Friday, May 28, 2010

My skin is not feeling "pretty"

2010 has not been a good year for my skin. Maybe I jinxed it by writing this post LOL! My skin first started breaking out in January - after I used my Burts Bees sunscreen as my morning moisturiser (stupid move - I thought it would be non-irritating). Then I began my biotin supplements, which made whiteheads and blackheads erupt on my forehead. Finally, I believe some of the dietary changes I made recently could be affecting my skin - perhaps the whey protein powder? (It's ironic, because I'm eating so much more healthily these days - with less sugar and caffeine, and more fruits and veggies - isn't my skin supposed to be glowing?)

To control the acne - I turned to the regimen (Cetaphil face wash, 2.5% Benzyl Peroxide and Cetaphil moisturiser). While I don't like using Benzyl Peroxide, I've had success with this combination before - but not this time around. It didn't clear up my skin, and since I was no longer using my Burts Bees Tomato Toner, my cheeks got red, painful acne.

To be honest - I feel like a chemistry experiment gone wrong! It's hard to figure out the right balance to get back on track for clear skin again. To help me with this - I went for an acne facial today. The aesthetician did a thorough job extracting my blemishes and recommended a mix of 4 Dermologica and Yonka products for my skin. I'm going to give some of these a try and hope for the best!

1) Dermalogica Dermal Clay Cleanser (BOUGHT THIS)

2) Yonka Juvenil - I used to use this A LOT. It really worked on my skin, but it is pricey and gets used up quickly. (BOUGHT THIS)

3) Yonka PG Creme - This moisturiser is made specifically for problem skin. While I've never tried this product before, I've used Yonka's Creme 83 in the past - and was not a big fan. I took a sample of this, and if it suits me, I'll buy the tube. (UPDATE: I've used the sample - and so far - I'm loving it - it's so soothing and moisturising)

4) Dermalogica Skin Refining Masque - The aesthetician recommended that I use this twice a week for deep cleansing. I decided not to purchased this yet, since I still have my Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque (which also contains kaolin and bentonite clay). Also, the Dermalogica Clay Cleanser I purchased can also be used as a mask.

I really hope this helps my skin out. Will definitely review once I've used these products for a while.

Have you had any experience with Dermalogica or Yonka products? Which are your favourites?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Perfect Button-down Shirt...and other things

I had to pick up some birthday gifts at the Mall - and I stopped by the GAP since they were having 25% off your whole purchase today. I'm glad I went in, because I found THE perfect button-down shirt. I love the look of button-down shirts - but it is hard to find one that is: feminine... non-boxy...doesn't gape at the button holes....doesn't button up too high...doesn't have weird shoulders, etc. I tried this pink and white striped shirt in XS - and it was love-at-first-wear! The shirt was so comfy and it fit in all the right places - it felt like it was made for me.

The material and tailoring is lovely - it seems worth the $50 price tag, but I'm glad I didn't pay full price! There wasn't time to look for other shirts - but I have a 20% off coupon (for filling in their internet survey) - so I would love to go back and find a similar shirt in blue.
While I'm on the subject of shopping, I bought a necklace a couple of weeks Sears...and I think it is very "interesting"...(although my mother and sister think it's hideous!). Most of my jewelry is delicate - while this is a "statement necklace" - but there is something very pretty about the pink, white and yellow enamel flowers - I just had to get it. It's a lot chunkier than my other necklaces - and to be honest, I'm not sure how to wear it - right now I'm playing it safe and pairing it with either black or white tops.

Be honest - what do you think of this necklace - would you wear it? (I will anyway - I just want to know if I'm the only person that likes it!)

Another thing I've been thinking about recently is perfume. I don't like owning too many bottles - currently I have five: Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel (my favourite), Angel by Thierry Mugler, Burberry Weekend for Men (I love its citrus-y smell), Benefit's Maybe Baby and an Arabian Rose Perfume (I like combining this with Angel to soften the scent).

I've tried on two perfumes recently: Miss Dior Cherie and Chloe. First of all - aren't their bottles beautiful - with the delicate ribbons tied around their necks? Miss Dior Cherie reminds me A LOT of Coco Mademoiselle - perhaps because they have similar notes.** I prefer Coco Mademoiselle, so I don't think I'd buy Miss Dior. I'm very tempted to get Chloe though. I sprayed the tester on yesterday, and couldn't stop sniffing my wrist all day. The base notes are really sweet and long-lasting - with lots of floral ingredients: Pink Peony, Freesia, Lychee, Magnolia Flower, Lilly of the Valley, Rose, Cedarwood, Amber and Honey.

