Sunday, November 24, 2013

When Life Hands You Lemons: Citrus Fragrances

I am not a person with a signature scent. As far as fragrance style goes, I may go in and out of phases with one specific fragrance, but I am always open to something new! While I suppose this isn't quite the season for citrus scents (and I'm admittedly in a woody fragrance phase), I was staring at my fragrances lined up along my bathroom vanity and felt compelled to share some of my favourite bright scents with y'all. Apply liberally.

This fragrance is fairly new to me, and to the general public, as Sonia Kashuk recently launched her bath & body line at Target (and Target Canada!). Out of the four fragrance variations in the collection, this is the one I've taken to the most. The price point is downright fair ($20), and the grapefruit and verbena notes are bright without being overwhelming or slapping you upside the head with a crate of lemons thanks to the addition of musk at the heart of the fragrance.

I first came across Atelier Cologne when I was interning at Bergdorfs in 2011 and I was intrigued, but never committed to a purchase. I was at Sephora this past March (shocking, I know) and was told the creators of the brand were going to be in-store, so I was booked in to return a few hours later for a walk-through of the brand offerings. I became completely infatuated with Trèfle Pur because it was a citrus fragrance that stayed citrusy and didn't fade within an hour of wearing it, which is a common qualm with citrus scents. The notes include bitter orange, cardamom, neroli, and patchouli moss. It's definitely a unisex scent, but I have no intention of sharing this giant 200 mL bottle with anyone since I've actually put a considerable dent in it since purchasing it. The day I was in-store for the event, I was also given a 30 mL purse spray that was housed in a monogrammed leather case (pictured below). This purse spray was the best reprieve for my nose from the stench of the Annex this past summer.

Another gigantic 200 mL bottle of citrus goodness that I love so dearly. I first smelled this when hovering around the Chanel counter at Holts in summer 2010 and it was actually the first beauty product I bought when I moved to Manhattan that summer. It was before Chanel started offering the 75 mL format that was much more travel-friendly, but that hardly mattered to me. I bought my own atomizer and carried this fragrance everywhere with me. Mandarin orange, bergamot, neroli and petitgrain make this a very bright, refreshing version of a very traditional concept.

While I've never been crazy about most Fresh scents that other people are fanatical about (Sugar, Sugar Lemon, Brown Sugar, Sugar Lychee... at which point, I realize I'm not the biggest gourmand scent fan), but when this one was announced, I was curious. I was told it was going to be a significant departure from the fragrances of the brand, so I couldn't wait to try it. This fragrance is composed in a slightly different way than others, since it's four different fragrances that were then combined to create this delightful eau de parfum. The notes that hit me the most include velvet bergamot, grapefruit, warm orange, magnolia, and sweet cucumber. The drydown is warm for a fairly citrusy scent. This one is awesome in all iterations, whether it's the eau de parfum, the candle or the body oil. It's supposed to launch soon at Sephora Canada, so keep your eyes peeled for it and give it a spritz when you see it! 

Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent from the company or their PR team for editorial consideration. For more information, please click here.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I Am The Goldilocks of Jewelry


When it comes to accessories and jewelry, I'm a *touch* particular. For daily life,  I like wearing pieces I can always keep on. The past year, that has meant five thin gold bands and one vintage diamond ring (my mom's first ring she bought when she moved to England from India), small gold hoops with a few small diamonds in each lobe, a gold hoop through my helix piercing, a Lakshmi ring in my daith piercing (pierced at NY Adorned by J Colby Smith), and a fine gold chain strung through a single diamond pendant and a small NYC MTA subway token that was in circulation from 1953 til 1970. 

If something isn't comfortable, I won't wear it, whether it's clothing, footwear, or jewelry. I used to be into bangles or bracelets in university, but the amount of clanking and noise they made during classes was a pretty quick deterrent in continuing to wear them (nothing quite makes you reevaluate your accessories like being side-eyed during exams).
The last thing I'll wear in the dead of summer or winter is a huge piece of metal anything. It either scalds me or is icy against my skin, respectively. Too hot or too cold sensations have left me feeling like the Goldilocks of jewelry selection. Recently, I've found literal comfort in the simplicity of pieces from E C FREED Jewelry. The Chain & Stone Bracelet (shown below) that I bought wears close to the skin with ease and understated elegance. A bit of wiggle room to slide down the wrist, but nothing too large like a bangle would wear. Emma Freed hand-makes each piece and can customize the pieces in several ways in order to meet different size requirements or colour preferences. While the E C FREED piece I gravitated towards is dainty, there are many motifs and elements in the range, such as evil eyes, elephants (!!!!!), hamsa hands and more, so there's definitely something for everyone. I urge everyone to check out E C FREED Jewelry on Facebook here and reach out to Emma here to place an order, because everyone can always use a little adornment during the holidays, am I right?   

