Thursday, December 31, 2015

Favourite (Beauty) Discoveries of 2015

I've been sooo lazy the past week or so. I've been on holiday vacation from work and using the time to begin my transformation into a sloth catch up on manga, watch anime, play video games, and generally goof off after a stressful late November/early December with studying and work.

But! I definitely couldn't end the year without one last post, sharing my favourite beauty product discoveries from this year. (Some of these I've posted about, and some (most) still have reviews in the works.)

Becca Lowlight Sculpting Perfector - this is the contour product against which I compare all other contour shades against. I swatched it here and here, but haven't gotten around to a review for the product itself. The cool-toned taupe brown blends like a dream to instantly gives me crazy sculpted cheekbones without that brown stripe look.

Revlon Colorstay Skinny Liquid Liner in Electric Blue (review) - stunningly bright blue colour with a great formula and application. I have very little visible lid space, but this definitely makes my eyes pop.

Klorane Oat Milk Dry Shampoo - this is one of those products everybody says is great, and they're right. Although it runs out way faster than LUSH No Drought, Klorane seems to keep my hair looking refreshed longer--not to mention it's easier and less messy to apply. Too bad it's a bit pricy at ~$16 (!!!) a can.

Clinique Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen - is it cheating that I have two eyeliners in this post? It edges out the black Revlon Skinny Liquid Liner because the pen format is more convenient, and it applies just as well as the Revlon, if not better.

Clinique Pretty Easy Brow Palette - another recent-ish release from Clinique that I need to post about. This trio includes brow powder, highlighter, and tinted wax which gives me awesome brow game. There is only one colourway at the moment: the cool tone of the brow powder makes it a great match for most Asians.

Dior Nude Air Serum foundation - stunning, effortless, very natural-looking. My new favourite foundation, and doesn't irritate my skin despite the alcohol content.

LUSH The Kiss Lip Scrub (review) - although I don't love the sprinkles and hearts (they get in the way), this one deserves a mention because it convinced me that lip scrubs are legit. Way better than scrubbing at dead lip flakes with my finger or a cloth, thanks to buffing salt/sugar crystals and hydrating oils. I have chronically dry lips and a good lip scrubbing has been a life-saver right now with the cold weather.

NeoStrata Glycolic Renewal Smoothing Lotion 10% (review) - this is a big one for me. My skin is smoother, more even, and dare I say a little glowy, thanks to the regular use of this AHA lotion. Typically around this time of year, my skin would be a lot more dull and flaky but I have zero flaky patches and haven't in a very long time.

AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel (not pictured, I finished the sample!) - I got a small sample jar of this when Sephora started carrying AmorePacific earlier this year. When I looked up the ingredients, I was skeptical of how effective they would be in a rinse-off scrub. But seriously, it works so well and I still don't get how haha! When I use it, I feel like my skin is brighter and smoother, even though the fine powder-like product doesn't feel like it's doing anything. I love it but I'm still having a hard time justifying $72 for it.

So those are the products I tried and loved in 2015! What did you discover this year that you loved? See you in 2016!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

October Birchbox with PARLOR

Okay from the title you already know I am so behind on posting about this Birchbox, but I decided to take some time to try the products in the box first!

Birchbox is a popular beauty subscription box service, and can you believe this is actually my first one ever? October's box is extra special because it has products from a new hair care brand exclusive to Birchbox, PARLOR by Jeff Chastain.

The box is definitely a keeper, by the way. The pattern reminds me of a cross section of pink agate.

More importantly though, here's what was inside:
  • Egyptian Magic All-Purpose Skin Cream - 7.5 ml jar (~$4.38 value)
  • Eyeko Black Magic Mascara - 4 ml tube (~$14.34 value)
  • Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Sensitive - 7.5 ml tube (~$5.46 value)
  • PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing & Repairing Shampoo - 30 ml tube (~$3.13 value)
  • PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing & Repairing Conditioner - 12 ml packet (~$1.28 value)
  • Vasanti Cosmetics All Star 2-in-1 Face and Eye Primer - 5 ml tube (~$8 value)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

LUSH Joy To The World Gift Set

We are t-minus three days to Christmas Day, and I'm guessing you know someone who is still scrambling to find a last-minute gift or two! Maybe give them a nudge towards LUSH? As mentioned in my beauty gift guide, LUSH gift sets are pretty awesome: there's a huge range to fit budgets big and small, and they're already beautifully pre-wrapped to save time (and frustration, if the gifter's really terrible at wrapping presents.) I got a chance to treat myself to this combination of delight/convenience in the LUSH Joy To The World gift set.

LUSH Joy To The World Gift Set review
Who wouldn't love to see this little box under their tree? I dig the white/gold wrapping, which reads very festive and "holiday" but still pretty and elegant.

