a year and through trial and error I've developed my own little tricks when it comes to maximizing its performance. 

The first thing you need to do is wet the sponge itself until it about doubles in size. Once that happens, squeeze the excess water from it and blot in a few layers of paper towel until it feels damp. Avoid using your thumb to poke it because it might create a hole that way and damage the sponge interior - instead focus on a gentle whole hand pressure! Once you are satisfied that the sponge is not soaked anymore dip its edges into the liquid makeup base and start sweeping, patting and blending the medium on the desired area (face!). 

Everybody has their own unique ways to use anything so I have added the official Beautyblender training video that will give you the basic recommendations directly from their own genius! 

As much as I resisted this purchase at first I am now happy that I succumbed to my own curiosity. The price might be a little higher than I'd like but since this turned out to be a product I use a lot with excellent results, the investment for me was more than worth it. 

There may be significantly cheaper "knock-offs" on the market today but I haven't seen one that works quite as good as the original. Sometimes the real-thing is worth the extra expense and that is certainly true when it comes to the lovely Beautyblender
Plus it allows me to keep my fingers clean :-)

Have you tried the Beautyblender sponge? Or any of the other versions? 

Thank you for reading!



Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Turning On the Light - Mastering the Dewy-Glowy Radiant Look

Even the most hard-core makeup lovers sometimes crave a natural, fresh look that emphasizes natural beauty and a softer everyday youthful feel to your overall appearance.
Don't get me wrong, as a beauty blogger and a lifetime cosmetics fan, I appreciate the variety makeup experimentation can bring to the table and what fun we can have with the transformations resulting from such play time, however I admit there are days and occasions where the non-makeup look is just easier and perhaps even more appropriate. There are beauty queens that can pull off bold, glamorous looks every single day and I have to admire their dedication but for me personally that simply isn't feasible to accomplish. I might over-complicate my beauty routines from time to time but even I have days when I just can't be bothered to follow through with all my essential "steps"

The "natural" makeup look sounds deceptively simple and easy to preform but even such minimalist presentation needs a variety of products, time and technique to execute and perfect. Replicating the "no-makeup" look ironically requires a combination of both good skincare and you guessed products!

The best way to get the dewy look is to have a good base to start with. What I mean by that is that having good skin in the first place, increases your odds of getting things right when it comes to this makeup style. It makes sense, if your skin is dry, uneven, dehydrated and lack-luster to begin with, you'll have much harder time accomplishing any makeup goal and this is no exception to that rule. If anything good skin condition is the most important for the "natural" look because the whole point is to use sheer cover-up products in order to allow your natural glow to shine through. 

Your regular skincare routine, including gentle cleansing, exfoliation factors and sufficient moisture levels are major players throughout that process. 

Beauties with already oily skin may have a hard time with this makeup effect for the simple reason that adding additional "glow" or "dew" to such skin types can only exasperate the "grease" problem. The silver lining for oily skin is that their skin cells produce an abundance of natural oils that can be tamed through the use (but on over-use) of oil-absorbing, mattifying products that will allow some natural dewiness to shine through and amplify the radiance everyone else is working so hard to get. 


As i already mentioned, a good skincare routine created through the use of appropriate skin-loving products is going to be your best friend in developing long-term complexion radiance. Healthy skin is your best starting point but if that's not a possibility there are a few things you can do and products you can use to give your skin a boost and fake some glowy smoothness prior to actual makeup application. 

Replacing your usual, daily cleanser with a cleansing balm will allow you to gently remove skin impurities and add skin-plumping hydration just by washing your face. The ones that never let me down are the Antipodes Certified Organic Grapeseed Butter Cleanser ($42.00) and the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm ($70.00).

Good skin preparation following the cleansing step should include a radiance & hydration boosting serum topped by a nourishing moisturizer that will smooth out your complexion canvas and get it ready for additional products. My current favorite serums are the REN Radiance Perfection Serum ($66.00) and the Jurlique Purely Bright Radiance Serum ($72.00), which I follow with the MuLondon Organic White Chocolate Truffle Moisturizer ($25.00) almost daily. Taking a few extra minutes to massage these potions into your skin will stimulate the circulation and elevate the natural radiance factor as well. 

