Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The best balm for your bits - Lush's Ultrabalm review!

The credit for this discovery goes to the wonderful Mr. J!  Just before Christmas this year we went into Lush to buy some gifts.  While there Mr. J tried some of the Ultrabalm on his dry hands (in between holding his breath because normally he will 'just wait out here').  Where we live the winters are very drying, and our skin often bears the brunt of that.  This can also cause red, rough dry patches of skin on arms & legs, that are almost impossible to get rid of.  After sampling it at the store, he was impressed enough to buy a tin of this & give it a try.  This is what it looks like; 

The container slogan is 'All purpose balm for all your bits' and claims that it restores, soothes, protects, relieves and moisturizes and that there is nothing that this 
petroleum free balm can't do.  This feels like a mix between a lotion and a vaseline type product, for lack of a better description.  The difference being that this actually absorbs well & doesn't leave that greasy film sitting on top of your skin.  

 The other thing I love are the ingredients!

There are only three ingredients in this fabulous balm, jojoba seed oil, candelilla wax and rose flower wax.  There is no real scent to this as there is no added fragrance, it smells quite 'natural food store-ish'.  Don't you wish you could describe scents as well as I can?  It's a gift really.  

I have not used it as an all over moisturizer, because it really isn't intended for that. I've just used it on those problem dry patches, as well as my elbows, and it does a fabulous job.  A fabulous job that lasts, this isn't just a temporary fix for a few short hours either, this really makes a difference on my skin.  

But this is where it gets interesting.  The one area that is always a problem for me are my heels.  I do my best to keep my heels soft & moisturized but I am constantly struggling with dry heels, despite foot files, pedicures, scrubs, etc.  That all changed with this little balm.  This has completely transformed the bottom of my feet!  I have never had anything work so well on my heels.  After I get out of the shower (and use my foot file or pumice stone), I put some of this on the bottom of my feet and then put on my socks and that's it.  Soft, moisturized feet!  I do this now about 2-3x per week and will likely need to do it less and less as the balm does it's work.  It's pretty amazing!  

This cost $12.95CDN for a 45gram tin.  As you see from the above picture, if you bring back 5 empty pots you get a Lush Fresh Face Mask for free.  This is now the second tin for Mr. J and I now have my own.  We are now both Ultrabalm converts and won't go without this great little balm.  I'd highly recommend you try it!  You can purchase this at any Lush store or online.

Have any of you tried Lush's ultrabalm?  Do you think it's the best balm for all your bits?  Mr. J loves saying that part. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Beautylish Highlights the Spring Nail Trends!

For all you nail lovers out there, check out this Beautylish report 

on the Spring 2011 Nail Polish Trends!  For those of you who aren't familiar with Beautylish, they are a great source of beauty/product reviews..definitely a site to check out if you haven't already!

Finally saw the sun today, starting to feel like spring!  What are your picks for spring nail colours?

1 Textured Nudes

For a fresh take on the classic nude manicure, this season's flesh and peachy tones got updated with subtle textural elements, says Jan Arnold, co-founder and and style director of CND, whose team of nail artists were backstage at Monique Lhullier, Marc Jacobs, and Jason Wu fashion shows this season. "This spring, the new 'griege' nail is a pale peach porcelain cream, aged in different ways--high shine for luxe perfection, iridescent, or with a satin finish," explains Arnold. She recommends layering CND Effects polish in Perfectly Bare Shimmer over their Perfectly Bare shade: "It's like lip gloss for nails!"

2 Dark & Stormy

The deep manicure trend expands this season to new shades of blue, red, and berry. We're loving the oxblood red nails from Jason Wu's spring show (CND Colour polish in Veronica). This rich, to-die-for burgundy is part of CND's spring Jason Wu collection (created in collaboration with the hot young designer). We love every one of these limited edition shades, but Veronica is especially heart-stopping.

3 Special Effects

Go creative and avant-garde with your manicure this season: At the Diego Binetti S/S 2011 show, CND embellished nails with custom designed jewels, stones, pearls, and beads, transforming them into gorgeous cocktail ringsFor cool DIY nail art, try OPI Black Shattera black top coat that creates a crackled effect when applied over dry polish.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

On the quest for the perfect taupe shadow!

Okay so here it is.  I am a neutral loving eyeshadowing wearing kind of girl.  I have LOTS of eyeshadow colours (some would say too many but is there such a thing?), but the ones I reach for the most are primarily neutrals.  Having said that, most of my neutrals are in the brown family.  What I really have been on the hunt for is the perfect taupe.  The taupe that I can wear on my lids, blend it up a little and call it a day!

