Saturday, February 27, 2016

Vintage floral nail wraps + application tips

Okay, so you want your nails to have beautiful patterns and designs without the $$$ or spending hours hunched over your nails (ahem)? Two words: nail wraps! I don't have much experience with them, but I recently tried out these rose floral wraps from Born Pretty:

Born Pretty vintage rose floral nail wraps
I love the delicate vintage vibe of these nail wraps, and for $1.69 USD (14 pieces), it's kinda hard to argue with that value. I wanted to do high tea or something equally fancy so bad while wearing these--wouldn't they look awesome while I'm sipping out of dainty china?

Born Pretty vintage rose floral nail wraps
It did take some trial and error, so I have some tips/general thoughts if you're new to this stuff too.

First, due to their shape, these are best on nails with relatively straight sides. You can see that the nail shape of my little finger is oval-ish, widening in the middle before tapering again, which causes a lot of naked nail to peek out along the sides.

If you're only planning on wearing your nail wraps for a day or two, you can skip the base coat, which will make them easier to remove later by peeling them off. For added longevity, wear both a base and top coat, remembering to cap your tips. I've noticed a very slight bit of funny bubbling and wrinkling occur after applying my Seche Vite top coat, but the extra shine and durability is worth it if you ask me.

Something else to note: I applied them with top coat and then went to bed. In the morning, I took a shower and then took my swatch photos. I did pretty much nothing else with my hands up until that point, and yet it was already showing slight tip wear.  I think the heat and moisture from my shower also caused additional bubbles to form :< These are a fun option for a few days if you don't do too much with your hands, but the durability is not great.

Born Pretty vintage rose floral nail wraps
Okay, so how do you get them on? The nail wrap itself is sandwiched between a cardstock-like backing on the adhesive side, and a thin plastic film on the design side. I got the best results with these steps:
  1. Remove the paper cardstock-like backing. It's thin and may take you a few tries to separate from the nail wrap. Position the nail wrap and smooth the wrap on the nail from the cuticle, only just down the centre of the nail length-wise.
  2. Using a smooth, rounded tool (I use the handle end of a nail art brush), smooth the nail wrap from the centre outwards. It will not sit perfectly on the nail yet because of the plastic film.
  3. Remove the plastic film on the top side. Because of the thinness, it is tricky to find the edge to separate from the nail wrap, and takes some patience. It's the hardest/most annoying part of the whole process.
  4. Smooth the nail wrap down again with your rounded tool, always working from the inside out. Be sure that the edges are fully sealed to the nail.
  5. Use a medium grit nail file (~180) to remove excess nail wrap from the tips. You want to file in a downwards motion to encourage the nail wrap to wrap itself underneath the free edge of your nail.
And that's it! Easy, pretty, and quick. There is a pretty good range of sizes included in the set, so you should be able to find a fit in there for you (I was somewhere in the middle). What about the too big or too small ones? I'm working on a post for that soon ;)

Have you tried nail wraps before?

Available at Born Pretty ($1.69 USD)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

New online beauty destination for Canadians: Scarlet & Julia

I so should not be looking at more makeup to buy, yet here I am stalking the lipstick section of a certain website :P Scarlet & Julia is a new online retailer of all things makeup and skin care, promising to be the new "online beauty destination". Best of all, it's Canadian! With the USD/CAD exchange rate looking so miserable, it's a lot tougher to justify an online purchase since so many e-tailers are based on US currency. It's perfect timing to check out a new Canadian option.

On Scarlet & Julia, you'll find familiar names like Lise Watier, Cargo, and Stila, but also a number of cool, harder-to-find brands like Lipstick Queen, Blinc, and Coola. Here's my (surprisingly practical) mini-haul, with some help from a gift card provided by the nice folks at Scarlet & Julia:

Scarlet & Julia Canadian online beauty retailer
I've been curious for a while about the Anna Sui Nail Treatment Oil ($15 CAD). The bottle is so cute: it's in the shape of a gown, and the oil itself has a beautiful rose scent. Scarlet & Julia's nail polish section is a bit lacking at the moment, but there's a decent selection of nail treatments.

