May 19, 2019

My Microblading Experience at Studio Sashiko (Before/After Pictures)

I've never really liked my eyebrows -- prior to microblading, they were kind of sparse and looked weird with no product on them. Like many other girls my age, they were over-plucked in the mid/late-2000s (thankfully they grew back) and in recent years I finally figured out how to fill them in but it's still been annoying, especially when they wiped off if I got wet or sweaty. Nothing worse than having half an eyebrow!

I started hearing about microblading a while back and was incredibly intrigued by the process. It seemed like just the thing I was looking for: tiny hair strokes are "tattooed" on (it doesn't go as deep as a traditional tattoo), leaving you with natural-looking brows for 1-3 years. I talked about it so often that my husband offered to pay for me to get microblading for my birthday 3 years ago (he literally wrote "eyebrows" on a piece of paper and handed it to me as my present)... but since I'm scared of needles and pain, it actually took me until now to finally cash in on my birthday gift.

Once I finally mustered up the courage, I booked in with Savanna Dillon at Studio Sashiko. It's a bit of a drive from Vancouver to Langley where they're located but Studio Sashiko is pretty famous in the microblading world and I was willing to travel for the best. This is a semi-permanent face tattoo, after all!

I started the process at the very end of December and now that it's complete, I can honestly say it was worth it. I love not having to do my brows anymore and I feel more "done" even when I'm not wearing any makeup. Savanna did an amazing job creating individual hair strokes where none existed before and I've had so many compliments on how natural they look (no one has known they were microbladed until I told them).

5.5 months after first session and 10 weeks after touch-up (no brow products used)

Since I spent so much time considering whether or not I wanted to try microblading and it's also an expensive process (some places offer cheap deals but in my opinion, it's worth it to pay more for quality so you know you'll be satisfied at the end), I made sure to document my path to perfect brows for the blog. It's funny looking back at pictures of my original brows because I kind of forgot what they looked like!

PROCESS AND HEALING

As I mentioned earlier, Studio Sashiko is located about an hour drive from Vancouver in Langley but it's a really open and welcoming space. Savanna made me feel comfortable right away with her warm personality and took the time to explain what she'd be doing. I'd also already stalked her Instagram account so I was familiar with her work and knew I liked it (highly recommend checking out your artist's social media beforehand).

Although it's a 2 hour appointment, the actual time spent microblading is not that long. In fact, most of my appointment was spent drawing and deciding on the eyebrow design and waiting for numbing cream to work. Thanks to the aforementioned numbing cream, I couldn't really feel the needles but there were a few sensitive points where there was some sharp pain. Overall, it was totally bearable. Savanna did a couple passes (numbing cream + microblading) before we were done.

Top: natural brows / Bottom: immediately after first session

Top: natural brows / Bottom: immediately after first session

The first day was probably the most painful... once the numbing cream wore off, my eyebrows felt really sore. You have to dab the tattooed area gently 5-7 times a day for about a week with lukewarm water and a disposable paper towel. This removes any plasma and oil build-up and prevents scabbing. There was a bit of blood when I dabbed on Day 1 but it went away by Day 2.

I was sent home with some detailed care instructions and a little pot of barrier cream that I was to apply with a cotton swab for 2 full weeks. The card also had this really cute meme on the back that described the general healing process.


Overall, I'd say the timeline was pretty accurate to my experience. The soreness was gone by Day 2. I didn't find my brows looked particularly dark & thick as they healed, as per the card, but I suspect this is because I have dark hair (they probably would look very dark if you're a blonde). My brows started to feel a bit itchy around Day 4 and flaking didn't start until Day 8.

Here's what the flaking looked like on Day 10:

Day 10 Post-Procedure

On Day 12, I started to feel concerned because my left eyebrow pigment looked completely gone. However, the full healing process takes approximately 6-8 weeks. Because the skin is constantly regenerating and naturally exfoliating, the colour does actually "bloom" later on and take on a new strength.

TOUCH-UP

A touch-up is highly recommended about 8-12 weeks after your first session. I know it might be annoying to have to go back and potentially pay more (the touch-up session at Studio Sashiko costs $150), but it's really important. It gives the artist a chance to assess how your brows have healed and fill in spots that didn't "take".

