L'Oreal Colour Riche Blake's Red - Crimson Perfection

When I contemplate the most beautiful woman in Hollywood - the answer is always Blake Lively. I'm not sure what more I could say other than she is perfect. Her hair. Her eyes. Her lips. She's one of those people that looks amazing with or without makeup.

Basically...I want to be her...(totally not creepy).

So naturally, I had to buy the L'Oreal Colour Riche Collection Exclusive Pure Red lipstick inspired by my ultimate girl crush.  

Blake's Red is a beautiful classic, cherry colour and I can see why it is inspired by the Gossip Girl goddess. It would look absolutely amazing on those with blonde locks and sun kissed skin (both of which I am not...unfortunately). But it's such a traditional colour that it looks great on different complexions as well. It has quickly become my new favourite red. 

The pigmentation of this product is pretty nuts. One swipe is all it takes for a coat of opaque, creamy, colour rich results. 

It has a matte formula, which tends to wear longer than lipsticks with a sheen. The other day mine lasted for nearly seven hours and survived a cup of tea, two glasses of water, a bowl of grapes and an english muffin with Nutella. Pretty impressive if you ask me! The colour stayed in place for the most part, only fading on the very inside edge of my lips. 

Blended with jojoba oil, it's quite comfortable and hydrating too! Unlike most matte lipsticks which can suck every last bit of moisture from my lips, this one secretively works to maintain softness and battle our ever-changing weather conditions. It's the perfect pick for Fall, which seems to be sneaking up on us. I picture sporting this lipstick with a pair of black leggings, a chunky grey sweater, and a mustard yellow scarf. Ohhhhhh yessssss!

I have to talk a little about the packaging as well. For a drugstore lipstick, it feels tremendously luxurious. The tube is matte black, with gold accents featuring Blake's autograph. In my opinion, it's comparable to products from more expensive brands like NARS. But I repeat...it's from the drugstore and much more affordable! 

It smells slightly like roses, which makes it feel even more opulent. It's not overpowering and I personally enjoy it, but if floral scents are not your thing I'd suggest giving this one a whiff before making the purchase. 

The Exclusive Pure Reds Collection consists of six shades inspired by L'Oreal ambassadors. In addition to Blake, there's also Julianne (Moore)'s Red, Freida (Pinto)'s Red, Liya (Kebede)'s Red, Eva (Longoria)'s Red and Zoe (Saldana)'s Red. The brand has done an awesome job creating colours tailor-made for a wide variety of skin tones. There's something for everyone!

I want to try the other hues, but I know that this one will forever be my favourite simply because it's Blake's Red. 



Pinned and Tried: Fix Cracked or Split Nails with Tea Bags

Anyone with long nails will most likely agree with me that it's absolutely devastating when one breaks. It takes so long to grow them out, and then all of a sudden one bugger nail forces us to cut all nine others into equal length. But what if it didn't have to be this way?

According to this pin, a small piece of fabric from an unused tea bag can be used as a bandage to repair broken nails. I decided to put it to the test!

Dev and I recently bought a pair of kayaks and have enjoyed paddling in this beautiful summer weather, but I have to admit...it's not exactly made for long nails. While racking them on the roof of his car the other day, my right thumb nail bent and cracked just along the tip of my finger. I really didn't want to rip it off, partially because it would be so short, but also for fear of the pain that might have come with it. Has anyone else torn their nail down to the skin? OUCH!

(Excuse the hangnail - it's a struggle)

It was really the perfect time and my last resort to try this tea bag hack.

After emptying a dry tea bag, I cut a rectangle shape roughly the same width and a little longer than the length of my nail. I applied a fairly thick layer of base coat to my nail before placing the makeshift bandage over the crack. I gently pressed it down with my fingers to smooth out the bubbles. I then let everything dry before using a nail file to eliminate the excess at the tip of my nail. 

The base coat I'm currently testing out the Sally Hansen Complete Care Extra Moisturizing 4-in-1 Nail Treatment. It's formulated with avocado oil, soy and silk protein and minerals to help strengthen dry, brittle nails. I haven't used it enough to know if it's making a dramatic difference, but I'll keep you posted! 