Taupe is a funny one.  You can say 'lilac' and everyone instantly knows the colour you're referring to, not so with taupe.  So to be clear the taupe I'm looking for is more grey than brown, more cool than warm and more purple undertones rather than red.  This is where you all come in.  I need some taupe recommendations.  These are the shadows I currently have that are close to what I'm looking for; 

Annabelle Haute Chocolate Trio; Youngblood mineral shadow in Haze;
NARS Ashes to Ashes
Here are the swatches, as best as I could do anyway, taupe swatches are hard!

Annabelle      Youngblood     NARS

The Annabelle trio is called Haute Chocolate, but the lighter shades are more taupe than chocolate.  The swatch above is of the lightest color in the trio, and it is close to what I'm looking for.  I think if the light and the medium colors in this trio were mixed, it might be just right.  This is a matte shade but not chalky, easy to apply and affordable, it's just a little too light & I don't want to always have to blend the shadows.  

The Youngblood is a new purchase for me, as some of you may remember from last week.  I do love this shadow but I think it's a better crease color than all over lid color.  As you can see it's much darker than the other two and has a slightly red undertone.  Bring this shade down a little and it would be just right.

NARS Ashes to Ashes is the one I had the highest hopes for in my taupe quest.  I do like it but it's got shimmer in it, and needs a few coats to show up on my eyes.   The more you add, the more shimmery it gets.  This makes it just a little too much for me, for an everyday look.  I do wear it on my lids during the day, but I always need a matte shadow to tone it down a bit.  It also tends toward brown more than grey, which is likely hard to see here.

So there is where I'm at.  I need your help and suggestions to help me in my quest.  I'd like to see if I can find that one perfect taupe that could be my go to no brainer everyday color.  So please let me know your taupe favourites or taupe suggestions!  

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday's Fabulous Find - Turning the tables!

This week I saw a fabulous youtube video that I just had to share.  Those of you who watch youtube videos especially will appreciate that there is a small percentage of 'haters' out there.  These are people who like nothing better than leaving their rude, hostile remarks in the comment section of someone's video or blog.  Personally I just don't get it, what do people get out of doing that?  As my mom always said, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.  Some people must have missed that valuable life lesson.

Well this week a certain girl on youtube decided that she'd turn the tables a bit, so to speak.  Do yourself a favour and take a few minutes to watch this, I guarantee you will appreciate her ability to see the humour amidst the negativity.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lancome product updates & drugstore dupes - Part 2!

Part two of my Lancome updates, let's start with my last drugstore dupe!

Lancome Eyeshadow Quad

About the product: Mini size smokey quad, white & light silver frost, mid grey frosted shadow and black sparkle shadow; shadows are not in regular line & not available for purchase 
Results: Very poor colour payoff, all feel slightly chalky except for the black shadow, not easily blended, need an eye primer for shadow to last & show up on the eye
Cost: $54 CDN for regular size Ombre Absolue quad, which is their version of a smokey    palette

Compare to this drugstore alternative.... 
NYX Smokey Eye palette 

About the product: 10 shadows ranging from creamy beige to black, mix of shimmer & matte
Results: Good colour payoff for these shadows, creamy to the touch, fairly easy to blend, don't have the colour payoff or last as long as the single NYX shadows but are still very good, primer still recommended
Cost: $15 CDN

My Pick: NYX by a mile! But to be fair I haven't tried any of the Lancome shadows recently, other than this quad.  However I would expect Lancome to put out a quad that reflects what shadows they have to offer in their regular line.  NYX has better payoff, shadows are creamy & less chalky, and they are way more affordable.  

Okay so on to a few other reviews.  I bought the Effacernes waterproof under eye concealer pictured here.  

This concealer retails for $32CDN for a 15ml tube.  You only need the smallest bit of this product so this tube really will last you a very long time.  I really like the applicator because it lets you squeeze out just a little at a time, which means you'll waste less product.

I primarily use this for any spots I might want to conceal or to cover redness around my nose.  For that purpose it works amazingly well.  I find it doesn't crease around my nose, like a lot of concealers do.  It also has great staying power, with or without powder to set it.  Very impressive.  This blends in well, with my fingers or a brush and leaves a 'soft, matte finish' just as Lancome says it will.  
I do find it is a bit too heavy for under my eyes and I still prefer my Maybelline dream mousse concealer, for that purpose.  It creased a little more under my eyes than the Maybelline does, primarily because I think it's just a thicker formula and I may not be using a light enough touch.  
Being waterproof, this will be a great concealer for the summer months.  You could use this to cover any imperfections, top with a light powder and you'd be set.  Overall, I am impressed and would definitely consider re-purchasing it.

