Wednesday, December 31, 2014

N¥E . PRE PART¥ PREP

It's hard to believe that this glitter filled, champagne popping, slightly dreaded celebration, in which we welcome the new year, is already upon us. But it doesn't have to be dreaded if you go into the night with low expectations, surround yourself with great friends who you wouldn't mind kissing at midnight, and plan a party prep routine, complete with a badass playlist to set the mood and get you moving.

My morning prep began quite early – it was either my excitement or this horrid flu that wouldn't let me sleep in. I did a quick dry exfoliation of my entire body with my Merben Dry Brush to prep for my aprés-shower self-tanning session, followed by a long hot shower to cleanse my hair and shave all my bits and bobs – ever so important in case you find a cutie for midnight. I've been loving the Karora Express Bronzing Mousse for all my tanning needs – it gives a subtle hint of colour when left on for an hour or a truly bronzed look when left for three. I chose the latter time frame and while waiting for the mousse to dry, which usually takes 15-25mins, I applied my face savior – the boscia Luminizing Black Mask. This product is pretty harsh, and therefore not for everyone, but it gives my skin a fresh start, leaving my complexion smoothe, clear and bright – but beware of the redness that is surely to ensue (hence why I use it so far in advance of my party). The last thing I did for this portion of my party prep was getting my lips countdown-ready – aka I loaded on Lush's Popcorn Lip Scrub, ate half of it, and let the rest slough away dead skin. Don't worry the dead skin part won't be included in any of my pick up lines tonight.

Everyone rocks a different look for NYE, but there is one thing that is always incorporated, glitz & shine. And I have a group of glitzy faves that are perfect for the evening ahead – and truly any other party you attend this year. I incorporate glitz all the way down to my primer, which is the Laura Mercier Foundation Primer in Radiance – it leaves a subtle, healthy glow and ensures that my makeup will last through the dancing and champagne showers. Once I have my makeup look set, I like to go back in with a bit of my MAC Paint Pot in Bare Study to further highlight my face – focusing on the brow bone, down the center of the nose, inner tear ducts and of course cheekbones. Bare Study is the perfect middle ground between gold and silver, so it pairs well with any look I choose.  I also want to add some shimmer to my legs now that they are nice and tan, and I do that with a bit of the Gleam Body Radiance in Rose Gold – hint: applying it down the center of the legs and arms will help you appear slimmer. Once that's complete I'll slip into my dress, apply some Atelier Cologne in Vanille Insensée to lure in my pray, and stash my Josie Maran Argan Infinity Cream Intensive Creamy Oil in my bag to moisturize throughout the night.

How do you prep for the wild night ahead?




AM¥     XO

Monday, December 29, 2014

SCHEMIN UP A RESOLVE....

This week has been riddled with an over indulgent mindset, a lack of motivation, self-destructive actions and repetition  – tell-tale signs to any outsider that change is necessary. But I wasn't quick to make that connection. Turns out that it takes waking up from a 24+ hour sleep marathon for me to figure out that I desperately needed to get my ass in gear and take control of my life. So I threw on Schemin' Up by OB O'Brien ft. Drake & P.Reign and began my resolve  – whose to say that I have to wait till January 1st to start my body, mind & soul revolution?

BEAUTY RESOLUTIONS

 Stop eating like a piece of shit  – if the whole 'you are what you eat' thing is true then I'm surprised that more people aren't running from the blob of cheese, bread and potatoes that I've become. It's taken a major toll on my skin, leaving it dull, dehydrated and lifeless. This year I will become one with kale – and no, buying this Kale Sweatshirt seen in Beyoncé's 7/11 video does not suffice.

 Just because the nail tech wants you to don a sparkly pink does not mean you say yes  – I've struggled with this all my life – letting the opinions of those around me dictate what I choose, especially with beauty. But here's the thing: I want monochromatic nails that rarely trail from the black/white spectrum, I want to wear lilac lipstick on a Tuesday, and most of all I want to layer on 'mountains of makeup' despite the fact that you think I look better without it.

 Embrace your natural texture  – For years I've blow-dried my hair after every shower, followed by heat-styling and lots of hairspray. In my week of laziness I've come to realize that air-drying not only saves a lot of time and effort, but it can also result in a completely chic look as long as the correct products are used – I'm looking at you,  Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray. Now if I can also remember to get a chop every few months to keep it healthy.

 Tell yourself you are beautiful. Every. Single. Day.  – This has become so difficult in the social society we live in – constantly comparing ourselves on instagram, yearning for likes, fawning over that picture perfect life. Does is all really matter? Beauty is so much more than a facade coming to you over wifi – remember that!

STYLE RESOLUTIONS

 Accessories keep you fierce and ferocity is great   – I absolutely love accessories, have hoards, and yet I rarely wear them unless I'm going out at night. That all changes for 2015. No matter where I'm headed, even if it's just for my monthly wax, I will accessorize and I will look fierce! 

 Shopping for clothes should be an adventure  – I'm bored and it's showing in my recent fashion choices. I can recall years ago scouring the vintage racks of Toronto with friends – now I simply scour the internet, stuffing my face with food. 2015 will be heavily filled with days of outstanding vintage finds and memorable moments with quirky fashionista's like What T Loves – and of course sprinkled with the occassional instagram-worthy latté.

LIFE RESOLUTIONS 

 Adventures and photography go hand in hand  – I need to discover my city – aka tackling a lot of blogTO lists, taking a foreign route home, and surrounding myself with adventure-loving friends. But most importantly, taking 100's of photos to document my remaining 20's – and not 'just for the gram'. This has been made much more exciting thanks to a Christmas gift from my parents, the olloclip #selfie 3-in-1 lens – a lens, which clips onto your iPhone giving you instant access to a fish eye, wide angle and macro lens. 