I attempted to smooth over all of the edges with a buffer to ensure the tea bag remained hidden and unnoticeable. My nail colour applied smoothly and almost seamlessly over the top at first. I could barely even tell where the 'surgery' took place. But...

...after my nail polish dried completely, the ridges were much more noticeable. This was probably my own fault for not filing down the face of my nail enough. 

So while I didn't achieve the most flawless result, I do feel that this trick reinforced my nail and made it feel much stronger than it did before. It even survived a night of volleyball! Tea bag bandage for the win! I will definitely use this trick again. 



Lush H'Suan Wen Hua Hair Treatment Review

Fun fact: This is the first hair mask I have ever tried and now I'm addicted! 

I talked about H'Suan Wen Hua a little bit in my last LUSH haul post, specifically how I struggle to pronounce the name of this product. But today I wanted to go a little more in-depth and tell you all why I really love it. 

Weirdly, the featured ingredient is balsamic vinegar. It also contains fresh eggs, mashed bananas, avocado, olive oil, bay leaves and cinnamon. It sounds like a recipe for something rank, but the scent is actually my favourite part! The cinnamon oil is most prominent and pleasant. I like to slather this treatment on my dry hair and leave in for 20-30 minutes before washing it out. While I'm waiting, I enhance my pamper time by soaking in a bath and I find the cinnamon aromas very relaxing. Plus, the scent lingers even through to the next day. I don't know about you, but having cinnamon heart candy smelling hair is OK by me! 

The natural ingredients have really great benefits for both the scalp and hair. Eggs contain proteins to help protect and prevent breakage, balsamic vinegar adds shine, bay leaves clarify and the bananas add moisture. I couldn't believe how soft and strong my hair felt after the first use. I truly feel that H'Suan Wen Hua has also added thickness and volume to my otherwise limp and fine hair.  

It's a little pricey at $20.95 per pot, but the long lasting effects are totally worth it! Plus, LUSH has the 5 Pot Program, through which they invite customers to return five empty and clean black pots to a store for recycling and as thanks will give a Fresh Face Mask for free! I love this initiative because we get something in return for our purchase and help protect the environment at the same time. Great idea, LUSH!



Textured Negative Space Manicure

I attempted the very popular negative space manicure! I'll be honest...it wasn't easy. For two reasons: 1. I have little to zero patience and this manicure definitely takes some time and a steady hand, and 2. I was trying to get ready for a wedding while I was waiting for these nails to dry completely before removing the strips of tape. Have you ever tried putting on a full face of makeup with wet nails? It's a task...

But overall, I'm pleased with the way this manicure turned out. It's sparkly, pink and feminine...three of my favourite words. 

To begin, I placed small strips of striping tape diagonally from both sides of my unpainted nails until they met in a point to create a triangle shape. On my middle finger I chose to switch it up a bit and doubled the lines. I used tweezers for initial placement of the tape and then used the opposite side to firmly seal each piece to my nails. 

I wanted to do a twist on the typical negative space manicure by throwing in a bit of texture. Near the base of my nail I used OPI Make Him Mine, which is a liquid sand formula (I believe it was part of the limited edition Mariah Carey Holiday 2013 Collection). It dries to a matte finished with flecks of glitter and has a gritty feeling to the touch. On the rest of each nail I used OPI Pinking of You, which I felt really complimented the textured pink. 

I wasn't particularly careful when painting each section because the tape acted as a barrier. Once completely dry, I removed each piece to unveil crisp and clean lines, acting as a window for my natural nails to peep through. 

OK, OK...it wasn't THAT hard... 

With a little more practice and a better tolerance for watching paint dry, I think this manicure could be a breeze. I'm going to test it out using different shapes, colours and textures to see if I can speed up the process. Of course, not having to get ready for an occasion at the same time will also help... 

I hope you enjoyed this post and would love to see your take on the negative space manicure. Tag me in your pictures on Twitter (@BeautybyBirdy1) or share them on my Facebook page! 



