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.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Free your inner glitter fiend with peel-off base coats

Although creme finish nail polish will always be my favourite, I love the way glittery polishes catch and reflect light. However, I was always kind of reluctant to buy or use glitter polishes because of the hassle involved in removing all that sparkle! If you don't know, glitter polish tends to be really stubborn at coming off; probably something to do with all those solid glittery bits getting in the way of the remover. I've rocked the aluminum foil claws (wrapping foil over your finger with a remover-soaked cotton ball on top), but my cuticles and nails always looked much rougher removing glitter polish than non-glitter.

So when peel-off base coats came on to the scene, I was totally on board. Wear glitter polish without the annoying removal? We wants it. It took a little hunting, but I was able to find Essence Peel Off base coat. But when it came time to remove, it was really difficult. It would come off, with some fighting, in several pieces rather than the one or two I expected.

Next was OPI Glitter Off. At a higher price point than the Essence, I was hoping for much better. It even had glitter in the name! Unfortunately, it performed on the opposite side of the spectrum, with polish popping off easily in one piece (sometimes while washing my hair, sometimes within the same day of application).

Last was NYC Strip Me Off, and finally there's a happy ending because it's just right. It holds up well for several days with minimal to no chipping, yet my polish comes off easily in one piece with just a little bit of work. The best part is that it's the cheapest of the bunch at under $2 CAD at Rexall or Wal-mart!

Peel off base coats
After I realized what a winner Strip Me Off was, I promptly picked up an extra two bottles and have been using it regularly for the past few months. I can enjoy allllll the glittery nails now and not scrub my nails with remover or try to use my phone/computer with aluminum foil claws on. It's also been great because handling nail polish remover can sting or irritate the eczema on my hands, so I'm using it even for creme finish polishes.

Quick demo: as you can see, I've totally loaded up on the glitter here, using a total of three polishes that might be a pain to remove by conventional remover (one foil polish and two glitters). I gently worked my thumbnail under the base coat from the side and continued pushing.

With NYC Strip Me Off, the whole thing comes off very easily and in one piece. Protip: it is hilarious if you take them all off and then arrange the pieces on your bf's nails so he is pretty.

And what my nail looks like immediately after removal. Looks pretty clean, not as dry-looking and damaged compared to if I had let a soaked cotton ball sit on it for several minutes. A quick swipe with non-acetone remover and I'm ready for a new colour.

Don't forget to seal your tips with both your nail polish and your top coat by gently running the brush along the free edge; this will protect them from chipping/peeling prematurely at the tips and is something to get in the habit of doing with any polish or base coat!

Friday, September 4, 2015

A little bit of foliage: leaves nail art

Hello~ I took an unplanned, extended break from posting as a result of a super hectic August: my brother got married, I crammed for a final (results TBD), and came back to the office from "vacation"--quotation marks because it was hardly relaxing--to a mountain of work. Anyway I am back and have had a couple full nights' of sleep under my belt, so I'm ready to attack my backlog and all that again. I'm easing back into things with a quick nail art post!

These were for an IG nail challenge that I ended up just not being able to stick to. The prompt was "leaves" and I really like how they turned out. I love even more how easy it was to do. I used Formula X by Sephora in White Matter as the base, and used bright green and yellow acrylic paints for the leaves.

Seriously, all I did was randomly dab a fine brush into a bit of green, a bit of yellow, and the brush strokes did the rest of the work. It created a very pretty, painterly effect. Super easy. Try it!

Hope you're having an awesome Friday!

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