September 28, 2015

Colgate Optic White™

As you already know, the next month is very travel-heavy for me and I'm off again today for another short work trip. You've also read all about my love of small-sized skincare and hair products, but what about a slightly more unconventional item? Like, for instance, a toothbrush. I know, I know... how random of me. But you really can't deny the importance of a good toothbrush, especially when it's the one I've been using recently and which will be making the trip up north with me: the Colgate Optic White™ Tooth Brush + Built-In Whitening Pen.

I was sent this toothbrush by Colgate-Palmolive and despite the fact that I've never actually reviewed dental care on the blog before, when you think about it, a nice bright smile is a huge part of personal care and beauty. Besides, getting my teeth to look the way they do now was a hugely expensive and painful process (hello $6000 in braces/orthodontics and numerous tooth extractions). So gotta show them off sometimes, right?

The Colgate Optic White™ Toothbrush provides a super convenient way to brighten your teeth with no fuss and barely any extra time added to your normal morning and evening oral care routine. The toothbrush has a range of bristles to get your teeth clean but the best part is the Whitening Pen that fits right into the base of the toothbrush. After brushing, you pull it out and twist the base of the "pen", which is filled with specially-formulated whitening gel, and apply the gel directly to your teeth. The gel is left on and doesn't need to be rinsed off -- it starts working immediately! I've used teeth whitening strips before and this method of whitening is by far my preferred method. Strips can be awkward and annoying, whereas this gel adheres easily with no weird sensation. I did notice some slight sensitivity on my first few uses but I've gotten used to it.

Although my bottle won't be making my trip with me this time due to on-board travel restrictions for liquids, while at home, I have also been supplementing my routine by rinsing with the Colgate Optic White™ WhiteSeal™ Mouthwash (you rinse before you apply the gel). It contains 2% hydrogen peroxide so has a bit of a whitening effect in addition to freshening my breath.

As the company says, it's as simple as... BRUSH. WHITEN. GO.™

September 23, 2015

Crop Top & Culottes

If you had told me I'd be wearing crop tops and culottes (let alone, together) in 2015, I would have told you were crazy. And yet, here I am. To be honest though, I kind of love it.

Top: Club Monaco (here) / Culottes: Club Monaco (similar)
Flats: 10 Crosby Derek Lam / Bracelet: WinK (c/o Brownie Sparkles)

September 20, 2015

Mèreadesso Travel-Ease Kit

This Fall is looking to be a crazy one in terms of work travel. I was away for most of last week (waking up at 5:30 a.m. to catch an early morning flight the night after the Madeon concert was particularly fun...), and I have 3 more trips scheduled in the next 5 weeks for meetings and a hearing at the end of October. While it can be completely exhausting, I suppose one of the up-sides to all of these plane rides is that I've gotten more chances to break out some of my travel products, which I love to collect.

In particular, I have amassed quite a collection of travel-sized skincare and I usually like to try something new on each trip if I can. Most recently, it's the Mèreadesso Travel-Ease Kit, which contains 12 mL versions of their Face + Neck Cleanser and All-In-One Moisturizer, plus a cleansing cloth. The packaging is quite innovative as well. It looks like your typical sachet that you rip open but on the back there is actually a plastic "lid" that can be opened and closed for re-use.

I was first introduced to this Canadian brand a few years ago and even reviewed a few of their products (the Lip Treats and Body Balm). I have always liked Mèreadesso's philosophy of consolidating products so you're using a lot less but getting the benefits of more. For example, with the Face + Neck Cleanser you can bypass makeup remover, face wash, and toner because it does it all with the help of the soft, reusable face cloth. Similarly, the All-In-One Moisturizer replaces day and night moisturizer, eye cream, toner, and cosmetic primer. For those on-the-go, this is a major time saver.

Since I was away, I also missed the grand opening of the new Nordstrom here in Vancouver, where the entire Mèreadesso product line is now available. I can't wait to check it out for myself... as well as do a little shopping!

September 17, 2015

Murad Skincare

Whenever I check out the skincare section at Sephora, I notice that Murad is always heavily featured on the shelves but, up until this year, I had never tried any of their products. It was quite fortuitous then when the Canadian distributor of the brand ended up contacting me earlier this summer and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing some.

For those of you not familiar with Murad, it is a skincare company founded by renowned dermatologist, Dr. Howard Murad. I am always interested in skincare backed by science so I was curious to see how the products would stack up against what I was currently using. My skin was also being super troublesome at the time, so I decided on some items from their blue Acne line even though I would not actually consider my skin acne-prone.

The good news: my skin is now back to normal! But how did I feel about the products?

Murad's products feature handy labels at the top of each tube to show what step you should be using it. Not that this is particularly difficult to figure out but I'm sure it's a feature some skincare newbies will appreciate.

My Step 1 was the Clarifying Cleanser, a gel cleanser made with Encapsulated Salicylic Acid to fight breakouts. I liked this cleanser a lot. It feels very clinical (no fancy scent, basic clear gel), and it would be a good accompaniment to a Clarisonic if you have one. However, this is not the best for removing makeup and, in fact, I wouldn't recommend it for that. I accidentally got some in my eyes and it stung like crazy! Using a makeup remover before you cleanse with this is necessary.

