Friday, December 27, 2013

Essie On A Silver Platter

If you're still figuring out what to do with your nails for New Year's Eve, then boy, do I have a polish for you! Essie On A Silver Platter from the current holiday Encrusted Treasures collection is a mix of small and large hexagon indigo holographic glitter on a pale champagne gold and holographic shimmer base. With all that glitter and gold, it's totally a holiday mani in a bottle!

I went with $2 off coupon in hand to pick up Essie Lapiz of Luxury, since I noticed my collection is missing a periwinkle blue. Bf happened to notice the Encrusted Treasures display, and being enchanted by all things sparkly, he held it out to me for inspection. I'm not usually a fan of super glittery polishes (or more accurately, the removal process involved), but I do occasionally cave in to his picks--I figured why not? At least he didn't pick Belugaria!

As the name Encrusted Treasures would suggest, it has a bit of a textured finish. I never quite got into the textured polish trend and actually wish it would just die off already, but it's kind of nice here and not too much. For lots of sparkle and more texture, use it on its own as seen on my ring finger, which leaves only a slight visible nail line. To amp up the gold shimmer base, I layered one coat of On A Silver Platter on top of a coat of gold foil polish Orly Luxe. For me, one coat has the perfect amount of glitter--not too sparse, not too crowded--and I think it would also be quite nice on top of a white or deep blue polish.

Dreading the prospect of taking off all this glitter, I used the Essence Peel-Off Base Coat so I could skip over the complete destruction of my nail surface. It works perfectly well as long as you apply a very thick coat, but unfortunately it caused the polish to chip off very readily. (Edit January 22: I used this again over a normal base coat and it still chipped easily. I think the slightly raised texture may be to blame.) Then again, this isn't really a problem for a nail polish lover, since it just means I can wear another polish sooner ( `∀´ )

How do you feel about glitter polish? What are you doing for New Year's Eve?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

DAVIDsTEA Red Sweater Nails

As I've mentioned before, Christmas is a relatively minor event for me: no tree, lights, or waking up early to tear open presents, but I do love me some holiday season special collections. One that really caught my eye this year was from DAVIDsTEA--I'm a big fan and always find an excuse to pop into a store. I really loved the winter collection mug designs and instantly thought the clean, modern patterns would translate perfectly onto nail art.

image from DAVIDsTEA Pinterest board
The Red Sweater mug inspired these nails, and isn't this thing just the cutest? I used four of the five patterns featured in this mug on my nails (secret: I usually leave my thumb nail plain). Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be available online at DAVIDsTEA anymore, although the green version is still around.

I find this kind of nail art really challenging myself, because the high contrast between the red and white means line work has to be really clean; mistakes stand out easily. In some places, I had to go back with more red nail polish to clean up the edges of my white lines, but thankfully a thick coat of Seche Vite disguised the presence of extra layers of polish.

For the red, I used e.l.f. Smokin Hot from the Disney Villains collection (an almost dead-on colour dupe for butter London Pillar Box Red, by the way.) For the white, I used a liquid white acrylic paint, except on the little finger where I used Sinful Colors Snow Me White as the base polish.

Tell me all about the Boxing Day deals you've scored today!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

LUSH Snow Fairy

This is probably one of the most last-minute Christmas gift suggestion posts around, but luckily LUSH makes amaaazing gift sets whether you were wise enough to shop well ahead of Christmas week or are scrambling at the mall. One such gift set is the Snow Fairy box, charmingly packaged up in pink wrapping paper (with a gift tag too!) for the sugarplum fairy in your life.

Inside: a mini catalog of LUSH products to help turn the recipient into a devoted LUSHie, if they aren't one already. Other important contents: Snow Fairy shower gel (100 mL), Angels Delight soap (70g), and Shimmy Shimmy sparkle bar (30g).

Snow Fairy shower gel is a holiday favourite with its super-sweet bubblegum candy scent. This isn't the type of fragrance I gravitate towards, but I honestly ended up liking it a lot more than I expected--maybe because the scent doesn't linger too long after my shower for me to get sick of it. I use it with my Dove Men Shower Tool and it lathers up quite nicely; I hardly noticed the biodegradable silver shimmer infused in the gel though.

People who are used to seeing the rainbow-coloured blocks of Angel's Delight in LUSH shops will find the version found in this gift box a little unfamiliar. This version of Angel's Delight, exclusive to Snow Fairy gift box, is in a cute star shape with iridescent star glitter. It has a very, very sweet orange and tangerine scent, like super sugary fruit punch. I prefer it over the shower gel because its relatively high rapeseed oil and coconut oil content make it much better at softening my crocodile skin, although it probably won't last as long as lather-friendly Snow Fairy.

Shimmy Shimmy sparkle bar is a solid body conditioner that adds a bit of shimmer to your skin. The heart-shaped bar is mainly cocoa butter, making it incredibly softening and smoothing: just one stroke over my arm makes a difference. The natural glowiness that the hydrating shea butter imparts to the skin goes nicely with the very slight iridescent glitter trail hiding in the bar. Fans of American Cream conditioner will love this because it has the same vanilla and lavender scent; of the three, this one is my favourite scent because it's more warm and inviting, and less like a sugar rush. I think it would be quite nice to glide this over your arms, shoulders, and legs before heading out to a holiday party for a little extra sparkle.