 Life is strange, people grow, feelings change, nothing really lasts  – 'But my god, while we're here can we just live in the moment. If the shit ain't real I don't want it.' J.Cole always seems to deliver lyrics that express everything I'm feeling. Simply put – be present.

Have you been schemin' up for 2015?


AM¥     XO

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

THE KARL LAGERFELD NAIL

Karl Lagerfeld: Head designer and creative director of Chanel, owner of Choupette, king of controversy, and now the art piece appropriately situated on my middle finger. Albeit nowhere near as impeccably finished as my inspiration, created by Madeline Poole, I'd like to think that every fashionista should don a Karl accent nail at one point in her life – and this nail art newb is proof that it's possible.

I began by painting two thin coats of Essie Nail Polish in Licorice on all nails, skipping over the middle finger – the easiest part of this manicure. To create my mini Karl, I had to be inventive, a modern day MacGyver if you will. I began with the half moon to form his blazer – painting the moon shape with Licorice before evening the edge, creating a crisp line, with my Sally Hansen I Heart Nail Art Striper in Black. As this portion of the nail dried I created his hair line – my God that man has white hair. The hair was quite simple, merely requiring a thin stripe of white, which was created with my Sally Hansen I Heart Nail Art Striper in White. Now onto those tricky, tricky glasses. Karl is always seen wearing thick black sunglasses, and I knew that none of my dotting tools would suffice, so in their place I used a Q-tip. I began by soaking the Q-tip in water before pressing the tip firmly against the table to create a large oval shape. Picking up a hefty amount of Licorice polish I placed my two large lenses in the center on the nail bed. I once again used my striper in black to create a [somewhat] even line mimicking the frame, and added a hint of white in the center to give dimension to his shades. To finish Karl off I went back to the half moon portion, which by now had dried, and added two triangular shapes to mimic his crisp white collar, once again using my striper in white. Finish with a high-shine topcoat, like the Sally Hansen Diamond Flash Top Coat and you're ready to flaunt your Karl nail!

Be sure to send me photos if you re-create this fashionable mani!




AM¥     XO

Monday, December 22, 2014

SEPHORA FAVOURITES . DARE TO OIL

There is no better feeling than slathering a beauty oil onto freshly cleansed skin right before hopping under the duvet. It's a cozy feeling that simply cannot be trumped. I've tried my fair share of beauty oils but still find myself on the hunt for the ONE – that HG status, googly eye, can't live without you, one. In my search I stumbled upon the Sephora Favourites Dare To Oil Set ($40) – a set of Sephora's favourite beauty oils. I figured this was a great way to test out some new contenders, as well as re-acquaint myself with a long lost love, the Tarte Maracuja Oil. I've since re-purchased the Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil, as the 'Model Citizen' bottle was on sale, here, but will definitely be returning to a few of the oils featured in this set in the future.

THE BEAUTY OILS
I can't believe that I wasn't previously introduced to this vitamin C packed beauty oil, perfect for brightening dark spots and evening out skin tone – much needed given my current facial situation. Dispensed via a pump, this lightweight oil is infused with 100% pure organic rose hips seed oil, which is chalked full of vitamin C, vitamin A, and essential fatty acids. And yet somehow, it has the fastest absorption rate of them all – making me contemplate why I haven't previously considered incorporating it into my morning skincare regime. There is no greasy film leftover, and the citrus scent provides an instant wake-me-up.

After years of loving the Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil I finally get to test out the brand's 'Light' version. I instantly noticed a difference in the texture of the light version, almost watery in appearance, but the moment it is massaged into the skin I am quickly reminded of the same moisturizing properties found in their original oil. Given the featherweight formula it does absorb quite quicker than the original, leaving a semi-matte finish, however I still find myself vary of wearing it during the daytime. This version is likely to become my go to during the summer months when my skin requires less hydration – a beach babe's essential.

Being the most expensive oil of the bunch, a whopping $99 for 1oz, I expected this to be my favourite oil – sadly, I definitely don't belong to the targeted age-range. The oil is formulated with microalgae, ceramides and brown algae extract to restore skins elasticity, leaving skin firmer, more supple and more radiant. It is the 'thickest' oil of the quad, meaning a little certainly does not go a long way. I've since given the sample to my mom and she has got along with it quite well – she boasts of hydrated skin come the morning and has even convinced herself that her fine lines and wrinkles are softening. At this point it feels sinful not to purchase the full size as her Christmas gift – yes I am that much of a procrastinator.

Tarte Maracuja Oil ($55)
Well hello old friend. My love for beauty oils can be attributed to this miracle product – although I've since, regrettably, turned a blind eye to it. The Tarte Maracuja Oil is the most hydrating, and [although I hate to admit it] greasiest, oil I've come across – but for us dry skinned beauties it is an absolute MUST in the winter. Formulated with two simple ingredients, Maracuja Oil and vitamin C, this rich oil works to rejuvenate the skin and deliver an even-toned, brightened, complexion. When I first began using it years ago I received so many compliments on the appearance of my skin, which I solely attribute to the oil as it was the only part of my skincare regime that was changed. Makes me sad that I've strayed from it for so long.

Are you a beauty oil kind of girl? What is your favourite?




AM¥     XO

Sunday, December 21, 2014

BIRCHBOX CANADA . DECEMBER EDIT

When I first got word that Birchbox had answered all of our prayers by shipping to Canada I nearly fell off my chair. Birchbox first began in 2010 and turned the beauty industry on it's head. It was the beginning of a new era – and the trend took off with beauty subscription services popping up everywhere. Yet still I longed for 'the real McCoy'. This box marks the first month of Birchboxes arriving in Canada, and I cannot wait for what is to follow. 

'Get a monthly shipment of beauty products customized for you for just $10 a month, plus $4.95 shipping and handling! You can earn back half the value of your box by reviewing all five of your samples. 50 Birchbox Points equals $5 to spend on your full-size favorites in the Birchbox Shop!' To subscribe click here!