New (To Me) Lush Goodies

I've been a massive fan of LUSH bath products for a long time - but that's no secret. In the beginning, bath bombs and bubble bars were all I would buy. More recently I have begun to venture into the companies skin care and hair care lines. So while these products aren't necessarily new in store, they are new to me and have joined my growing family of LUSH goodies. 

I've had these items for about a week now and managed to test them all out, so instead of just showing you what I grabbed I can also share my first impression thoughts. 

I have had a sample of Angels on Bare Skin before and can honestly say that I LOVE it! 

It's the most interesting facial cleanser I have seen. In store it looks like a stuffed pork roast or jelly roll, with lavender flowers centred by kaolin clay. Each batch is actually handmade with a rolling pin. It's then sliced and 'served' in various size pots, ready to be taken home by a customer. 

To make sure it applies smoothly to my face, I pinch off a pea-sized amount and add a sprinkle of water, which turns it into a paste. A little bit really goes a long way. The pieces of lavender and ground almond help exfoliate, while the soft white clay purifies and rose absolute soothes redness. Angels on Bare Skin is a worldwide best seller - and for good reason. It leaves my skin feeling clean, but not dry, and best of all...unbelievably soft!

It's been a hot minute since I've had a decent facial moisturizer. I've been trying to use up one with SPF during the summer, but it seems to be causing break outs. I also struggle with dryness most of the time and wanted something that would really sink in and quench my skin's thirst. Enter Skin Drink - a recipe for success (hopefully). It's packed with avocado, aloe vera, sesame and almond oils, plus fair trade organic cocoa butter. It's super thick but a dab is all it takes to really hydrate my face and bring it back to life. I have a feeling this is also going to be a life-saver during the winter too. 

I wanted to pick up a conditioner to use along with the Honey I Washed My Hair Solid Shampoo Bar. The strawberry vanilla scent of American Cream is heavenly and really does linger a long time after stepping out of the shower, but unfortunately it doesn't provide the slippery or moisturized feeling I look for in a conditioner. To be honest, I didn't see any noticeable results. It was lacking the wow-factor I commonly expect from most LUSH products. I probably won't be purchasing it again...

Unlike most body butters we are familiar with, this one is solid and meant to be used on wet skin. It contains ground rice, almonds and beans to exfoliate those lumps and bumps that can sometimes make us feel self conscious. It also contains cocoa and shea butters to moisturize and soften at the same time. This is ultimately the reason I grabbed Buffy. I have some rough texture on the back of my arms caused by dry skin that I would love to get rid of. After using it about three times, I think it's working! My only concern is that it melts very quickly and I feel as though it will be gone before I can say 'Houdini'. 

I actually bought this product while Dev and I were in Montreal for my birthday last month. It is still fairly new, so I thought I would combine it into this haul. At first I thought the name of it was written in French...but no, this is the actual name of the treatment. I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce, so please if anyone can break it down for me - help! I'm dying to know!

When we got back from our trip, my hair was pretty wind blown from driving with the windows down and there was absolutely no hope in getting a brush through it. So I slopped on some of H'Suan Wen Hua, waited 20 minutes before washing it out and all of my problems were solved. It was like a brand new head of hair - moisturized, soft, strong and beyond shiny. 

I've really been loving this product and plan to dedicate an entire post to it soon...It's. That. Good! So stay tuned for that. Until then...



My Very First Birchbox - What's Inside

A friend of mine gifted me a Birchbox subscription for my birthday last month. Needless to say, I squealed with delight upon opening it! I've been wanting to test out the box service ever since it arrived in Canada. I think it's such a creative gift idea and would be great for any beauty addict. 

If you're not familiar with Birchbox, it's a monthly delivery of sample beauty products from a wide range of brands. It's $10 a month, plus $4.75 shipping and handling. Each box contains five deluxe samples of makeup, skincare, fragrances, hair and nail care. It's a really great option for those of us curious to try everything in the market without breaking the bank.  