Some people will find the fragrances in this set a bit over-the-top sweet, but the fact that it's sold out online suggests that a lot of people really like it! I imagine it would be an especially big hit with anyone that loves glitter and body products with shimmer.

If this gift set is just right for someone on your list, you may still be able to pick it up in stores for $22.95 CAD.

Snow Fairy shower gel ingredients: water, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium cocoamphoacetate, lauryl betaine, fragrance, propylene glycol, synthetic musk, lactic acid, titanium dioxide, calcium sodium borosilicate, tin oxide, polyester-3, methyl ionone, benzyl benzoate, D&C Red No. 28, D&C Red No. 21, methylparaben

Angel's Delight soap ingredients: water, propylene glycol, rapeseed oil, coconut oil (Brassica napus; Cocos nucifera), sodium stearate, sodium lauryl sulfate, fragrance, tangerine oil (Citrus reticulata), sweet orange oil (Citrus sinensis), titanium dioxide, gardenia extract (Gardenia jasminoides), glycerine, sodium chloride, EDTA, tetrasodium etidronate, sodium hydroxide, limonene, linalool, FD&C Red No. 4, FD&C Red No. 33, D&C Red 28, D&C Violet No. 2, D&C Orange No. 4, D&C Blue No. 1, silver lustre (potassium silicate, titanium dioxide, iron oxides and iron hydroxides), edible golden agar glitter (agar, mica, titanium dioxide, iron oxide), silver lustre (potassium silicate, titanium dioxide, iron oxides, and iron hydroxide)

Shimmy Shimmy sparkle bar ingredients: cocoa butter (Theobroma cacao), iridescent glitter (polyethylene terephthalate and acrylates copolymer), shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii), fragrance, vanilla absolute (Vanilla planifolia), clary sage oil (Salvia sclarea), lavender oil (Lavandula hybrida), benzoin resinoid (Styrax benzoin), linalool, coumarin

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

China Glaze holiday nail design contest

When I heard that China Glaze was holding a holiday nail art contest, I figured it was a good opportunity for me to try a little freehand nail art again. I wish I had given myself more time to work on this; I wasn't planning to enter at first because I wasn't feeling too good about my odds considering all the super talented nail artists out there, but I decided to try anyway for fun and for the practice.

Here's my entry: a dark blue-light blue gradient with sleigh and reindeer silhouettes and random snowflake branches. The idea was Santa returning home after delivering gifts all night, as dawn is breaking :>

For the gradient, I used China Glaze Kinetic Candy again and sponged on L'Oreal Colour Riche in Jet Set to Paris (I'm not the only one amused by the funny coincidence of this polish name, right?) I initially picked China Glaze Up All Night (again, oddly fitting) for a deeper, darker sky, but it leans a little violet and clashed with Kinetic Candy. On top of the darker blue I layered Layla Pro N.22 (Glitterland), a topper packed with super fine and small circular silver glitter, for stars and a little holiday sparkle. I used Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Black Out for the silhouettes and Sinful Colors Snow Me White for the snowflake. Ordinarily I would use black and white acrylic or liquid acrylic paints for a smoother, more opaque result but didn't want to risk running into trouble for not using nail lacquer.

Originally I had envisioned the silhouettes flying over treetops and houses, but after looking at close-up photos of nails all the time, sometimes I forget that nails are really really small and I just didn't plan enough space for that. Still, I'm happy with the overall look and hope you like it enough to vote for my entry here! You do have to vote for three separate entries and click through a confirmation email but I think this helps create a very fair voting system.

I kinda wish I had dotted a little red glitter nose on one of those reindeer! What would your holiday nail art look like?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Recent indulgences

How's your December going? We had some snow in Vancouver this week; luckily I picked up a pair of new boots just in time, and I found my missing mittens! With my birthday and Christmas coming up, I've had a very spoiled November and December of treating myself to all kinds of longings and lusts (including those new boots). I'm generally very good at denying myself all kinds of shiny things, but I made a few exceptions this time.

The self-spoiling all started when I took up an invitation from Bare Essentials Skin Bar in downtown Vancouver to stop by for one of their cocktail-inspired 30-minute treatments. I got a "skin-mapping" to determine my problem areas and found out that my forehead area was congested (translation: lacking moisture, overproducing oil, dry skin getting trapped), which explained all the sucky blemishes I was getting there. Other areas were simply dehydrated, so I got the moisture-focused Mai Tai treatment. Professional facials are not a routine thing for me, so being able to relax with a cup of tea and have my face massaged was a lovely experience.

ALL the Dermalogica awesomeness
Bare Essentials uses all Dermalogica products in their treatments, so it was a cool introduction to a brand I've heard so many good things about. Their retail boutique carries the complete Dermalogica range, including foundations. I have my eye on the Daily Microfoliant, which felt super gentle on my slightly sensitive skin.