What is your favourite perfume? I'd love to read about it in the comments.

**Coco Mademoiselle has:
Orange, Bergamot, Jasmine Petals, Morning Rose, Patchouli and Vetvier Express
**Miss Dior Cherie has:
Green Tangerine, Violette, Pink Jasmine, Patchouli, Crystalline Musk, Strawberry Leaves, Caramelized Popcorn (?!?!) and Strawberry Sorbet).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Budget Beauty Brands: Mini-reviews

I've purchased a lot of "budget" beauty items recently - from Coastal Scents, E.L.F. and NYX. (I posted about some of the purchases here - the result of late night internet shopping). Some of the items were of amazing quality, while others were disappointing. Here's a quick summary of what I loved and what I hated.

Coastal Scents Pink Angle Taklon Liner Brush ($1.79) - Previously I was using an old liquid liner applicator (pictured in the top left corner) with my gel eyeliner, but I'm now hooked on this new brush. I'm pretty good at lining my eyes - but this brush is fool-proof! You just pat the liner on top of your lashes "connecting the dots" as you go along. The results are perfect every time - and you can line your eyes in a hurry, without worrying about messing up.
Coastal Scents Pink Kabuki Brush ($4.99) - this brush is soooo soft and fluffy. I use it to apply mineral bronzers and blushes - it diffuses the pigments perfectly, giving a flushed "glowing-from-within" look. However, as with the Everyday Minerals flat top brush, I can't use this to apply my mineral base. The bristles are too soft and leave my foundation looking flaky.

E.L.F. Cream Liner in Coffee ($3) - I highly recommend this product. It is comparable to MAC's Fluidline Gel Eyeliner - at a fraction of the cost. Since I already own the MAC liner in black, I got this in a brown shade for daytime wear.
E.L.F. All Over Color Stick in Pink Lemonade ($1) - I got this to use as a cream blusher. The colour is beautiful, but a little frosty. It doesn't really last long on its own, but is great to use as a base for powder blusher (combining the two results in a long-lasting application). It can also be used on lips - but I haven't tried that yet.

I've been disappointed in nearly all of these NYX lip products. I purchased them in person, and while they swatch beautifully - they are HORRIBLE on my lips. (I'm too much of a germaphobe to ever use a store tester on my lips).
NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Coral - This applies unevenly and the colour doesn't really show up.
NYX Diamond Sparkle Lipstick in Sparkling Apricot - This lipstick is the worst product I've purchased in a while. It applies streakily and has really ugly patches of frosty glitter.
NYX Jumbo Lip Pencil in Soft Fuchsia, Chestnut, Pink Nude - Chestnut and Pink Nude don't show up on my lips - they just look frosty/silvery on. However, Soft Fuchsia is gorgeous - it is a pinkish nude shade that is very moisturising and pigmented. The finish reminds me of a MAC lipstick - I highly recommend it.

Disclaimer: I purchased these products myself, and was not paid to review them.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hair Update

As I mentioned in this post, I am focusing on improving the condition of my hair this year. There are several things that I've been using (supplements and external products) - and I wanted to post an update on how these products have been working out for me.
1) Hair Vitamin: Beauty from Within - The key ingredient in this is Biotin, a water soluble B vitamin which promotes hair and nail growth. Too much Biotin can cause acne - a side effect I've experienced MAJORLY. I hoped that my skin would adjust to this in time, but 3 months later, it is actually getting worse. I've stopped using this, and will look for another supplement to take its place (once my skin returns to normal...hopefully soon!)
BOTTOM LINE: I personally didn't notice any increased growth or thickness from this vitamin. However, Biotin has very good reviews, so it is worth a try - as long as you don't have acne-prone skin! Biotin can be found in a lot of hair/skin/nail supplements, including GNC's Ultra-Nourishair (available in the U.S.)

2) Protein Supplement: Organic Whey Protein Powder - Consuming adequate amounts of protein supports healthy hair growth, so I've added this powder into my morning smoothie.
BOTTOM LINE: I've been using this for 2 months now, and have not noticed any significant change in my hair. However, it has been very effective in helping me lose weight, so I will continue to use this.