LUSH Joy To The World Gift Set review
No separate gift tags necessary! The attached tag already has a "To" and "From", and also describes the goodies inside.

Love and Light is a jojoba oil- and cocoa butter-based hand cream that is bright with the scent of neroli and Brazilian orange oils, as well as orange flower absolute. Snowcake is a LUSH classic; it's a solid soap with a creamy, confectionary scent.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Extrasensitive

Winter is definitely here--it was snowing yesterday. In Vancouver. This is a time of year when people often notice their skin is more dry and sensitive than usual. As I am definitely one of those people, I was intrigued/excited when I received the new Vichy Aqualia Thermal Extrasensitive. I was also able to ask Vichy's scientific relations and communications lead a few questions about winter skin care, and have posted her answers at the end.

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Extrasensitive review
This new moisturizer from Vichy promises to cater to super sensitive skin by excluding ingredients that can sometimes trigger sensitivity, such as parabens, alcohol, and colourants. (It still contains dimethicone and fragrance though, which I know some of you are also sensitive to.) The airless pump packaging also helps "minimize contamination and preserve [the] formula's purity".

As someone with dry, sometimes-irritated skin, I was pleased to see many of the good-for-skin ingredients that I typically look for, including squalane (second ingredient! emollient and skin-repairing), niacinamide (aka vitamin B3, anti-irritant and skin barrier-enhancing), shea butter (emollient), and sodium hyaluronate (moisturizing). It is also made with Vichy's Thermal Spa Water, which the brand claims is rich in various minerals that soothe and fortify skin.

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Extrasensitive review
Aqualia Thermal Extrasensitive has a texture that is thick but not greasy. I find it a bit heavy even for me (thicker than Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask), and noticed the beginnings of a small pimple the day after I first applied it. After that, I applied it much more sparingly and didn't have any problems.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Nail Art Inspirations: David's Tea 24 Days of Tea

Last month, I gushed over the charming, festive packaging of David's Tea's 24 Days of Tea advent calendar. Penguins! Teal! Pastel mint! Tea! All things I love. I said I would probably end up doing some nail art inspired by the illustrations in the advent calendar, so here are the results!

David's Tea 24 Days of Tea Nail Art
Sometimes I use acrylic paints in nail art--it's honestly way easier and forgiving to use, and much easier to clean out of nail art brushes. For some reason, I was determined this time to use all nail polish, so everything used in this look is nail polish! The other reason why I like using acrylics is to mix colours to create just the right shade I need, but surprisingly all the polishes I used are a dead-on match to the colours in the advent calendar.

David's Tea 24 Days of Tea Nail Art
Polishes used:
  • Essie Going Incognito (dark green: little finger base colour)
  • OPI Alpine Snow (white: stars, branches, penguin's tummy)
  • Orly Luxe (gold: stars, penguin's beak)
  • American Apparel Peacock (teal: base colour)
  • Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Blue-Away (light blue; penguin body, dots)
  • butter London Pillar Box Red (bright red: base colour, penguin's scarf)

As always, I had a lot of fun! I dug up a lot of my older polishes for this, and it made me remember how much I love Essie Going Incognito for its rich, deep green, and butter London Pillar Box Red for its stunning formula and colour.

David's Tea 24 Days of Tea Nail Art
Did you pick up this advent calendar set before it sold out? I mayyyyy have cheated and opened a few early.. I couldn't help it, I really wanted to try Gingerbread Cookie and Cardamom French Toast--and it was worth it because they are both delicious! >:D

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Clinique Pretty Easy Eye Palette: review + swatches

With the holiday season upon us, that means lots of company Christmas parties, family dinners, and friendly get-togethers. Clinique's new launch promises to make things a bit less hectic with a super-portable, 8-pan neutrals palette that can create eye looks for day or night.

Clinique Pretty Easy eyeshadow palette review
Clinique Pretty Easy Eye Palette; Clinique Pretty Easy Brow Palette
Clinique Pretty Easy Eye Palette ($55 CAD) is compact and fits comfortably in my hand. It comes in Clinique's classic mirrored packaging, which is simple and chic but an absolute pain to photograph! :P

Clinique Pretty Easy eyeshadow palette review
The mirror side has a peel-off sticker with suggestions for a "naturally pretty" day look and a "dramatically pretty" evening look.

Clinique Pretty Easy eyeshadow palette review
The palette also comes with two Skinny Stick eyeliners in Slimming Black and Slim Sable. Much better than crappy eyeshadow sponge applicators that nobody uses! They're about 2/3 the size of full-size Skinny Sticks (~$27 value for both eyeliners). I forgot to take swatches of the eyeliners, but they are creamy and smooth, with a super-skinny tip that would work well for tightlining. Slimming Black is a deep, matte black, and Slim Sable is dark, warm brown.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Gift Guide: Men: personal care + extras

A foreword: I struggled a bit with putting together a "gift guide for men" because I didn't want to make a list of gendered suggestions of so-called "man things" like gadgets or gaming or sporty stuff. That's why this guide is shorter and mostly about personal care products that are tailored towards mens' specific skin care needs. Of course, if you are not a man and want to indulge in a fancy shaving brush or cologne marketed towards men, go ahead and do you. (If you don't want to gift your dude grooming stuff, see this post instead for gaming and home goods that anybody can enjoy.)