I left my appointment feeling really relaxed and pampered. I think I could have had a more intensely hydrating treatment as my skin started feeling a little dry a few hours later, but this is something that could be adjusted in my next visit since all treatments are customized to the individual.

Considering my congested forehead and dry skin, I decided my skin care routine needed a boost. Naturally, this involved finally buying something I've been wanting for years: a Clarisonic. I went with the Mia 1 during the Sephora F&F sale after deciding I didn't need Mia 2's extra bells and whistles (that LE Aria set with Josie Maran products was awfully tempting though.) I will be writing a full post after more testing, but right now I can say it is pretty awesome and I wish I had gotten it sooner.

Also, this.

Non-beauty indulgence: I tend to buy "the good stuff" (merino wool, cashmere, etc.) when knitting things for other people and then cut back when it comes to materials for my own use. The result: I don't have a single scarf that doesn't feel at least a little bit itchy. For my birthday, I decided to make myself two cowls out of some legit gorgeous yarn. I've started a striped cowl with the two above and wow what have I been doing with my life? I don't think I can go back ever again. Just feeling the yarn between my fingers as I'm knitting, I can tell it's going to be so cozy, squishy, and soft.

Compared to other beauty enthusiasts out there, this "indulgences" post probably seems downright thrifty! Personally, $100+ beauty tools and limited edition compacts are definitely not the norm for me and I'm scaling back now that I've met a good chunk of my wants.

What are you getting yourself for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Autumn Nails

Hello! I've been away for awhile busily knitting/crocheting and playing a few games (if you have a Wii and like RPGs, Pandora's Tower is pretty great.) While going through my backlog of photos to post about, I came across these autumn-themed nails I did back in November and realized I needed to post them right away while there are still a few leaves clinging to the trees!

Every day on the way to work, I walk under a cluster of trees that slowly turned yellow and orange as the weather got a little less warm. The clear blue sky peeking out between the leaves lead to these nails. This is what I love about nail art: looking at something--it really could be anything--and feeling inspired to reinterpret it on my nails. I don't have any other hobbies that make me feel so inspired by everything.

I prefer to paint nail art facing me, so here's a proper angle of what the design looks like. There are a lot of things I'd change when I try this again, but it turned out okay!

China Glaze Kinetic Candy is my favourite blue for skies--not super bright blue and with a touch of grey like a proper autumn sky. (I've also used it previously in my snowflake nails.) I personally don't like wearing brown as a nail colour, so I went with the closest thing in my stash for the branches, Revlon Colorstay Stormy Night, which is a little taupe-y. For the leaves, I sponged on Essie Tart Deco, Layla Ceramic Effect CE84, and Clinique 70° and Sunny.

What autumn/winter sights would you want to see in nail art?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Overview: Revlon by Marchesa 3D Jewel Appliques

So maybe this post should have preceded my posts on Evening Garnet and Crown Jewels, but there were just so many photos to take/edit, and I'm so very lazy. This is a relatively photo-heavy and text-heavy post, but please endure--these nail appliques are too pretty to miss!

Revlon by Marchesa 3D Jewel Appliques is a collaboration between the makeup savvy of Revlon and the high-end fashion of Marchesa. Each of the eight appliques draws inspiration directly from a gorgeous Marchesa gown that has gone down the runway (see a few of them at Elle). I've loved Marchesa from afar for their elegance and detail, and Revlon has absolutely nailed (har har) the look so that nail art and fashion lovers can have a little bit of couture on their fingertips.

Designs range from full-coverage nail appliques with jewels and crystals to create a 3D look, to flat with clear portions to let a base nail polish of your choice peek through. Each one is so unique, intricate, and unlike anything else I've seen in nail art strips.

Royal Burgundy
Each box comes with 18 nail strips of varying widths from 4mm (5/32") to 16mm (5/8") on two plastic sheets, so I think most people will be able to find a size that fits just right for each nail. Each strip is 2.5cm (1") long, which will cover even those of you with pretty long nails (for reference, I usually don't let my nails get past 1.5cm.) There are usually 2-3 variations of the pattern within a set, which I really like personally because not every nail will look identical. You also get a small nail file and small cuticle stick.

I was lucky enough to get a hold of all 8 applique sets, so here they are:

Crown Jewels is one of the "partial coverage" appliques, with a delicate two-tone gold pattern and small white crystals. I paired it here with a deep purple polish underneath for a really luxe nail.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Revlon by Marchesa Crown Jewels 3D Jewel Appliques

I'm back with another Revlon by Marchesa nail applique for you to lust after! Crown Jewels is one of the eight designs released in this gorgeous collaboration between Revlon and fashion brand Marchesa.

Crown Jewels features two-tone gold in an almost floral pattern, studded with small white crystals. Unlike Evening Garnet, which provides full nail coverage, each applique in Crown Jewels has a clear portion, allowing a base colour of your choice to peek through. Some of the appliques in the set have the design stretching down along the sides, creating a "window" to your base colour (you can kind of see them above in the box.) I went through my nail swatch sticks to figure out a colour that would pair well with the luxurious vibe of this set.

