Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Beauty Fence - Givenchy Hydra Sparkling Magic Lip and Cheek Balm

Givenchy is one of those brands that have always been on my radar but only a few products actually got my attention so my exposure to their collections has been extremely limited. The quality, luxe packaging, and formulations match those of similarly priced brands such as Chanel and Dior so even though I was intrigued from time to time nothing stroke my fancy enough to make an investment. The few products I do own were carefully selected and preform beautifully but the brand as a whole remained overlooked and since Givenchy does not have a cosmetics counter in my city it was even easier to forget about it.

Readers of my blog are aware that I have a serious weakness when it comes to luxurious, pampering lip balms so when I discovered the Givenchy Hydra Sparkling Magic Lip and Cheek Balms ($34.00 for 0.17 oz) I knew it was only a matter of time before I took the plunge and splurged on these adorable blue pots.
Who doesn't need a bit of magic in their life? 

Official Description;
Hydra Sparkling Magic Lip & Cheek Balm's innovative formula moisturizes and provides a flushed tint to lips and cheeks. It contains pigments that react with the skin's humidity to create a personalized hint of color to the lips and a delicate glow to the cheeks. Hyaluronic acid spheres bring moisture and fill in the dehydration lines and, by capturing water, these water-soaked spheres swell to increase the volume—thus providing a plumping action on lips and cheeks. Lips and cheeks are lipid-replenished by Luffa Oil, which is rich in fatty acids, and the glossy cream contains a texture with a melting and softening sensation.

The Givenchy Magic Lip and Cheek Balm is part of the "Hydra-Sparkling" skincare/makeup collection and just like the name implies was created to target moisture balance, hydration and skin rejuvenation. One of the key ingredients in this line-up are the hyaluronic acid spheres that not only deliver moisture but also plump the skin and fill any dehydration (fine) lines. The Magic Lip and Cheek Balm is said to capture water via the hyaluronic acid which in turn increase in volume and the final results being fuller, well-moisturized lip tissue. The Givenchy formulation also includes the unique Luffa Oil, rich in fatty acids whose main purpose is to replenish any lipid loss in both lips and cheeks.
There are two shades available - baby pink (glow-like rose) and a soft coral with a prominent orange undertone.

The first thing I noticed when these beauties arrived was the extremely tiny size of the pots themselves. Even though I find small things adorable I feel that the balms are extremely overpriced for the amount of product you actually get. I would be lying if i said i didnt feel a twinge of disappointment when I realized just how miniature these really were. However I was willing to forgive that detail if in fact the product preformed as good as I had expected from such a prestigious brand.
Did it disappoint in that aspect too?
The answer to that question is somewhat complicated because there are aspects of this Magic Balm that I absolutely love but on the other hand other features are for the lack of better word - annoying! After using this for a few months I can honestly conclude that this is a great lip product and at the same time a very inferior blush.

As a lip treatment the Givenchy Magic Lip & Cheek Balm preforms beautifully in terms of hydration and plumping. The pigmentation is sheer but that is to be expected from a "lip balm" so I can't fault it on that measure. It feels light and nourishing on and has a significantly longer longevity that some other comparably priced lip treatments. I definitively love the "pink" shade more because the sheer wash of colour achieves that glowy "doll-like" sheen that every girly girl dreams of getting. Compliments galore every time! 

As a "blush" the Magic Balm has some significant issues it needs to work on. The main problem is the thick texture which makes it very hard to work with as it remains slightly sticky no matter what application method I use. The pigmentation is lacking so layering is needed but because of the tackiness of the balm that is impossible. My long hair made that attribute even more noticeable because it kept sticking to the cheeks even after an hour of the initial use. A ponytail solved that problem of course but at that point I was already irritated with it. I would say if the texture was thinner the cheek application would be much more successful. 

I think you can now understand why I have such mixed feelings about the Givenchy Hydra Sparkling Magic Lip and Cheek Balm! I love it on my lips and hate it on the cheeks so my verdict is well...confused! 
I would recommend it in a heartbeat as a glowy lip treatment - especially the pink version. However be wary of using it on your cheeks - it's a little unpleasant! 

You can purchase the Givenchy Magic Lip & Cheek Balm at our trusty Sephora and from various vendors on Amazon!

Have you tried the Givenchy Magic Balm? What were your thoughts?

As always thank you for reading :-)



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Turn On the Light - Yves Saint Laurent Touché Éclat

Almost everyone that has even the slightest interest in beauty product knows about the famous Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat. Its popularity has given it "cult" status among the masses, so much so that Yves Saint Laurent reports that one of these elegant golden tubes is sold every 10 seconds. Regardless of your personal opinion on the Touche Eclat, those numbers are definitively impressive and only add to the hype surrounding its concept.
This hybrid of a concealer and highlighter promises its wearer to deliver brightness, radiance and light, and in turn contributes to its supposed powers to erase signs of fatigue and fine lines. These effects are strategic and meant to be targeted on the specific facial feature you want to emphasize and highlight.

Despite its popularity the Touche Eclat seems to be very misunderstood by many people who purchase this in the first place. Most of the complaints surround the fact that this product doesn't provide coverage and will not camouflage under eye dark circles like a conventional liquid concealer. It was reading these negative reviews that kept me from purchasing this for a very long time and it wasn't until I did some research of my own and visiting the Yves Saint Laurent counter that I discovered the ambiguity surrounding the uniqueness of the famous Touche Eclat. 

