May 23, 2017

Dermablend Professional Intense PowderCamo Foundation

I first read about Dermablend Professional in a magazine article many years ago. In it, the writer expounded on the products' amazing ability to cover up almost anything -- from varicose veins to birthmarks and tattoos. At the time, I remember thinking that I didn't have much use for such heavy coverage makeup but as it turns out, the line has a bit of something for everyone including those of us with more general skin concerns. It's also recently become available throughout Canada (there's a rather large display at my local Shoppers Drug Mart).

Since my main concern is dealing with uneven skin tone and covering the occasional freckle or two, the INTENSE PowderCamo Medium to Full Coverage Powder Foundation is a good pick for me. This one comes in a round matte black compact with a mirror and separated section for the applicator sponge. The Loose Setting Powder locks in the foundation, mattifying skin and leaving it with an all-over flawless effect. I should note that the powder comes with a weird overly puffy puff that I did away with in favour of a large powder brush. The instructions do say that you use the puff to apply powder then a separate brush to whisk the excess away. Dermablend Professional also has its own Long Wear Makeup Remover which easily removes long lasting makeup such as waterproof mascara, lip stains, and face/body foundations.

I spent a lot of time in the sun this past weekend as I was up at the cabin boating and stand up paddle boarding so I ended up slightly sunburnt despite my liberal application of sunscreen. As you can see below (left), my nose and cheeks got the worst of it. I also have quite a few more freckles than usual.

I applied the Dermablend Professional INTENSE PowderCamo in Toast all over and then topped it with the Loose Setting Powder in Cool Beige. The result is a pretty crazy, isn't it? All my redness is camouflaged... thanks to makeup alone. There's no photoshop here at all!

Dermablend claims that the PowderCamo foundation is buildable but not cakey or masky. It's definitely buildable and doesn't feel heavy on, but I personally think too much layering does result in almost "too perfect"-looking skin. I know I'm a big fan of matte makeup but this is more full coverage than I'm used to. I also found my skin fully greased up at the end of the day (common since I do have oily/combination skin) so powder touchups would be a necessity. For me, I don't think this will be an everyday foundation, but more a special occasion one... perhaps just for photographs when I need to look totally and completely flawless.

Find your perfect Dermablend Professional shade here.

May 15, 2017

Showers Inspired by the South of France with Le Petit Marseillais

A few weeks ago, an exciting box arrived in the mail, decked out like a piece of foreign mail and sporting a large "Bonjour!" on the front. The contents? A whole collection of new body washes from the beloved French company, Le Petit Marseillais, which has just launched in Canada.

It's been a few years since I was last in France (Paris, to be exact) and one of the things I do recall fondly is the prevalence of French pharmacies full of personal care products -- many of which I had never seen before. Now, thankfully, North American consumers can get a little taste of the classic French pharmacy with this launch.

Le Petit Marseillais was founded in 1981, finding its beginnings in a simple honeysuckle-scented bar soap. Since then the brand has expanded into an extensive line of body washes inspired by the nature and culture of the south of France. Each body wash, or "shower crème", is gentle on the skin with scents formulated by top perfumers. The result is a truly sensory experience every time you hop in the shower.

Canadians can look forward to the following five scents, although from what I understand there are many more in France. Hopefully we will get a chance to try those one day... I'm dying to try the coconut one!

White Peach & Nectarine is my favourite. It's a fresh fruity fragrance that really does seem to be bursting with juicy peaches and nectarines.

Vanilla Milk is a close second. I love vanilla scents, and this one is a sweet vanilla with subtle hints of ylang ylang and pistachio.

Cotton Milk & Poppy is probably my least favourite of the five. I don't even really know how to describe it; I guess it's supposed to smell like poppies. I think this will appeal to people who don't like fruity or sweet scents though.

Orange Blossom is not an orange or even orange creamsicle scent, as I had initially hoped. Instead, it features notes of orange blossoms layered with jasmine, vanilla, and musk.

Lavender Honey is my boyfriend's favourite. It's a calming lavender that's sweetened heavily by the honey note so I actually like it too (just lavender on its own can sometimes be too much for me).

May 8, 2017

$20 Spa Treatments in Vancouver at NIC Spa

As an avid spa goer (I was just at the Scandinave Spa a few weeks ago, spent two days at the Willow Stream Spa this past weekend, and have a trip planned to the Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa three weeks from now), I am obviously a big fan of self care. However, I'm also cognizant of the fact that regular spa trips like these can cost a lot of money... where's a girl on a budget to go if she wants to treat herself?

Well, if you're in Vancouver, you need to check out NIC Spa where you can get treatments for a mere $20! These are full service treatments too; think AHA peels, facials, manis, pedis, and 30 minute massages. You can also pay a bit more for deluxe treatments or add-ons.

NIC Spa recently opened at the New Image College campus on Granville Street, one of Canada's leading accredited post-secondary institutions for esthetics and makeup artistry. Because the services are typically performed by advanced students of the college, they are able to offer treatments at an affordable rate. I was invited to try them out for myself and ended up getting a deluxe manicure and pedicure.