I love when a beauty box has you covered from 'head to toe' – this festive offering includes a facial exfoliator, body cream, leave-in conditioner, cheek/lip tint and an eyeliner. I've used the Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator in the past and absolutely loved it – the micro-crystals buff away dead skin, while papaya enzymes, aloe vera, coconut and panthenol help to reveal a brighter, more hydrated, complexion. Plus it smells amazing. The Harvey Prince Hello Body Cream and Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle Leave-In Conditioner on the other hand are products that I've never even heard of. The body cream features a subtle citrus scent that my mother will love... me, not so much. The leave-in conditioner is much more appealing – it promises to instantly detangle, provide thermal & UV protection, seal cuticle, smooth hair, lock in colour and add shine. The scent is pretty dreamy as well. The final two products are the most exciting and the most visually appealing; the Benefit Lolli Tint and Cynthia Rowley Eyeliner in Black. I've been dreaming of a pink barbie lip, which is now totally possible thanks to Lolli Tint, and every girl could always use another black liner.

It seems as though the majority of boxes were a variation of this one, so hopefully Birchbox mixes it up a bit more come January. If your box was different then mine be sure to leave a link in the comments below.

Will you be signing up for Birchbox?


AM¥     XO

Thursday, December 18, 2014

LUXE BOX BY LOOSE BUTTON . WINTER EDIT

A lovely surprise arrived in the mail the other day – it was the Winter Luxe Box by Loose Button. I've been off the beauty box game as of late, but the recent arrivals of Birchbox and Glossybox to Canada have reignited my initial excitement. 

Luxe Box by Loose Button was the very first beauty box I subscribed to when I began blogging years ago, and has been the only subscription service I've maintained. If you haven't been introduced yet, Luxe Box is a quarterly beauty subscription service, which offers 7-8 deluxe sized samples with a minimum worth of $70 for as low as $24. They also ofter a variety of seasonally curated boxes – this Winter there was the Zoomer Edition, Chalet Chic, and The Enchantress. But since I love the thrill of the surprise I always choose the regular box.

I absolutely love skincare products, and this edition was chalked full of skin-saving beauties. The first, and personally most exciting, is the Biotherm Aquasource Cocoon Ultra Comfort Balm-In-Gel. I've absolutely loved each and every Biotherm Aquasource product I've ever tried so I have high hopes for this one – they deliver an absurd amount of hydration for something so lightweight. The other facial product in this box was the Suki Transformative Purifying Masque – a potent salicylic acid mask meant to even out skin tone or to be used as a 'spot' treatment overnight – just in time as I can feel a blemish forming above my lip, urgh. The final skincare product, Paula's Choice Clinical KP Treatment Cloths, are meant to eliminate those annoying red bumps that form on arms and legs when skin is too dry – they'll definitely come in handy with this weather. The remaining goodies include: the E.Vulcano Hair Wash & Creme, a Loose Button Eyelash Curler, So Susan Flutter Mascara, and a mini Nicole by OPI Polish in Mer-Made For Eachother. I used the Flutter Mascara this morning and loved the thin formula and blacker than black pigmentation, and the Nicole polish shade feels hand-picked just for me – totally embodies my persona.

Overall I was so delighted with this edition of the Luxe Box by Loose Button. They are such a great company and always deliver amazing curated boxes. If you haven't tried this subscription yet I highly recommend you get on board for the Spring edition.


AM¥     XO

Monday, December 15, 2014

GLITTER OVERDOSE . MY FAVOURITE GLITZY POLISHES

Deck the nails with lots of glitter fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la. That's how the song goes... right? Christmas is only 10 days away and if you don't have glitter coursing through your veins then I only have one question – WHAT IS YOUR LIFE? I've been on a glitter binge for the duration of December with no end in sight – it's coating my floors, my skin and of course my nails. So today I bring you 10 glitter polishes that even glitter queen and Christmas songstress, Mariah Carey, needs in her vanity.

Topping the make-shift polish tree is the Kinetics Nail Polish in Splatter It! – the perfect polish for the artsy type. I've worn this polish over every shade of grey imaginable, yet still nothing can compare to the impact it gives when layered over a simple white. A more obtainable version of this polish is the Formula X Xpolsive Top Coat in Chaotic – available from Sephora. The next layer features three favourites from Essie's Luxe Effects LineShine Of The Times, As Gold As It Gets, and Set In Stones. It's almost a sin to consider yourself a beauty blogger without owning the entire Luxe Effects line-up, but if you must only choose three effects then these are it. The subtlety of the Shine Of The Times and As Gold As It Gets make easy work of transforming a basic polish to an extraordinary one, while Set In Stones looks beautiful as a gradient below the cuticle. The third layer shares four of the most exquisite OPI limited edition glitters [in my opinion] – Muppets World Tour, Which Is Witch?, Wonderous Star and When Moneky's Fly. I love the way each polish features various forms of glitter and subtle holographic details ensuring that your nails are the star of any party you attend this holiday season. The final two polishes, and most recent addition to my collection, hail from Julep's Diamond Mystery Box – Sky and Chantel. There is something so lavish about the diamond shaped glitter and holographic elements seen in these top coats. I love layering Sky over a shimmering royal blue like Austen, and Chantel over a deep aubergine, such as Nic.

THE SWATCHES
Swatched left to right // Julep – Chantel, Sky, OPI – When Monkeys Fly!, Wonderous Star, Which Is Witch?, Muppets World Tour, Essie – Set In Stones, As Gold As It Gets, Shine Of The Times and Kinetics Nail Polish – Splatter It!
I so dearly wish that these glitters were more widely available, but hopefully this post helped inspire you to add a little glitz to your manicure this week! We could all use a bit more sparkle.

What is your go-to glitter polish?