The discrepancy is that this in fact is not a concealer and therefore doesnt provide heavy-duty coverage nor does it promise it will. The Touche Eclat formula is unique in that it combines some features of a light concealer, colour corrector and highlighter and as such is suppose to add light wherever its applied and hide any imperfections you may have. The purpose here is to brighten and draw attention to a specific area and not cover or camouflage it.
Once I understood this I was completely on board and added this iconic product to my makeup collection with the highest of hopes!

Official Description;
The beauty secret of the world's top makeup artists and models, Touche Éclat is the original must-have for a radiant, flawless face.
Capture 8 hours of sleep with the click of a pen. With a few strategic strokes of this award-winning complexion highlighter—dark circles, fine lines and signs of fatigue virtually disappear. Powered by the radiance-boosting Luminocaptide Complex, skin is instantly illuminated, so you look rested and refreshed—even if you’ve been up for hours. Sleek and sophisticated, it discretely slips into a makeup bag for quick touch-ups anytime. It’s the one beauty essential no woman should ever be without.

Water, Cyclomethicone, Glycerin, Talc, Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Peg/ Ppg-18/18 Dimethicone, Magnesium Sulfate, Trideceth-3, Methicone, Methylparaben, Squalane. [+/- May Contain: Ci 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), Ci 77019 (Mica), Ci 77492 (Iron Oxide), Ci 77491 (Iron Oxide), Ci 77499 (Iron Oxide), Ci 77007 (Ultramarines), Ci 77510 (Ferric Ferrocyanide), Ci 77742 (Manganese Violet), Ci 75470 (Carmine), "NF8897"].

According to the YSL product history, when the Touche Eclat was first released it was only available in a few shades but now they have expanded to a full 12 and therefore able to cover a larger demographic. Since I am very fair the shade selected for me was #1 Luminous Radiance and I have to say the colour match was flawless. The ladies at the YSL counter really know their stuff. 

The application of this does requires some practice and there is a definite learning curve. In fact when I first got this I was seriously disappointed because I found it extremely hard to work with but since this was fairly expensive I was determined to make it work one way or another. Sure enough once I mastered it my feelings changed completely and now I love it and use it on a daily basis. Basically the key to this is using it very sparingly and blending very fast, one area at a time, since the liquid dries very fast and can in turn become caky if not blended in properly. Personally I use this under my eyes and the bridge of my nose but if you look at the illustration above you can see all the areas recommended for highlighting and contouring, which is in essence what this product essentially does. And it definitively does it well!
Once I apply and blend, the finishing touch is a light dusting of the Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder ($26.00) and its sealed with no fading or creasing for at least 6-8 hours. 

I am very torn about the YSL Touche Eclat ($50) because I really love the formulation, the packaging, the longevity and even the feel on the skin however I feel like the price is extremely high for a highlighter even though the quality is excellent. I would say that it will definitively elevate and enhance your regular makeup look so if there is room for a splurge then by all means run to the YSL counter but if not wait for a sale or try some of the other similar products that are a bit more affordable. 
Some excellent alternatives are Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch ($7.99) and the L'Oreal Studio Secrets Magic Lumi ($12.99). 

Have you tried the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat? Is it worth the splurge?



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Friday, 30 August 2013

Epic Battle of the Mists - MAC vs. MUFE - Who won?

Makeup fixers and primers used to be "extras" that only professional make-up artists kept in their beauty kits. These complimentary products enhanced and perfected makeup application, gave quick results, high performance and were extremely easy to use. Us, regular girls felt like we didn't exactly need them and in fact it is only recently that good, quality formulas became available to the general public. Today there are so many different brands, both high end and drugstore, that offer various formulations for almost every skin type out there. I hesitate to say that they are absolutely a necessity for a good makeup application but I will say that if used correctly these little gems can definitively make things easier for you.

Both MUFE Mist and Fix ($34.00 for 4.22 fl.oz.) and MAC Fix + ($25.00 for 3.4 fl.oz.) have received a lot of raves from the blogosphere and since they are in fact very similar products I decided to try a little comparison experiment. Each of these brands have a huge following and consistently put out excellent products with high quality formulas but I think its safe to say that every once in a while there is a "dud" in the mix.
I am sad to say that despite its cult status and good effort, MAC Fix + was a complete "dud" for me and my ridiculously reactive skin.

MAC Fix + Description;
An aqua-spritz of vitamin and minerals, infused with a calm-the-skin blend of green tea, chamomile, cucumber, topped off with the fresh, natural, energizing scent of Sugi. Adds radiance, finishes makeup. Spray it on. Skin drinks it up

Water, glycerin, butylene glycol, cucumber fruit extract, chamomilla, camellia leaf extract, tocophryl acetate, caffeine, panthenol, hydrogenated castor oil, fragrance

MUFE Mist and Fix Description;
This light and comfortable mist seals the make up and keeps it in place by coating the skin with a weightless and invisible film. The mist provides a continuous protection for the make up and skin against external attacks (pollution, temperature variations...) by creating a colorless and imperceptible shield made from active hydrating ingredients.
For movies and photo shoots, professional make up artists use the Mist & Fix to set the make up, hence sparing them the task of renewed powder applications. It also creates visible depth for close-up shots.

Aqua (Water) Methyl Propanediol, AMP-Acrylates/Allyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Methylparaben, Chlorphenesin, Parfum (Fragrance), Chitosan Succinamide, Hexyl Cinnamal, Citronellol, Geraniol Butylphenyl Methylpropional.