I ended up with Layla Pro N.15 (Purple Vamp), a rich, eggplant purple. Gold and purple together are such a regal combo, and this deep shade makes the gold tones and white crystals stand out even more for a beautiful fall nail look.

I realized afterwards that Revlon promo images for this set show the gold part set on the tip of the nail instead of the base. To me, it made more sense to place them on the base because a) the gold design won't suffer from tip wear (see: pinky nail) and b) I would have to neatly trim the clear end to make sure the applique is just the right length that the gold part hits the tip of my nail.

Speaking of the clear end, I'm not a fan. It slightly alters the finish of the base colour underneath, and can wrinkle like it did on my ring finger. I would have preferred if the applique was cut in the shape of the design, with small clear bits here and there to hold the crystals. This would also make it easier to place the applique on the nail tip if you wanted it that way. Overall though, this is a just a small annoyance compared to the intricate, luxe design that the set offers.

What nail polish colour would you wear under Crown Jewels?

Available at London Drugs, Shoppers Drug Mart: ~$8.95 CAD

Saturday, November 9, 2013

L'Occitane arrives at Oakridge Centre

Since its beginnings in 1976 out of an old soap factory in Marseille, L'Occitane en Provence has grown to have boutiques all over the world and a loyal following of fans that love the south of France-inspired products. Although I've heard great things about their skin care and perfumes, I just never got around to visiting a boutique. Recently, I was invited to check out the newly-opened L'Occitane boutique at Oakridge Centre in Vancouver--how could I not take up a chance to get a guided tour of the new location and the products?

L'Occitane boutique at Oakridge Centre, near the food court
I met manager Rita who showed me around the space and we discussed some of L'Occitane's signature ingredients, such as shea butter from Burkina Faso and lavender from Provence.

One of the very first things that caught my eye about this boutique was this awesome "chandelier" display of L'Occitane shea butter hand creams (all real!) ✧‿✧  If I had something like this hanging around my room, you can bet I'd have gorgeous hands all the time!

After I was done drooling over the chandelier, I met the incredibly sweet Evita, who would be doing my mini-facial and hand massage that day. We discussed my skin issues--dry, recovering from a mean eczema flare-up but otherwise not super sensitive. Although her first instinct was to go with the Shea Butter line for my dry skin, I was worried because rich products can still break me out while my skin adjusts to colder weather. I'm happy that she listened to my concerns and wasn't pushy like some consultants in the beauty industry can be. Instead, we went with the cleansing gel and face toner from the Angelica line, which is a lighter option for hydration and also revitalizes dull skin.

Friday, November 8, 2013

LUSH Christmas 2013 is here!

November means a lot of good and bad Christmas/winter things arrive: Christmas music in stores (bad), peppermint mochas (good), lots of rain in Vancouver (bad, but better than snow), and the LUSH Christmas collection (VERY good!)

Christmas isn't really a big deal in my family (it all went downhill after I realized Santa's notes to me were just my brother writing with his left hand), but I always look forward to the LUSH Christmas release: it's probably their biggest seasonal collection and there's always never-before-seen, new products to discover. I also love the huge variety of gift sets for every price point, perfectly pre-wrapped and ready for the recipient to gush over. I've picked a few gift sets to feature here, but you can see everything at the LUSH website or this handy digital lookbook.

Snow Fairy ($22.95 CAD) is a gift set that includes the much-loved, much-hoarded Snow Fairy shower gel, plus a few other things that will "turn anyone into a cotton-candy scented Snow Fairy":
  • Snow Fairy, a shower gel scented with bubblegum and vanilla, and sprinkled with an iridescent biodegradable glitter
  • Angel's Delight, a beautifully colourful bar soap with a heavenly scent thanks to tangerine, sweet lemon, and gardenia
  • Shimmy Shimmy, a Solid Body Tint scented with vanilla, lavender, and clary sage, and a subtle shimmer that's intended to leave your skin glowing

Igloo ($39.95 CAD) has all the bath goodies you'd want to keep you cozy in a house made of ice blocks, all tied up in a cute reusable cloth:
  • Snowman, a Bath Bomb scented with vanilla and made with lots of softening cocoa butter
  • Christmas Penguin, a suuuper adorable Bubble Bar featuring the citrusy scents of bergamot, sicilian lemon, orange flower, and sicilian mandarin
  • Snow Globe, a refreshingly grapefruit-scented bar soap (one of my favourite scents in the collection!)
  • Blue FUN (review), a multi-talented soap with a calming lavender and chamomile scent
  • Star Light, Star Bright, a shimmering Bath Melt made with nourishing shea butter and coconut oil and scented with lime and ginger