AM¥     XO

Sunday, December 14, 2014

SUNDA¥ PAMPERING ESSENTIALS ..OO1

Ahh Sunday, how I look forward to you – it's the one day each week where I devote time to truly pamper myself. And this week it couldn't come soon enough.

I've never had a set regime for my 'Sunday pampering sessions' – partly because I never know whether the day will call for an indulgent bath or simply an extended shower. And partly because the products vary based on what samples I've collected throughout the week – if I've stumbled upon a sample I deem 'decadent' or 'exciting' it will definitely be thrown into the mix. But regardless of what products I'm using I know that once it's all complete I'll be left feeling calm, moisturized and ready to catch some blissful Zzz's. The regime I'm sharing today is one that I've come back to time and time again when I'm in that 'shower mood' – most likely because it features a lot of vanilla and apricot scented products, my true kryptonite.

No matter what Sunday regime I choose there are two products that are sure to be incorporated; the Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo and the Bumble and Bumble Creme de Coco Masque. Each week I refresh my locks with the Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo – it's ultra-clarifying formula removes product build-up giving my hair a much needed detox. However, with such a clarifying formula it can leave my hair craving moisture, which is why I always follow it up with my Bumble and Bumble Creme de Coco Masque. The rich, nutty scent is what first attracted me to this mask, but it's the deeply conditioning formula that keeps me coming back – it's the type of mask that sinks into the hair, almost disappearing the second it's applied. The combination leaves my hair feeling silky and smooth with a beautiful shine. For body care there are only a two things necessary; exfoliation and hydration. This week I've turned to the Cake Beauty Milk Made White Sugar Scrub, which scrubs away dead skin while filling the shower with the scent of vanilla and raspberries. The scent doesn't linger on the skin, meaning that I can bask in my all of my Vanilla Apricot moisturizing glory. My weapon of choice? The Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter in Vanilla Apricot followed by the Josie Maran Infinity Cream Intensive Creamy Oil to provide extra hydration to any of my 'rough bits'. I then slip into my favourite Zara sweater before giving myself an at home 'facial'. 


The facial portion is truly my favourite part of my sunday pamper nights – there is simply nothing quite as relaxing. I begin by cleansing my skin – this week I'm sampling the First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay. I was a little naughty this week and slept with a full face of makeup more than once so a deep cleanser is just what the doctor ordered.  I then follow it with a trio of masks – but don't freak out, they each have a specified purpose. I begin with the GlamGlow YouthMud TingleExfoliate Treatment – I'm currently using a sample, however I love this mask so dearly that I've repurchased the full size twice previously. And it's not the only GlamGlow product found in this regime, I also use the GlamGlow BrightMud Eye Treatment to instantly rid my eyes of dark circles. Together, these products leave me bright-eyed and glowing. Although, they lack hydration, which is where the Origins 10-minute Mask to Quench Skin's Thirst comes into play – another apricot-scented beauty. To maximize hydration when using this mask I tend to simply wipe of the excess with a tissue rather than washing it off completely – it also means that I'm left to inhale the heavenly scent as I sleep. And sleep I will. 

What products do you like to pamper yourself with?



AM¥   XO

Saturday, December 13, 2014

SKIN LIKE D'USSÉ . THE LATEST IN SELF TANNING

It's official, after weeks of minimal sun and a lack of tanning salons in the city I have taken on the skin tone of a vampire – pale and lifeless. Who am I kidding though, I probably wouldn't go to the tanning salon even if it was beneath my building. But with the holidays well on their way and parties popping up left, right and center I've found it difficult to dismiss my lust for skin the colour of D'ussé, Jay-Z's line of Cognac – the reddish bronzed hue is totally lust-worthy. Luckily, I've been introduced to two new tanning products sure to turn this pale beauty into a bronzed goddess – the Karora Express Bronzing Mousse[*] and the St. Tropez Self Tan Luxe Dry Oil[*]. 

When it comes to self tanning I'm a bit of a rookie, but there are two things I know to be true: always exfoliate your skin before hand and invest in a tanning glove. For exfoliation I've become slightly addicted to the Merben Dry Brushes, which I discovered at Fuzz Wax Bar's Queen St. West location – my favourite place to get waxed in the city. The brushes are meant to be used before getting into the shower, buffing away dry skin with ease [and a touch of pain] and leaving your skin feeling silky smooth – ready to be tanned. For application I've turned to the St. Tropez Applicator Mitt – it helps to provide streak-free colour and is so easy to clean.

THE LATEST IN SELF TANNING 
The Karora Express Bronzing Mousse ($40), hailing from Ireland, is one of the latest tanning brands to make it's way to Canada – arriving at Murale in-store and online come January. The Express Bronzing Mousse is unique because in just one hour you achieve a bronzed glow that is self-adjusting – meaning you and three friends could try it and attain different, customized results. And if you're craving a deeper bronze then simply leave it on the skin for an extra hour or two before rinsing it off in the shower. The mousse applies with ease and features a subtle hint of colour, making it easy to keep track of where you've applied it. But be prepared to bear it all for a prolonged period of time as the mousse remains sticky on the skin for about 30 minutes before drying. Don't let this scare you away though – the results are natural, long-lasting and fade evenly. Re-purchase worthy.

Already making waves [and selling out fast] in the self-tanning world is an absolutely exquisite tanning oil, the St. Tropez Self Tan Luxe Dry Oil ($60). Part self-tanner and part body oil, the Luxe Dry Oil delivers a truly unique tanning experience, leaving the skin unbelievably moisturized with a golden sun-kissed glow. The packaging truly embodies luxury and decadence – I'm left mesmerized watching the metallic bronzed oil swirl back and forth in the glass bottle. And the gold accents, oh my. Upon application, the oil imparts a subtle shimmer and fills the room with a fresh lemongrass scent. I was nervous that the application would be difficult and messy considering the consistency, but the use of the Applicator Mitt made it simple and the oil dried quickly. The colour develops in 4-6 hours, although I achieved the best results when I left it on overnight [8 hours]. The result? A streak-free natural tan that fades evenly over the next week. Plus the fact that it is a body oil means skin is left supple, nourished and conditioned for up to a week. Available at Murale in store and on-line April '15 – or beat the spring frenzy and pick yours up from Sephora. Ps. Act fast because it won't be long until St. Tropez is no longer part of the Sephora family :(.

