August 31, 2015

LUSH Cosmetics New Fresh Masks & Cup O' Coffee Face and Body Mask Review

Last week, I headed over to the LUSH Cosmetics store in Pacific Centre (hi Virginia and Heather!) to learn all about three new products: the Rosy Cheeks Fresh Face Mask, Don't Look At Me Fresh Face Mask, and Cup O' Coffee Face and Body Mask. It's been a while since LUSH came out with any new masks so these launches are kind of a big deal.

If you are familiar with the fresh face masks, you'll know that they are made with no synthetic preservatives. This means they expire after about 2-3 weeks and you have to keep them in your fridge. I actually like doing this anyway because the cooling effect feels so nice on the skin. However, be prepared to mask a lot more than you may normally since you'll want to use the product up before it goes bad. Yay for more pamper time!

Many of LUSH's masks are not an option for me because they contain nut oils (seriously, why do companies like to put sweet almond oil need in everything? #thestruggleisreal), but thankfully all of these ones are nut allergy-friendly. I particularly like Rosy Cheeks, which is made with calamine powder, for its soothing properties. However, I'm sure others will really love Don't Look At Me, which contains lemon juice and ground rice for brightening, as it smells really fresh and the colour is fun.

For all my fellow coffee lovers, put Cup O' Coffee Face and Body Mask on your to-buy list right now. Made with organic agave syrup and coffee grounds, this will give a nice caffeine jolt without you having to ingest a thing.

I am a huge fan of coffee scrubs (see here, for example), but this mask is a lot different from your typical coffee scrub. It holds together like a creamy lotion thanks to the agave syrup (but it's not sticky) so you don't have to worry about dripping coffee grounds all over your shower. You apply it and let it sit for a bit before washing it off, rubbing in circular motions to get a good exfoliation. Plus, it's not limited in use... try it on your face or on different parts of your body. I like to use it on my elbows and knees for ultra smooth skin. Unlike the fresh face masks, you also don't need to keep it in your fridge and it lasts longer (about 3 months).

The fresh face masks are only available in stores but you can find Cup O' Coffee online.

August 27, 2015

MAC Vamplify Collection: Lipgloss x Pro Longwear Lip Pencil Combinations

For Fall 2015, MAC Cosmetics will be releasing its Vamplify Collection, featuring a new selection of super dramatic, high-pigmented Lipgloss and Pro Longwear Lip Pencils to match. I was lucky enough to get a preview of the entire collection last month and came away with a few colours to test out for myself.

L-R: Speed Up; Everybody's Talking; Tease Don't Touch; Voltage; He Said, She Said; Rebellious

The new Vamplify Lipglosses are, in a word, amazing. They are creamy, extremely pigmented and feel very comfortable on thanks to the combination of natural oils in the ingredients. Unlike MAC's lipglasses, they provide shine without any stickiness. I would actually liken these glosses more to liquid lipsticks since you get a lot of colour in only one swipe. Plus, they smell like vanilla cupcakes! Seriously decadent.

Some new limited edition Pro Longwear Lip Pencils have also been released with the Vamplify Collection. Not only do they provide good coverage and make excellent bases for any accompanying gloss or lipstick, they are incredibly long-lasting. In fact, I had to put in a lot of effort to remove them! I personally wouldn't wear them alone, however. The formula is drying so any lines or patches will be accentuated and and lips feel very "tight" without anything on top to add some moisture. Paired with the Pro Longwear Lip Pencils, you can expect to extend the wear time of the Vamplify Lipglosses by quite a bit.

There are 17 Vamplify Lipglosses and 12 Pro Longwear Lip Pencils to look forward to, in a huge range of shades that can be combined for maximum colour fun. Here are the three combinations I have been rocking:

Rebellious Pro Long Wear Lip Pencil x Speed Up Vamplify Lipgloss

Rebellious is a burgundy plum which ordinarily I would pair with a similar berry or plum shade. Unfortunately I didn't have one so I decided to experiment with Speed Up instead. Speed Up is a bubble gum pink shade (very Barbie-like) and layered over Rebellious you get a cooler-toned effect.

Voltage Pro Longwear Lip Pencil x Everybody's Talking Vamplify Lipgloss

Voltage, a coral salmon shade, and Everybody's Talking, a bright coral, are a match made in electrifying coral heaven. Together, they remind me of one of my favourite MAC lipsticks, Vegas Volt. I know it's almost Fall but this makes such a good summer lip.