Christmas holiday gift guide for men
image sources: L'Occitane, Sephora, Nordstrom, Frank & Oak
Cologne is kind of a standard men's gift, I know. But this is one I really like, and is approved by bf too: L'Occitane Cèdre & Oranger Eau de Toilette ($85 CAD). (Side note: should I just call him by his name and new readers just assume it's my partner? Should he get some kind of code name? Mr. Judo perhaps? :P Anyway.) The citrusy and woody scent--owing to the main notes of orange and cedar wood, plus a little pine--is fresh and clean. It's a great everyday fragrance and easy to wear. FYI although it's not available online, I've also seen gift sets in store with the full-sized eau de toilette packaged with matching shaving cream and shower gel.

Fancy up his morning routine with the Balsem Grooming Essentials Kit ($85 CAD). It covers all the basics: moisturizer, shampoo, and shave cream in minimalist packaging, plus a handy dopp bag to keep it all in--perfect for toting along when your guy is staying over for the weekend. If you want to upgrade just one part of his routine, these items as well as hair styling products are available for $24-28 separately. The team at Balsem sent over a few items to try, and so far bf really likes the shaving cream, which he says is much better than his usual drugstore shaving cream.

Want to make his daily shave a luxurious ritual? Check out The Art of Shaving 4 Elements of the Perfect Shave Kit ($170.50 CAD), which has everything (except the razor) to do just that in four steps: pre-shave oil, shaving cream, a badger shaving brush, and after-shave balm. The "Starter Kit" version is cheaper, but the brush looks different--I suspect it's not as good quality as the Pure Badger Shaving Brush available in the kit above, and also sold separately at $85.25 CAD.

Foreo made a special version of their silicone facial brush in the Foreo LUNA For Men ($229 CAD). This man-specific model has "broader silicone touch-points" to tackle the thicker skin men often have. It promises a better shave in addition to leaving skin feeling cleaner and smoother than ever. Foreo LUNA is often thought of as a gentler Clarisonic, and would be a good option even for those with sensitive skin. I bought bf a konjac sponge that he likes a lot, and this would be a super-super-upgrade!

lululemon Kung Fu Pants ($98 CAD), guys. I am being so Vancouver for including this, but hear me out. There is no man or woman alive that doesn't love to throw on a pair of sweatpants once in a while (or always, no judgment here.) But, sweats are not all made alike. Kung Fu Pants are warm, comfy, well-made, and have an awesome name. Bonus: they come in regular and tall lengths, and lululemon does free hemming so that they are just the right length and won't look as sloppy or casual as regular baggy sweatpants. If it helps at all to ease the hurt of buying $100 sweatpants, keep in mind that their products are backed by a quality guarantee of something like two years, so they will take back any items with a quality defect. (Note: please don't be that person and abuse this policy. Abuse of a generous return policy is probably what ruined Sephora returns for the rest of us.)

American Eagle Touchpoint Gloves (~$17 CAD) is such a departure from the price point of the rest of the products in this guide, but would be a neat stocking stuffer. This is one of those gifts that I consider practical but cool: the touchpoint fingertips keep hands from freezing but still allow full use of a phone or tablet--ideal for when he's sitting in his car waiting for it to warm up, or standing in line for the bus in the cold. There are lots of options for touchpoint gloves available, but I picked these because American Eagle is in pretty much every mall in Canada and the US, and I have a pair of the women's version so I can attest that the touchpoint works perfectly. Reviews say the men's gloves run quite big, so if his hands are on the slender side, try the women's instead.

That's all for my gift guide series this Christmas! I hope it helped and gave you a few ideas. What are you getting for the men in your life? (For the record, I got bf a TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller, as well as some tools and materials to nurture his newfound bracelet-making hobby. I can talk about this freely because he doesn't read my blog LOL.)

2015 Gift Guide:
Home, Gaming, DIY Ideas

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Gift Guide: home, gaming, DIY ideas

With beauty out of the way, let's talk about other fun stuff. Again, this is mostly a giant list of things I personally think are pretty cool, so if you need gift ideas for any tea-loving, gaming, homebodies in your life, you're in the right place!

Tea lovers
Holiday Christmas Gift guide: Tea Lovers
Image sources: David's Tea, Bodum
Of course I'm going to have a whole section dedicated to tea.