I had such high hopes for the MAC Fix + when I first purchased it, especially since there are so many bloggers that swear by this and seem to be going on an ongoing "Other way to use your MAC Fix +" advertising campaign. 
It really didn't matter how I used this, my skin hated it from the get go and I even think this was the culprit behind a huge chin break out a few weeks ago. 

This is meant to be used as a refresher, makeup setter, toner substitute, hydration treatment and it is suppose to act as a finisher that provides a dewy glowy finish. None of those methods were successful for me and in fact I felt as if my skin felt even more dehydrated after using this even though the "fine mist" never really dried on top of my foundation. After trying to make this work several times, getting as creative as possible I finally had to admit that even though this seemingly works on everyone else, it is just a complete "dud" for me.
MUFE Mist & Fix  experience was and continues to be a completely different story! After the MAC fiasco I was expecting the worst but I could not have been more wrong about this inconspicuous MUFE Professional product. Everything promised and more was delivered with ease and the finesse I have come to expect from the MUFE brand. 

The alcohol formula feels refreshing, soothing, hydrating and surprisingly light on my face. The bottle design includes a great pump that delivers a uniform, fine spray that literally feels like a revitalizing mist on your face. I would say this is a very important attribute of all similarly purposed products since its essential that the spray is misty in order not to completely disturb the makeup you just painstakingly applied. The MUFE Mist & Fix passes that test with flying colors every time.    

I think at this point its very easy for you to see that the MUFE definitively wins this battle and that MAC fades in the background by all accounts. 
You really can't argue with such obvious results!

Have you tried either one of these mists? Do you have another favorite?



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The Princeza House Brand - The Body Shop

I am sure I am not alone in this but have you ever looked around your humble abode or taken an inventory of your cosmetic stash, only to realize that some brands seem to repeat over and over. It just seems like there are particular brands or product types that keep reappearing,  but its only when I took a closer look at what I already have that I noticed a specific pattern. I looked around every product stash I have, pulled out products from very surprising locations (shoe boxes?), emptied out numerous purses and rediscovered "lost" items throughout the house - all in the name of organization and beauty blogging of course.

However being the hopeless beautiholic that I am, I manged to spin the embarrassing amount of cosmetics I have accumulated into yet another blog post series. This time around I will not only be examining and featuring products I own but I will also be spot-lighting "house brands" who based on the sheer amount and repurchases have obviously become more than trustworthy.

I believe in giving credit where credit is due so I want to give these sometimes underrated and obviously neglected beauty products their well-deserved, overdue 5 minutes of fame.
Before I start I want to clear one thing up - this is absolutely not a a paid or a sponsored post nor did I receive any products for review from The Body Shop. The only thing this post shows is that I obviously have no self-control when it comes to numerous sales they have each year and more importantly their products work great and deserve the praise they receive.

First up is The Body Shop whose entire inventory seems to have landed in my bedroom and bathroom but I can't complain because their time-tested, skin-loving ingredients, smart formulations and low prices give everyone a chance to make the most of their skin care regiments. On top of that their background and philosophy is commendable, admirable and makes me want to support them even more!
The Body Shop was not only one of the first beauty companies to start up and encourage recyclable packaging but they were the pioneers of fair trade ingredients and bans on animal testing. They concentrate on using natural ingredients, making sure they are ethically sourced and more than earn their cruelty-free stamp. I feel it is all those attributes that have earned them world-wide popularity and customer loyalty to boot. Evidently that factor is very evident at my house!

Beautysets - The Body Shop
The Body Shop specialty has always been body care but in the past few years their skincare and makeup collections have started stealing the show. Each year they continue to release superior science-backed formulations, with relative natural ingredients, innovative combinations and amazing performance results. For me The Body Shop products is what I reach for when I need something that will absolutely work - its reliable, guilt-free and always smells amazing. How can I lose?
My absolute body care favorites are the Strawberry Shower Gel, the amazing Satsuma Soap, the reliable Peppermint Cooling Pumice Foot Scrub and who can forget the yumminess of their Banana Conditioner. Even though there are much more affordable versions of their bath accessories elsewhere I find that investing a bit more at The Body Shop will guarantee that I don't have to replace them as often! Its really a win-win because paying a little more gives me better quality, significant durability and my purchase always supports community fair trade! Recently their Africa Shea Butter & Sesame Body Balm has been making a frequent appearance in my bathroom and I can see a definite repurchase very soon!

Beautysets - The Body Shop 2
Who hasn't tried the famous Body Butters yet? They are top sellers for a reason - deep moisturization, gorgeous fragrance and clean ingredients, all combined in one of the most decadents tubs ever made. The matching Lip Butters are just as good and make for an amazing overnight lip treatment that never disappoints. Their newer Born Lippy Stick Balm in Lychee has been getting a lot of game play around here ever since it came home with me last week. Now I wish I had gotten more!
If I had to pick an all time favorite The Body Shop product and one that will be getting a more in depth review soon, then the Beautifying Oils win hands down. I can't get enough of them after a shower or a bath plus a few drops in my hair gives me that subtle fragrance and hydration that is more than needed during the hot summers. They are cheap, good for the skin, smell amazing and last a long time. Sounds like a HG to me!