The process touch-up session was very similar to my first session and took about the same length of time. I noticed the after result was a lot darker than it had been after my first session since the new strokes built on the previous strokes.

Top: healed, 10.5 weeks after first session / Bottom: immediately after touch-up

Top: healed, 10.5 weeks after first session / Bottom: immediately after touch-up

In terms of healing, I also found it to be a lot easier this time around. The flaking was significantly less noticeable, likely because of the base colour already being there.

5.5 months later, I am still SO happy with my new brows. You can see the healed result didn't stay as dark as immediately after the touch-up since I know some people are concerned about having really noticeable brows. I'm not sure how long it will be until I have to get them redone but I care for them by avoiding using any abrasive/exfoliating products on the area (e.g. retinol) and applying sunscreen to protect them from fading/prolonged sun exposure.

April 7, 2019

FOTD: Everyday Makeup from Revlon

The kind folks at Revlon sent over some new products for me to play with a while back and the combination really makes for the perfect fuss-free everyday makeup. Not only that but a lot are from the ColorStay collection which is super long-wearing.


There's nothing easier than a creme eye shadow if you want to put something on fast and the ColorStay Crème Eye Shadow in Creme Brulee is the type of shade you can wear with pretty much everything. It's a shimmering champagne that on my slightly tan skin tone gives just the slightest hint of colour. Since it's budge-proof, it could also double as a base for powder shadows if you feel so inclined. The packaging comes with a little brush in the lid although I personally prefer to apply creme eye shadows with my fingers. I finished my eyes with the ColorStay Eyeliner in Black (not my fave -- I find the texture really hard and the colour doesn't go on smooth at all) and Volumazing Mascara in Blackened Brown (this is an average mascara but I didn't think it was particularly volumizing on my straight, sparse lashes).

On my face, I'm wearing the ColorStay Makeup for Combination/Oily Skin in Medium Beige. Love that there's a formulation for my skin type! The foundation isn't cakey although it doesn't stay perfectly matte on me, especially on the t-zone (always my problem area). Likely due to the SPF 15, there's also unfortunately a bit of flashback. I took my FOTD photo with my ring light and I swear it makes the foundation look a lot lighter than it does in person, so that's something to consider if you're wearing this one out at night. To create a bit of dimension, I used the Galaxy Dream Holographic Highlighting Palette which I have previously reviewed.


My favourite product of the bunch is what I'm wearing on my lips: the Revlon Kiss Cushion Lip Tint in Pink IRL. It's soooo nice! I originally thought it was going to be like a Lancome Juicy Shaker but those are a lot more sheer and glossy. This product has a sort of creamy formulation that feels hydrating on the lips and the colour payoff is great. This particular shade is a perfect everyday lip colour. I also love the sponge tip applicator and that fact that it smells like vanilla - yum!

March 18, 2019

Spring 2019 Beauty Faves

The weather is finally turning (this week it's supposed to go as high as 17 °C!) and Spring is officially around the corner. What better time to review some of my current beauty faves, especially since they're all products that will be taking me into the new season?


My absolute superstar #1 fave that I used all Winter long is the StriVectin S.T.A.R. Light™ Retinol Night Oil. I first shared this back in October as part of my #LDBeauty recap and have been using it ever since. In short, it is AMAZING and I don't think I'll ever be able to live without it going forward. It's the only retinol that has made a significant difference in my skin texture, especially on my forehead and chin which are areas I've been trying to deal with for quite some time now. The oil feels super luxe and absorbs quickly.

To help my StriVectin retinol oil and other serums sink in, I've been using my Herbivore Rose Quartz Facial Roller. I was first introduced to the concept of facial rolling at Glow Dermal Therapy (I started getting professional facials in the lead-up to my wedding and continue going every so often for "maintenance" purposes), and I've noticed facial rolling seems to be all the rage right now. No surprise why... I just can't get enough of that cooling sensation!

I always apply sunscreen under my makeup but I've always struggled with the concept of re-applying throughout the day. Do I remove my makeup and do it all over again or do I put sunscreen on top of my makeup? Both options aren't great so I was super excited when I discovered this Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist with SPF 50. You can spritz it over your makeup to refresh your UV protection and it doesn't mess up anything. I take this on all my trips and it was so useful on my recent trip to Kauai.