E C FREED Chain & Stone bracelet (centre)
How sweet is this presentation? Love.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I'm A Fool for Foundation

I'm just a fool, a fool in love...with foundation. 

As a self-proclaimed foundation junkie, I feel makeup never looks as seamless as it does when applied over a beautiful base. Whether you’re into liquid foundation or prefer a powder compact, or if you’re more of a spot-concealing person who occasionally opts for tinted moisturizer, there’s a formula for you that will lend an element of polish to your overall look. I'll be covering liquid foundation picks in this post, so stay tuned for powder and tinted moisturizer recommendations in the next post! Read on for my liquid formulas that I use and love.

The latest foundation iteration from Guerlain is dubbed a “timeproof” foundation, and they aren’t kidding with that claim. This is as long-wearing as foundation gets without appearing heavy on the face. While this is a fuller coverage foundation, and that isn't something many people want or need, I must say I love how this looks on the skin and the fact that I never have to conceal anything after applying this. It covers up every former blemish, every current blemish, every little imperfection I have. This formula wears comfortably on the skin, sets brilliantly without a separate setting powder (though using one will ultimately just stretch out the wear of your application), and photographs well in spite of the SPF 20 added. I buff it in to moisturized skin with a Sigma Beauty F82 Rounded Kabuki Brush for speedy coverage. I’m usually really apprehensive when it comes to long-wearing foundations and being able to properly remove them (since improper removal can lead to breakouts), but this formula comes off with no issue or extra effort whatsoever. Finding a colour match may be a challenge for anyone very fair or medium-deep and darker, but if there's a match for you, go for it.  

As far as I’m concerned, no one does foundation the way Armani does foundation. I didn’t think anything would be able to please me the way Armani Luminous Silk did (and has since 2007 when I discovered it in Selfridges!), but this thin fluid, which is made of a blend of 5 different oils, is very much a skin perfector. It glides on and blends in with the most minimal effort. It’s incredibly low maintenance in that regard, so I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want to really have to ...try, per se. It’s more geared towards someone who isn’t in dire need of too much coverage, so skin in stable condition is most agreeable for this one, but man oh man, it gives a gorgeous velvety finish to the face. This one is probably best applied with fingers, but I still buff it on with the aforementioned Sigma rounded kabuki because I find I end up washing my hands about 7 times every time I do my makeup otherwise... 

Many people, myself included, learned about this lightweight fluid and instantly thought it was a drugstore dupe for Armani’s Maestro Fusion Makeup. While the ingredients are incredibly similar between the two foundations (both brands are owned by L’Oréal), there’s actually more alcohol in this foundation than the Armani version. That being said, it performs very similarly to the Armani foundation, and at a fraction of the cost. It also sets to a velvety matte finish, which leaves skin quite comfortable. This version has a very different colour range than Armani, and the glass bottle with no dropper or dispenser leaves something to be desired, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you have decent skin and prep beforehand with a solid dose of moisture to eliminate dryness, give this one a whirl. 


While this isn't the newest addition to YSL's foundation family (that would be YSL Youth Liberator Serum Foundation), this particular formula was virtually overdue in a way. After such huge success with the brand's Touche Éclat pen (the product that spawned a whole category of clicky-twisty highlighter-concealer pens), it was a logical next step to spread the lightness that Touche Éclat brings to the eye area to the whole face. That's what this formula is, in my experience: radiance in a bottle. It's a light-to-medium coverage luminous finish foundation with not a trace of shimmer or sparkle, thankfully. The shade range is pretty substantial for a high-end range, it wears well with no noticeable fading, at least on my combination-dry skin and you'll appreciate the glowy finish if you're not into highlighting, because the luminous finish of this formula is ample enough to get by on. 