Using a light exfoliator before preparing this "no-makeup look" such as the Melvita Foaming Facial Scrub ($30.00) can also increase your natural radiance exponentially. When I am feeling especially productive I like to use the LUSH Bubble Gum Lip Scrub ($9.95), following it immediately with my beloved By Terry Baume de Rose ($60.00) to pamper and plump up the pout. 


After completing your skincare routine you can focus on completing and perfecting the makeup steps of this transformation process. I am sure many of you will be surprised just how many products I consider useful and necessary to achieve this seemingly basic "no-makeup look"! However keep in mind that even though the number of beauty items may be high, the application technique and time needed is significantly reduced so once you master the steps the look itself will be easy to replicate each time. 

Depending on your coloring, skin tone and skin condition the type of products you end up choosing will differ but as long as the "sheer" theme is the main attribute of the choices you make, the basis of your personalized natural look should remain universal. The texture and feel of your makeup base needs to be sheer and light, with the goal being a satin-like glowy, real-skin finish in order to achieve the youthful, fresh look we are pursuing. 

The first product I start with is a radiance-boosting primer, typically looking for a formula with light-reflecting particles included in the medium itself. Some excellent primers I have used in the past are Tarina Tarantino Pearl Glow Primer ($32.00), BECCA Radiance Primer ($55.00) and Elizabeth Arden Let There Be Light Radiant Skin ($19.99). I find that using a radiance boosting formula primer can add glow to the complexion in a lot more subtle way than most highlighters and since the natural look is all about subtlety and natural lights a product like that can really pull the entire look in the right direction. 

Keeping with the sheerness theme my primary choice for coverage are usually tinted moisturizers, BB creams and very sheer, lightweight foundation formulations. To keep the finish natural I apply the base with my fingers or a damp sponge making sure to blend and buff everything in to perfection. The final result should be satin-like, sheer perfecting evenness that glows and gives the illusion of a healthy radiance. The one that's been getting the most play time on my vanity lately has been the Josie Maran Argan Tinted Moisturizer ($46.00) which has been making me glow for weeks - people actually noticed! 

To amplify the dewiness even more I sometimes apply a liquid or cream highlighter to the cheekbones, brow-bones and Cupid's bow, once again making sure to blend and smooth the targeted areas. My choice for subtle, light reflecting highlighters include: Guerlain Meteorites in Mythic ($67.00), Benefit Cosmetics Watt's Up! ($36.00) and Illamasqua Intrigue ($32.00). 

Using a concealer where needed will add polish to your complexion, covering and neutralizing any redness or minor imperfections that the lightweight coverage of the tinted base was unable to deal with. Once again reaching for a creamy, illuminating concealer formula is your best bet and the cult classics NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer ($30.00) and BECCA Radiant Skin Creamy Concealer ($39.00) will deal with just about anything. The hybrid formulas such as the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Radiant Touch ($50.00) and its budget dupe L'Oreal Studio Secrets Magic Lumi Concealer ($12.99) will do miracles around the eye area, illuminating and contouring all in one step. It takes some practice but with the right touch the results can be quite flattering. 

Light layer of translucent powder to set everything painstakingly applied completes the makeup base and ensures that the achieved results will last the day without smudging, melting or uneven fading. Keep in mind that the powder dust needs to be applied with a very light touch because too much product can just end up mattifying the dewy glow you were aiming for in the first place. Powders that haven't let me down and are still going strong in my stash are: Givenchy Prisme Libre Loose Powder Quartet ($60.00), Smashbox HALO Hydrating Perfecting Powder ($72.00) and the trusty bareMinerals Mineral Veil ($25.00)


Perfecting the "natural look" complexion is the key when achieving this particular makeup look because skin is where most of your radiance comes from however adding a few extra steps to just finely enhance the rest of your features can elevate your look from plain and boring to polished and youthful. 

Sheer colour, glowy blushes can add a very healthy flush to your cheeks and if applied correctly actually imitate the outdoorsy, cheeky radiance. I personally prefer cream-based blush formulas because they blend in easier than their powder counterparts and just look more natural on my face. One of my most recent discoveries are the Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Blushes ($31.00) and they are perfect for faking naturally flushed cheeks. 