He Said, She Said Pro Longwear Lip Pencil x Tease Don't Touch Vamplify Lipgloss

He Said, She Said is not a true red but more of a brick colour with brown undertones. Layered under Tease Don't Touch, an intense true red, you still get a very classic look... which I'm apparently now into, as evidenced by this recent post.

Find the MAC Vamplify Collection online now and on-counter September 3.

August 25, 2015

Grey Hair + New MAKE UP FOR EVER Releases (Ultra HD Foundation & Pro Bronze Fusion)

First things first -- surprise, I have grey hair! I have been trying to achieve this silver/grey look for a while now (you may recall my most recent attempt), and I'm so happy my stylist and I were finally able to reach my "goal" hair. Unfortunately, silver/grey hair is incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to maintain (you need to tone it every couple weeks, be careful about over-washing, etc.) so this will sadly be a short-lived look for me. 

Secondly, MAKE UP FOR EVER has been killing it with their releases this year so I wanted to put together an entire look featuring their products, including some exciting new ones. 

In particular, the new Ultra HD Foundation is the company's latest innovation and an update to their iconic HD Foundation. The formula is meant to be so seamless it can't be detected by cameras, many of which are starting to feature new 4K technology for extreme detail and clarity. The foundation comes in a staggering 40 shades but even if you're a bit off in picking the right shade for your skin tone, they  do blend really well. I find the consistency much more watery than I am used to and the coverage is sheer to medium with a finish that is neither dewy not matte. If you like lightweight foundations, this is a great option but I don't think this will be an everyday foundation for me as I have oily skin and prefer a heavier matte look. If your skin tends to get oily, this also doesn't have any mattifying properties (although it is oil-free). I personally like to wear MUFE's Step 1 Skin Equalizer Mattifying Primer underneath, which is currently my go-to primer.

To add some colour to this makeup look, I applied a blend of Pro Bronze Fusion, MUFE's new bronzer line, in Sand (20M) and Cinnamon (25I). This bronzer has a unique gel-powder formulation and a wavy surface pattern specially designed for optimal powder pick-up. I typically use a MAC 187 Duo Fibre brush to apply my blush and bronzer but that won't work for this product since it's not a dry powder. Instead, a dense kabuki brush like the 136 Pro Bronze Kabuki Brush is perfect for picking up and depositing colour precisely.

I wanted to add a bit of drama to my eyes so I opted for a layered cat eye featuring the Aqua Matic Waterproof Glide-On Eye Shadows in Diamond Light Turquoise (D-21) and Matte Black (M-11). The sharp points make it easy to get a precise line and I love that there is a built-in sharpener in the bottom of the pencil. These shadows are incredibly pigmented and don't budge at all. They were actually a bit difficult to remove but thankfully nothing a little cleansing oil can't help with.

On my lips, I'm wearing the Aquarouge Waterproof Liquid Lip Color in Cool Candy Pink (21). I usually don't like long-wearing stain/balm combos but this product is definitely an exception. The pink colour is applied with a doe-foot applicator and it didn't feel tight as it dried like a lot of other similar products I've tried. The best part, however, is the clear gloss that goes on top. It's super shiny and not sticky at all, making for a really comfortable wear. I wore this lip all day and it held up really well so I was very impressed.

August 23, 2015

What's In My Hiking Backpack?

I've done a few "what's in my bag?" posts in the past (see, for example, work bag, makeup bag, and beach bag #1 and #2). Today I thought I'd do something a little different... a what's in my bag -- hiking edition!

Joffre Lakes (just past Pemberton, BC)

If you follow my Instagram, you may have noticed that I've been going on a lot more hikes than usual this summer. Living in Vancouver, with mountains and lakes just a short drive away, it's a common weekend activity for many of us locals to get outside and experience all that this gorgeous province has to offer. I'll also admit that the previous statement is particularly hilarious coming from me because only a few years ago I was so not a nature person. In fact, long time readers of my blog may remember my attempt at roughing it on an Oregon camping trip and this easy nature walk in Whistler that I likened to a grueling hike. Funny how things change!

Since I like to be dressed specifically for whatever activity I'm doing, I picked up the Gregory Maya 10 Daypack from MEC in the Fog Grey combo. You can see I kind of have a pink/purple theme going with my gear, haha. This pack is a really good size for day hikes and fits everything I need.