1) Black Castor Oil: Castor Oil helps promote hair growth and health, when applied to the scalp. Black Castor Oil refers to the raw, unrefined product, which is meant to be more potent than the widely available clear, processed oil. I mix this with Lavender and Rosemary Essential Oils, and apply it overnight, twice a week.
BOTTOM LINE: I've been using this for 6 months now, and I will continue to use it. I feel that my roots are stronger and my hair is slightly thicker. I've noticed baby hairs on my forehead where the Castor Oil has been applied - where I've not had growth before! CAUTION: This could potentially clog your pores, so make sure that it doesn't trickle down to your face. Change your pillowcase after sleeping with it in your hair.

Dabur Vatika Oil - This Indian product contains Coconut oil enriched with several herbs, including Henna and Neem. I apply this once a week, and leave it in for 6 hours.
BOTTOM LINE: This oil provides deep conditioning. While it hasn't helped promote new hair growth, it helps my existing strands stay strong and healthy. I think most people with long hair can benefit from using this.

Here's a comparison photo of my hair growth over 5 months. My hair journey hasn't been that successful...YET. Still, I'm not daunted, and will continue on my quest. Two products I'm thinking of trying are Nioxin (a topical ointment - usually quite pricey, but I've seen them at my local Winners) and Nutricap (a supplement which is supposed to stimulate hair growth). Hope I have a more dramatic update for my next hair growth post!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Beauty shopping bargains

I've somehow managed to pick up a lot of makeup/beauty items recently. I have to watch out for late-night internet can be addictive! I placed my first order with E.L.F. makeup. I've read that their products can be hit or miss - but with prices ranging from $1-$3, it is worth your while to experiment. I went through some of my favourite makeup blogs to find some recommendations, and ended up with these items: (top row: Butter Pecan cream eyeshadow, Coffee gel eyeliner, Middle row: Warm bronzer, All Over Color sticks in Pink Lemonade and Golden Peach). My total order came to $9 - and after googling for coupon codes, I got $5 off my order - so all this makeup cost $4 (plus $6.95 shipping) - not bad!

I also ordered 2 brushes from Coastal Scents...and yes - my decision was majorly influenced by their pinkness! One is a kabuki brush, and the other is a slanted eyeliner brush to use with gel eyeliner. With shipping the two brushes came to $8.27 - definitely very budget friendly! Of course the price was right - as to the quality - time will tell. Will definitely update once my items arrive!

My local Winners (Canadian equivalent of TK Maxx/TJ Maxx) recently enlarged their beauty product section. They now have a fantastic selection of quality products - I was able to find so many of my wishlist items - I actually had to put a few things back! Here's what I got:
-Revlon Nails - seems like a fun thing to try out
-Batiste dry shampoo in Black - I'd been looking for this everywhere - it's the perfect product for those "in-between-shampoo" days. I've already used this - and it is amazing. Much more effective than baby powder !
-Terax Crema conditioner - I've had this on my wishlist since 2006, when I first read rave reviews about it on beauty blogs
-Kent Brush cleaner - I bought this to use on my Mason Pearson natural bristle brush - they are very hard to clean - and you can't submerge it in water. This product is a life saver.
-Duo false eyelashes with glue - I've read that Duo glue is the best product for applying eyelashes - so I had to get this little kit, which comes with a small tube of glue and a pair of dense eyelashes.
-GOSH pigment in Satin (not from Winners) - I bought this at Shoppers Drug Mart. I've regretted not buying Barry M pigments when I lived in England - then I read this blog post. Apparently, this pigment is BETTER than Barry M AND this shade is a dupe for All That Glitters (a MAC eyeshadow that I've been meaning to purchase). It's a pinky bronze shade that suits my skintone perfectly!

This is not beauty or bargain related - but I bought 2 tops and pair of jeans from Garage this past weekend. Garage seems to be for the Hollister generation (while I'm 31) but I often find cute clothes there.
This yellow cotton top is such a pretty colour:

I love the floral embroidery on this white top - it is so light and summer-y. The jeans are beyond comfortable - they really suck you in! This pair is ripped and shredded - I wouldn't usually purchase them, but they were on sale, and made me happy. I hope they come out with a tailored dark denim version.