I fell in love with Roger & Gallet's Fleur d'Osmanthus scent when I visited their location at The Bay downtown. When I saw that S&J carried this brand, I just knew I had to pick up something with this scent. The Hands and Nails Cream ($10 CAD) is super fragrant and absolutely bursting with the bright, white floral scent of osmanthus.

I bought a Living Proof starter kit a million years ago and became a convert. There is no mousse that I've tried that compares to the Full Thickening Mousse ($32 CAD), and I'm so glad that I have a full-size version now so I don't have to carefully ration my teeny starter-size can anymore!

Scarlet & Julia Canadian online beauty retailer
Something else that sets Scarlet & Julia apart is the Beauty Outlet, updated weekly/biweekly. You do need to sign up for a free account to view this section, but it's worth it to check out some legitimately awesome deals. For example, I found a Burberry eye palette from the Splash summer collection marked down from $50 CAD to $15 (it was also available through StrawberryNet for $96.50 o__o). I also saw eyeshadow palettes and blushes from past Lise Watier collections (Aurora, Expression, Eden Tropical--all gorgeous) on sale, but there are many more brands. It's definitely something I'll be checking up on from time to time to score a great deal.

Shipping is free for orders of $75+, and below that is flat rate shipping of $9.95 to anywhere in Canada. I haaaate paying for shipping. I'd much rather add a little something extra to my basket than pay shipping, and with so many covet-worthy products available on S&J, it's dangerously easy for me to do.

Lastly, I'm happy to report that 1% of sales are donated to Look Good Feel Better to support women fighting cancer. This non-profit provides services to help manage the visible effects of cancer treatment; it's a great cause and very fitting for a beauty retailer.

Canadians, are you still shopping on US sites? What would you pick up from Scarlet & Julia? I'm so into this one and this one from Lipstick Queen *___*

Monday, February 22, 2016

ArtDeco Mystical Forest: FOTD + swatches

I'm back with more from ArtDeco's Fall/Winter Mystical Forest collection! I posted about one of the nail polishes previously, but makeup always takes a bit longer to test and photograph. Today I'm sharing some details and looks using the lip and eye products, including a unique eyeshadow system! Though it's a seasonal collection, these shades are still available for purchase online at retailers like Beauty Bay.

ArtDeco Mystical Forest Hydra Lip Booster 46 swatches & review
Hydra Lip Booster is a lip gloss that promises translucent colour, shine, and hydration all in one. 46 Translucent Mountain Rose is a neutral-toned dusty rose; on my discoloured lips, it evens out the discolouration just a bit but dark spots are still visible. This would be a great staple in a lip wardrobe, since the MLBB-ish soft rose shade pairs well with any makeup look.

ArtDeco Mystical Forest Hydra Lip Booster 46 swatches & review
Application using the standard doefoot applicator was very smooth, and it doesn't settle into lines. I hate glosses that feel super thick and sticky, so I'm glad that this one wasn't too heavy and very comfortable to wear. The formula is forgiving even if you have chronically-dry lips like mine.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

OPI Infinite Shine Lavendurable

Even though it'll still be quite some time before spring, I can't help feel drawn to pastels and florals lately. OPI Infinite Shine in Lavendurable fits the bill perfectly: it's a super soft, muted lavender.

OPI Infinite Shine Lavendurable swatches
It's almost like an off-white that's just barely tinged with lavender. In certain lighting/angles, it could be mistaken for a neutral shade.

Application-wise, it doesn't stand up to the very good experience I've had with OPI polishes so far. This one was challenging and required a light touch to avoid streaking or lumpiness, on top of being a bit thin. I'm wearing two coats here, which still leaves a slight visible nail line. But it's so pretty, I can't even be a little annoyed at it.