Jolly Hollydays ($45.95 CAD) is a collection of year-round and holiday season bestsellers housed in a reusable hatbox:
  • Buffy, a solid Body Butter packed with ground aduki beans, almonds, and rice as well as lots of shea and cocoa butters to slay dry winter skin
  • Dream Cream, a body lotion made with TLC ingredients like oat milk, rose water, and olive oil to soothe sore skin
  • Lemony Flutter, a cuticle butter with a bright lemony scent and made with shea butter and beeswax to soften cuticles and any other rough patches of skin (a personal fave that I slather on post-mani!)
  • Ocean Salt (review), a lime- and grapefruit-scented sea salt scrub that promises to leave skin bright and smooth
  • Rose Jam, a new and limited edition shower gel with a gorgeous rose scent sweetened with vanilla--it's been a hit with everyone I know
  • Snowcake, a LUSH cult classic, is a bar soap with a scent inspired by marzipan and made with coconut oil and rose absolute to soften skin
Okay, your turn! What are your favourite LUSH Christmas products? Which gift set would you want to see under your Christmas tree?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Summary: Annabelle TwistUp Lipstick Crayons

Hello! I'm finally back with more swatches and my overall thoughts on the Annabelle TwistUp Lipstick Crayons.

As previously mentioned, I was incredibly excited to be a part of Annabelle's #24Days bloggers' swatch project celebrating the addition of 12 new shades (24 total!) to the TwistUp family. Even though the project coincided with a bad eczema flareup, it was really fun anyway: I got to try shades I never would have picked for myself before, and unexpectedly fell in love with a few.

In general, I found the TwistUps to be very comfortable and non-drying to wear, even at the worst point of my eczema flareup, when the skin around my lips can become very dry and sensitive. It glides on without tugging, and the crayon shape helps apply colour precisely. Annabelle calls them a lip liner and lipstick in one, and I agree! I wore even the most intense, bold shades without lip liner and didn't experience any bleeding or feathering.

Without eating or drinking, I probably get about 5-6 hours of wear; the colour does transfer very easily on to coffee mugs, other people's cheeks, etc. I still think it's a great little crayon to pop into your bag, but I have to warn you that the clear caps are a bit flimsy. Some of my crayons have caps that come off a little too easily, and the cap on the Kinky Pink I kept in my makeup bag cracked altogether and came off, coating everything else in the makeup bag bright pink.

Several shades are quite close, so I've sorted them as best as I can figure by colour family and swatched them. I can't guarantee how true to life the colours will appear on your screen, but hopefully my kinda-crappy descriptions help too.

Beige shades in artificial light
Naked is a bit more pink-orange, Havana is more brown, and Absolute is leans very pink. Honestly, all of three of these basically look the same on me, and were rather unflattering for me personally. I think in general, beige shades like these fight too much against the gray-coloured areas of my lips, so the "nude lip look" ends up more like "strange corpse/zombie".

Sidenote: I've realized that referring to colours like these as "nude" is kind of exclusionary, as they are only "nude" for certain shades of people. Just a thought.

Orange shades in artificial light
Orange Pop is a bright red-orange, and the boldest of this set. Mai Tai is like a sheered-out version of Orange Pop. Mimosa and Kiss look very similar in the tube, but Kiss is more orange and a bit more pigmented. Tease is a shimmery brown.

Pink shades (part 1) in artificial light
Absolute also appeared in the beige swatches, but it leans very pink, so I included it here too. Romance is a subdued mauve; Breeze is pinker/less brown. Although it kind of looks red here, Bubble is actually a bright salmon pink. Divine looks brownish on my monitor, but it's actually a dusty rose with a hint of orange. Sorbet is an intense, bright pink, deeper and redder than Bubble.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Revlon by Marchesa Evening Garnet 3D Jewel Appliques

Revlon definitely raised the bar on the nail strip game when they released the super covetable, limited edition Revlon by Marchesa 3D Jewel Appliques collection. The level of detail in each of the designs is incredible and something I hadn't seen before, and Evening Garnet is no exception.

Evening Garnet has an almost fleshy pink UV-cured base. Of all the appliques available, Evening Garnet is the most "3D" with raised red, red-pink, and black jewels in an intricate design. Even the very small red and black ones on the sides are raised.

The large red-orange jewels in the centre glow with a life of their own in the light. The smaller red-pink ones are shimmery but with a more flat finish. These appliques are so beautiful and were so interesting to photograph because of the 3D texture and glowy bits. Because I do love asymmetry in my nail art, I really like that there is some variety in the set--for example, the pattern on the ones used on my forefinger and pinky are different from my middle and ring finger.

I've never used nail strips before, but I managed perfectly fine using the small nail file and cuticle pusher. I was worried about the nail file being able to go through the jewels on the very edge of the nail, but it cut through the hard jelly-like jewels easily after all.

Although the box instructs you to fold down the excess nail strip and file it away sideways, I found this could cause wrinkles in the applique and an uneven strip edge left behind. By the time I got to my left hand, I realized I had much better results filing vertically: from the top side of the nail down. This helped the free edge of the nail strip grab on to the underside of my nail tip, sort of in the same way I "seal" my nail polish by running my brush along the tip of my nails.

So did you folks notice that a few of my nails are missing jewels at the tips? This is kinda embarrassing, but I didn't actually notice this until after I had done all the photographing and was reviewing the pictures on my computer. This was probably 1-2 days after the application, and I'm not particularly rough on my nails or hands. I suspect the 3D-ness might have affected how quickly the jewels at the tip wore off.