To maintain my post-Hawaii glow, I've been spritzing on St. Tropez Bronzing Water Face Mist. The naturally derived DHA tans your face in a very subtle way and the tropical scent is incredibly refreshing.

Keeping on that tropical note, I've also thrown out all my other deodorants and am exclusively using Kopari Coconut Oil Deodorant. It's aluminum-free, vegan, and paraben-free, and it smells soooo good. I love everything coconut so this is right up my alley.

Last but not least, Slip Silk Scrunchies (I prefer the skinny version since I don't have a ton of hair) Made from pure silk, they've been saving my hair from breakage and creasing. I often wear a high ponytail for the gym and they actually keep it up instead of slipping too, which I thought was  kind of surprising since they are made of silk which is a slippery fabric.

March 4, 2019

One-Piece Obsessed

Aloha! I just got back from a blissful two weeks in Kauai (won't be doing a recap this time but check out this one from a few years ago). I love going on vacations to warmer places in the winter months because they create a nice break from the drudgery of cold and snowy weather.

Luckily for me, I received this new swimsuit from Gottex just in time for my trip. I don't have a lot of one-pieces but I've come to realize there are some incredibly stylish options out there that don't remind me of my high school swim team Speedo. Plus, they are practical, especially for water sports. Gottexis an Israeli designer swimwear brand that I'd never heard of before but I was really impressed with the quality of my suit. This particular style is called the Profile Stargazer, which features a convenient zip front with sparkle detailing, cut-outs, and mesh inserts. I can't wait to wear it more this summer!

Swimsuit: Gottex (c/o UK Swimwear) / Sunglasses: Quay Australia (here)

February 21, 2019

Fjallraven Kånken Mini Backpack

Anyone remember this wishlist from 2015 where I mentioned wanting a Fjallraven Kånken Mini Backpack? Well, three years later I finally own one thanks to my bestie who got it for me for Christmas! It's so cute and perfect for casual weekends, like this one at Granville Island which I spent walking around with a coffee in hand. I also love that it's waterproof which is much-needed for our rainy Vancouver weather.

Hoodie: Brunette the Label (similar here and here) / Tights: Lorna Jane
Backpack: Fjallraven (here and here) / Shoes: New Balance
Sunglasses: Quay Australia (here)

February 14, 2019

Wedding Invitations: Tips & Tricks

In honour of Valentine's Day, I thought it would be fitting to kick off my wedding recap series on the blog. We've been married for 4 months as of yesterday and it's been so wonderful looking at all our photos and reliving the day. Funny how a whole year of planning can be over in such a flash!


As part of this series, I'm planning on sharing some details from our special day and things I learned along the way. First up, invitations!

SAVE THE DATES

For our wedding, sending out Save the Dates was necessary as we had a lot of guests who would have to travel. This way, they were given a lot of advance notice to block off the time in their calendars if they planned on coming. We opted to send ours through e-mail via Paperless Post, which I highly recommend because it was free (tip: the default option requires you to buy coins for fancy "envelopes" but I did away with "envelopes" altogether since these weren't our actual invitations thus making the cost zero).

In addition to alerting people to the date and location of our wedding, we also used the Save The Dates as a way of gathering our guests' mailing addresses. Paperless Post lets you track who's opened your card, which is helpful so you know who to follow up with. They have a lot of wedding invitation designs as well so you could do everything through them for free/cheap and in an eco-friendly way.

INVITATIONS

We had initially planned on using Minted for our wedding invitations because that's the platform we were using for our wedding website and online RSVPs. Side note: I tried a number of different options for our wedding website before I settled on Minted; ultimately I liked that we could manage our RSVPs in one spot, keep certain details private to guests only, and I was easily able to purchase a custom domain name through them.

Our invitations, however, ended up being a last-minute design change once we got our engagement photos back. We both really loved this double exposure photo and thought it would look cool and more personal than the other invitation design which matched our website.


Since we were going to use our own photo, we decided to use Vistaprint instead. Not only is it considerably cheaper than Minted (tip: they have coupon codes all the time; I was able to get 60% off my order by tracking their deals), but we preferred this template for our "movie poster"-style invite. I'm not sharing a picture of the back here but it had some extra photos and details, including a link to our website for people to RSVP.