David's Tea makes tea so fun and accessible whether you're young, old, new to tea, or a little further along. They have tonnnssss of gift sets right now for all sorts of tea lovers, but I managed to pick out a few favourites: the adorable Penguin Tea Party Nordic Mug ($23 CAD) and the Tea Of The Month kit ($26 CAD), which includes a nice assortment of teas.

To make more than a single serving of tea, I have a Bodum Chambord French Press ($55 CAD for 17oz), well-built and meant for coffee but works great for tea: tea leaves get plenty of room to open up and release flavour, and the mesh filters out even teeny, finicky tea leaves like rooibos. But I just found out about the Bodum Chambord Tea Pot ($40 CAD) and it looks really cool. You get the roominess of the French Press, but with the option to remove the tea leaves when it's done brewing.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Gift Guide: Beauty

Alternate title: "Angela browses the Sephora website and picks out things she would like" LOL.

I'm featuring a lot of gift sets here, because this is the time of year when brands put together tons of cute mini sizes and value gift sets to capture some of your holiday spending. All gift sets (with one exception) mentioned here contain products and sizes well worth the purchase price. I feel like I've covered a fairly broad price range ($12-80 CAD), so I hope this gives you some good gift ideas--either for the makeup lovers in your life, or for yourself!

Christmas holiday gift guide: stocking stuffers under $20
image sources: SephoraScarlet & Julia
Bite Beauty Mix and Mingle Lip Duo ($17 CAD) is a great way to introduce someone to a brand known fantastic lip products, or to add to a fanatic's existing collection! Pictured above is the Pomegranate/Palomino duo. I bought one of these duos for myself last year (Violet/Palomino) and love it; I can throw it in my bag and get double the colour options in one small size.

Have a friend that loves cutesy accessories? Tony Moly Panda's Dream White Hand Cream ($12 CAD) is too adorable for words. Plus, with a formula that includes shea butter as second on the ingredients list (!!!), this hand cream is both super cute and super hydrating. I also love Tony Moly's delicious-smelling fruity hand creams, like this one in Peach ($12 CAD). Vancouverites, you can also find both of these at the Tony Moly store in Aberdeen Centre and the beauty section of H-Mart on Robson.

For something that's a little more elegant, L'Occitane's collection of 30 ml hand creams ($12 CAD) is an easy stocking stuffer choice. The shea butter-based hand creams come in a variety of scents to please anybody, from romantic florals (Pivoine Flora, Cherry Blossom) to bright and fresh (Citrus Verbena).

I often think of gifts as a way to treat people to things they would like, but wouldn't treat themselves to otherwise. Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm ($17 CAD) is a perfect example of indulgence. With an ingredients list that includes shea butter, beeswax, honey, rosehip seed oil, and sweet almond oil, keeping lips hydrated becomes a little bit more luxurious.

Annabelle TwistUp Lipstick Crayons ($9.95 CAD) are hydrating, come in a wide range of shades and coverages, and have an affordable drugstore pricetag, so what's not to love? They're a great option for the lipstick lover in your life--the reds are absolutely stunning, by the way. Check out my summary post for swatches and recommendations.

LUSH Golden Wonder Bath Bomb ($6.95 CAD) would be a special treat for people that love a nice soak. This holiday-only confection has a secret centre filled with stars, golden lustre, and turquoise colouring (the folks at LUSH Robson call it "mermaid water"!)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Fall: White Jeggings

So I've been sitting on this post for a while and realized I really need to get this out, before there's snow on the ground!

I've wanted white jeggings/skinny jeans for a while and scooped up a Mavi pair on sale. Finding white jeggings in my budget that fit me well has been tricky--the thin material + white means some pairs I've tried on are slightly see-through, but these Mavis are pretty opaque.

Originally I was planning to wear them with a pair of colour-blocked stilettos, but I couldn't find them! So I wore them with my Reebok Skyscape Harmony flats--they're like Toms, but with a neoprene-like upper, and more cushiony and durable if you ask me. This is the more "honest" representation of my style anyway, because I'm rarely in heels haha.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fall Favourites Tag

I first saw this tag on Tracy's blog, but wasn't planning to do it because I just didn't have good answers lol. Then I saw that Larie had subbed out favourite fall movie (???) for favourite nail polish and I was like YES I am on board with this. All spellings of "favorite" have been Canadian-ized :P

1. Favourite fall candle
I seem to collect candles instead of burning them... (I'm bad at handling lighters and matches.) The closest "fall" candle I have is BBW's London Calling, a tea- and lemon-scented one that I obviously had to have when it came out last year.