THE RESULTS
Left leg shows the results of the St. Tropez Self Tan Luxe Dry Oil after 8 hours of development, while the right leg shows the results of the Karora Express Bronzing Mousse after 3 hours.
Left: Bare Skin // Right: Self Tanned - left = St. Tropez, right = Karora

How do you achieve 'skin like d'ussé'?



AM¥     XO

*Some of items in this post have been sent to THE PRETT¥ VAIN for purpose of review. All views expressed reflect my own opinion on the product. For additional information please see the Disclaimer. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

COVERGIRL . E¥ESHADOW QUAD IN NOTICE ME NUDES

A few days ago I received my 12 Days Of Beauty package from P&G Beauty, which featured 12 of their must-have products for winter, including a new release from CoverGirl – the CoverGirl Eyeshadow Quads. The new Eyeshadow Quads are a smaller release, consisting of six colour variations, and bear a striking resemblance to the Maybelline Eye Studio Plush Silk Eyeshadow Quads – it had to be said. I noticed them this week in Shopper's Drug Mart alongside the new Full Lash Bloom Mascara by LashBlast, and figured it was the perfect time to share my experience with the quad I received – Notice Me Nudes. 

The CoverGirl Eyeshadow Quad in Notice Me Nudes ($10) is stunning at first glance – the shadows compliment each other beautifully, have a gorgeous metallic sheen and are contained in a travel-friendly case. I was slightly nervous about their formulation but CoverGirl proved me wrong – the shadows feature a soft, almost creamy, consistency and provide pigmented swatches with a metallic finish. However, being that it is a drugstore shadow I do notice the desperate need for an eyeshadow primer to prevent creasing and fading throughout the day – although nothing will help with the fall-out that is experienced with their application. 

For this look I placed the first shadow, a shimmery cream, all over the lid, including the inner corner of the eye and the brow bone to brighten and highlight the eye. I then worked the second shadow over the lid stopping before I reached the crease and inner tear duct. The third shade, a slightly matte taupe, along with a touch of the final shade, a shimmering deep brown with grey undertones, were worked into the crease and outer V to define the eye and add depth. I then simply finished the eyes with a few coats of the CoverGirl Full Lash Bloom Mascara by LashBlast. Being that these shadows all deliver a metallic finish I think I'll keep this quad aside for night looks – possibly paired with a coordinating glitter.

For your chance to win this eyeshadow quad, alongside 11 other P&G essentials be sure to head over to my 12 Days Of Beauty Giveaway

Have you spotted these in your local drugstore?

AM¥     XO

*Some of items in this post have been sent to THE PRETT¥ VAIN for the purpose of review. All views expressed reflect my own opinion on the product. For additional information please see the Disclaimer. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

GIVEAWA¥ . BEAUT¥ UNITED . 12 DA¥S OF BEAUT¥ [CLOSED]

My affiliation with the P&G Beauty United program over the past year has led to a lot of exciting experiences – glitzy events, celebrity encounters and most importantly the exploration of new and well-loved drugstore products. But the part I love most about my partnership with them is the fact that they are always so eager to incorporate the people that matter the most – YOU, the readers.

If you've followed my blog for a while now you will remember that last year I took part in the Beauty United 12 Days Of Beauty Photo Challenge – posting 5 themed photos on my social media accounts throughout the month of December. Well this year I'm at it again. And once again my lovely readers will have the chance to win all of the P&G products in this years 12 Days Of Beauty Prize Pack – trust me the COVERGIRL Eyeshadow Quad in Notice Me Nudes is not one to miss. All you have to do to enter is join the giveaway below and be sure to follow THE PRETT¥ VAIN on all of our various social media channels to hear my first hand experience with the products.

THE PRODUCTS
  • Olay Sensitive Body Wash
  • Secret Oh La La Lavender Clear Gel Deodorant
  • Olay Regenerist Microsculpting Cream Fragrance-Free
  • Pantene Daily Moisture Renewal Shampoo + Conditioner
  • Herbal Essences Naked Cleansing Conditioner
  • Herbal Essences Naked Dry Shampoo
  • Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Care 2-minute Moisturizer Scalp & Hair Treatment
  • Clairol Hair Colour Coupon
  • Crest Flex-Fit Whitestrips
  • COVERGIRL Full Lash Bloom Mascara in Very Black
  • COVERGIRL Eye Shadow Quads in Notice Me Nudes
  • COVERGIRL Bombshell Powder Brow & Liner Medium Brown
THE GIVEAWAY
The giveaway will be open from Dec 9th – Dec 18th [11:59pm] and will be open to Canadian Residents only – sorry guys! The winner will be announced on Twitter come December 19th 2014 and will be contacted thereafter. Good Luck dolls!

Beauty United 12 Days Of Beauty Giveaway

AM¥     XO

Monday, December 8, 2014

NOTD . WHITE MEETS CONCRETE

It feels like I haven't seen sun in days and it's reflecting in my manicure. Today's nails are inspired by the rugged concrete jungle we call home and my hopes for the snow to come and mask its existence. I began with a base of Essie's Nail Polish in Blanc before using a technique I discovered through The Nailasaurus to create a 'Waterfall Manicure' – a must know for any nail art junior [AKA me]. To create this effect I used a few different polishes including, Essie Nail Polish in Find Me An Oasis, Julep Nail Polish in Nancy, Sally Hansen I Heart Nail Art Striper in White, and OPI Nail Polish in Muppet's World Tour. Alternating between polishes I simply created thin lines running halfway up the nail before finishing with the Sally Hansen Diamond Flash Fast Dry Top Coat

 What colours would you combine for this manicure?