To maintain the no-makeup vibe the eyes can be enhanced with just a sheer wash of colour with a neutral, taupe or champagne low-shimmer shade while the lashes retain the natural look (try Benefit Cosmetics Velvet Eyeshadow, $18.00)with just a light coat of brown or clear mascara (try Sephora Collection Clear Defining Mascara, $15.00). 

Going the natural look route doesnt mean that you have to underplay your pout. Applying a sheer lip stain like the Buxom Full-On Lip Tarnish ($23.00) or a sheer balm like the L'Oreal Colour Riche Lip Balm ($7.99) will keep your look low key but still give you a believable sheer colour to draw some attention to your lips without the stickiness of a lip gloss. 

If you have bronzer experience adding a light layer to the the areas of your face where the sun naturally hits, can chisel and emphasize your features through expert contouring. That particular step is lost on me - my limited skills just end up making me look muddy and no matter how much I want to get the natural sun-kissed look every attempt fails miserably. But I am practicing with my Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel! 

The general consensus for this natural, no-makeup, radiant, glowy look is the sheerness of everything you use. This is not about strong colors, seductive smoky eyes, bronzed goddess like cheekbones, foundation masks or statement-making red lipstick. This look is about enhancing and bringing attention to our own natural beauty - spotlighting our own uniqueness and best features all the while celebrating the youthful spirit that resides in all of us. 

Sure, makeup makeovers can be extremely fun and empowering and sometimes even the most confident girl can have trouble taking the mask off BUT stripping the artificiality of it all gives us a chance to experiment on the opposite end of the spectrum and no-makeup look is still a makeup look regardless... 
Its just softer and prettier...for me anyways!

What do you prefer - nature or glamour? 

Thank you for reading 



Friday, 18 October 2013

The Mighty Five - Clay Mud Masks (You might be using them wrong!)

As a huge fan of skincare I regularly partake in skin pampering treatments and like a true addict my eyes are always open for the next, new thing to include in my already extensive beauty regiment. 

Face masks are one of my favorite skin-loving indulgences and as luck would have it, using them regularly and properly can make a world of difference when it comes to my sometimes irrational complexion. Today's beauty industry offers a mind-boggling array of treatment masks to pamper, revitalize and treat various skin problems that might be making you miserable. With a little information, research and direction you can find a great mask at any budget to deal with just about anything. The variety of formula types and ingredients used are the key to making the right choice when it comes to your specific skin type or the issue you want to tackle, meaning that taking a little time to familiarize yourself with the brand and product itself can be invaluable. 

If you have oily, acne-prone skin or just want to purify and deep clean then clay masks could be your best friends. This seemingly simple but profoundly powerful ingredient, clay, has been used for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes in many cultures for many centuries. Clay masks are excellent when it comes to removing excess oil, neutralizing impurities and toxins, tightening enlarged pores and even stimulating blood circulation. Essentially it gets rid of dead skin from the skin surface and at the same time gives you a huge radiance boost. So, no matter what your skin type is, a good clay mask is a must-have in your beauty arsenal! 

I have been using clay, mud masks for years but only recently did I learn that I have actually been using them the wrong way all this time - and even doing more harm then good to my own skin! Apparently the directions on the tube are not precise enough nor are they complete! Lovely :-(
The error of my ways was pointed out to me during a routine salon facial treatment and a little bit of dermatological research confirmed my mistake quite easily. 

What it comes down to is the fact that there are three phases of a clay mask;

1. Damp Phase - skin cells take in good-for-you treatment minerals from the mask medium

2. Dry Phase - exercises capillaries and stimulates blood flow as the mask cools and controls 

3. Final Dry Phase - skin starts to lose moisture through dehydration and may even result in irritation (dry, tight, itchy skin)

The first two phases are the beneficial steps, which is what you want to gain from the clay mask itself but the third step is one that needs to be avoided since it practically counteracts any good results you might get from the first two. The simple way to avoid the last stage is to rinse or remove the mask before it reaches the flaky, dried out state. 
When you start to see it drying (which usually means it gets lighter in color) but it still feels a bit sticky, it's time to wash it off with a damp, warm washcloth. Follow up with a light toning step to remove any residue and apply a rich, soothing moisturizer to bring moisture back in to your skin cells and seal in all the benefits from the healing mud.
Once I adjusted my clay mask pampering routine I have definitively seen more benefits and results from the masks themselves. Just that little change and a bit more vigilance on my part has made a world of difference and I am sure it will do the same for you guys as well!