2. Favourite fall lip colour
Sephora Rouge Cream in Crush / MAC Fashion Revival / Annabelle TwistUp in Royale / Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in Shameless
The short answer: vampy, with a red-based purple lean to it. Long answer: Annabelle TwistUp in Royale was sent to me in a PR package at a time when my eczema was really bad and I was feeling down about the way my lips had become discoloured as a result of battling it. Royale totally worked with my blue-tinged lips and an obsession was born. Since then, I've picked up a few more (Sephora Crush and MAC Fashion Revival swatch almost identically, btw) but that's the one that got the ball rolling. The stronger blue tones in Revlon Shameless almost puts it out of my comfort zone, but I recently wore it all day (work and then to a media thing) and I felt boss.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pretty things from LUSH Christmas 2015 Preview

The recent LUSH Christmas media event was fun as always! Christmas is serious business for LUSH and they've cooked up fun new products in addition to bringing back some classic favourites.

LUSH also had someone from their manufacturing team making a batch of their new Don't Look At Me fresh face mask. This mask contains silken tofu, rice milk, and rice syrup, all blended up before our eyes!

Snow Angel bath melt is a long-running LUSH Christmas product. If I actually took baths, I would definitely be all over this marzipan-scented, cocoa butter-based bath melt to hydrate dry winter skin.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Empties #5 (decluttering edition!)

Well, technically not empties. You know how sometimes your closet gets so full of old clothes you don't wear anymore that there's no room in there for the clothes you actually wear? My makeup stash is like that. Lots of super old stuff tucked away neatly in drawers while products I'm actually using were scattered everywhere on my dresser. I went through my stash earlier this year (you can see the beginnings of it in Empties #4) and tried to be a little more ruthless/a little less sentimental in an effort to make some room.

Tackling my bathroom:

Daiso Nose Pack - a charcoal-based mask you apply all over your nose and peel off to remove blackheads. This is one of those things that are simultaneously fun and gross to do with friends and family to compare your results, but I quickly forgot about it. The contents of the tube have become super super thick, rendering it unusable.

Nivea Eye Make-Up Remover - it had more of a lotiony texture so I thought it would be hydrating for my eye area. It burned. Stopped using it immediately but stubbornly (hoardingly?) didn't throw it out for some reason. I don't think they make this one anymore.

Actual empties:

Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel (press sample) - I really like this one. It's called a gel but it's more of a lotion or lightweight cream that doesn't leave my skin feeling too tight. It's the one I use on no-makeup days or as a follow-up to a cleansing oil. This one was a press sample but I've since purchased another one during a sale.

Marcelle Essentials Soothing Cleansing Water - I liked this one so much that I literally called my review of it a "love letter". It's since been repackaged as Marcelle 3-in-1 Micellar Solution, which I've also repurchased. Amazing for sweeping all over the face to catch any leftover makeup, or removing non-waterproof eye makeup and lipstick.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Moody fall burgundy

I got really caught up in the vampy mood of ArtDeco Couture Mystical Heart nail polish and decided to complete the look with even more burgundy, purply things >:D

From my vampy lip collection, I pulled out Milani Color Statement lipstick in Sangria, a deep plum. I really layered this one on to get the most intense lip look out of it, although it looks a bit brighter here than it does in person. This lipstick is one of my favourite shades and is an amazing value at about $6 CAD, but it has a weird plastic-y smell.

I'm also wearing one of my lazy-day favourites, a super relaxed, oversize H&M burgundy sweater. In real life, I feel like Milani Sangria is closer to the colour of this sweater.

By the way, I got a sample of Too Faced Born This Way foundation and am wearing it here! Natural Beige is a good match for my skin post-Hawaii. The coverage is on the fuller side of what I normally prefer, but the finish is pretty natural and it cooperated better than expected with my normal-dry skin.

Hope your week is going well! The Sephora sale for VIBs starts Thursday, what's on your list?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

ArtDeco 700 Couture Mystical Heart

ArtDeco's Fall/Winter 2015 collection invites you into their Mystical Forest with muted and earthy hues inspired by a "misty autumn forest". Out of everything I received, of course I had to try the the nail polish first.

Art Deco 700 Couture Mystical Heart nail polish
ArtDeco 700 Couture Mystical Heart is a deep, deep, moody burgundy. It's darker and has more red to it than Layla Pro Purple Vamp, but still falls into that vampy colour family I love wearing in fall. Couture Mystical Heart has a slight jelly finish and looks fabulous in two coats. The consistency of the polish allows it to settle easily over the nail and isn't so thin that it'll flood the cuticles if you're not careful.

Art Deco 700 Couture Mystical Heart nail polish
A good, flexible brush is always important so that you don't get nail polish on the cuticles. It's especially important with a dark colour, because it's extra conspicuous if you don't clean up every last bit. ArtDeco doesn't disappoint here: the brush is flexible and fans out nicely with light pressure to create a good curve at the cuticle. It is slightly too wide to be ideal for me, though.