AM¥     XO

GREEN MONDAY . HOLIDA¥ DEALS

Today, Dec. 8th is Green Monday. And although I'm completely baffled by what 'Green Monday' is and why it presents itself so soon after Black Friday I will rejoice in the deals it provides. Below are the deals that you can find online today and a cheeky little wishlist created by yours truly.
Happy Shopping!

THE DEALS
  • FOREVER 21 – 30% OFF Select Merchandise w/CODE:DEAL30 [Ends 12.8.14]
  • CLUB MONACO – 30% OFF Select Merchandise w/CODE: WINTERFAVES [Ends 12.8.14]
  • ANTHROPOLOGIE – Extra 30% OFF w/CODE:EXTRAMERRY [Ends 12.9.14]
  • AMAZON – Green Monday Promo Items
  • NORDSTROM  – Up to 40% OFF New Markdowns [limited time]
  • J.CREW – Up to 30% OFF w/CODE:MERRYMERRY [Ends 12.9.14]
  • C.WONDER – 30% OFF + Free Shipping [Ends 12.18.14]
  • MADEWELL – 30% OFF w/CODE:MERRIEST [Ends 12.8.14]
  • ASOS – 20% OFF Select Brands [limited time]
  • KATE SPADE – 25% OFF w/CODE:JACKPOT [Ends 12.9.14]
  • SAKS FIFTH AVENUE – Up To 40% OFF Designer Sale [limited time]
  • NEIMAN MARCUS – Up To 50% OFF Womens [limited time] 

THE WISHLIST



AM¥     XO

Sunday, December 7, 2014

G¥M POSER . WORK OUT BEAUT¥ MUST HAVES

I'm working up the willpower to make the commitment to the gym again – I'm still in that hazy phase where you set your alarm each morning with intent but never make it out of bed on time. This overwhelming feeling of lazyness needs to end and this week I've taken matters into my own hands – and by that I mean I've bought some new workout gear, created the ideal playlist and assembled my very own post-workout beauty army.

THE GEAR
Getting the courage to go to the gym for the first time in a while can be daunting – you want to look the part and fit in seamlessly. When it comes to gym wear I tend to stick with brands like Lululemon, Addidas and Nike – their products last the test of time and keep me stylish as I sweat. Lululemon is my true kryptonite. Just one look at the Cardi All Day ($178) cardigan, made of merino wool and you'll understand why. I've also recently become obsessed with a new water bottle company called bkr – their simplistic design mixed with edgy editorials and vivid inspirations make them a brand to know. Below are a few products that are currently on my gym-wear wishlist.



THE PLAYLIST
Now that we've got the look down pat it's time to focus on the music. I spend days at a time researching what songs to add to my playlists because I hate the feeling of begrudgingly listening to a song I dislike while running – it's completely demotivating. The genre that gets me moving: trap music. I've found so many great trap playlists on 8tracks – a site similar to Spotify that let's you explore pre-made playlists. The playlist from 8tracks on days when I'm too lazy to create my own is called Okay Work, found here. It features strong women like Rihanna and Queen B to empower you as you work out and even offers some profound advice: Do your damn squats, wear red lipstick and tell boys to fuck off.

THE POST-WORKOUT BEAUTY ARMY
Before we get into the powerful little post-workout beauty army that I've assembled let's talk about my pre-workout regime, which consists of simply one detoxifying cleanser, the Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser[*]. It's lovely. The Purifying Cleanser deeply cleanses my skin removing all traces of makeup and even imparts a cooling sensation that feels great pre-workout. Post-workout I like to cleanse my face and neck using a cleansing cloth –  currently the Olay Fresh Effects S'Wipe Out. However I find them slightly irritating. I'm dying to try out the Philosophy Purity Made Simple One Step Cleansing Cloths or the new Korres Greek Yoghurt Cleansing Wipes. Once cleansed I give my face a quick spritz of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir for a boost of radiance before moisturizing with whatever sample has peaked my interest that week. This week I've settled on the  Eve Lom Moisturizer[*] – so decadent, and so spa-worthy ahh.

My post-work makeup regime needs to remain quite simple because personally, I'm likely to be running errands or simply headed home to nap/binge on chocolates. The best errand running foundation I know of remains the Benefit Big Easy – it delivers light coverage, enhancing your skins natural beauty and hides any signs of the workout with it's matte finish. I then simply fill in my brows using the Benefit Gimme Brow, add a few coats of mascara and bring some life to my face with a pretty pink lip courtesy of the adorable Royal Apothic Tinties Lip Butter[*] in Pink. Although another great lip/cheek product to add colour and warm up the complexion are the Josie Maran Coconut Cheek Gelées – I used the shade Pink Escape while vacationing in Miami and absolutely loved the natural effect it delivered. Et voila, ready to face the world.



What keeps you on track before and after the gym?


AM¥     XO

*Some of items in this post have been sent to THE PRETT¥ VAIN for purpose of review. All views expressed reflect my own opinion on the product. For additional information please see the Disclaimer. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

SMASHBOX . DOUBLE EXPOSURE PALETTE

Few palettes have caught my attention since the Urban Decay Naked palette frenzy. Being a neutral lover I found that I had no need to explore other shadow palettes, I had everything I could ever need with the Naked lineup. Or so I thought...