I'm not sure how long other nail strips last, but within 2 days the edges of the strips were also starting to lift away. These strips are really gorgeous, but won't last long. On the plus side, it was extremely easy to peel each applique away in one entire piece--even though I had applied base coat (no top coat, though)--making removal a snap.

I'll be posting an overview of the full collection soon! What has your experience with nail strips been like?

Available (limited edition) at London Drugs, Shoppers Drug Mart: ~$8.95 CAD

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Polka dots for Shop Til You Drop

Taking a break from posting Annabelle TwistUp-related things (final post coming soon!) to share the polka dot nails I wore to the Shop Til You Drop event at Metropolis at Metrotown back in September. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to check out all the sales, because along with JayneChristina, and Denise, I was busy all night giving nail polish changes to people in the Atrium!

L'Oreal Paris Colour Riche in Jet Set To Paris • Sinful Colors in Snow Me White
Sorry my hands look so raggedy--I took this photo the day after Shop Til You Drop, and I handled a lot of acetone nail polish remover that night! L'Oreal Paris Colour Riche in Jet Set To Paris is a slightly subdued, medium-dark blue creme and just a hair darker than Clinique Splish Splash. Sinful Colors is a super opaque and thick white, which makes it ideal for crisp-looking dots.

We were way too busy to take photos, but I managed to take one before the madness started:

And the single lonely photo I have of Jayne and I in action, thanks to Sheila:
It was definitely an interesting experience, and I'm surprised my mani survived all the nail polish remover!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Recap: Days 17-24 of Annabelle TwistUp

I can't believe it's already over! #24Days wrapped up yesterday in a big way. There are some really beautiful fall/winter lip colours in this bunch:

Havana is a beige creme that is very close to Naked, but is visibly more beige/brown in the tube. I've struggled the most with the pale beige shades in the TwistUp collection; the light skintone nude lip look emphasizes the redness of the eczema around my mouth and the rest of my face. I think a face free of redness is especially important if you are wearing shades like this.

Royale is a beautiful bold magenta. Like most TwistUp shades, my dark natural lip colour has turned Royale a little darker and more blue (which translated into purple here)--and I love it! It's absolutely perfect for fall and not overly vampy for my taste in everyday wear. For those with lighter-coloured lips, you can expect a brighter, more pink lip.

Mai Tai is a sheer, bright red-orange. It provides just a wash of colour to brighten up a look.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Recap: Days 10-16 of Annabelle TwistUp

#24Days of TwistUp with Annabelle is zooming by! We're almost at the end and this second recap is way overdue. This time, it's full of uber-wearable sheerer shades (with two very bold exceptions!)

In the tube, Mimosa definitely looks orange, since it is a bit sheer, your natural lip colour will come through and so it wears more pink than you might think. I still stick by my original Instagram caption: this shade is as effortless and perfect for any time of the day as its namesake.

Kiss is another sheer orange and extremely close to Mimosa. If you handed me both tubes with the names covered, I honestly wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Swatched, the differences are a little easier to tell: Kiss wears a little more orange.

Red Carpet is one of my favourites of this week. This is a bright, ruby red shade that would fit right in at any A-list film premiere or awards event. I had previously said that unless Red Carpet can top it, Flirtini would be the red of the entire collection for me. But they're both so beautiful and different enough that I think I can find room for two gorgeous reds in my heart, right? Right.

Monday, October 14, 2013

LUSH Halloween 2013

LUSH's limited edition creations for Halloween are here, including two brand new bath inventions (appropriately called Creatures of the Baaaaaath!), and they were too cool/cute to not share!
Lord of Misrule
Lord of Misrule is a new bath bomb inspired by the Feast of Fools, and features patchouli, black pepper oil, and Fair Trade vanilla absolute. People that love little extras in their bath bombs take note! Lord of Misrule releases silver sparkles and fizzles away to reveal a deep wine-coloured centre that holds popping candies. I love the colour and speckles in this photo and wouldn't be surprised if it inspires a future mani--it wouldn't be the first time LUSH has inspired me ;)

Pumkin is the Halloween cousin of popular Mumkin bubble bar. Just like LUSH's Figs and Leaves soap, it's fragranced with ylang ylang, orange flower, and gardenia. With a licorice stem and candy leaf, he fits right in with the Halloween spirit. For such a spooky collection, Pumkin sounds awfully lovely.

Witches' Ball
Witches' Ball bubble bar (which curiously reminds me of the Death Star) is packed with spice and herbal scents: star anise, peppermint oil, sage oil, rosemary oil, parsley, myrrh, gloves, dried cranberries, and dried currants. (Online only)

Twilight shower gel features lots of lavender, vanilla, and ylang ylang for a calming effect to help users unwind before bedtime. Might be the perfect thing to use to help come down from your sugar high :>

Find them now at LUSH online and in store.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Recap: Days 1-9 of Annabelle TwistUp + Giveaway

With the #24Days of TwistUp more than a third of the way done, I've already tried shades ranging from peachy nudes to bright oranges. Here are the first nine I've posted on Instagram, all in one place:

Plump It Up is a fun, bright fuchsia that leans blue. I had expected it to clash a bit with my warm-toned skin but was pleasantly surprised that it wore well on me after all.