Art Deco 700 Couture Mystical Heart nail polish
At $14 CAD it's on the pricier side, sitting somewhere between OPI and NCLA, but you definitely get a quality product: the consistency of the polish and the brush make a nail polish that is smooth and easy to work with. ArtDeco is a German brand carried in Canada exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart.

What colours do you love wearing on your tips in the fall?

Available at Shoppers Drug Mart: $14 CAD / 10 ml

Thursday, November 5, 2015

David's Tea 24 Days of Tea Advent Calendar: photos + value breakdown

David's Tea Advent Calendar 2015
David's Tea's holiday collection hit stores and online this past Sunday and I couldn't resist picking up their 24 Days of Tea advent calendar! I wasn't too interested in the selection of teas included in last year's advent calendar and passed on it. However, this year has a couple I've been meaning to try (Sweet Almond Green, Moment of Zen) and some of my confirmed likes (Buddha's Blend, Cherry Blossom). The tea advent calendar sold out super fast last year, and after some brief mental math on the value, I caved haha.

I'm going to try to be good and open each one day by day like I'm supposed to, but I decided to make a post talking about the value of the set and take lots of photos of the beautiful packaging. JOIN ME AND GET IT.

David's Tea Advent Calendar 2015
The 2015 advent calendar is packaged in a sturdy teal box, book-style, with a satin ribbon to help pull it open.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

LUSH No Drought Dry Shampoo

I've always been super lazy when it comes to hair. I'm hilariously inept when it comes to any sort of styling and my recent attempt to DIY dye with an at-home kit probably belongs in a sitcom. However, since this summer when I started dying my hair, I've been a lot more conscientious when it comes to hair care and the products I use.

LUSH No Drought Dry Shampoo
I recently tried a few hair care products from LUSH, and while Veganese conditioner and I Love Juicy shampoo (which smells awesome, by the way) weren't right for me, No Drought dry shampoo is a new favourite.

Washing hair (or water, generally) is terrible for dye; I am always so sad when I see that my dye has turned the water purply-red and it's all going down the drain, or seeing my dye in my hair towel. The simple solution was to obviously stop washing my hair as often. Although my hair doesn't get oily as quickly as it does for other people, washing my hair only once a week meant some greasiness was inevitable.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Nightmare Before Christmas: Spiral Hill

So I really wasn't planning to do any Halloween-themed nail art this year, but I decided at the last minute that I wanted to do a quick tribute to the iconic scene of Jack on Spiral Hill in The Nightmare Before Christmas. (Replaying Kingdom Hearts might have something to do with it... but also probably why I didn't have enough time to do a not-so half-assed nail set...)

Nightmare Before Christmas Spiral Hill Nail Art
Believe it or not, I hadn't actually watched The Nightmare Before Christmas until very recently. The movie came out over 20 years ago and I knew the gist of the story, but I only watched it for the first time last year! It really is a fantastic movie and I understand why it's so iconic.

Nightmare Before Christmas Spiral Hill Nail Art
For the base, I used just one coat of China Glaze Up All Night, an inky indigo. I sponged a bit of OPI Funny Bunny on top for a misty look. Spiral Hill (or Curly Hill, I'm not sure of the official name) is also done with Up All Night, with some quick shading using white acrylic paint dry-brushed on. The moon and silhouette are also acrylic paints.

I know Jack's silhouette should be much longer and leaner, but I painted the moon and the hill first and ended up not leaving enough space for Jack D: Maybe I should just paint on to my skin next time?

Nightmare Before Christmas Spiral Hill Nail Art
Hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

BISC Vol. 18: What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you about your blog and what was your reaction?

BISC Vol.18
What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you about your blog and what was your reaction?
BISC Vol.18 Authors
MELISSA | Switzerland | Kiss & Make-up
No one has ever actually said anything bad or mean about my blog – at least not to my face – so I guess I’m lucky! However I did once receive an anonymous email saying that bloggers like me who review products that have been sent to them for free are sell-outs and that blogging about something as trivial as make-up and beauty makes me superficial and fake. I didn’t let it get to me though. I just hit ‘delete’ and forgot about it. Until now, that is, so uhm, yeah, thanks for that, Jaa 😛

ANNE | Germany | Linda, Libra, Loca
To be honest, only a few selected people in my personal life know that I blog, which is probably why I rarely face negative comments. After all they are friends and family and supposed to be supportive, no?

ANNE | Germany | Linda, Libra, Loca
In an argument, Mr. Loca once told me he couldn’t understand why “Someone as intelligent as I would waste my time on something as superficial as writing about makeup” (my father would probably agree on that), but after we got past the slamming doors part, he apologized. Beauty may be superficial to some, but it is so much more than makeup.