In honor of this little tidbit of new skincare knowledge I wanted to start the Mighty Five series which will feature and spotlight five products from my own beauty stash that are getting the most use at the moment. What better way to start than with Clay Treatment Masks!

Bioelements Restorative Clay Natural Face Mask ($35.00 for 2.5 oz)

This is what I call a traditional, basic deep-cleansing clay mud mask. It works great for removing excess oil and toxins from the skin, improves skin texture and makes pores appear less visible. The recommended use is 2-3 times a week and the company helpfully indicates that if used at that regularity, one jar should last at least six months. Keeping that in mind I think the price is more than fair for a professional skincare product and definitively worth the initial investment. The texture of the clay is a little thicker than most masks but even as such remains easy to work with and feels cool on the skin surface. The scent is subtle, the clay feels comfortable on the skin itself, drying time is about 10 minutes and the mask is easily removed with a warm washcloth. The clay can also be used as a blemish spot treatment, yielding excellent results. The Bioelements Restorative Mask is something I use when my skin needs a very deep-cleanse or simply feels congested or oily. Its really a lovely basic, clay mask that delivers the results it promises and I would recommend it wholeheartedly!

Michael Todd True Organics Kaolin Clay Detoxifying Facial Mask ($34.00 for 3.4 oz)

As the name indicates this is a purifying, detoxifying soft clay mask with French green, white and pink Kaolin clay as the main active ingredient. The formula is a lot more gentle than some of the other typical deep cleansing masks but for me that's where the charm of this brand really is. The softer texture and milder nature means that this would be a great choice for those with more sensitive skin that usually suffer irritation from other similar masks. The biggest perk of this Michael Todd Kaolin Mask is its smoothing properties, meaning that it works amazingly well to improve skin texture and tone by detoxification and pore tightening. I love that the brand uses natural, organic ingredients in all of their products and is a great example that we don't need chemicals to treat and transform a troublesome complexion

Pure+simple Purifying French Clay Mask ($21.95 for 50 ml)

This mask is yet another example of how great natural ingredients can come together in an expert formula to deliver phenomenal and yet gentle results for all skin types. The French clay works great because of its unique ability to remove excess oil and toxins from the skin cells without over-drying or irritation that is sometimes common with other clay masks. This particular formula is ideal for individuals that are dealing with blemishes, skin congestion and dehydrated skin, which is actually a really common combination even with those who consider themselves as oily skin types. What I love about the Pure+simple Purifying French Clay Mask is that its very gentle and seems to significantly reduce the redness from my ruddy cheeks even after just one use. Seeing how the Pure+simple brand is Canadian I am a little biased in my affection for them but anyone who has either used their products or experienced one of their holistically based facial treatments is bound to be completely smitten by this environmentally conscious, natural company. 

Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Clay Mask ($49.95 for 3.06 oz)

This particular cleansing clay mask requires a little bit of DIY on your part prior to use but I think that is exactly what makes this formula unique and appealing in its own way. What you are working with is a combination of finely ground clay blended with witch hazel and extracts of natural nasturtium which creates a potent, concentrated formula that is capable of treating blemishes, blackheads and various impurities hanging around your pores. The clay particles mixed with water create a deeply cleansing medium that purifies, softens and even gently exfoliates the skin surface with each treatment. Since each mask portion is made fresh this means that you can control the texture, potency and amount used which albeit messy also elevates the facial experience to a spa-like level. Dr. Hauschka Skin Care is definitively on the pricy side however their mission and commitment to natural ingredients, well-being of the environment, fair-trade initiatives and ecologically sound methods for everything they do; is more than admirable and makes their products worth the investment.  