Naked is a peachy, champagne nude. Because of its relatively light colour, a lot of the grey in my lips showed through and turned it into a very different colour. I've seen other lip swatches that showed the peach in this shade much better.

Breeze is a rosy pink that I consider one of the "everyday" shades in the TwistUp family: it's more understated and easy to wear. On me, it was like a slightly cooler-toned version of my-lips-but-better (MLBB).

Orange Pop is a super bright, almost neon red-orange. It was the first one in the calendar that really knocked my socks off (there have been others since :P). The grey in my lips hardly kept this shade from giving me an eye-popping pout.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day 9 of Annabelle #24Days of TwistUp: Flirtini

If you follow me or certain other Canadian beauty bloggers on Instagram, you might have noticed a particular tag going around lately: #24Days.

Canadian brand Annabelle is celebrating the addition of new shades to their TwistUp Retractable Lipstick Crayons (bringing the total to 24 beautiful shades) with 24 Days of TwistUp. Annabelle has invited us all to participate in a scheduled swatch fest running from October 1st to October 24th to show each shade in the lineup.

With the calendar indicating the TwistUp shade of the day, I get to see how the same lipstick crayon can look so different on so many people on a daily basis. It has been an incredibly fun project and an opportunity for me to discover lip colours I never knew I loved wearing.

On the flip side, the first week has been a bit stressful for me: when Annabelle offered me the chance to participate as a sponsored blogger, I accepted almost right away because I already owned Kinky Pink (Day #21) and loved the formula. However, October 1st coincided with a terrible flareup of eczema on my face and around my mouth. Eight days later, I am still trying to bring it under control but it is improving. As a result of the eczema, the quality of my photos so far is not where I would like them to be. Although it is not regular practice for me to edit photos of me to improve the appearance of my skin, I admit that I have edited to remove angry redness, bumps, and white cast from topical creams in Days 6-9 photos.

With all that said, here's my swatch of Day 9's shade, Flirtini:
This is a colour I might have never chosen for myself while shopping, but it's actually my favourite so far! With a name like Flirtini, I had pictured something bright and summery, but instead it's the darker cousin of Day 5 shade Monroe and a beautiful, classic red. Like the other shades I've swatched so far, it's amazingly creamy and glides on the lips without any tugging. Even bf, who wasn't a fan of the previous bold shades, loved this one on me. Once my face is back to normal, I will be wearing Flirtini again and again.

Stay tuned for my recap post of Days 1-9 of TwistUp and how to win your own set of 24 TwistUp crayons tomorrow!

This post contains a sponsored product. I have been sponsored to photograph lip swatches of all 24 TwistUp shades. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Blog and the (Van)City recap

After weeks of planning and stressing, late nights and last minute meetings, the mini-conference/event Sheila, MizzJ, and I thought up in order for Vancouver fashion and beauty bloggers to connect finally came to life. Blog and the (Van)City was an amazing success, with over 20 local bloggers and 6 industry professionals meeting to share their experiences and learn from each other.

At the heart of the event was a Q&A session that allowed attendees to ask the questions they've always wanted to ask to our panel of bloggers and PR pros, comprised of Brandi Halls, Director of LUSH North America PR; Cynnamon Schreinert, PR/media relations professional; Sarah Murray, Agency Director of Fashion Capsule; Alison of alison*elle; and our very own MizzJ of Just J. It was an incredibly insightful experience to hear our professionals' candid views on the role of bloggers and how they prefer to work with them, as well as hearing how other bloggers manage their time and deal with PR. I was really happy that each question generated a mini-discussion where everybody was able to contribute their thoughts.

Cynnamon Schreinert, Brandi Halls, Sarah Murray, Alison, and J
I was surprised but loved seeing attendees busily writing down pointers from the Q&A discussion--it means they were really learning something new!

Some takeaways from the discussions:
  • It's okay to post a negative review even on product sent for consideration, as long as it is constructive. Good PR understands you won't always love everything.
  • Twitter is important. Really, really important. More important than Instagram, Facebook, or any other social media aside from your blog. Some brands may be hesitant to work with bloggers that do not have a Twitter account.
  • It's very difficult to keep an active blog while maintaining professional and personal responsibilities. If you're struggling to keep up (o hi), try setting aside a few hours one day a week to work on a couple posts at a time.

Monday, September 23, 2013

theBalm Instain Blush in Toile

theBalm Instain blush in Toile with matching sleeve
Have you heard of these pretty additions to theBalm's makeup line? The Instain blushes promise "long-wearing, staining" colour in six different shades inspired by various fabric prints or patterns. Nail Polish Canada has added theBalm products (including Instain) to its ever-growing cosmetics section, because clearly carrying tons of amazing and/or hard-to-find-in-Canada nail polish brands wasn't enough! I got a chance to try one of the Instain blushes and chose Toile.