Beautysets - The Body Shop 3\

The Body Shop skincare was somehow overlooked by me for a long time however ever since i wandered into that corner, each time I come home I seem to add yet another piece to my stash. The Tea Tree OilVitamin E Gentle Facial Cleansing Wipes and the Aloe Calming Toner have been staples for years but recently I have been hooked on their amazing Vitamin C Facial Radiance Capsules, which are definitively getting their own review. Lets just say that I had results and compliments within days. The Nutriganics Skin Care Starter Kit is ready for travel, airplane friendly, complete and gentle enough for those transition periods when you don't want to shock your skin too much! The Wise Woman Eye Cream and the Blue Corn 3 in 1 Deep Cleansing Scrub Mask have been getting a lot of buzz so they are now definitively on my radar and wish list. 

Beautysets - The Body Shop Makeup

Just like their skincare The Body Shop makeup line-up has been a more recent discovery but if the products I have tried so far are testament to their quality then I can see a lot more orders in my future. The All-In-One BB Cream is a star in my opinion and provides such great coverage without leaving your complexion flat or caky one bit. It actually leaves the skin with a very dewy, youthful glow that lasts for hours. Their Shimmer Cubes are popular for a reason and I can see myself collecting all of their colors easily. Once again they last a long time, look amazing on and are priced so low that I would recommend them to everyone.
My weakness for highlighters was more than satisfied with their Brush On Radiance Balls  and the Sparkler, which are two products that have surpassed my expectations, preformed amazingly and even decorated my vanity. I couldnt be happier with them!

The Body Shop is obviously a brand that has all the Princeza needs covered :-)

Now that you can all see just how much I love The Body Shop hopefully you can recommend some of their products I might have overlooked? 



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Thursday, 29 August 2013

Benefit Cosmetics - Rockateur is a True Blush Rockstar

I feel as if Benefit Cosmeticsis a brand I have always been a huge fan of, so much so that I just couldn't help but LOVE them even when said products underwhelmed me or even totally disappointed me. I don't know what it is - the cute vintage packaging, clever advertising campaigns, cute girly colors or thoughtful customer service but regardless Benefit always wins me over.
The Rockateur ($28.00 for 0.17 oz) blush is an excellent reminder that my devotion was once again more than justified! I thought Benefit's Hervana was my ideal blush however in just about a week the Rockateur has changed all of that and is now on a pretty impossible pedestal. 
Spoken as a true blush fiend i have to say Benefit's Rockateur ($28.00) just might be my all time favorite blush and maybe even back-up worthy (you know...just in case!)

Official (lovely!) description;
Pick up the beat with a rush of heat! This rockin’ rose gold cheek powder gives a famously provocative flush that turns heads on-stage and off. The crowd will go wild for its sexy faceted design, accented in luxe gold. For an encore, the custom angled, dimensional brush gives rich, show-stopping payoff every time.

Directions for use;
Swirl brush over the powder & tap off excess. Sweep onto the apples of your cheeks & along your cheekbones.

Beauty Tip;
Rock a sexy flush and long lashes beyond belief…wear rockateur with Benefit’s bestselling they’re real! mascara.

First lets tackle the controversy that's been going around regarding the size of this Benefit boxed powder. If you already own some of the other blushes than you may have noticed that the average size of the previous boxes has been 7-8 gr while the Rockateur weighs only 5 gr and the price ($28.00) doesn't reflect that difference. Benefit Cosmetics has gone on record to explain themselves by indicating that the Rockateur is indeed softer than the other powders so layering any more of it could increase the chances of the blush itself cracking and crumbling throughout the course of normal handling. Thereby the stability of the formula required less product in the packaging so essentially we are dealing with a brand new product with the same price as the other blushes. The difference really didn't concern me one bit - the blush pigmentation is definitively superior to some of the others and the Rockateur really does feel different as well. Not to mention that if we are all honest with ourselves - how many blushes have you actually finished in your makeup lifetime? I rest my case :-)

The portability just like before can be an issue due to cardboard's questionable stability and durability but that's nothing new. Either way for me the blush inside is what matters and I admit however unpractical the packaging is rather me anyways!

Upon closer inspection of the Rockateur powder I was surprised to see that its actually made up of two rosy gold shimmer sections with a subtle matte core in the middle of the "Rock" lettering. To me the shade is very similar to their Dallas powder but with a dusky cool rosy undertone with a lot of subtle shimmery sheen, not to be confused with glitter. This is a sophisticated, buttery soft, rosy gold sheen which on my fair to medium skin tone created a very dusky rose gold blush with a glimpse of a soft bronzer mixed in. The finish is a dewy, youthful satin sheen with just the right amount of pigment and subtle sparkle to avoid looking like the many rose-tone blushes I already own. I was nervous that it might look a bit metallic on my complexion however what I ended up with was a rosy sun-kissed effect that is somewhat tricky for me to achieve without using multiple products. There was absolutely no need to use a highlighter with the Rockateur blush - the glow was already there! 

My favorite part about the Rockateur Boxed Blush is how it actually feels on my skin! This is no ordinary powder at all - the formula gives a cooling-gel like sensation on the cheeks and it requires the lightest of touch both to apply and properly blend in. Its goof-proof and that't very important for me and my clumsiness! 

At the end of the day Benefit and Rockateur makes me feel beautiful and I bet it will do the same for you. 
At the end of the day that's all that matters :-)

Plus take a look at the commercial - who doesn't want a little bit of Rock in their life! 