Finally the products I loved with a capital love, the High Resolution Refill-3X anti wrinkle cream with SPF 15 and the Genifique Youth Activating concentrate. The cream is $92CDN for 50ml and the serum is $95CDN for 30ml.  Yikes.

Why did I have to love you? You aren't affordable and I am not a believer that you have to spend a lot of money to get good results.  But these are pretty fabulous products.  The Genifique is said to give you a lit from within look and improve your skin's tone & texture in just 7 days.  I would say that it definitely appears like my skin tone has evened out and it does feel very soft & hydrated after I use this.  I apply this before the moisturizer, which helps in that I don't need as much of the cream.  I know there are a bazillion reviews on this so I'll just keep it brief and say, it's lovely, it seems to make a difference in my skin & the raves on this seem to be true.  If you can afford it I would try it.  
The high resolution cream is said to smooth wrinkles, make your skin appear more luminous and feel firmer. The cream has a lovely soft scent, that I happen to love.  It just smells like expensive lotion to me.  It has a a light texture that absorbs easily on my skin, and it really does seem to leave my face looking brighter. I'm not sure about the firmer part however and can't really say there is a difference there.  My sensitive skin has loved these two products & I've had no adverse reactions to either of them.  

So those were my thoughts and reviews, if you want any more information about these products please let me know.  I have read that Youth Code line by L'oreal is very similar to Lancome's Genifique products.  If any of you have tried both I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.  


Monday, March 21, 2011

Lancome product updates & drugstore dupes! Part One

Some of you may remember that I took advantage of the Lancome gift with purchase promo in February.  See my post about it here.  Here is a reminder of what I got; 

So now that I've used most of these things for a while I formed some opinions.  My primary impression is that this is a good line with some really nice products.  But the biggest surprise was that some of their products that are very similar to drugstore items I already own.  In fact, a few of them were almost my mind.  So I thought I'd offer up my impressions, along with what I think are the drugstore dupes for these products.  

First up, 
Bi-Facil Eye Make-Up Remover
About the product: Shake it up to use, non oily eye make-up remover for sensitive eyes, removes even waterproof makeup
Results: Removes eye make-up with minimum effort, not oily, does not irritate my sensitive, contact lens wearing eyes, leaves a slight residue that dissipates quickly on the skin
Cost: $34CDN for 125 ml

Compare to this drugstore alternative.... 

Neutrogena Oil Free Eye Make-up Remover
About the product: Shake it up to use, oil free eye make-up remover, aloe & cucumber extracts  to soothe the skin, removes even waterproof makeup
Results: This feels so similar to Lancome's bi-facial that one night I had to look to see which one I used, not oily, does not irritate my eyes, leaves a slight residue that dissipates quickly on the skin
Cost: Typically less than $13CDN for for 162 ml

My pick: Neutrogena!  These two products are just too similar to me, and did basically the same job in removing my eye makeup. There was just not enough difference to justify the cost of Bi-Facil.  

Lancome Hypnose Drama
About the product: Unique S shaped wand that is meant to wrap your entire lash line, creating definition and volume for a fuller more intense look
Results: Definitely gives some drama to your eyes & lashes appeared to have more volume, formula is quite wet and applies quite a bit of product to the lashes, no flaking, non irritating
Cost: $31CDN 

Compare to this drugstore alternative.... 

Maybelline Falsies
About the product: Unique spoon brush that is supposed to create more visible lashes corner to corner, builds volume without clumping to make lashes appear fuller
Results: Also gives some drama to your eyes & lashes appeared to have more volume, formula is quite wet & also applies quite a bit of product to the lashes, no flaking, non irritating
Cost: Varies, usually less than $10CDN

My pick: To be honest I prefer a mascara formula that isn't quite so wet, so neither would actually be my pick but I know these are much loved by many.  These also both had a tendency to clump up on me if I wasn't careful.  If I had to choose I know I'd go with The Falsies, because once again it's just not different enough to justify the cost. 

Stay tuned for part two, where I offer one more drugstore dupe, give you my thoughts on the concealer, and tell you which product I loved best!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday's Fabulous Find - Giveaway update!

What a day I had last week Wednesday, you have no idea how much I needed some good news.  So I turned to something that usually brightens my day, reading beauty blogs.  I clicked on one of my regular blogs, written by the lovely Justine and saw that I had won her contest for a $20 Sigma gift card!  If you're not familiar with Justine's blog, you must check it out.  She is a Canadian blogger who does everything, product reviews both high end and drugstore, hauls, monthly favourites and she takes some of the best swatch photos you'll ever see.  