Semi-related: a small but still prized possession -- my personalized Touche Eclat pen

Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent from the company or their PR team for editorial consideration. For more information, please click here. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Good Things Come in Teensy Packaging

As I alluded to in my post on highlighters, I'm from a fam where we are serious fans of anything miniature. A little mini bottle of Heinz, a little jar of jam, it doesn't matter what it is, we just stop and and coo over it and comment on how cute it is. So that's how much I like mini condiment offerings... multiply that affection by about a thousand and that's how much I love beauty product minis.

Minis are always helpful in getting to know a product before committing to the full size, and I've actually been turned on to many a product by miniature sizes and samples. Sampling is essential in this industry in order to determine how compatible a product is with your skin, colouring or body chemistry. Sampling is just good sense, and I hope it's something that more brands consider engaging in if they don't currently have a sampling program in place. Minis that are given compliments of a brand are fun paraphernalia to have as keepsakes. That's how I view any and all Chanel bits that I've amassed since interning there. 

I've accumulated a pretty vast collection of tiny products over the years, given as samples from the counters or included in gift sets and the like. Here's a small (hehehe) sampling of my collection of minis that I doubt I'll ever tire of. They're just so precious and twee!

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Included in this photoset: Chanel Les Exclusifs in Gardenia, Beige & Jersey; Chanel Coco Noir; Dior L'Or de Vie Serum, Eye & Lip Contour Cream and Face Cream; Calvin Klein Downtown; Prada Luna Rossa Pour Homme and Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gioia Eau Fraiche; NARS Mini Bronzer in "Laguna", Jo Malone Vitamin E Gel, Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus, Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, Laura Mercier Eye Basics in "Buff", Bobbi Brown Rich Color Gloss in "Pink Buff", Benefit Ultra Plush Lip Gloss in "Hoola", Trish McEvoy Beauty Booster Serum, Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Brow Biz - My Preferred Products

Continuing on from the last post regarding Benefit's Brow Bar, I thought I'd outline some of my favourite brow products and explain why they're so splendid. I'd like to note that while I don't really put much effort in hair removal (occasional tweezing is the extent of my shaping process), I do fill in my brows habitually, even if it's 6:30 am, completely dark out and I'm only going to the gym. My brows are not the standard shape, in that they sort of slope downwards at the ends, so there's a fair bit of tweaking with the shape when I fill them in to even things out. After years of oscillating between pencils, waxes, powders and liquid formulas, I think I've determined what I truly love (powder brow cake brushed on and set with a clear gel), but that doesn't mean there aren't a flurry of formulations that are well worth your attention!

It took two Youtube videos to convince me I had to at least see this brow cake in person. I'm actually thrilled I made the couple-block stroll to The Bay to creep the Illamasqua counter, because the content of this lil compact is bloody brilliant. It's a killer shade of medium-deep brown that isn't too cool-toned and is somewhat universal in nature (though there are other shades available in the same formulation). I say it's universal because I've seen blondes sport this shade, and it looks natural on them, and it magically suits me as well. I don't know what that science is, but what I do know is that this stuff lasts all day with no fading or patchiness, can be applied wet or dry (I prefer dry), and that it has wonderful pigmentation. I've put a dent in it since grabbing it last month, and we all know that that's a statement for me!

There's nothing particularly fancy about this angled brush. To most, I suppose if you've used one angled brush, you've used them all, but what I appreciate about this brush is the price point ($14!) and the fact that I can use it horizontally for filling in the thinnest part of my brows without colouring outside the lines per se, and I can use it vertically to get a softer effect when filling in the front of my brows, which I don't really want too dark at all. It's just a handy brush to have around, and I'd hate to be without it. 

Admittedly, metal lash combs used to scare the crap out of me. I mean...what if you hit your lids, or obviously far worse, your actual eyeballs?! It gave me anxiety just thinking about it, but clearly I got past that fear at some point, because this lash and brow grooming brush ended up in my possession and now I can't go a single day without using at least one if not both sides of this great tool (shoutout to the first Youtube account I ever subscribed to, PIXIWOO, specifically Samantha Chapman, who created this brush range!). I use it before, during and after filling in my brows, and I use it to brush the next product through my brows for a bit of texture. 