Have you tried the Benefit Rockateur Boxed Blush? Which Benefit blush is your favorite?



P.S. If you enjoyed this post and want some more Princeza Beauty Musings, please consider following me through GFC, Bloglovin, Pinterest or Twitter! Insert "happy dance" here :-) 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Princeza Guide to Morning Beauty

Apparently you guys loved reading about my bedtime beauty ridiculousness and even though I was almost expecting to have to dodge my little vain head, the response was quite the opposite :-) I might have finally stumbled upon a little slice of this sparkly universe that really understands the feel only a "beauty product" can fool you into and just how comforting a swipe of rose-scented lip treatment can be at the end of a hard day. More importantly my need to over-complicate and over-do anything and everything was not mocked (yay!)

I guess The Princeza Guide to Bedtime Beauty was such a hit that I received quite a bit of emails for an "encore" of sorts however despite the fact that my attention span sometimes resembles that of a goldfish, my 
bedtime routine hasn't changed enough to do a repeat (just yet!) but ever the clever goldfish I am, I came up with an equally complicated (or more?) substitute - Guide to Morning Beauty post. 

So after a night of annoying tossing & turning, unladylike-like sleeping positions, candy-colored kitty (don't ask - i am the weird one!) filled dreams and the occasional creepy nightmare any Princeza worth her crown will need to preform a series of pre-determined tasks that are pretty much required for her to be at least presentable. That's the plan of course, however this does not work out very often and i guess the key feature being is that its at least pre-determined :-) 
The success rate also depends on how early it is, where I have to be that day, the temperature outside, how long will I be away from my abode and how comfortable my bed feels that particular morning. I think we have already established that my high-maintenance nature guarantees that I am bound to be on the lazy side as well so getting out of bed and moving is not my strong point. Beauty products I love using definitively help in that particular department. 

Once again lets break this into steps so the over-complication can be easier to understand!

Shopping Bags For Your Morning Eye Bags
Whether you partied the night away, won the "black-eye" genetic jackpot or mother nature simply refused your sleep request last night, there is no worse start to your beautification routine than having to deal with really-puffy eye syndrome. Your regular eye cream might be able to help disguise some of the lovely purple shading but no matter how good the formula is, its not going to be able to deal  with the puffiness under the eyes one bit. You will need something more powerful, targeted and a lot more specific to banish the dreaded eye "pouf" on those mornings and I being who I am have a number of tried&tested remedies that work every time without a lot of frill or fuss to it 
Mornings that are puffy, sleepy and pressed for time as well I always reach for an eye-serum roller-ball that is usually  in the fridge for that extra icy boost to the the refreshing massaging action under the eye. It literally takes about 60 seconds of quick press action to see results, break-up the "pouf" and wake me up a little more too.

My top pics and ones that never disappoint are Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller ($12.99), Aveeno Smart Essentials Anti-Fatigue Eye Treatment ($11.99) and Live Clean Fresh Face De-Puffing Roller Eye Treatment ($21.29)
Mornings that are more lazy, on the weekends or on special occassion days I will bring out the big guns and actually use a treatment to really cool and de-compress the entire eye area. The best stuff is natural of course so if there is time and cucamber/tea bag relaxation session is your best bet however these products really are a the next best thing - Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels ($30.00 for 8), Frownies Eye Gels ($29.99) and my all-time favorite Duwop Igels ($25.00)

The Cleansing Party 
Since the Bedtime Beauty Routine already involves a heavy duty cleansing routine followed by a very specific line-up of hydrating-rejuvenating treatments I try to keep my morning cleanse very gentle and as simple as my Princeza genes allow. This includes a generous spray of hydrating thermal mineral water (maid of the mist) to start things off with a grime-neutralizing step which is then followed by a gentle cleanse, pairing  my Clarisonic with a mild non-stripping cleanser. I used to stick to just micellar waters and wipes in the mornings but since i stepped up my cleansing party I find my skin quality has greatly improved.
The best ones I have used are Omorovicza Cleansing Foam ($75.00 for 5 oz, review here!), Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser ($15.00 for 6 oz) and my current favorite Pai Camellia & Rose Organic Facial Cleanser ($50.00 for 100ml).
The combination of the Clarisonic and gentle cleansing action means that my complexion will be exfoliated gently, cleansed and refreshed, ultimately ready to receive my daytime products with the renewed gusto only clean pores can provide.

To Tone Or Not to Tone 
I have always used some kind of toning step or even an astringent so skipping it makes me feel awkward or like I am missing out on something. Since the discovery of exfoliating toners and all their amazing benefits (see here) I can't see myself skipping this step anytime soon. It might not be a must-have part of a skincare regiment and I wouldn't endorse it just for the sake of using yet another product but for me there are obvious benefits so I continue to make time for it (its only takes 10 seconds tops!).
Besides I am probably brainwashed into it at this point but at least its a good kind of habit to "get into"!

My favorites continue to be the Pixi Glow Tonic (review here!), Biologique Recherche (review here!) and Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner (review here!) but my recent discovery Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic might be taking over pretty soon.