That turned my day around!  Some of you will remember that I received some Sigma brushes for Christmas from the generous Mr. J.  I have been loving my Sigma Sigmax brushes & my Naughty in Black travel kit (which I need to review soon), but since getting them I've been eyeing up a few others that I convinced myself I needed. 

Anyway, I was hoping that I get could some input on what to buy. Is this obnoxious?  I hope it isn't taken that way as it's truly not my intention.  I have a few picked out & will likely get two of them, just paying for the difference.  Here are the ones I'm deciding between; 

1. Hollywood Glamour retractable kabuki - Red
I thought this would be great for mineral makeup when travelling.  This is regular $25 but is on sale for $18.75 right now.

2. Small contour - F05

This is supposed to be ideal for applying, blending or contouring powder products.  I thought it would be awesome to use for highlighting powders.  $14

3.  Tapered Highlighter - F25

Large domed brush with tapered tip, ideal for applying powder products, blush and highlighters.  Michelle1218 (for those familiar with youtube beauty channels) just had this brush in her February favourites, she uses it for contouring and loves it.  $19

4. Buffer - F45
Ideal for loose or pressed powders, also great for buffing in colours.  I use a face kabuki from ELF almost everyday, so I was kind of curious to try another brand.  $19

I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions before I place my order!  

Also, just a quick giveaway update.  I am excited to have gotten such a great response to my giveaway, if you haven't already entered you can do so here.  Having said that I'm not going to have a lot of access to a computer this weekend.  So you may not see your entry comment published right away but I promise I'll get to it as soon as I can.  Thanks for your patience and have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Little Haul, Hot Sale Tip & I Took it Back!

 Well this post has a bit of everything.  I have bought a few things in the last week or so that I'm excited to share with you so I'll start with what I got;

Youngblood cosmetics, Origins Vitazing,
Sebastian Re-Shaper hairspray
Lush's UltraBalm
This brings me to my hot product tip.  Now there is good news & bad news here.  The bad news is that this is primarily for Canadian girls or those of you who have access to a Chatters Salon store.  Sorry!  The good news is that I found such a hot deal that I had to share it.  I don't know how many of you have heard of Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics.  I have to be honest that I hadn't heard of it until recently when I watched a youtube video by Lisasz09, where she talked about this line.  She said that the makeup artist she hired for her wedding recommended Youngblood & suggested she try it.  

A quick bit of information on the company, they were founded by a medical aesthetician who worked with plastic surgeons & dermatologists in Beverly Hills.  Her work with patients who had skin that was often recovering from various treatments, led her to develop make-up that would be gentle enough for them to use.  The result is a line of mineral cosmetics that are said to be perfect for all ages & skin types, even those with the most sensitive skin. These are typically distributed by spas or med-spas are are said to be non-comedogenic, and are made without lead, talc, artificial color/fragrance, mineral oil and other fillers.  They are also not tested on animals.  For more information you can check out their website here.

Anyway, this line apparently can be pricey.  So imagine my surprise to see it heaped in baskets at my local Chatters Salon (a retail beauty store), ON SALE!  
And when I say on sale I mean it.  Here is a quick breakdown of the retail prices in CDN dollars.

Eyeshadows: $20            
Blush: $21
Rice powder $24

A total retail value of $130CDN for my purchases.  But I got all of it for $30.  What?!  That's right, $30.  Everything Youngblood was on sale for $5 each.  At this price you just can't go wrong to try it, I mean seriously.  At my salon they seemed to mostly have the loose mineral products, I didn't see any of the pressed powders, blushes or eyeshadows.  The girls at my Chatters Salon aren't the most helpful/knowledgeable, but they seemed to think that most locations would have this sale.  I would encourage you all to run to you nearest Chatters & take a look, it is a great opportunity to try this line!  By the way the top eyeshadow is called Haze and might just be that perfect taupe color I've been looking for.  

Okay on to the 'I took it back part'.  Some of you may remember my Sephora haul, you can read my original post here.  In that I let you know that I got the Bare Minerals Mineral veil, pretty much on impulse because they didn't have Well Rested which I was originally after.  Well, I know this is a favourite finishing powder for many...but not for this girl.  This powder just did nothing for my skin.  I couldn't tell that I had applied it, didn't feel like it gave me any 'veil' effect and did not necessarily set my make-up any differently than most drugstore loose powders.  Overall I was just not happy with it, so back it went.  I exchanged it for this!
Benefit's Creaseless cream shadow/liner in Birthday Suit
Without flash
With flash
Birthday suit is like a soft beige gold color, that I think will look beautiful particularly with brown shadows over top.  It looks quite a bit darker in the flash photo than it does in real life. I really like Skinny Jeans and am excited to give this one a try.  