Marcelle Essentials Clay Mask ($14.50 for 3.7 oz)

I am a huge Marcelle fan (read my Canadian Beauty brand feature here!) and even though they are technically considered a drug-store brand I think the quality and products they offer put them in a much higher brand bracket than they are given credit for. The price point and reputation of the Essentials Clay Mask is definitively underrated especially when you consider that the performance and results the formula gives can compete with treatment masks with a much higher price tag. This does it all: absorbs oil, removes toxins due to congestion, smooths skin texture, refines pores in the T-zone and works amazingly well as a overnight spot treatment. The texture is creamy, making it easy to spread out and work with but its also thick enough to make the removal process a breeze as well. The results are almost instant and regular use makes a huge difference when it comes to radiance and healthy glow. The compliments keep coming! 
After all it did win the In Style Best Beauty Buy 2012 Award!  

Now that I shared my new found clay mask tip and my favorite picks its your turn! 
What is your most used cleansing clay mask? 

Thank you for reading! 



Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Hydration, Tint and Luminosity In One - NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser

My skincare admiration is now well documented and it is that appreciation alone that has always drawn me towards well-formulated, skin loving tinted moisturizers. 

Products that fall into this category are essentially an extension of the basis of skincare, souped up with a bit of color to add some polish and concealment to any minor imperfections of the complexion. Tinted moisturizers are not meant to replace foundation (unless you are lucky!) nor are they suppose to replace your primary moisturizer (unless you are extremely oily) but it is exactly those two factors that represent the appeal of this product in the first place. 

Basically if you are familiar with the nature of tinted moisturizers and have appropriate expectations of what you want to achieve , the right formula can do wonders for the overall look of your skin. Choosing the right formula with the right ingredients can be somewhat tricky but once you identify THE ONE that is right for your skin, you will be able to fully appreciate its charm and benefits. Since the coverage is usually quite sheer and light, shade matching is a lot more forgivable than say a foundation, meaning that ordering one sight unseen has much higher success rates than other similar products. 

The cosmetic brand NARS  is undoubtedly one of the most popular makeup powerhouses in the blogosphere. Their innovative formulas, trend inspired colors and irresistibly cheeky branding philosophy has given NARS almost a cult like following where beauty's all around the world are tripping over themselves to acquire the regularly released limited edition collections. Personally I love and appreciate a lot of NARS products but my own limited makeup techniques prevent me from working with some of their wild color combinations, thereby limiting my brand exposure to a few core pieces. However these classic makeup selections are outstanding and well loved in my everyday, un-trendy, boring life. 

One of these NARS essentials and one of my favorites is their hype-worthy Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($49.00 for 1.9 oz). 
As a self-proclaimed tinted moisturizer connoisseur I was completely smitten after the first application and now almost a year later the love affair is still going strong! 

Official Description;
A lightweight tinted moisturizer that evens skintone and provides a translucent veil of protection. 
Infused with lush, naturally derived ingredients, this lightweight tinted moisturizer immediately helps thirsty skin feel hydrated. It has been proven to help reduce the appearance of discoloration and dark spots caused by hyperpigmentation for a clearer and brighter complexion in as little as four weeks. Oil-free and luxurious, it obscures the appearance of lines, wrinkles, pores, and other imperfections while SPF 30 adds a translucent veil of protection. 

Water, Dimethicone, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Titanium Dioxide, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Diethylhexyl Succinate, Glycerin, Nylon-12, Cyclomethicone, Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Aluminum Hydroxide, Diphenylsiloxy Phenyl Trimethicone, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Sorbitan Sesquiisostearate, Stearic Acid Phenoxyethanol, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Fragrance, Dimethicone/Vinyl, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Trisodium, Edta, Aluminum Distearate, Talc, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Polysilicone-2, Vibrio Alginolyticus Ferment Filtrate, Tocopherol, Alteromonas Ferment Filtrate, Maris Sal (Sea Salt), Hydrogen Dimethicone, Bht, Algae (Algae Extract), Sodium Metabisulfite, Curcuma Longa [Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract], Potassium Sorbate, Geraniol, Limonene, Citral, Linalool [+/- (May Contain): Ci 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), Ci 77491 (Iron Oxides), Ci 77492 (Iron Oxides), Ci 77499 (Iron Oxides)].
*Made without parabens, phthalates and sulfates