Meet my recent love, the Smashbox Double Exposure Palette ($60). This eyeshadow palette is quite possibly the best palette of all time – although many would argue that it's predecessor the Full Exposure Palette cannot be beat.  It's a 14-shadow palette, who's shades transform in one of four ways with the addition of water – get a deeper shade, turn up the vibrancy, transform it to a metallic or amp up the sparkle. This is all facilitated by coated pigments that give a multi-dimensional effect when wet. You can use the shades completely dry, wet or mix and match the finishes. The possibilities truly are endless. The palette comes with a dual-ended brush – the domed side absorbs just the right about of water for the most impactful color, while the angled side creates a precise line when wet, or smoky diffused line when dry. A lot of my experiences with brushes included in eyeshadow palettes end in heartbreak, but Smashbox ensures this isn't the case – the brush worked well both wet and dry and delivered a pigmented swatch with minimal fall out. And to finish off every look the Double Exposure Palette also features a deluxe-sized sample of the Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara. I love this mascara, the formula is very build-able, delivering thick, long lashes without clumping or smudging. A definite repurchase for me.

As you can see, this palette is certainly not one-noted – even before the shades 'transform with water' you can see colour diversity that far surpasses the Naked palettes. Smashbox was genius to pair neutral classics with nodes of navy, purple, and rose – a beauty obsessive's delight. I am guilty of being [slightly more than] obsessed with the Double Exposure palette – hell I've begun day dreaming of looks that I can create with it. For day I stick to the right hand side of the palette – I apply Flushed all over the lid, deepen the crease with a mixture of Fig & Espresso and highlight the inner tear duct with Quartz. To add interest to this look I like to use the angled brush wet and smudge the shade Copper along the lower lash line – this adds an unexpected metallic sheen and aids in brightening the eye. For night looks my brush finds the cool, deeper shadows found on the left hand side of the palette – I begin with a wash of Silver all over the lid, deepen the crease, creating a stylized V in the outer corner with Haze and Noir and highlight the inner tear duct and brow bone with Blanc. Once satisfied I add some water to the domed edge of the brush and pack the shade Silver onto the eyelid again in order to enhance the metallic finish and then use the angled brush dipped into water to smudge the shade Midnight along the lower lash line. All this and my experimentation continues. Not a palette to be missed, I say.

The palette is currently available from Sephora, and will be available at Murale February 2015. 
Have you set your sights on the Double Exposure palette?






AM¥     XO 

*The items in this post have been sent to THE PRETT¥ VAIN for purpose of review. All views expressed reflect my own opinion on the product. For additional information please see the Disclaimer. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

PETER THOMAS ROTH . SKINSTANT MASK MAGIC

One can never have too many face masks – at least that's what I've been telling myself recently to shield myself from feelings of guilt. My most recent splurge was during the Sephora VIB sale when I spotted the Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask. I originally had my sights set on this single mask, but once I was shown the brands Skinstant Mask Magic Set ($52), which also included the Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask and the Pumpkin Enzyme Mask all bets were off. The 3-piece set contains PTR's most popular masks to detoxify, repair, and polish skin and is even available in a mini size, shown here – perfect for gifting.

Cucumber Gel Mask | Extreme Detoxifying Hydrator
An ultra-gentle gel that works to soothe, hydrate and detoxify dry, irritated skin. The fresh scent of crisp cucumber will instantly put you into a state of relaxation, while the lightweight gel creates a hydrating layer over the skin to instantly cool and soothe. Even 10 minutes after application the mask still felt comfortable to wear and had yet to dry completely. Upon rinsing the mask off, my face felt smooth, fresh and awake, as if I had gotten my full 8 hours of beauty sleep. This is the ideal mask for the on-the-go girl who is looking for a pick me up to revive tired, dull skin. 
Key Ingredients: cucumber extract, papaya extract, chamomile extract, pineapple extract, sugar maple & sugarcane extract, orange & lemon extract, bilberry extract, and aloe.

Rose Stem Cell | Bio-Repair Gel Mask
A rose-laden gel mask that uses cutting-edge plant biotechnology to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles by regenerating, rejuvenating, hydrating, brightening, firming and toning the skin. Rose plant stem cells may be amazing, but the rose scent is something I could do without – I'm always reminded of a grandmother, and unfortunately it's never my own – that woman had taste. But once the scent dissipates you come to realize the mask itself is quite lovely. Similarly to the Cucumber Gel Mask it applies creating a hydrating layer that feels cooling to the skin. Once removed from the skin, the mask reveals smoother, softer skin with diminished pores and fine lines – considering I have been obsessing over the size of my pores recently this was a welcomed surprise. Now to find a way to deal with the sickly floral scent.
Key Ingredients: rose commiphora, desert rose, damas rose, pale rose, white rose, rose damscena, rose canina, rose hip seed, and rose water.

Pumpkin Enzyme Mask | Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer
A powerful and highly effective exfoliating treatment to address a dull, aging and congested complexion. What they don't tell you is that for the duration of this treatment you will look like Snooki and smell like a freshly baked pumpkin pie. The treatment itself applies like a bad self tanner, covering you in a orange-hued Snooki-esque glow, which you then massage in with wet fingertips before letting it sit for 3-7 minutes. The mask includes 3 key ingredients: pumpkin enzyme to digest dead skin cells, alpha hydroxy acid, which acts as a gentle peel and alumimum oxide crystals to polish and exfoliate skin. Together these ingredients reveal a smoother, radiant and revitalized complexion that glows. If I had to repurchase only one mask from this kit this would be the clear winner – and I'm trying very hard not to base that off of scent alone. 
Key Ingredients: pumpkin enzyme, alpha hydroxy acid, and aluminum oxide crystals.

Have you tried any of the masks from the Skinstant Mask Magic Set? What is your favourite product from Peter Thomas Roth Skincare?



AMY     XO

Friday, November 28, 2014

COVERGIRL . FULL LASH BLOOM MASCARA

The CoverGirl LashBlast devotee – a unique breed of beauty addict who swears by one mascara line above all else; the CoverGirl LashBlast. While I admire this breed of addict, I must [shamefully] admit that I often snub my nose to drugstore mascaras, despite hearing the praises of the LashBlast line. It's not as though I truly believe that high-end products work better than those found in the drugstore, it's rather that society has trained me to be a brand snob. But that form of brain-washed logic ends today with the latest CoverGirl LashBlast mascara release, Full Lash Bloom, which promises exceptional fullness that's soft to the touch.