SNACKS. Since I'm allergic to nuts, my HG nut-free bars are these Sunrype Okanagan Energy Bars, but I also like Sunrype's FruitActiv bars (though they have less protein). Other favourite snacks to take on hikes include beef jerky and dried fruit. If it's a longer hike, then I'll bring some sort of sandwich.

WATER. Staying hydrated is a necessity and I typically bring at least 2 bottles of water. My Camelbak bottle is insulated to keep its contents cold.

HAND SANITIZER. Touching dirt, rocks, or trees is inevitable so a hand sanitizer is key when it's time to sit down for a food break. This mini X3 Clean Hand Sanitizer is a spray for easy application and is also alcohol-free so it's not drying.

BUG SPRAY. This AVON Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus Icaridin Insect Repellent Spray II is great for keeping mosquitoes at bay. Plus it actually smells pretty good, unlike most other bug sprays. Someone on my last hike likened it to coconut curry!

SUNSCREEN. I did a full rundown of my current sunscreens in this recent post.

EXTRA LAYERS/RAIN JACKET. Temperatures and weather can change in an instant, plus it's often colder at the top of a mountain. Pretty much all my workout clothing is from Lululemon and my hiking layers are no exception.

EXTRA SOCKS. You never know if you'll end up needing to walk through water (been there, done that). Wool hiking socks are my absolute faves, especially the ones made by Wigwam and SmartWool.

August 20, 2015

MAKE UP FOR EVER Andreja Pejić Eyeshadow Palette

"Be Bold. Be Unexpected. Be You." This is the tagline for MAKE UP FOR EVER's first brand campaign celebrating individuality and self-expression. The campaign features two limited edition eyeshadow palettes curated by two trendsetting influencers, actress/fashion blogger Jamie Chung and renowned transgender fashion model Andreja Pejić.

I was lucky enough to be sent the Andreja Pejić Eyeshadow Palette, which is more neutral than the Jamie Chung palette, and I'm so excited to share it with you.

The shadows come in a metal tin with Andreja's signature on the front in red. Inside, the four pans are sandwiched between a black removable foam base. Honestly, I don't find the tin that special in terms of packaging. It's pretty basic, there is no mirror (I personally never use the mirrors but some of you might), and the foam is a major magnet for excess powder fallout when you're sweeping your brush through. However, in my opinion, MUFE is known more for its extensive range and quality products and not necessarily for having the cutest packaging. 

But what about the shadows themselves? I have reviewed the Artist Shadows before (see here) and I never cease to be blown away by them. The pigments are incredible, blend well, and these four shades chosen by Andreja can create a number of really beautiful eye looks.

I-526 is a pale champagne that makes a nice brow bone highlight. I-662 is a copper that reminds me a lot of a MAC fave, Woodwinked. I-544 is a taupe and the shade I love most in this palette. It is so so pretty. And lastly, D-652 is a brown with gold flecks of glitter. In the Artist Shadow range, "I" stands for Iridescent and "D" stands for "Diamond" so all the finishes are definitely on the shimmery side.

The MAKE UP FOREVER Andreja Pejić Eyeshadow Palette is available on Sephora for $56 CAD ($111 value) while supplies last.

August 17, 2015

Vested Interest

While in London earlier this summer, I wandered into Warehouse on Oxford Street and proceeded to fall in love with basically everything... a particularly uncharacteristic occurrence because the store was bursting and prints and colours -- things I typically avoid. But if I'm going to wear prints, Warehouse is definitely now my #1. I paid full price for this vest (and would again in a heart beat), but it's actually on sale right now.

Also, can we talk about this Art Deco Style Statement Necklace for a second? It's from a new discovery of mine, Happiness Boutique. If you like statement jewelry, Happiness Boutique is a veritable treasure trove, and the best part: free shipping worldwide!

Dress: Wilfred (Aritzia) / Vest: Warehouse (on sale and also here) / Belt: H&M
Shoes: Bloch (here) / Bag: Proenza Schouler (here) / Sunglasses: Vogue (c/o)
Necklace: Happiness Boutique (c/o)

August 13, 2015

OPI Infinite Shine Summer 2015 Nail Polish Collection

I have been having a lot of OPI swatch parties this year but this one was by far the most time-consuming: 12 shades of OPI Infinite Shine polishes for Summer 2015. Launched earlier this year, the three-step Infinite Shine Gel Effects Lacquer System is OPI's answer to gel effect manis with no light curing or soaking required. Step 1 is the Prime base coat, Step 2 is the Lacquer, and Step 3 is the high-sheen Gloss top coat.