As someone with a skin type a little on the dry, sensitive end of the spectrum I have come to appreciate the hydration properties of any product I use and NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer  is no exception. This particular formula caters to drier skin types in a way I haven't encountered in my experience with other brands. 
The moisture does not just sit on the surface of your skin, nor does it interfere with your primary moisturizer. The tint sinks in, blends almost effortlessly and provides a comfortable cake-free, velvety smooth canvas. The pores on my nose and cheeks are not enhanced or put on display like with some other makeup base products and the sheer coverage dries in a way that just amplifies real-skin appearance. What you are left with is a natural, radiant finish that evens out your skin, tones any redness or superficial imperfections and looks like you are wearing nothing at all. The luminosity of your very own skin is magnified to its highest level and not a trace of glittery, shimmer other "radiance" makeup bases use to attract light.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Beauty Of Naturally Enhanced Body Oils - Hydration At Its Best!

If you have dry skin or sensitivity that comes along with that blessing then you already know the upcoming cold weather is something we need to arm ourselves for.
The weapons of choice are luxurious, nourishing, soothing and ultra-protective moisturizing potions, capable of kicking ass even through the extremes of Canadian winters. Up here in the great white north we not only have to deal with ridiculously low temperatures but the accompanying arctic cold winds as well. Since my home is right on the Bay of Fundy the sharp, freezing winds can do a number on my already delicate dry skin! Luckily I am a weather veteran now so my arsenal is well stocked with some awesome defensive moisture bombs. 

There are a lot of rich, hydration driven formulations out there that do a great job of protecting my skin but my secret weapon that elevates the whole experience to the highest level possible are naturally inspired body oils. Adding just a few golden drops can transform a simple moisturizing lotion into a ultra-nourishing body treatment. 

If you are worried about the greasy after effects (rightfully so!) you'll be happy to hear that body oil formulas have evolved so much in the past decade, making them very user-friendly and definitely trial-worthy. 
I wanted to share a few body oils that have been rocking my world and ones I would recommend to anyone year-round! 
Mother Nature brings it big time!

I have already expressed my love and deep admiration for this French wonder (review here!) so including this was a no-brainer. The luxurious fragrance celebrates the essence of Moroccan and Bulgarian roses, pure Vanilla notes and traces of Cedar and White Musk. The olfactory sensationalism combined with skin loving natural oils creates a formula that not only moisturizes your parched skin but also makes you happy about using it. As usual the Caudalie signature grape seed oil along with Sesame Seed, Argan and Hibiscus oils creates a velvety, silky canvas that sinks in quickly, leaving no grease but only radiant fragrance behind. The charming amber-tinted, vintage glass bottle, topped with a "wood-like" cap only adds to its appeal and the starry blogosphere raves only reinforce its classic Parisian feel. Tres chic - if you ask me!

Cowshed Bath & Body Oils ($31.00 for 3.38 oz)

The British share the same moisture dilemma as Canadians so its no surprise that the niche UK  Cowshed brand really knows how to make a product that effectively meets our hydration needs. This adorable beauty brand battles the freeze and dryness that accompanies it with fairly traded plant extracts, organic ingredients and proven therapeutic botanicals, all blended together into one hard working body oil. The potent formula includes cranberries, grape-seeds, sesame and sweet almond oils, all which penetrate deep beyond the skin surface to hydrate and restore body's own natural moisture balance. The addition of essential fragrance oils is there to highlight their aromatherapy potential and is sure to satisfy even the pickiest olfactory experts! My ultimate favorite is the Moody Cow Balancing Bath & Body Oil where linden blossom and rose geranium freshness kicks into high gear and lulls me into relaxation mode regardless of how bad of a day I might have had. The fact that my skin is left soft, silky and comfortably smooth is obviously a major bonus!
If you value products free from nasty parabens, preservatives, sulfates, artificial fragrances and unnecessary colors then Cowshed is the safely the way to go!