After using the Clarifying Cleanser, I would use the Skin Smoothing Polish a couple times a week. You'll notice this product is not from the blue Acne line but actually from the pink line which is for Combination Skin. The texture of this exfoliator is very fine (no giant and environmentally-harmful scrubbing beads here) and I liked it a lot.

For any breakouts, Murad recommends the Acne Clearing Solution as a Step 2. Initially I thought this was a spot treatment but there is a different product for that. With this, the idea is that you spread it all over your skin, as opposed to targeted areas. This makes more sense for acne sufferers but if you are only dealing with an occasional breakout like I am, I probably would not recommend this.

Step 3 was the product I was most excited to try: the Oil-Control Mattifier SPF 15 | PA++. Unlike the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat, this one contains SPF. Unfortunately, it was a huge disappointment. I found the formula really thick and uncomfortable, plus despite the fact that it's non-comedogenic, my pores felt really clogged and I swear it was the cause of additional breakouts. After all the work to clear them, this is obviously counter-productive so I had to stop using this moisturizer. Perhaps it was the SPF since I know that can sometimes be a problem for people with sensitive skin (which I don't have but I'm not sure how else to account for the weird reaction).

September 14, 2015

Weekend Wind-Down

My birthday was on Saturday which meant this past weekend was packed full of parties, food, cake, and quality time spent with my friends and family. Honestly, it was a great reminder of how lucky I am and I am so grateful for everyone in my life who celebrated with me and otherwise showed me how much they care. I had definitely been dreading turning another year older so it was just what I needed.

After all the festivities, a wind-down was much needed in the form of some relaxation (this Pendleton blanket is perfect for impromptu park visits) and stocking up on edibles at Granville Island. Plus I was excited to wear my new Kit and Ace Bellwood Tee... technical cashmere -- what a revelation!

Tee: Kit and Ace / Sports Bra: Lululemon / Jeans: Paige (similar and similar)
Shoes: Converse (here) / Bag: Proenza Schouler (here)
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban (here) / Blanket: Pendleton (different pattern)

September 11, 2015

Stila Fall 2015 Modern Goddess Collection

The Modern Goddess Collection is Stila's Fall 2015 release and, to be completely honest, I find it a bit surprising (and not necessarily in a good way). I am used to seasonal collections with a lot of colour, a range of eye shadows, and at least a lip product of some sort. Modern Goddess has absolutely none of that. Instead, the focus is on flawless bronzed skin, with the only colour coming in the form of a liquid eye liner.

That liquid eye liner is the Got Inked Cushion Eye Liner, which comes in 6 shades, with the most stunning of those shades being Amethyst Ink. It's a deep purple with a very slight metallic shimmer. The formula is long-wearing but does require a some layering since I found it sheerer than I would have liked.

What's most innovative about this liner, however, is that it uses the cushion technology that some of you might remember from the Asian cushion foundations that have been popular for years. The dispenser is a cushion-y sponge saturated in product, so when you press your brush into it you get just the right amount. I recommend using the accompanying La Quill Precision Eye Liner Brush, which is perfect for getting a thick cat eye.

Along with the cushion eye liner, Stila has also introduced its new Perfectly Poreless Putty Perfector. Blending a traditional pressed powder with a cream foundation, the result is a texture unlike any I have ever felt before. It's so hard to describe but think of something slightly wetter than a pressed powder that has a "bouncy" feel. The coverage is pretty good and feels lightweight. However, I think this product is better suited to normal/dry skin since I noticed my skin getting shiny not long after application. That means an additional powder is necessary for us combination/oily skin girls, which essentially negates the 2-in-1 benefits of this product. All in all, I love the feel and the innovation, but I don't love the Perfectly Poreless Putty Perfector -- on me, anyway.

What I do love is the Wonder Brush for Face & Body. In fact, it appears my two favourite products from the Modern Goddess Collection are the brushes. The Wonder Brush feels nice and weighty, and is ergonomically designed to fit into your hand. The synthetic bristles are short and dense, and it can be used with all kinds of products, from powders to liquids and creams. It is also great for bronzing and contouring with something like the Stay All Day Contouring Bronzer, a matte-satin powder that can be used to sculpt and shape both the face and body.

The last two products in the Modern Goddess Collection are for the lashes. My first foray into fiber lashes was very recent (see here), so I was interested in seeing how the Lash Stunner Extreme Lash Primer stacked up. Instead of just being fibers, these are fibers in a brown cream, so you get some colour at the same time. The brown is still lighter than my naturally black lashes so I probably wouldn't wear this alone.

On top, I layered the HUGE Extreme Lash Mascara. A blend of soft, malleable waxes, this mascara is supposed to make lashes look fuller and bigger. While it does do that, like most mascaras I encounter, it did not hold a curl at all. If you have straight Asian lashes, I do not recommend this because the formula will weigh your lashes down. I had to re-curl after application which I hate doing since it often results in accidentally yanking out precious lashes.