I'll be doing reviews of some of these products soon.  Have any of you tried Youngblood Mineral cosmetics?  What do you think of my product exchange?  As always let me know your thoughts!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Closed - Giveaway for my 100+ Subscriber Celebration!


I am so excited to finally announce my giveaway in celebration of my 100 (now 100+) subscribers. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my blog posts and I am still excited every time I see that there is a comment waiting.  I love hearing from you, so thank you for taking the time to do that.  This is my way to show a little appreciation to all of you who have shown me support.  Thank you so much!  Now, on to the prizes.  
I've been slowly collecting things that I thought would be fun to include in a giveaway.  I wanted to include some of my favourites, along with some Canadian products & a few things that may be tougher to find.  On my limited beauty budget I think I've managed to accumulate a good little haul.  In fact after I saw it I thought maybe I would split the prize up, that way more than one person can benefit.  So I've divided it up into Prize Pack A and Prize Pack B.
Prize Pack A
ELF eyelash curler, L'Oreal Voluminous mascara in Carbon Black, 2 Wet n Wild shadows in I'm Getting Sunburned & Sweet as Candy, Clinique rinse off foaming cleanser travel size,
Annabelle trio in Haute Chocolate, Bioderma Sensibio 100ml size, Milani Liquif'eye eyeliner in black
Prize Pack B
NYC blushable creme stick in Big Apple Blush, NYC bronzer in Sunny, Hard Candy blush in Honeymoon, Annabelle lip liner in Demure, Sephora makeup mirror, Balmshell gloss in Beach Patrol, Joe Fresh nail polish in Storm, 
Joe Fresh lip stain in Apple, Tresemme No Frizz Shine Spray

Here are the rules:
1. You must be a follower of my blog, giveaway is open internationally so anyone can enter

2. If you are under 18 years of age, you must have your parent's permission

3. Leave a comment below with your email address or a way to contact you if you win.  If you don't want to leave it publicly you can email it to me via my contact email on my blog

4. One entry only please

Extra entries:
3 extra entries - If you share my giveaway via blog post or sidebar, just let me know in your comment along with your blog link.

1 extra entry - If you don't have a blog but share my giveaway via word of mouth, twitter, etc., just let me know in your comment.  Using the honour system ;)

1 extra entry - If you are a current subscriber & enter my giveaway you will automatically get an extra entry!

Giveaway is open until March 31st, when I will pick two winners using  Good luck to everyone!

*Disclosure: All prizes were purchased by me, are brand new and in their original containers.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beautypedia is now free!

Have you heard of Beautypedia?  Regular readers of this blog will know that I have referred to Paula Begoun more than a few times.  Paula is the author of the 'Don't go to the Cosmetic Counter without me' books.  Along with her own product line (which I plan to try but haven't yet), she & her Cosmetic Cops team also have a website called  

On this site you can find reviews on beauty products, skin care advice, information about product ingredients and much more.  Up until this past week, you had to pay a subscription fee in order to access the site.  Not anymore!  It is now free for everyone.  

There is a huge amount of information on this site, so be prepared to be there a while if you check it out.  Here is their website description; 

About Beautypedia

Beautypedia is the definitive online source of reliable, in-depth researched information on cosmetic products. You’ll find thousands of candid, research-supported reviews from international best-selling beauty author Paula Begoun and her team. You’ll enjoy access to detailed, scientifically validated cosmetic critiques you won’t find anywhere else online! From major name brands to smaller boutique, home shopping, infomercial, and spa lines, it’s all here so you save money and find the best products for your skin. offers:
  • Thousands of skin care and makeup reviews from well-known and niche brands
  • An easily searchable database and intuitive organization to quickly find what you're looking for
  • Dozens of new product reviews added monthly, plus daily updates as needed
  • Complete ingredient lists for every skin-care product in the database
  • Documented research about ingredient efficacy (or lack thereof)
  • A Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary of over 3,000 common and obscure ingredients
  • Access to Paula’s latest articles about skin care and makeup
  • A mobile version to use with your iPhone or Android smart phone device
Paula Begoun is recognized worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop. For the past three decades she has tirelessly reported on the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly side of the billon dollar cosmetics industry. Her candid reviews are backed by published scientific studies and countless interviews with cosmetic chemists, dermatologists, oncologists, toxicologists, regulatory experts, raw material suppliers, and numerous industry insiders.

Like anything, you'll find some things you agree with and some you don't.  But overall it's another great resource you can use to help you decide how to spend your beauty dollars.  

Have you ever used Beautypedia?  What sites do you use for your product research?

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