Have you found any great beauty bargains recently? Do you shop at "non-age appropriate stores"? I'd love to read about your thoughts in the comments section!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Product Review: Everyday Minerals

Everyday Minerals is a make-up line that is popular because it is reasonably priced, is of good quality, and doesn't contain Bismuth (a potentially irritating mineral which is present in other lines, including SOME Bare Escentuals products). My first encounter with EM was in 2008, when I took advantage of their special offer of 5 free samples for the price of shipping*. Their sample sizes were generous, and I was able to find a base shade that suited me perfectly (Olive Medium).

Recently I decided to take a break from my MAC concealer, as I felt it was causing more blemishes, and not really covering up my existing break outs. I started using my sample EM base - and loved how it covered up problem areas without irritating my skin. I went to the website intending to order just the base, but ended up with a LOT more in my shopping cart. Here's what I purchased:
(Clockwise from top left)
1) Pressed Powder in Olive Medium ($12)
2) Loose Concealer in Medium ($8)
3) Pressed Blush in All Smiles ($12)
4) Pressed Bronzer in Summer ($12)
5) Colour Correctors in Mint and Lavender (sample size) ($2.50 each)
6) Flat Top Brush ($10)
7) Loose Blushes in Pink Sheen (free samples)

My order arrived more than a month ago, so I've had a while to use the products and give a fair review.

Pictured (clockwise from top left): EM Olive Medium Pressed, MAC Concealer NC35, EM Concealer, EM sample concealer from 2008, EM sample base from 2008)

Swatches: The Olive Medium is a very close match to my skin tone - better than MAC.
Base: I love this base. It matches my skin tone, provides moderate coverage of my blemishes, and leaves my skin looking glowy. I always re-moisturize my skin to provide a good foundation for the powder, and as long as I do this, there is very little flaking or crusting, even over pimples. I also use it to set the (non-mineral) cream concealer I use under my eyes.
Concealer: I haven't found much use for this product as it is too drying for my under eye area, while for my blemishes - I just apply several layers of the base. I have read that you can mix this with moisturizer to make a paste, but I haven't tried this myself.

Pictured (left to right): NARS Orgasm, EM All Smiles (2008 sample), EM All Smiles Pressed

Swatches: The Loose All Smiles appears chalky, but applies smoothly.
Blush: The colour of this blush is very flattering - it reminds me of NARS Orgasm, without the gold shimmer. I really liked the loose sample I had, but when I started using this in the pressed form, it didn't seem to last long. When I apply NARS, at the end of the day I can still see a gentle flush on my cheeks, while the pressed All Smiles seems to disappear. I think the loose formula might be longer lasting, but I have yet to test this theory. Despite this, it is nice to have a mineral option to use when I break out, as I don't have to worry about aggravating my skin any further.

Pictured: No 17 Bronzer on the left, EM Summer Bronzer on the right

Swatches: The EM Bronzer hardly shows up on my skin, even though I swatched the darkest section of the pan.
Bronzer: The bronzer was a COMPLETE disappointment for me. Even though it looks quite dark - it does not show up on my skin. I guess I could always order a darker shade of base to use as a bronzer, but I do like my bronzer to have some shimmer - otherwise it can end up looking muddy.
Colour correctors: The lavender one can be used under blush to prevent the colour from oxidising. I've been using this, but haven't really noticed any difference. The green powder is meant to help conceal redness, but I haven't had an occasion to try this out yet.

Pictured: Top - EM Flat Top Brush, Bottom - Bare Escentuals Handy Buki Brush
Flat top brush: I had high hopes for this brush as it had excellent reviews on the EM website AND on MakeUp Alley. I wanted to replace my BE brush, as the bristles are quite stiff (a little painful when you are buffing product onto your skin). The EM Brush feels amazingly soft - BUT it does not do a good job applying the base. The mineral make-up just sits on top of my skin, and appears dry and patchy. I think that firmer bristles are necessary for flawless application.

General Thoughts: Everyday Minerals is a great brand to explore - especially if you have blemish-prone skin. Their foundation sample kits make it cheap and easy to find a shade that suits your skin tone. Experimenting with their products is encouraged, as you can sample most items for $2.50. I personally would repurchase the foundation base and would try more loose blushes and bronzers - as I feel they are a better choice than the pressed options. TIP: To use loose powders without creating a mess - never unpeel the sticker covering the sifter. Instead, use a pin to pierce through one hole and shake out a small amount as needed.

*They have since changed this offer, you now have to place an order to get 1 free sample kit. Details here.

Disclaimer: I purchased these products myself, and was not paid to review them.


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