Vistaprint can be hit-or-miss sometimes but we were very happy with our experience. To avoid disappointment, I would recommend ordering their free wedding sample kit. It takes a while to arrive in the mail but you can see what the different paper stocks actually feel like. We ended up choosing the Linen which was a surprise since I had always thought I'd prefer matte.

The invitations also come with free envelopes but they're plain white and pretty thin. In order to elevate our wedding suite slightly, we opted to spend a little more money (but again, we got that discount!) and got custom envelopes with a grey/white marbled design.

To finish everything off, I ordered a custom address stamp from Etsy (there are tons of designs to choose from) and bought some calligraphy markers from Michael's. I have pretty nice handwriting so I hand-addressed everyone's invitations myself.

One last tip: when you're ordering invites, make sure you count properly! You don't need an invitation for every guest since a lot of people are couples or live in the same household. I ended up slightly over-ordering but I've found uses for the extras... mostly as bookmarks, haha. We also received this Kate Spade New York Take The Cake Double Invitation Frame as a wedding gift which has been a really nice way of displaying our invitation in our home.

February 8, 2019

Drugstore Highlighters You Need Right Now

Brands like BECCA have made a name for themselves in the highlighter world but the truth is, you can find some real gems at more affordable prices from tried-and-true drugstore brands like Revlon and CoverGirl too. I received these two palettes from the London Drugs #LDBeauty event I attended a few months back and if you can't live without that glow, you need to check them out!

Revlon Galaxy Dream Holographic Highlighting Palette | CoverGirl TruBlend Super Stunner Palette

The CoverGirl TruBlend Super Stunner Palette in "It's Lit" ($12.99 CAD) features three different highlighting powders that you can use alone or together for either a natural or dramatic look. This particular palette is targeted towards fair/light skin tones (there is another one called "Glowing Up" for medium/dark skin tones). My skin is more on the medium side so these shades are a little light for me but I can still make them work, especially during the Winter months when I don't have a tan.

Side note: is anyone else loving the CoverGirl rebrand? The logo and packaging are much more minimalist and I think they look great.


If you're a fan of texture like I am, you will probably love this CoverGirl palette. The powder feels buttery soft (is there anything more satisfying?), which makes for easy blending. The finishes also vary depending on the look you're going for; the far left is more of a subtle sheen whereas the far right one is for when you want that glitter bomb look without giant flecks of glitter all over the place. In my opinion, it's a nice and simple everyday palette.

For more experienced highlighter queens who want to go beyond your "basic" highlight, the Revlon Galaxy Dream Holographic Highlighting Palette ($19.99 CAD) is the one for you. I honestly didn't know what to expect when I first opened the packaging because on its face, the shades look pretty flat and bland in the pan. Was I ever wrong... 


Once swatched, I was totally shocked to see these highlighters come to life. Despite looking chalky, they were surprisingly blendable. Plus, they are made with duo chrome pearls for a multi-faceted, prismatic glow. Each shade looks a little different depending on which way you're facing in the light... the effect is truly incredible. The green-toned one seems like it might be hard to use on the daily, but if you're into the whole mermaid/unicorn look, these highlighters will get you there fast.

Find both of these palettes at your local drugstore and online at London Drugs.

February 2, 2019

Gucci White New Ace Elastic Band Sneakers

Anybody who's seen my shoe collection knows I own a massive amount of sneakers (I am, after all, almost exclusively in athleisure in my down time). However, I've never been too interested in designer sneakers... until I saw these. Gucci has been pumping out variations of these sneakers for some time now and while I've always liked the Stan Smith-eqsue silhouette, if I'm going to spend the $$ on casual shoes they need to have a unique element. This logo elastic band was it for me. Now if I can just figure out a way to keep these white kicks clean!

Sweater: Oak + Fort / Jeans: Frame (lighter wash) / Sneakers: Gucci (here)
Bag: Proenza Schouler (mini version) / Necklaces: Pyrrha (similar)
Sunglasses: Gucci

January 14, 2019

My Honeymoon: Hawaii, Tahiti, and Bora Bora

Almost as much as we were anticipating our wedding, we were eagerly looking forward to our honeymoon as well. After all the stress of wedding planning for the past year or so, I knew I wanted to do a relaxing beach vacation as opposed to a city/exploring vacation. We also took the opportunity (it being our honeymoon and all) to justify going to Bora Bora which has been a dream destination of mine for years. Warning: this is going to be a pretty picture-heavy post!