ANGELA | Canada | Do Want Makeup
I don’t know if anybody has said anything negative to me about my blog, to be honest! People tend to be curious rather than critical. Bf has told me that I come across much more cheerful/happy on my blog than I actually am in real life, but I think that is more of a comment on my personality than my blog… ಠ_ಠ  My reaction: of course I’m more cheerful on my blog; I get to talk about stuff that I love and excites me!

LILY | Malaysia | Chloe Ash
My experience is very positive, thank heavens. I have received some emails before, saying that I’m ugly and really, I’m secure and mature enough to laugh it off. I don’t know why, but it just cracked me up. I remember a fellow blogger say that you know you’ve made it when you get hate mails. Hahaha! In all seriousness though, my genuine readers have been awesome. I get chats on Facebook, Twitter and even emails, and they’re the sweetest people on earth!

AGATA | USA | Her and Makeup
I have never had anyone say anything really bad or hurtful about my blog so I consider myself lucky! However, one of my friends, after he found out I had a beauty blog, said to me that I became so vain writing about lipsticks and makeup. It was a little hurtful but I explained to him that a beauty blog is more than just writing about makeup, it’s a way of expressing your creativity and connecting with other wonderful people who share the same interests as you as well as passing your knowledge and skills to others.

RAE | Canada | the Notice: a beauty blog
Honestly, no one’s ever said anything really terrible about my blog to my face… But hey, who knows what they’ve been saying behind my back! 😛

JAA | Thailand | Hello Jaa
Back when I first started Hello Jaa (only a month into it I think), someone commented publicly that I was trying to be like Temptalia and told me to “be original”. I was slightly upset (since I would never copy anyone ever) but decided to just brush it off. I know what I’m doing and I think over time I have proven that Hello Jaa has its own style in terms of writing, format, and photography. One time I was also told that I used too many English words in my Thai translations so I’ve been improving on that and trying my best to translate every word into Thai. There is also a thread mentioning that my reviews can’t be trusted because I came out of nowhere and started reviewing all these expensive makeup. Trust me, I always disclose when I receive product samples! Other than that, everyone else has been really nice to me and my blog. I’ve even become good friends with so many of my readers. :)

[Interested in joining BISC Network? Send your request to jaa*at*]

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Midas Touch (or, Nude Gold Gradient Nails)

Recently, I had the honour of standing by a close friend on her wedding day as one of her bridesmaids. In addition to doing my own hair and makeup on the wedding day, of course I did my own nails too. I wanted something simple and pretty to fit my blush-coloured bridesmaid dress and the relaxed-but-elegant outdoor wedding venue, and came up with this:

Nude gold gradient bridesmaid nails
Two coats of China Glaze Love Letters, a translucent rosy shade that enhances the natural colour of my nail beds (think MNBB--my nails but better!) I sponged on 1-2 layers of Orly Luxe to make a simple gradient, and that's it.

Nude gold gradient bridesmaid nails
There's an extra reason for doing a "naked" nail look: I was going to be in Hawaii for nine days and my nails grow fast. With this, I didn't have to worry about removing my polish and I wouldn't get that "grown-out" look where there's an obvious gap between your nail polish and new nail growth.

Nude gold gradient bridesmaid nails
Maybe I'm just really fickle about nail polish but I kept going back and forth between loving the gold-dipped/gold-on-naked-nail look and feeling like it just looks like I had a messy day doing crafts involving glitter. What do you think? :D

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

Korean makeup and skin care seem to be the new hot thing right now, and with its focus on fresh, dewy skin, I can't blame Western markets for wanting a part of that! I used to order Korean beauty products through online retailers like Sasa and just hope for the best, but now Sephora is bringing in Korean brands like AmorePacific, Too Cool For School, and Laneige. That means I can play with products in store and buy with a little more confidence, knowing I can return it if it doesn't work out. One thing I'm definitely not letting go of though, is the new Laneige Water Sleeping Mask!

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask review
I had heard a lot of buzz about Laneige's sleeping masks and packs in the past, so I was really excited to receive the Water Sleeping Mask through Influenster. This overnight mask promises to refresh and revitalize skin while you sleep, while also soothing with Sleepscent, a blend of orange flower, rose, and sandalwood scents.

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask review
Laneige Water Sleeping Mask with included spatula
It even looks relaxing, with the colours of the periwinkle jar and pastel mint green product inside. It has a lightweight gel texture that glides over the skin easily and absorbs quickly into my normal/dry skin. While I find that the hydration level is just right for my cheeks, my drier forehead area felt like it needed a second application of the Sleeping Mask or another product on top. If you found Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask to be a bit heavy for your skin type, this one might be just right for you.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

From Summer

Right now I am probably doing some frantic last-minute packing before I'm off to Hawaii! Since we'll be very well into fall by the time I'm back, best to share some random snapshots about my summer now before the weather gets even cooler.