Yon-Ka Huile Corps Body Oil ($62.00 for 3.38 oz)

I am not even surprised that yet another one of my favorites is indeed a French product. Yon-Ka is a Parisian brand whose catch phrase "Quintessence of the phyto-aromatic care" could not be more spot on with their products. Everything they make has that aromatherapy touch that is as lovely to use as its beneficial for our essential well-being - let me tell you, health has never smelled so good! 
The Yon-Ka Huile Corps is a fresh and sensual body oil that beautifully marries the herbal note of Sage with a soak in Lavender. Normally grassy-scents like this would not be appealing to a gourmand-lover girly girl such as myself but this combination has a very distinct crisp sweet undertone that provides the aura of absolute serenity to even my judgmental senses. The oily goodness pampers my dry skin by restoring suppleness, smoothing out any flaky, irritated patches and providing a protective barrier on the surface that prevents further moisture loss. It might be my imagination or wishful thinking but whenever i use this my skin feels warm and comfortably cozy, which is a huge bonus during the winter months. The sophisticated golden wonder is presented in a frosted glass bottle which only drives the French exclusivity and just makes you feel that you are using something very special!

REN Moroccan Rose Otto Ultra-Moisture Body Oil ($65.00 for 100 ml)

My love for REN has been well established on this blog and a major portion of my bathroom is dedicated to their skincare essentials. It took me a little longer to sample their body care products but once I did, unsurprisingly their goodness had me hooked almost immediately. Seeing how my love of all things REN was combined with rose essence in their Moroccan Rose Body Care Collection I just knew it was only a matter of time before these became my new must-haves.
The Rose scent in the Moroccan Otto Ultra-Moisture Body Oil is as natural as it gets and completely intoxicating! This is the kind of product that you open up during the day just to give your olfactory senses a little treat. Using the complimentary REN Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil ($48.00 for 110 ml) prior slathering the body oil all over is one of the most relaxing, sensual and luxurious experience I have ever had in my own little bathroom.
Essentially if you love roses and clean ingredient beauty then give REN a try - no disappointment or regret at all!

Josie Maran Moroccan Argan Body Oil in Balance ($35.00 for 1.7 oz)

My love for all things roses continues with this Josie Maran powerhouse. The universally loved Rose Damascena is the star of this simplistic one-dimensional scented Argan Oil based body moisturizer so its no surprise that the scent just explodes once it hits your skin. It remains uncluttered in the blend of Argan, Apricot, Sweet Almond, Safflower, Sesame, Avocado, and Olive Fruit oils, meaning that it will dominate no matter how you choose to use this emollient rich moisturizer. The formula also contains the discrete essence of the Vitamin C rich Pomelo Grapefruit oil whose benefits include treating muscle fatigue, hair growth, skin tone improvement and even acne treatment. The beautiful rose however dilutes this almost completely so had I not done my research I would have never detected it on my own.
Despite the fact that Josie Maran markets this as a body oil treatment the little beauty rebel in me has used this as a hair mask, cuticle treatment, subtle rose perfume and a very sensual and effective massage oil.
I am more than a little impressed!

J.R. Watkins Coconut Milk & Honey Body Oil Mist ($8.99 for 6 oz)

As a self-confessed gourmand lover the J.R.Watkins Coconut Milk & Honey Body Oil Mist delivers a dollop of sweetness coupled with deep hydration at a price we can all live with!
J.R. Watkins is an apothecary budget brand that once again proof that we don't have to sacrifice good-for-you ingredients and high delivery formula when choosing a drugstore brand. Their products are made without any no mineral oil, petrolatum, glycols, silicone's, synthetic dyes or any of the other traditional chemical nasties.
The basis of this vitamin enriched body oil mist are the carrier Almond and Apricot Kernel oils which are easily absorbed into the skin and are especially recommended for dehydrated, delicate, distressed, mature and sensitive skin. The rich fatty acids help soothe any inflammation, revitalize the skin and even fight fine lines in aging mature skin. The candied scent from 100% natural Coconut Milk & Honey fragrances leave a scrumptiously fruity veil of moisture, which penetrates immediately with its sheer viscosity and leaves no greasy or tacky residue.
Its essentially good enough to eat!