Oahu, Hawaii

Since we knew that our end goal was to get to French Polynesia, we decided to break up the long travel by spending a week in Oahu first. Yes, I did go to Oahu twice in 2018 (as I mentioned in my Oahu vacation recap). However, there was so much we didn't get to see the first time around.


Since we didn't get to it on our prior trip, hiking up to the top of Diamond Head was a major priority.


We also did the Pink Pillbox Hike on the island's west side. This is my favourite hike I've done on Oahu thus far because there were no crowds (we probably saw about 6 people total) and the views were amazing.


We also rented a car and drove to the North Shore! I wish we had had more time to explore all the little shops in Haleiwa but we spent most of they day lounging at Waimea Bay instead. I did manage to get a photo with the iconic Colette Miller wings in front of Anahulu Shave Ice.


Hawaii, and Oahu in particular, have a very rich military history that my husband is really into. We did the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri on our last trip so this time we went to the Pacific Aviation Museum. In the Waikiki area, there is also a US Army Museum at Fort DeRussy which was incredibly interesting and also free.


Tahiti

After shopping and eating up a storm in Hawaii, we continued our journey with 48 hours in Tahiti. Although it's the largest and most populous, Tahiti is typically a stopover point for many people on their way to other islands in French Polynesia. However, it's beautiful in its own way with lots of lush vegetation and waterfalls.


We stayed in Papeete, which is the capital of French Polynesia. The Marché de Papeete is a must-visit for food and souvenirs.


I had also heard a lot about Les Roulottes (food trucks) that set up daily in downtown Papeete at Place Vaiete. These were interesting because they mostly served Chinese-style food but always with these giant plates of baguette. With the French influence over there, we got used to eating way more bread than we normally would!


Another thing I noticed all around the island were these beautiful, colourful murals that were basically everywhere.


Bora Bora

Then it was onto our final destination: Bora Bora. All of those photos you see of Bora Bora are what it looks like in real life... it's an absolutely magical place. The airport is located on its own little strip where there is no vehicle access. All of the transportation from the airport is by boat!


My whole purpose in going to Bora Bora was to stay in an infamous overwater bungalow (why travel so far to not do that?!) We stayed at the Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island, which is one of the smaller resorts but, as its name implies, it's located on its own private island. The grounds were perfectly manicured and the resort is adult-only which means quiet and very relaxing.


The water in Bora Bora was crystal clear and so warm. We spent each day doing some sort of water activity whether it was kayaking, snorkelling, or just floating around. What a serious luxury to have such access right from our bungalow.


Our resort offered a free boat shuttle to their sister resort on the main island. We took the opportunity to rent a scooter to tour around the main island "open air" style. There is only one road and it takes about an hour.


Bora Bora was the perfect end to a great honeymoon and I sincerely hope I get the opportunity to return. Maybe for a milestone anniversary? ;)

January 2, 2019

Louis Vuitton Surene MM

Happy New Year! 2018 was such an amazing year for me that I don't think it can ever be topped, but I am honestly looking forward to a much calmer 2019. Although I don't believe in making resolutions, two of my top priorities for the new year include focusing on my health and decluttering my apartment. In the vein of decluttering, I'm also trying to be more mindful of my purchases and buy things I truly love and know I'll get a lot of use out of.

This Louis Vuitton Surene MM is a recent purchase that has already proved its worth given how much use it's gotten. I have been wanting a new LV bag for a few years but nothing has ever caught my eye until this one. A medium-sized tote with three separate compartments (the middle is zippered for security), it features LV's iconic monogram canvas which is my personal favourite from the brand. It's been perfect for work but isn't too big to schlep around on weekends either. All I can say is it was definitely worth the wait!

Top: Wilfred (Aritzia) / Skirt: Wilfred (Aritzia) / Coat: Massimo Dutti
Boots: Steve Madden (similar) / Bag: Louis Vuitton

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