My aesthetician, Doris, was very friendly and put me at ease right away. Since I own my own tools and hundreds of bottles of nail polish (hello, I'm a beauty blogger), I mainly do my own nails at home but every once in a while, I like to get them done professionally. I had some very dry cuticles that needed taking care of and Doris spent a lot of time getting my nails in tip-top shape. 

The deluxe mani/pedi combo includes a paraffin wax treatment which I've only ever done once before. If you've never tried this, I cannot recommend it enough. It seems a bit weird to stick your hands and feet into bags of hot wax but the result is seriously silky smooth skin. Such a treat! I also received a hot stone massage on my legs and reflexology which ended my night on a very relaxed note.

Since the spa is located inside an educational institution, it's not a place I'd pick for a luxurious spa day. But for the price, I'd say expecting fountains, expansive views, and heated beds with remote controls would be quite unreasonable. With the cost savings, you can treat yourself to more services instead! Besides, they did have music playing and I felt very comfortable in my IKEA POÄNG chair (such a classic, haha). I think I'd liken the atmosphere to a basic nail salon (for the nail services), and had a peek into the massage/facial rooms which were fairly low frills as well but still seemed comfortable.

Address: 987 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC

May 4, 2017

L'Occitane En Provence Terre de Lumière

Inspired by golden hour, every blogger and Instagrammer's favourite time of day, L'Occitane En Provence has just launched a new EDP called Terre de Lumière (meaning "land of light" in French).

L'Occitane describes it as their first "Gourmand Aromatic" fragrance which means it's not a true gourmand. Instead, it starts off on a zesty note before melting into the more traditional sweetness you'd expect. The top notes include bergamot and pink pepper which dry down to mid notes of lavender honey before ending in base notes of musk, tonka bean, and almond. I like this fragrance a lot -- it's sweet but not overwhelming, making it wearable for everyday.

Terre de Lumière is available in two sizes – 50ml ($85) and 90ml ($105), and is available online and in-store now.

P.S. Thanks to L'Occitane for the special monogrammed bottle! Like my bottle of My Burberry Black, the engraved initials make for such a unique personalized touch.

May 1, 2017

MAKE UP FOR EVER New Releases: Ultra HD & Artist Liquid Matte

MAKE UP FOR EVER has been churning out quite a few new releases this year and, as always, they showcase the professional MUA-level quality we've all come to expect from the brand while still remaining totally wearable for us regular folks who don't have to worry about actually being camera-ready on the daily.

One of my most popular MUFE reviews, for some unknown reason, is of their HD Pressed Powder which came out back in 2014. For 2017, they've revamped the powder to make it compatible with 4K technology and changed the packaging as well. Instead of the round plastic compact, the new Ultra HD Microfinishing Pressed Powder comes housed in a square matte metal compact, similar to the packaging of my Andreja Pejić Eyeshadow Palette (but thankfully with a mirror). There is no sponge applicator included; MUFE recommends that this be applied with their Artisan Brush #160 so it's not exactly the most travel-friendly. I personally apply this right after I do my makeup in the morning and then touch up with my MAC Blot Powder for any shine that surfaces in the day since the finish is only semi-matte.

The powder is finely milled and the texture is extremely smooth. Seriously, it feels so nice to the touch but means you'll have to be careful about over-applying so you don't get too cakey. The overall result is a blurring effect to any pores and lines without depositing any colour. However, one warning: if you over-apply, flash photography might make your skin look whiter than a ghost. In fact, you might recall that I expressed some concerns in my last review about the Translucent (1) powder possibly not being suitable for all skin tones (although apparently it is). MUFE appears to have since addressed that issue with the release of two new pressed powder shades -- Banana (2) to finish a medium complexion and Peach (3) to finish a tan complexion, but I can't confirm if flashback is an issue with either as I haven't tried them.

Another addition to the Ultra HD line are the Skin and Lip Boosters. "What on earth is a booster?" you may be thinking. Well, they are basically intensely hydrating serums for your face and lips that are applied before any other product to improve their ability to hold makeup. I was sent the Lip Booster in 00 (Clear) to try out and it works great as a prepping lip mask (apply then wipe off excess product), especially before a matte lipstick. It doesn't really have a discernible scent and instantly adds hydration to dry lips.

Speaking of matte lipstick... if you are a fan, you really need to check out the new Artist Liquid Matte line. It seems like every brand these days has some form of matte liquid lipstick but I think these MUFE ones are my faves.

L-R:  Artist Liquid Matte in 101, 103, 107

The shade range is pretty limited as of right now (there are only six shades and most of them nudes) but since I'm a huge neutral-lover, most of them appealed to me. Above, I've swatched 101 (Cream Beige), 103 (Warm Beige), and 107 (Neutral Beige). Give me all the beige!!

These liquid lipsticks combine a true matte finish with intense pigmentation, though somehow remain pretty comfortable on the lips. They are also incredibly long-wearing... I had to really scrub to get my swatches off my arm although it was a lot easier when removing from my lips at the end of the day.

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