Each Instain blush comes in a coated paper case with a design that reminds me of a fashion or beauty magazine, complete with headlines in both English and French such as "Rosy cheeks all day & all night" and "Fall for this blush". The blush is held closed by a magnet in two corners; if you're the type to carry a blush in your blush, make sure to slide on the matching sleeve so it doesn't accidentally flip open and get blush bits everywhere. The blush pan is bordered with a design that matches the shade name (in this case, a toile print) and includes a mirror.

Although it seems to be part of the Fall set of blushes, Toile is a warm pinky-coral that I could wear any time of the year. It's brighter than its sister Argyle, but still very natural. I had a hard time capturing the colour correctly on my camera, and then trying to edit the photo to get the right colour--and I still don't think I got it quite right.

Ever since I started testing Toile, it's replaced my go-to everyday blush. The warmed-up pink is perfect taking me from walking corpse to healthy and flushed. I'm used to using blushes that need a couple sweeps across the pan to get enough product on the brush; I ended up doing the same for Toile the first time and had way too much on my cheeks! It is a very pigmented blush that only needs one or two sweeps of your brush and a light hand. Despite being so pigmented, it still blends easily. It wears very well on my dry to normal skin, lasting a full day at work plus the hour-long commute home. When you combine all those things with the pretty colour of Toile, you've basically got a foolproof blush in my book.

artifical light: theBalm Instain in Toile / Sally Hansen by Carmindy in Cherub / Hard Candy in Living Doll
I swatched it next to two other blushes that were former staples: the dethroned everyday blush Sally Hansen by Carmindy in Cherub and Hard Candy in Living Doll. It's just a bit brighter than Cherub and maybe a little pinker, but it's way more pigmented. Living Doll is much pinker and noticeably cooler-toned.

natural light: theBalm Instain in Toile / Sally Hansen by Carmindy in Cherub / Hard Candy in Living Doll
Instain blushes also come in Argyle, Lace, Houndstooth, Swiss Dot, and Pinstripe, with shades ranging from hot pink to maroon. Take a peek at Nail Polish Canada and tell me which one you'd try!

Ingredients: mica, lauroyl lysine, magnesium stearate, dimethicone, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, diethylhexyl syringylidenemalonate, ascorbyl palmitate, tocopheryl, acetate, retinyl palmitate, sodium dehydroacetate. May contain titanium dioxide (CI 77891), iron oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Red 7 Lake (CI 73360), Red 6 (CI 15850), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Manganese Violet (CI 77742), Ultramarines (CI 77007), Orange 5 (CI 45370), Red 27 (CI 45410), Red 28 Lake (CI 45410)

Available at Nail Polish Canada, London Drugs: ~$22 CAD / 0.2oz (5.5g)

This post contains product samples received for consideration.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Blog and the (Van)City - a fashion & beauty bloggers' mini-conference

I've been tweeting a lot about #blogvancity lately, and with only a few days left to go, Blog and the (Van)City is almost here!

I've had the luck to meet some amazing women and create close friendships through blogging; being able to ask for advice or a second opinion, or just talk about the ups and downs of having a blog with another blogger helped me grow and improve so much. That's why I'm excited to be organizing this event with my good friends Jordana and Sheila--to help fashion and beauty bloggers from Metro Vancouver connect with each other so we can all support one another.

In addition to building up the blogging community, this three-hour event also features discussions on balancing a full-time work or study schedule with blogging, a Q&A panel with super cool people like blogger Alison of alison*elle and PR professional Gemma Bishop of Hawksworth PR, and an opportunity to network with industry professionals such as Brandi Halls, Director of Communications for LUSH North America. Attendees will be able to ask the questions they've always wanted to ask another blogger or an industry professional, or share their own advice and experiences with someone else. To top it all off, we also have tons of goodies from LUSH, Revlon, Almay, Marcelle, and Annabelle for each and every attendee!

We have a few spots left, so if you are a non-professional beauty or fashion blogger in Vancouver or know someone that is, check out the full details and request an invite at Vancouver Beauty and Lifestyle Bloggers

Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 19, 2013

LUSH Beach Box Review

Okay, this review is shamefully overdue, because this set is no longer listed on the LUSH site *hangs head*. However! You can probably still find a few boxes hanging around in your local LUSH shop--just call ahead to make sure. In any case, it's not all bad, since all of the products in the Beach Box are permanent items that can be purchased separately.

Here's my favourite of the box: LUSH's legendary Ocean Salt ($21.95 CAD / 120g). The 70g size included in the box is the same size as the Fresh Face mask tubs. This is the one to get for a seriously satisfying scrub. The mix of fine and coarse sea salt exfoliates away all traces of dead skin, avocado oil and coconut extract to hydrate, and vodka-soaked lime and grapefruit for brightening and antibacterial purposes. I love the citrusy-oceanic scent, which energizes me to face the day in my freshly-scrubbed skin. My face feels amazing after using this stuff.

Due to the lime and salt, this is obviously a bad idea to use on any areas where you may have a cut or say, a recently-popped pimple. If your skin is sensitive, you may want to visit a shop and ask for a sample first. I use this on my face undiluted, in all its pure, scrubby glory, but you can mix it with a creamy cleanser if you find it too harsh.
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