Protection Serums Are a Go! 
Just because I tend to go overboard during my Nighttime routine you would think I would try to take it easy and skip a step or two during the day! Um nope! My facial serum choices shift from rejuvenation and renewal at night to protection and radiance during the day because I feel it's important to have all my skincare needs and basis covered. However daytime serums also have to be light, fast absorbing and layer friendly. Since I will be adding a moisturizer, a sunscreen and possibly even makeup on top, this means that all of these need to play well together and one "pilling" culprit can wreck the entire process completely and that can really suck if you don't have time for the reset button. 
Serums that fit really good in my routine are - an old stand-by Indeed Laboratories Hydraluron ($19.99 for 1 oz, review here!), Biotherm Source Therapie 7 ($64 for 50ml) and Trilogy CoQ10 Booster Serum ($44.00 for 20ml)

Hydration and More Hydration
Everyone has to moisturize every day is a statement we can all agree on (even you oily skin gals!) and not just to soften and hydrate the skin surface. Properly moisturized skin cells are balanced, plump, comfortable, renewed and strengthened but more importantly hydrated skin is stronger and finds it easier to renew itself over time. Its kind of like skin insurance if you know what I mean.
Canadian weather can go from one extreme to another quite frequently and if you have sensitive-reactive skin like me then you already know what kind of havoc that can cause! I try to keep the reactivity in check by keeping a variety of skin moisturizers in my arsenal to fill and fix any need my skin cells come up every day.
Taking sunscreen into consideration, which is worn separately if I am not wearing makeup, my favorite moisturizing creams are Oskia Nutri-Active Day Cream ($85.00), Zelens Z Matrix Energy & Moisture Infusion ($140) and Vichy Aqualia Thermal Balm ($24.99).

Bonus Morning Brownie Points 
If my facial moisturizer doesnt already have a sunscreen built in I normally apply a light layer in the morning even if I don't plan on being outside for too long - remember skin cancer and the leathery look will never be trendy (i hope!).
The best ones I have found are Clarins Sun Wrinkle Control SPF 15 ($34.00) and Supergoop Endless Summer SPF 30 ($45.11).
On the days I don't have to wear makeup but want to be somewhat polished then my beloved tinted moisturizers are the key because when paired with the right cream-based blush I can end up looking healthy and "glowy" even though I might not feel that way. My current obsession is the Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturizer ($64.00) and its a perfection in a tube which I will review very soon!

Other bonus point tasks include a layer of hydration and protection by Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm ($19.99, review here!) or the Josie Maran Argan Lip Treatment Duo ($34.00) for the lips and when i am feeling extremely ambitious some lash and brow TLC conditioning by Lashem Eyelash Boosting Serum ($70).

The obligatory perfume spray of my signature PRADA Candy ($96.00 for 1.7 oz, review here!) is the finishing touch regardless of whether I am staying in or out.
Its cheesy I know but it really does complete me!

I hope you enjoyed yet another glimpse it to my completely over-saturated beauty world - please tell me if i need to add any more things to this routine! I feel like i can always elevate it you know...

What is your favorite part of morning beauty routines?



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Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Princeza Guide to Bedtime Beauty

It really is no secret that I happen to be a high-maintenance girl in almost every sense of that concept. My natural "girliness" drives almost everything I do and experience throughout my day and as such I embrace it wholeheartedly and openly. The tomboy nature of my childhood has all but died out now and pink sparkly-shiny things seem to dominate my existence and my surroundings. There is nothing wrong with that, right?

This femininity naturally extends into how I approach my beauty regiments and nothing illustrates that more than my bedtime rituals. Each and every step of this routine is designed to relax, comfort and elevate the beautification process, which is something I look forward to especially on those really bad days. It might sound like I am putting way too much thought into this and over-complicating the whole experience but that is exactly the point when you are doing something you love. At least whoever goes to bed with me will be able to reap the benefits of my silky, fragranced self :-)

For better overview I have divided the bedtime beauty process in several steps so you can see just how seriously I can take this!

1. Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness 
I try to shower each night before bed for two reasons - I have a thing about being clean all the time and more importantly I value my sleep immensely so the chances of a morning shower are usually slim to none.
The scent can be very important for bedtime use so I try not to choose any "perky" or "energizing" scent combinations. A gentle, soothing and moisturizing formula is always a must so that along with the fragrance requirement can make my choice somewhat difficult.
One that hits all those points and is one of my favorites is the This Works Deep Sleep Shower Gel ($28.00 for 8.4 oz) and the Cowshed Lazy Cow Soothing Bath & Shower Gel ($25.00 for 10 oz)

2. Butter Yourself Up 
I firmly believe that smooth, silky and soft skin is one of the top attributes of our femininity. Not only does your skin feel more comfortable with proper moisturization but it can also elevate your confidence like nothing else, regardless of the given situation. Bedtime pampering gives you the perfect opportunity for this because as we all know your skin renews and rejuvenates itself best during the night so arming it with some extra emollients can only amplify that effect.
My personal collection of body lotions and rich body butters are quite extensive but the ones I reach for more often during the summer months are Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter ($42.00 for 8 oz), Barr-Co. Fine Shea Butter Lotion ($24.00 for 16 oz) and the amazing The Body Shop Divine Calm Body Butter ($20.00 for 6.75 oz).