Unfortunately I have not had time to pick up the Prime and Gloss so I cannot comment on the wear time of this new Infinite Shine system (sorry guys, major fail as a nail blogger!). At $18 CAD a bottle, which is a fairly significant price increase over regular OPI, I have read some mixed reviews on whether or not it's actually worth it. I personally change my polish so often that longevity is a non-issue for me, and besides, you can totally wear the Lacquer colours with your own base and top coats.

To that end, I figured I could at least share some swatches so those of you who are interested can get a sense of the shade range available in the Summer 2015 Collection. Overall, I'd say there is a good mix of mostly creams and two metallics.

Enter The Golden Era

Bee Mine Forever

S-ageless Beauty

To Be Continued

Wild Blue Yonder

The Sun Never Sets

Purpletual Emotion


Follow Your Bliss

You're Blushing Again

Patience Pays Off

Silver On Ice

In other exciting news, OPI is now going to be available exclusively at Hudson's Bay with the roll-out starting at their Queen Street West store in Toronto. This will include the full collection (Infinite Shine as well) and all limited edition collections -- no more salon hunting required!

August 11, 2015

Cameo Lace & Chambray Playsuit

Last year, Free People released a blue version of their Dolce Vita Gardner Romper that I super loved but was not willing to pay $300 for given its limited wearability (unique design, material, colour). Since then, I have been keeping my eyes open for something similar and when I happened upon this dupe, the Madge Cameo Lace Chambray Playsuit on Boohoo, into my shopping cart it went. The chambray material makes it comfortable and breezy while still maintaining some weight. For once I'm actually glad I waited before making a purchase!

Romper: Boohoo / Sandals: Fly London (here) / Bag: Monserat De Lucca (here)
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban (c/o) (here) / Bracelet: Melanie Audrey

August 9, 2015

Single-Use Facial Picks from THEFACESHOP, Montagne Jeunesse, and Bliss

I am all about at-home spa days, especially facials (you may recall that I've already shared a few of my favourite face masks here on the blog). But what if you're looking for a quick pick-me-up and don't want to get into the mess that often comes with dipping your fingers into jars full of product? Or, what if you're travelling and don't want to schlep all your skincare around with you? I personally travel quite a bit for work and I love bringing single-use sheet masks or undereye de-puffing pads with me to wind down in my hotel room after a long day.

In terms of sheet masks, I've really been liking the Real Nature Face Masks from THEFACESHOP, a Korean company with some fun and innovative products, particularly in the realm of skincare. I have been following THEFACESHOP since it first opened stores in the Vancouver area circa 2005. However, the brand has gone through a significant transformation over the years and recently relaunched those stores (plus added new ones). If you love Asian beauty products, I definitely recommend checking them out.

THEFACESHOP Raspberry Roots Collagen Eye Patches are formulated specifically for the delicate under-eye area to soothe and moisturize. They are applied after toner and worn for 30-40 minutes, which makes them perfect to just stick on while you go about preparing for bed.

For something a little messier than a sheet mask but still single-use, my top face mask picks come from Montagne Jeunesse. I've shared some of their other masks before, but the new Manuka Honey Peel Off and Chocolate Masque both smell delicious and are also great for your skin.

Lastly, there are the Bliss That's Incredi-'Peel'! Spa-Strenth Glycolic Resurfacing Pads. As far as I'm concerned, Bliss can do no wrong and I love the idea behind these single-step no-rinse exfoliating pads. The active ingredient is glycolic acid, a.k.a. my #1 skincare super ingredient, which can be a little harsh for sensitive skin but I personally don't find them irritating at all. Plus they are super easy to use -- just wipe over clean skin, let dry, and apply your regular moisturizer. It's fuss-free, no-mess exfoliation!

August 7, 2015

Burberry Beauty FOTD: Neutral Makeup & Red Lips, plus My Burberry EDT

Burberry Beauty is quickly becoming one of my favourite cosmetics lines -- to the surprise of no one, I'm sure. Since my last Burberry FOTD was on the girly pink/purple side, this time I wanted to do something a bit more classic, keeping in line with the brand's clean and low-fuss philosophy.

On my face, I am wearing the Velvet Foundation in Trench No. 206, which I posted my thoughts about here. On my cheeks, I am wearing Light Glow Natural Blush in Earthy Blush No. 07. Being a matte taupe, I wasn't sure how this would look on my skin since these types of shades can end up looking muddy. Turns out I really like it! It's more neutral that I typically wear but gives a nice subtle contour.