Mama Mio OMega Wonder-Full Rescue Balm ($30.25 for 30 ml)

To be fair this little wonder is not a body oil in the traditional sense but it does serve a similar purpose and its texture melts into an oil form when applied to the skin. I felt that it deserved a mention because of its ultra-targeted moisture properties and the practical fact that since it comes in airtight, plastic, pump functioning bottle its also very TSA air travel friendly. That fact alone makes it an amazing find and its "nasties-free" ingredient promise is just like the icing on the cake. The results are pretty impressive too!
Its formula features Meadowfoam, Sweet Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, Carott Seed Oil and the trendy Manuka Oil, all of which create a balm worthy of your driest patches. The Mama Mio OMega Wonder-Full Rescue Balm scent is very nostalgic for me and reminds me of my teenage favorite Loves Baby Soft perfume with its subtle rose powdery softness. Once again aromatherapy at its finest!
The matching Mama Mio OMega Body Oil ($35.00 for 5 oz) with its Sweet Almond, Jojoba, Argan and Safflower oils can be layered over the balm for irresistibly comfortable, deeply hydrated skin for a truly baby soft scent experience.

Just a few years ago if someone would have told me that I would be using oils on my face and body I never would have believed it! My aversion of feeling greasy and slippery stopped me from giving these moisturizing innovations a try for a long time. Today things are obviously very different :-)

Do you have a favorite Body or Face Oil?

Thank you for reading



Monday, 14 October 2013

Deborah Lippmanns Mermaid Dream is Indeed a Dream Come True!

The Canadian Princeza is a beauty blog where all my superficial musings and contemplation's join together to highlight things I find worthy of admiration and celebration for that matter! But only if its deserved!

Having tried several of the Deborah Lippmann Nail Polishes I can definitively clock them in the "praise worthy" category and the fact that they are free of toluene, formaldehyde and DBP is just like icing on the cake. Nobody likes cancer in a bottle no matter how pretty its color might be!
These nail lacquers are also the first formulas I have come across that actually contain beneficial, fortifying ingredients such as biotin, okoume and green tea. Impressive to say the least!

Deborah Lippmann is known as the manicurist to the stars and the color range names clearly reflect the fact that she is privy to the "starlet" Hollywood life. Inspired by the latest trends and the glamorous A-List celebrities her line up is anything but boring and bound to impress by both formulation and nontraditional hue combos. Most of her nail polishes are bold, audaciously in-your face kind of colors so if your personality is wallflower inspired then these are definitively not for you.
However if you want to make a statement then check out the blingy glamour on the Lippmann website

I will admit that as a Marine Biologist and a life-long Little Mermaid fan I was a little biased when it came to this particular Mermaid collection however I am sure many of you would agree that these are very uniquely beautiful shades!

The collection consists of: Do the Mermaid (limited edition), Mermaid's Eyes (limited edition)Mermaid's KissMillion Dollar Mermaid (limited edition) and my personal favorite Mermaid's Dream

Deborah Lippmann Mermaid's Dream ($19.00 for .5 oz) is officially described as a metallic turquoise base incorporates bright blue and gold micro-glitter with blue sequins. 
Deborah Lippmann adds this on her website:
The mystery of the ocean has always intrigued me. This shade is my interpretation of life under the sea—magical, fantastical and ethereal. I love how the small flecks of glitter catch the light and appear to float off the nail.

The description of this shade is very accurate and the glittery shimmer spotlights the blue sequins beautifully and manages to pull off sophistication not usually associated with sparkly nail polishes. I was afraid that the color on the nails will just end up looking a bit juvenile for someone my age which is the only reason I hesitated to get this at first.

The sea-foam inspired green sparkles uniformly and has enough of a base color underneath that even just one coat translates into the exact shade seen in the bottle itself. Most glittery nail colors are transparent with sparkles mixed in making them ideal as toppers for an existing shade but the Mermaid Dream is opaque enough that it pulls off a clean true shade all by itself. The grittiness of the shimmer is definitively pronounced and even though I am not particularly fond of that sensation, a good clear top-coat solves that problem quite nicely.

The Deborah Lippmann nail lacquers are definitively more expensive than other salon formulas such as OPI or Butter London so justifying a purchase of this caliber for "just a nail polish" can be quite cumbersome at times. However since the shades are so unique and the formula wear is significantly strong (5 or more days!) I would highly recommend checking them out and investing in some of their fabulous collections.
This really is high fashion for your fingertips!

Have you tried the Lippmann nail polishes? Which one is your favorite?

Thank you for reading