Above, I'm wearing all of the products in Modern Goddess, which I received from a media preview last month. But see what I mean about this being kind of a weird collection? There's hardly any colour apart from the eye liner. I know collections don't necessarily need to cater to the creation of entire FOTDs, but why are there no lip products? I'm actually wearing the lip combination from this post, in case you were wondering, because the entire look, plain as it is, did not look complete with bare lips. 

Final thoughts: Stila has introduced some interesting products which I'm sure fans will love, especially if you like new formulas and packaging, but this is simply not a cohesive collection. It might have made more sense to simply roll out the new products without lumping them together.

September 9, 2015

CLEAN Cashmere Eau de Parfum

When I first received this bottle of CLEAN Cashmere ($79 CAD for 60 mL), it was the dead of summer and Fall was the furthest thing from my mind. However, Vancouver's been hit with some rain and cooler temperatures over the past few weeks so I've actually been spending a lot more time indoors wrapped in blankets with the candles burning. I had kind of forgotten how nice it felt to do that!

Anyway, it does look like it will be warming up a bit here (just in time for my upcoming birthday weekend festivities!), but if you're looking for a scent to take you through the upcoming seasons, CLEAN Cashmere rates highly on my list of recommended fragrances.

Cashmere is a bit more complex than CLEAN's other offerings but definitely remains within the realm of fresh and pure scents that the company is known for (I personally love layering Warm Cotton and Cool Cotton).

With top notes of bergamot, lime, cedar leaf, and lavendin, mid notes of mimosa, velvet jasmine, and guaiacwood, and base notes of tonka bean, heliotrope, musk, and sandalwood, this fragrance is intended to be as comforting as wrapping yourself in a cashmere sweater. I find the base notes to be the strongest though overall the scent is quite subtle. It's the kind of scent that is unobtrusive and won't cause those around you to complain about how overpowering it is. Housed in a chic rectangular glass bottle with a simple label, the aesthetic is perfect for all you minimalist-lovers as well.

Find CLEAN Cashmere at Murale and Sephora this Fall. It's also available in 30 mL for $44 CAD and 5 mL rollerball for $24 CAD.

September 7, 2015

Fall Glitter Ombre: OPI It's A Piazza Cake (Fall/Winter 2015 Venice Collection)

I have been playing around with the OPI Venice Collection, released for Fall/Winter 2015, over the past few weeks and have decided to do something a bit different from my more recent swatch parties. They take forever... I'm not sure how nail polish bloggers do them all the time! What I'll be doing instead is sharing some easy nail art inspired by the collection.

My favourite colour from the OPI Venice Collection is It's A Piazza Cake so it was a natural first choice for me when it came to picking a colour. A persimmon creme, this orange shade is completely unique to my collection and just screams "Fall". Can't you just picture this being worn on cool, crisp days as your feet crunch through fallen leaves or as you prepare for Thanksgiving or Halloween festivities? As a creme, it also applies like a dream: super opaque in only 2 coats.

The "glitter ombre" is a nail art look I do fairly often (see here and here, for example) but I don't think I have actually featured it on the blog before. I did write a tutorial on POPSUGAR though, so go check that out! It's so quick and easy to do. At the same time, I think it looks really cool and is a great way to spice up a plain mani.

In addition to your base colour, you will need a glitter polish or top coat for the "glitter ombre" effect. I initially tried to do this mani with Baroque... But Still Shopping!, which is a gold glitter released by OPI as a limited edition polish this season. Unfortunately it didn't work due to how dense it is (although this makes me pretty excited to wear it on its own).

Instead, you'll need a glitter that is packed into a clear base. This way when you're painting the ombre, it won't affect the base colour. I personally prefer a glitter that has a mix of sizes as well. I used Avon Frosty 'N Fab Glitter Nail Enamel in Golden Tinsel above, which was a limited edition Christmas polish from a few years ago. It's a fairly common type of polish, however, so you should be able to find something similar.

Some people do this look from the tip down, but I prefer my glitter based around my cuticles. It looks good either way... or you could even try a mix of both! I recommend patting the glitter down and of course, seal everything with a top coat since the glitter will add a bit of a chunky layer on top. Ta-da -- Fall-ready nails!

September 3, 2015

Festival Dressing Minus the Festival

Today's outfit is quite a bit different from my usual style and, in fact, is probably more appropriate for an outdoor music festival than going to see a movie (which is what I did instead). However, I have been on the hunt for the perfect white peasant dress all summer long, which is actually a more difficult feat than you might imagine. This Free People Pippa Dress caught my eye months ago but I'm glad I waited because I ended up getting it for 60% off... plus an additional 25% off!

Also, how cool are my new Harley-Davidson motorcycle boots? You may recall that I already own a pair of their cowboy boots, but this time I decided to venture into what the company is truly known for: motorcycles and motorcycle-related paraphernalia -- footwear included. I can't wait to pair these with skinnies and layers come Fall.

Dress: Free People (here) / Boots: Harley-Davidson (c/o) (here)

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