The CoverGirl Full Lash Bloom[*] mascara by Lashblast is housed in a hot pink tube fit for Barbie, and features a mixture of long and short plastic bristles to coat each and every lash. The bristles even span across the tip of the brush, making it easier to reach the pesky baby lashes found around the inner tear duct. Full Lash Bloom also features a soft mousse formula, which contains natural beeswax to create full lashes that remain touchable and soft throughout the day. Notice that I have yet to mention a thing about length? Well, that's because CoverGirl doesn't either – it appears this mascara is all about touchable full lashes. I can certainly attest to having full lashes that are soft to the touch after using this product, however they are nothing in comparison to the fullness of Katy Perry's lashes in the promo photo – damn marketing. But unfortunately, without the added length this mascara will forever be considered one of my 'errand running' mascaras – a category in which Full Lash Bloom scores top points.

Have you tried the CoverGirl Full Lash Bloom by LashBlast? Thoughts?


AM¥    xo

*The items in this post have been sent to THE PRETT¥ VAIN for purpose of review. All views expressed reflect my own opinion on the product. For additional information please see the Disclaimer.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

LIP SERVICE . AU REVOIR DRY CHAPPED LIPS

The drastic drop in temperature we've experienced this week took quite the toll on me, both emotionally and physically. And in an instant I realized that the days of fall jackets, smooth lips and co-operative hair would quickly be replaced with winter parkas, chapped lips, and that dreaded frizz. We've been dealing with this weather, or what I consider the 'prelude to the polar vortex', for less than a week now, and yet somehow my skin and lips have already taken a beating – most likely due to how sudden the change was. Rough, dry patches have begun to form on my chin and cheeks – cue the Origins Drink Up 10 Minute Mask – and my once kissable lips have been transformed into a battlefield of rough skin.

Times like these call for a dynamic duo that will rejuvenate your lips and remove any signs of dryness so that you can once again compliment your outfit with your favourite lipstick, and not your favourite lip balm. A good dynamic duo MUST feature two things: exfoliation and hydration. To exfoliate the lips there is one product that I will never stray from, the LUSH Lip Scrubs, and there's a rather simple explanation for my dedication; you will never find another lip scrub for $6.95 that works as effectively, and is as delicious. The lip scrubs are available in four sugar-based flavours, and are meant to scrub the lips to smooth perfection and then be licked off when done –  when my lips are seriously chapped I steer clear from the temptation because, well... no one wants to eat their dead skin, right? Gross. That aside, your lips should now feel smooth, kiss-worthy and ready for a burst of moisture. I personally like to match the scent of my Lush Lip Scrub to an intensive lip balm that has a co-coordinating scent. This can be a difficult task since not all lip balms are powerful enough to tackle winter dryness, but lucky for you I've mastered the mix and have a few of my favourite combinations to share.

Lush Lip Scrub in Bubble Gum & Josie Maran Argan Lip Treatment ($23) – This is my go-to  combination for days of 'girly vibes'. The bubblegum flavour is fun and youthful, yet pairs beautifully with the green apple scent found in the Argan Lip Treatment, which is loaded with Vitamin E to soothe and condition lips.
When I use this pair: after a sweetly-scented bath, and anytime I'm watching Mean Girls.

Lush Lip Scrub in Mint Julips & Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm in Natural Mint ($8.50) – If your lips get seriously dry and cracked then this is the combination for you – but be prepared to man up before you use it. The Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm is my HG lip balm – it features the most intense mint scent I've ever experienced (seriously, beware) and has a thick formula that instantly brings lips back to their original condition. Together, Mint Julips and the Intense Therapy Balm compose the dream team for combating sore, winter lips – and the combo is totally unisex!
When I use this pair: whenever my lips feel like they are going to fall off, and before a date – the minty scent remains fresh for hours and my lips are left kissable ;).

Lush Lip Scrub in Popcorn & TokyoMilk Dark Lip Elixir in Salted Caramel ($8) – I almost hate to admit it... but this pairing is so good taste-wise that sometimes I have a difficult time not using the scrub twice just to get a little more of that intoxicating flavour. That being said, this combination is more about pleasure and less about purpose for me. The Popcorn Lip Scrub still works as effectively as the rest, however pairing it with the TokyoMilk Salted Caramel Lip Elixir provides a fantastic taste, but doesn't result in the same improvement in the look/feel of the lips as the other balms do.
When I used this pair: after a vanilla-based bath, and whenever it's snowing outside – the scent instantly gives you that comforting feeling and pairs well with your Salted Caramel Latté.

How do you combat your dry, chapped lips?



AM¥     XO

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TWO AND A HALF DECADES OF EXPERIENCES

Twenty Five. A Quarter of a Century. The moment you know – darling, we're not in Kansas anymore. There is a certain weighted feeling that comes with turning twenty five – it's the moment when you clearly understand that you are an adult, and from here on out every decision you make is truly your own. I can remember laying in my twin-sized bed in my first year of University with my roommate discussing all the things we aspired to achieve by the age of twenty-five. I look back on that day and laugh at the naivety that floated through my head – none of the things I envisioned happened and you know what, that makes me the happiest.

Now, I can look back on my twenty five years and feel truly proud that I have followed my heart (over my head) in each and every situation. I've loved and been loved, and understood that sometimes, although it can be terrifying, there is a need to gracefully let go of the things not meant for you. I've surrounded myself with people who build me up, who make me feel like I can conquer the world.. and most importantly – people who have shown me that happiness comes when you are at your truest form – free. 

And although I may not have it all together just yet, I'm getting pretty damn close.