When I first came across this product at NKPR's holiday preview in July, I had a couple questions. 1) Why is "browmousse" one word? 2) Why is it a mousse and not a gel when it looks like a gel? I never received an answer to that first question, but I did ask Tweezerman Canada's brow expert the second question and she explained that the clear formula is lighter than gel, so they dubbed it a mousse due to a slightly less dense texture (it's not air-whipped like a mousse, don't get too excited). I can't really remark on the lightness of the texture, to me it applies like every other brow gel, but the difference I've found with this formula is that it doesn't flake or lose hold throughout the day. Everything stays in place, but I don't feel like I've glued my brows down. The worst is when you raise your brows as one does when they have facial reactions to different scenarios and you feel your brows. I don't ever really want to be that aware of my brow gel, so this one is great for solid hold without the weird shellacked-to-your-head sensation. Keeper.  

Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent from the company or their PR team for editorial consideration. For more information, please click here.   

Brow Biz - Benefit Brow Bar

The importance of eyebrows musn't be downplayed, dear reader. Brows are arguably the most crucial feature of your face. At the risk of sounding increasingly dramatic, they make or break your whole look! To prove such a point, my cute friend Zhen let me capture her brow grooming experience at Benefit Cosmetics' Brow Bar, located in Sephora Yorkdale.

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Scrolling through the gallery above, you can see the various steps that Zhen was taken through by our Brow Expert, Kelly. Zhen's brows were initially tinted (pretty sure this was Zhen's fave step in the process, since filling in brows isn't her ideal pastime), and then the brow shape was mapped out using Benefit Brow Zings and an angled brush. Kelly used different points on the face to determine where the brow would begin (a line between the side of the nose and the inner corner of the eye), arch (a line between the side of the nose and pupil of the eye), and end (a line from the side of the nose to the outer corner of the eye) and mapped these points out accordingly.

After mapping, Kelly busted out the wax and began to remove hair in small sections starting on the top of the brows first and then moving to the bottom, ensuring that each section was completely tidy before moving onto the next, detailing with tweezers as she went along. Excess wax was removed with a bit of oil, as per usual.

The difference that tinting and shaping can make.

How significantly brows change once they're shaped and filled in!
Kelly used Benefit Instant Brow Pencil to lightly fill in Zhen's shape. All in all, Zhen was pretty stoked on her expert arches, which really do look so sharp! I think it's an appointment that's worthy of everyone's time because EVERYONE can use a little brow help and Benefit Brow Bar is conveniently located and super speedy, and most importantly, the brow pros there are really, really good at what they do.  For a location near you, click here!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Diwali Wishes + Fave Candles

It's Diwali today, and I've felt a little wrapped up in my thoughts (as per usual), so let me take a moment to step out of my thoughts and focus on others. You, to be specific. If you're reading this, you mean a great deal to me because you're taking your time to read words I write. This is absurdly significant to me so let me say thank you. Thank you for reading what I write!

Diwali is a festival of lights, representing the triumph of good over evil and lightness over darkness. Diwali has several meanings and interpretations, and the meaning I'm most drawn to today is the awareness of inner light. Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of this inner light. May the brightness of your inner light vanquish any darkness in your life!

I've never been equipped with the usual Diwali clay/oil lights, so I've made a habit of lighting my favourite candles instead on this holiday. These are some (unisex!) scented candles I enjoy:

Diptyque Cuir candle - I stumbled upon this candle in the Diptyque candle on Bleecker in West Village a couple years back, and I have been obsessed with it since. The smoky leather fragrance that fills your home after burning this is sublime. It's unfortunately not available for purchase online, as it's a boutique exclusive in the US, so if you pop into a Diptyque boutique, grab one. Just do it. It's fantastic.

Byredo Cotton Poplin candle - This brand is essentially fragrances that are all inspired by brand founder Ben Gorham's scent memories. He created a fragrance called Blanche for his wife, which is a feminine blend of white roses, peonies and sandalwood. I approached the Byredo counter in Holts one day and asked for the candle equivalent of Blanche, and this candle was the result. The scent consists of chamomile, white cedarwood and sweet musk. It's a very subtle fragrance, so it's ideal for anyone who wants something a little lighter. 

White Barn Home Eucalyptus Mint candle - Finding palatable scents at a more reasonable price point is always a fun objective I set for myself when browsing shops. I'm normally not drawn to any of the sugary sweet seasonal scents that you can find in Bath & Body Works (they just aren't my cup of chai), so finding something as refreshing as this candle at BBW was wonderful. The eucalyptus isn't too sharp, the mint isn't overly artificial and it's enhanced with a bit of citrus. This candle has really substantial throw even when it's not burning, making it great to just leave open in a room to freshen up the space.

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