3. Amplified Bedtime Skincare Routine 
I already have a very extensive night time skincare routine with serums, eye creams and heavy duty moisturizers already in place. I like to refer to this as my core regiment and the major theme here is once again regenerate and rejuvenate in order to help the skin's natural nigh-time repair cycle. The products may change but their purpose remains relatively the same.
Every few nights I try to elevate the core with some additional weapons from my bathroom cabinet that really make a difference in both my skin quality and feel.
I am talking about overnight hydration masks (Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Water-Max Sleeping Mask), resurfacing treatments (Dr. Brandt Overnight Resurfacing Serum), targeted imperfection creams (Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel) and nightime eye serums (Ole Henriksen Truth is in the Eyes Vitamin C Peel Concentrate)

4. Luxury Girly Necessities 
These steps illustrate my high-maintenance nature best. They are obviously not must-have's and most probably don't have all that many major skin or body benefits but are complete indulgences of the beauty world and as such my favorite perks of being a girl. Taking the time to add these little steps to my bedtime make a huge difference when it comes to calming, comforting and preparing me for that lovely slumber time we all need more of.
Deeply moisturizing treatment hand creams take care of the most overlooked but so important body part and only take a few minutes to apply so I really have no excuse when it comes to using them. I keep several mini tubes on my bed-stand and the ones that always stand out are the impossibly cute LUSH Tiny Hands Hand Lotion ($8.95), Compagnie de Provence Wild Rose Shea Butter Hand Cream ($5.50 for 1 oz) and Lollia Relax Shea Butter Handcreme ($25.00 for 4 oz)
Moisturizing and nourishing lip treatments are always a must for me and the ones that I love the most (right now) are Tatcha Camellia Nourishing Lip Balm ($36.00), First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy ($15.00) and the new Nivea Lip Butter in Vanilla & Macadamia Kiss ($3.99)
My eye lashes get some extra help and conditioning with the Mavala Eye-Lite Double Lash Night Treatment ($18.00) and L'Oreal Lash Boosting Serum ($14.99)

5. Bonus Point Steps 
You are probably rolling your eyes by now but I promise I almost done! The finishing touches to this elaborate bedtime indulgence parade are a quick spritz of perfume (PRADA Candy), dusting powder on the sheets (LUSH Silky Underwear Dusting Powder) and maybe a pillow spray (DREAM Pillow Mist)

I think its pretty obvious at this point that I have an obvious cosmetic fetish and rest assured I am fully aware of this but I would still gladly recommend all of these products to anyone who is looking to make their bedtime routine a little more luxurious!
After all beauty products are wonderful perks of our feminine existence and we are all worthy of a little luxury :-)

I hope you enjoyed a tiny glimpse into my beauty product world

Do you have a bedtime routine? What is your favorite part?



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Maid of the Mist - Facial Sprays

I had first started using these sprays a few years ago but the results were un-impressive, tedious and seemed to almost dehydrate my skin more, which of course is exactly the opposite of what they claim to do in the first place. Annoyed at myself for buying the "hype" around these "water cans" I ended their existence in my bathroom and figured that they just weren't right for my skin type. Lesson learned!

This year as my skincare routine evolved I rediscovered the coveted facial sprays (among other things) and hoped that this time around the chosen formulas would be better and worth my time and effort. With more experience and even more research I embarked on a shopping expedition hoping to find that "miracle brew" everyone raved about.

Despite the simplicity I have found that facial sprays are also often misunderstood and misused if you don't do your homework and read the directions on the product itself. Trust me, there is definitively a wrong way to use this and I had nailed it perfectly.
The fact that I, a biologist by trade, missed such an obvious biological feature of the skin composition and had used a hydration product to specifically dehydrate was only slightly embarrassing. However I am happy to say that i finally figured it out and hopefully learned a lesson about reading directions...

Its actually a really simple concept if you stop to think about it. Spraying water on a "living" surface and allowing it to dry will cause even more moisture loss from the skin cells through the osmosis/diffusion phenomenon. The final result is a skin that is more dehydrated than what you started out with, hence wrongful use of the culprit will only cause more harm than good.  The thermal water sprays don't have any moisture binding ingredients in their formulation so as they evaporate the skin cells are basically "sucked dry".
The key in preventing this from happening is also simple as well. Use as directed, spay all over your face, let it sit for about 30-60 seconds and most importantly BLOT the excess away. Trust me, the difference is really more than noticeable and for the first time I am able to appreciate this product properly.
My favorites thermal mineral waters include - La Roche Posay ($12.99 for 5.2 oz), Avene ($18.00 for 10.58 oz) and Evian ($11.00 for 5 oz).

A sub-category of facial sprays includes specifically hydration targeting formulas too, in which case the blot-factor is not essential because these include moisture-trapping ingredients that are able to penetrate skin surface and balance the natural skin "water" content. These new-generation hybrids can have added glycerin, hyaluronic acid, plant botanicals and even essential oils to provide even more benefits to your skincare routine.
My favorites of this kind are - Caudalie Grape Water Soothing Moisturizing Spray ($19.00 for 6.7 oz), NUDE Hydrating Water Spray ($32.00 for 3.4 oz), Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist ($86.00 for 3.4 oz) and The Body Shop Vitamin E Face Mist($16.00 for 3.2 oz)

Now that I have read the description and very necessary directions I have found many unique ways to use these spa-inspiring facial mists
1. In place of toner, prior to serum and/or moisturizing cream to improve absorption
2. A light mist as a finishing-setting step after makeup application to achieve the "dewy glow"
3. To fix "powdery" mistakes during makeup application
4. Refreshing pick-me up during the day (especially hot, humid summer days and nights)
5. Airplane hydration treatment

Even though facial sprays are not necessity a must-have item for someone with an otherwise good skincare routine I would still recommend giving them a try. The skin-loving benefits can be targeted by selecting the right brand and formulation but where this product really shines is the appropriately named "dewy factor". A light mist of these sprays is a sure way to achieve that baby skin glow that can elevate your look to a much more youthful, healthy level. That alone is reason enough for me :-)

You can purchase my favorites or discover new ones at SephoraUltaThe Body ShopDermstore and Amazon

I hope that was helpful!