OPI Infinite Shine Lavendurable swatches
What are your go-to spring nail polish shades?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Commodity Juicery

I recently took up an invitation from Commodity Juicery here in Vancouver for a menu tasting to check out their assortment of vegan juices, smoothies, and food options. The bright, cute little shop in the Riley Park neighbourhood on Fraser has seating for just 5-6 people--most of the space is taken up by their open prep/kitchen area, and a majorly impressive giant juicing machine.

I invited my brother and SIL along for company and to gather extra feedback. Although we all enjoy eating fruits and vegetables, none of us specifically seek to "eat healthy" or "clean", so I knew this would be an interesting experience.

Commodity Juicery Vancouver
The fridge was full of fresh lemons and limes, which I may or may not have co-opted to stage this photo :P
So why drink juice? I did a little research and came across what I feel are impartial articles (here, here, and here) i.e. not trying to sell you some brand of juicer or blender. TL;DR: it's a way to get vitamins and minerals, which some believe are absorbed more readily because your body doesn't need to break down solid stuff to get to it--this doesn't necessarily mean juices are healthier than eating whole foods though. You do, however, miss out on the dietary fibre and "filling" feeling that consuming fruits/veg whole or in a smoothie would provide. The other thing to be careful of is that juices made entirely from fruits have a lot of sugar in them. (Almost all of Commodity's juices contain a veg component, so no worries there!)

Commodity Juicery Vancouver
Juices are $10 CAD / 16 oz and all made in-house with the giant juicing machine. The machine uses cold-pressing (squishing all the juice out of fruits and veg) rather than blending and straining the juice out. It's explained to us that the heat generated from using centrifugal force can deteriorate some nutrients, which is why Commodity uses only cold-pressing techniques. Mylks ($12) are also available; the term seems to be a catch-all for all liquids made from nuts, such as cashews or almonds. I tried a sample of the almond mylk that's used in the Cheeky Monkey smoothie and was surprised at the very neutral taste.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day nails: teal and white hearts

Sooo I actually did this nail art last year for Valentine's Day, but didn't get around to posting it in time lolol. Story of my life, etc. Well, a year has passed so I can finally post it!

Valentine's Day nail art teal white hearts
To contrast with the super-sweet hearts, I wanted to use an unconventional Valentine's Day colour. I went with China Glaze Too Yacht To Handle, a beautiful bright teal that contrasts beautifully with the white of OPI Alpine Snow.

Valentine's Day nail art teal white hearts
Maybe it's fitting that I did a heart nail art look with teal: anything in that green-blue, turquoise-y range makes me weak in the knees.

Valentine's Day nail art teal white hearts

Valentine's Day nail art teal white hearts
Hope you're having a lovely Valentine's/Galentine's Day! Whether that means a romantic date, girls' night out, or eating ice cream in your onesie and Netflix-ing, I hope you're enjoying yourself. Totally-not-a-planner bf surprised me by planning dinner and a movie tonight. (We're seeing Deadpool, because love means knowing your girlfriend/fiancée hates rom-coms.)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Luz de la Riva: Massage + Perfume + Salt Scrub

A few months ago, I got acquainted with Luz de la Riva, a brand making "couture intimate cosmetics". The idea behind Luz de la Riva was to create fun, flirty, woman-centric intimate products that are cruelty-free and contain no silicones or parabens. With its simple and straightforward packaging, each product is designed around/named after a woman. I'll be talking about the more PG products from the line, and just note that the brand makes a water-based lubricant, as well as some rather luxurious accessories (like these Swarovski crystal cuff restraints). With Valentine's Day coming up tomorrow, I figured now would be a pretty good time to be talking about products with "aphrodisiac aromas" :P

By the way, before you start imagining some sordid, smutty testing sessions with bf, let me squash that thought LOL. Sorry, but it's just me sitting in my room, un-sexily taste-testing edible massage oil and scribbling down notes.

Luz de la Riva couture intimate cosmetics review
Luz de la Riva couture intimate cosmetics review
Each product is represented by a particular woman with her own personality and style. The colouring work and exaggerated proportions give me major fashion illustration vibes, and is a nod to founder Luz's background in fashion design.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

LUSH Valentine's Day 2016

It's February, so that means hearts, chocolates, and rom-coms abound! Of course, this also means the return of LUSH's limited edition Valentine's Day collection. As usual, it's full of romantic scents and sweet pink hues.