For my eyes, I kept things very simple with a basic wash of Eye Colour in Tea Rose No. 200. Pinks can be a hard to wear sometimes but this one thankfully does not make me look like I'm dead or like I have pink eye. On my brows, I am wearing the Effortless Brow Definer in Sepia No. 2. It's a brow powder in pencil form that also has a bit of a waxy texture. I personally prefer a thinner pencil like the Anastasia Brow Wiz because it allows me to fill in the sparser areas of my brows with very small strokes. However, this Burberry one is a great pick if you only need a bit of definition and some taming.

With all my makeup looking quite neutral, I wanted to go bolder with my lips. This meant a wash of Burberry Kisses in Military Red No. 109, a bold red. You may have noticed that I almost never wear red lipstick. While so many people can pull it off, it's not really "me"... I much prefer my pinks and corals. However, the Burberry Kisses line is great because it applies on the sheerer side and can be built up for a more opaque, glossy colour.

For an additional pop of colour, I love the Iconic Colour Nail Polish in Imperial Blue No. 429 which is currently rivalling one of my other favourite blue polishes (AVON Gel Finish in Royal Vendetta). The formula on Burberry's polishes is really nice: creamy and more on the thick side so you don't need to layer on too many coats.

In the below picture, I'm also holding a bottle of the new My Burberry Eau de Toilette. I featured the Eau de Parfum version of this scent a few months ago but the EDT is a new release that's a bit lighter and brighter than the EDP. The overall essence is still the same, however, with its heady floral notes that were inspired by the iconic Burberry trench coat.

Burberry Beauty is available exclusively at The Bay in Richmond Centre. My Burberry EDT can also be found at The Bay, Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Murale.

August 4, 2015

On the Fringe

Fringe has totally become my summer faux fur so when I saw this Monserat De Lucca Bochoa Shoulder Bag, I kind of had to have it. The tiers of fringe might seem slightly over the top to some and I'm pretty sure I read a review where someone mentioned it could look a bit like a dead pet... both clearly non-issues to me!

Tank: Express (here) / Kimono: Winter Kate / Shorts: Rag & Bone (different wash)
Sandals: Roberto Vianni / Bag: Monserat De Lucca (here and different colours)
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban (here) / Necklace: Charles&Grace (c/o)

August 2, 2015

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat, Duo[+], and BB Blur

Three of my summer skincare essentials this year come from La Roche-Posay, a company well-known for its dermatological innovations. You may recall that I have been using one of the brand's sunscreens, but for the past few months I have also been testing out a few products from the Effaclar line, which is designed specifically for oily skin (hello, that's me!)

Effaclar Mat ($30 CAD) is a daily moisturizer with an instant mattifying effect. At first, I found this a bit weird since I'm used to my primers acting this way -- not my moisturizers, but I have since gotten used to the sensation. With regular application, this moisturizer is supposed to tighten pores, reduce sebum production, and redefine your skin texture. A pretty lofty claim, huh? To be honest, I haven't noticed much of a change in my skin. I still have to blot throughout the day, although perhaps a bit less than usual. However, what I do like is that it makes a good base for makeup in the morning and it has not broken me out at all.

As a spot treatment, the Effaclar Duo[+] ($25 CAD) is absolutely amazing. I have been using the Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment for years but one problem with that product is that foundation can look patchy if applied on top of it. Effaclar Duo[+], on the other hand, absorbs quickly and leaves a matte finish that works well under makeup. Plus, it really does seem effective in reducing the effects of blemishes. If I apply it before bed, there is a marked difference when I wake up in the morning!

Lastly, there is Effaclar BB Blur ($30 CAD), a new product described as an "anti shine unifier" with an "instant optical effect." What exactly does that mean? Well, unlike traditional BB creams which I often find leave my skin looking shiny and greasy, Effaclar BB Blur mattifies your skin and seemingly blurs any imperfections.  Coverage is moderate; certainly not like a concealer or foundation but it's good enough for low/no makeup days. The texture is also unlike any I have ever encountered in a BB cream. It's hard to describe, but it feels almost like a mousse... light but "bubbly" if that makes any sense. Unfortunately, there is a downside. BB Blur only comes in two shades: Light and Medium. I am currently using the Medium, and although I'm more tan since it's summer, this definitely won't work for those with darker skintones.

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