Do you have a favorite facial spray? Any tips for using these products even better?



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Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Beauty Fence - Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream


I am a big fan of multi-tasking products whether it be skincare or makeup and if we are talking about an international discovery then chances are I would be all over it. There is something about foreign things that I have always found so appealing and mysterious. 
The Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream had all the hallmarks of a product I would and should like.
It's a cult beauty item in Japan, it contains mostly "clean" ingredients and it has multi-moisturizing purposes. 
So why am I filing it under the "Beauty Fence" category? 
It's a really hard question to answer but ultimately what it came down to was the mere fact that I was just "unimpressed" by almost everything about Yu-Be.

Yu-BeYu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream soothes and moisturizes dry skin. This glycerin-based cream is enriched with vitamin E, vitamin B2, and camphor. It has a uniquely high glycerin content and absorbability achieved through a special manufacturing process which makes Yu-Be so effective. Use it to smooth rough, dry patches on hands, elbows, knees, and feet. It softens and reduces tough calluses, including hard, cracked heels, and helps heal and prevent split cuticles. It replenishes lost moisture from water damage or frequent hand washing, helps heal and minimize scarring from burns, and protects and moisturizes skin exposed to cold, wind, and water.

Glycerin, Water, Isopropyl Myristate, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Triethanolamine, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Camphor, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Hydrogenated coco-glycerides, Stearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 80, EDTA, Methylparaben.

The Yu-Be product line originates from a 1957 Japan pharmacy and is one of the top selling family skincare lines in Asia today.

The key ingredients in the Yu-Be Moisturizing Cream are all cantered around hydration: glycerin, camphor, Vitamin E and Vitamin B2. 
The glycerin is a natural humectant which means that it's purpose is to both attract and retain moisture. The Vitamins E and B2 have antioxidant properties that serve to protect the skin and smooth out the epidermal surface. 
The more "exotic" ingredient, camphor is said to soothe irritation, improve skin circulation and promote healthier skin appearance. The scent is prominent and I can see it being bothersome for the sensitive types but it does fade within a few minutes and doesn't linger for too long. 
This moisturizing balm has multiple uses and is recommended for dry patches, softening cuticles, foot care, wind-proofing and even diaper rash.

The texture of the Yu-Be Cream is definitively balm like and as such it can be on the greasy side but at least that can be a testament to its "hydrating" properties. The thickness is what troubled me because I found it hard to work with and it seemed to take a very long time to absorb.

It's absolutely not a bad product and I believe it does deliver on its promises for the most part. However for me the Yu-Be line is subpar when compared to some of the other multi-tasking balms I already know and love (Rodial, Elizabeth Arden etc). 
If you don't already own some of the other formulas I think the Yu-Be Moisturizing Cream is worth trying out and the price is fair ($20 for 1.25 oz) for the amount and longevity of the product itself.

You can get more info and purchase the Yu-Be products at Sephora and Amazon

I hope this was helpful!

Have you tried any Yu-Be products? What is your favourite multi-tasker? 



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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Princeza and Her Princ

Today's post is going to be a little different than my usual cosmetics musings and mostly unnecessary pondering. However rest assured dear readers its still going to be "beauty" related (sort of!) and its my attempt to give you a little glimpse into the Princeza's not-so-glamorous but still kind of amusing everyday life. 

You guys asked for this so I delivered!
I introduce you to my loyal sidekick and a permanent fluffy fixture on my bed - my BFF Pooh!

Pooh is a rescue Turkish Angora, he is 12 years old, pleasantly "plump" and in my humble opinion, the best looking cat in North America. I mean just look at him!

He is pure snow white and lazier than any other animal I have ever had the pleasure to know. Put it to you this way - he lays down while he EATS!

Being a cat, you wouldn't expect him to be loyal but I have to say he is pretty much devoted to me and my bedroom. That's not to say that he is "rude" or "ignorant"! He just happens to be indifferent when it comes to other people and the many other animals that live in our home.

Here are the top 10 things to know about Pooh!

1. Even though he is "plumped", Pooh is actually really picky when it comes to the food he eats and he is definitively not "food-motivated" and as such cannot be bribed into anything

2. He takes his food "issues" to a whole new level by changing his preferences on a monthly basis. Just when I think I found his favorite he decides he is no longer a fan of whatever can-type I stocked up on...

3. Pooh has a huge basket of toys he never plays with but show him any kind of a string and he goes nuts

4. Catnip makes him loopy...for a few minutes at least

5. Being a Turkish Angora he has these cute "fur tufts" between his toes and he DOES not like them being touched

6. Cat-like behavior is not his strong point - he sleeps with a pillow, like a human...

7. He hugs and holds on like a child - paws around the neck...

8. He is friends of raccoons but not other cats or kittens

9. His favorite food is my Mom's pesto chicken

10. He is my favorite thing in the whole wide world!

I hope you guys like my BFF!

Do you have any pets? Cats? Dogs? Raccoons?



P.S. If you enjoyed this post and want some more Princeza Beauty Musings, please consider following me through GFC, Bloglovin, Pinterest or Twitter! Insert "happy dance" here :-)