LUSH Valentine's Day 2016 review
Returning from previous years are The Kiss lip scrub and Unicorn Horn bubble bar. Prince Charming shower cream and The Kiss lip gloss are billed on the LUSH website as new, but imo they're sort of a grey area; they've been available before, but the formulations have changed this year.

The one truly new addition is Roses All The Way soap. This is a heart-shaped, rose-patterned solid soap made with rose oil and rose infusion. The result is a hydrating soap (that fits perfectly in the palm in my hand!) with a mild, fresh rose scent. This won't be an explosion of rose and floral--the scent is more subtle and would be a good pick for someone that finds LUSH's other rose-scented products too overwhelmingly rose.

LUSH Valentine's Day 2016 The Kiss Lip Gloss
I originally thought that this year's The Kiss lip gloss was just last year's tinned The Kiss (review here) in a convenient tube format, but this isn't quite right. This version is packed with even more hydrating ingredients for super-soft lips: the shea butter, agave syrup, cupacu butter, and glycerin from the tin version is now joined by jojoba oil, coconut oil, illipe butter, and candelilla wax. The tube also looks more shimmery; application leaves lips with a silvery sheen (I'd prefer to do without it, but still works okay on me). The pink tint is much less present in the tube version though. In last year's review, you can see a soft pink colour to my pigmented lips, whereas the tube version imparts no colour at all. This year's The Kiss is more lip balm than lip gloss, but it's a fabulous lip balm with a sweet, bubblegum scent--very hydrating and emollient.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy Chinese New Year! Monkey nail art

Hello! Like many bloggers, I'm celebrating Chinese New Year on the blog today with a little nail art! :>

Chinese New Year monkey nail art
Damn glare... It's not my best work, but I had a lot of fun painting little monkeys scampering all over my nails.

I used just a single coat of Sephora Formula X Pyrotechnic as a base. This is a beautiful, bright red that applied gorgeously. I used Orly Luxe to paint the "fu" character for luck, and also block in the monkeys' silhouettes. Then I used OPI Infinite Shine in Staying Neutral to colour in the bodies and head. (I didn't have a proper brown polish, so I made do with this taupe shade instead.) Sephora Formula X White Matter and Dark Matter were used for the eyes.

Chinese New Year monkey nail art
Hope you have a safe and happy Chinese New Year celebration! My family stays in for a quiet evening: we have offerings for ancestors and eat a lot of pan-fried bánh chưng (sticky rice cakes with mung bean and pork).

Friday, February 5, 2016

Demeter Foolproof Blending Trio Vanilla & Duo

Demeter's fragrances have always lent themselves well to blending because of their signature "singular" quality. Their cologne sprays focus on a single recognizable scent, such as jasmine, patchouli, and even dirt, so you can keep it simple and straightforward or layer scents to create something new. At a very budget-friendly price tag ($20 for 1oz spray) and huge variety, you can afford to build a pretty extensive library/laboratory to experiment with. On top of that, the new Foolproof Blending kits make creating your own unique fragrance even easier (and cheaper!)

Demeter Foolproof Blending review
As part of a recent campaign with Demeter and the Canadian Beauty Bloggers, I received two Foolproof Blending kits from Demeter: the Base Note Trio kit with Hawaiian Vanilla, Angel Food, and Gingerbread fragrances, and a Duo Custom Fragrance Kit with Clean Skin and Sunshine.

Demeter Foolproof Blending review
A handy "blending pyramid" on the side of each box breaks down the different types of notes in fragrance. As the name suggests, base notes such as musk and vanilla provide a foundation to build the rest of your custom fragrance upon. Top notes (citruses, etc) are usually the first thing you smell initially, but they can be somewhat fleeting and fade towards the end of the day. Demeter suggests combining one scent from each section of the pyramid, but they also insist there are no rules to blending, so run wild and blend away!

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