I went to the beach. I haven't been to any of the beaches at Stanley Park in years. I can't remember the last time I had my toes in the sand or waded in the ocean. It was a gorgeous day and the sea breeze made a disgustingly hot day way better.

Bf wearing my floppy white sun hat. I can almost hear myself badgering him about sun protection now.
This was a trail leading from our crappy parking spot to the beach. Looking back at the photos now makes me feel bad for not getting out and appreciating how beautiful Vancouver is.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Polish Like A Pirate

This past Saturday was Talk Like A Pirate Day, a day when you can annoy/delight everyone around you by peppering your speech with arrrr's and calling people mateys and/or scallywags. I took part in this over Twitter last year and the year before I think, but I totally forgot this year. Good thing there's Tracy (aka the Cap'n) to rally the crew together:

Anyway, I figure I should put my own spin on Talk Like A Pirate Day with some pirate-themed nail art to appease the angry sea gods (it was gross and rainy that day...)

Pirate nail art
I had a ton of fun with this. Google image search for "pirate skull" gave me lots of examples to use as reference for the skull and the daggers.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mixing it up with Odacité Pure Elements Serum Concentrates

Over the summer, I checked out a beauty event at LYNNsteven, a cute boutique in the Gastown neighbourhood of downtown Vancouver. In addition to clothes and seriously pretty accessories, I was really into their assortment of niche and hard-to-find beauty lines. I was excited to see Odacité on their shelves; Rae's review on one of their facial serum concentrates perked my ears, but I hate buying things sight unseen. I like handling a product before deciding if I want to buy it, and was glad to finally have the opportunity at LYNNsteven.

Odacité Pure Elements Facial Serum Concentrates
Even better, I got a cool sample kit! Inside were small vials with six samples from their collection of 18 different facial serum concentrates and little cards explaining each of them.

Odacité Pure Elements Facial Serum Concentrates
So what exactly is a facial serum concentrate? Odacité created these oil-based serums to target specific concerns, such as blemishes or clogged pores. Each serum features two oils as the "headliner" ingredients, such as passion fruit and orange, or rosehip and ylang ylang. They are intended to be mixed in small amounts (2-3 drops) into your moisturizer of choice and give it an extra boost to address your specific skin concern.

My kit contained Marula-Neroli for elasticity, Baobab-Sarsaparilla for the eye contour area, Camelina-Chamomile for sensitive skin, Black Cumin-Cajeput for pimples, Green Tea-Lemongrass for radiance, and Acai-Rose for a youthful glow.

(One thing to note is that although the headliner ingredients are at the top of the ingredients list, most of the serum concentrates are formulated with several other plant oils or extracts as well--something to keep in mind if you are sensitive to certain oils. As usual, there are full ingredients lists for the six serum concentrates in my kit at the end of the post.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Review: NeoStrata Glycolic Renewal Line

In my London Drugs Beauty recap post, I mentioned that NeoStrata was the first to put glycolic acid products out in the consumer market. Their Glycolic Renewal Smoothing Cream at 5% glycolic acid concentration has been around for a while, followed by a 10% version I previewed at the LD Beauty event. Recently, NeoStrata has also introduced a lighter-weight formula in the Smoothing Lotion in 5% and 10% for combination and oily skin. From experience, I know that my skin takes very well to glycolic acid so I was pretty excited to test the Glycolic Renewal range.

NeoStrata Glycolic Renewal Lotion and Cream review
NeoStrata Glycolic Renewal Smoothing Cream in 5%, 10%, Smoothing Lotion in 5%, 10%
First off, if you're not familiar with glycolic acid, here's the abridged version: it's a form of AHA (alpha hydroxy acid), which is sometimes referred to as a "chemical" or "leave-on" exfoliant--it removes buildup of dead skin cells without the friction and rubbing of "physical" exfoliants like facial scrubs. It also acts as a humectant, drawing moisture to the skin, so it's extra helpful for dry or dehydrated skin types. There is plenty of literature out there to support NeoStrata's promises of skin tone evenness and improved skin texture with their Glycolic Renewal line.

The Smoothing Cream line is recommended for normal to dry skin, and the Smoothing Lotion line is for combination to oily. The 5% concentration in the cream or lotion formula is recommended for sensitive skin. 10% is the highest concentration you can get over-the-counter before you need a prescription or have a professional perform an AHA peel.

NeoStrata Glycolic Renewal Lotion and Cream review
The 50mL bottle has hygenic airless pump packaging that provides good control over how much product to dispense. (We've all had that one product with the pump that dispenses way too much, yes?)

As long as you're not sensitive to AHA, a wide range of skin types can benefit from using AHA products, so it's nice that there's two formulations available. Here's a study about a glycolic/lactic acid mix that was observed to decrease the appearance of pores, blackheads, whiteheads, and sebum output.

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