I waited like a giddy schoolgirl to receive my first box. When it finally arrived on my doorstep, I resisted the urge to tear into it with theatrical excitement. I used caution when lifting the lid and very carefully unfolded the beautiful pink tissue paper to unveil my goodies. I wanted to share the experience with you and capture it with photos. So if you're curious to see what I got, continue reading.  

The box contained a card that not only welcomed me to the service, but also provided brief descriptions about the products inside, along with their full size price. I should also note that Birchbox has an online store where each item can be purchased if desired. 

What's inside?

Beauty Protector Beauty Wash Body Cleanser (Full size = $19)
"This rich, foamy gel cleanses skin without drying, and has a dreamily sweet scent." 

It smells like vanilla! You guys know how I feel about vanilla...and if you don't...well it's a really good feeling. This may be my favourite item from the box because it smells so darn delicious! 

Naobay Oxygenating Cream Moisturizer (Full size = $45)
"Made with avocado and olive oils, this 98% natural cream nourishes and hydrates skin."

I like the word natural and seem to be attracted to these types of products lately. It also has a nice, fresh scent. But yikes, $45 seems steep!

Cynthia Rowley Beauty Creamy Lip Stain (Full size = $23)
"A long-wearing stain from the NYC-based designer that gives unbeatable moisture and shine."

I have yet to find a lip stain that does not dry out my lips. Maybe this will be a winner!

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels (Full size = $33)
"Peptide-packed cooling treatment to hydrate and refresh stressed skin under the eyes."

I'm all about that stress relief action! My sample contains one set of eye gels, but for the record a full-size consists of eight pairs. I was also surprised to learn that these petite patches are loaded with Icelandic glacial water. Hmmmm....fancy!

Number 4 Clarifying Shampoo (Full size - $36-$82)
"Vitamin-rich botanicals gentle purify hair while restoring lost moisture and shine."

I've never been too interested in clarifying shampoos before. I'm more of a no-fuss, don't care about my hair kind of girl. But maybe this will be a game changer...

There's a great variety of items here and each is the perfect size for travelling. I'm thrilled with my first Birchbox and can't wait to see what gems i'll be introduced to next time.



Mani Spotlight - Essie Chillato

OK, I have to be honest...the formula of this nail polish stinks!

Not in a plug your nose kind of way...don't all nail polishes do that already? But the way it applies is just straight up bad. It's insanely thin! Like water. If I don't use a base coat, the colour will slide right off of my nails. It takes three and sometimes even four coats to achieve full opacity.

But I wanted to chat a little about essie Chillato because this colour is totally worth the consistency headache. I've never seen anything like it! It was released as part of the Summer 2015 collection and as the name suggests, it is just like pistachio gelato. Mmmmmmm gelato....

It's a really beautiful chartreuse - a mixture of pale lime green and yellow tones. The cheerful colour is unique and fresh - perfect for the sunny season. It's vibrant and almost neon, but somehow understated at the same time. I think it would be flattering on any skin tone. So before summer comes to an end, I suggest you run out and grab a bottle of this one-of-a-kind beauty!



Playing With Pops of Colour - Inner Corner Highlight

I created this look a few weeks ago when I needed to get ready in a pinch. I didn't want to slap on a whole face of makeup and decided to keep my eyes bare with a pop of vibrancy in the inner corners. The end result was very fun and different. I really like the way it turned out and have worn it a few times since. 

My absolute favourite inner corner highlight is The Body Shop Eye Shimmer in 01 Silver. I've had this for ages and it continues to be my go-to eyeshadow for adding a little sparkle. 

I apply this first with a small pencil brush and blend it out with my finger after. This is really the perfect product to layer under colours to make them pop. It's more white than silver, as the name suggests, and helps brighten the inner corners. 

Now, this look is similar to a previous post I did which features a pop of colour on the lower lash line.    In fact, I'm using the exact same blue. If you're curious to see that post, click here. The eye shadow is by Morphe Brushes and it's in the shade ES41 B.A.M. Using the same brush, I applied this directly overtop of the white and blended it out with my finger. 

My look is a little blown out and more exaggerated than some may be willing to wear. But the great thing about using pops of colour as an inner corner highlight is experimenting with colours, and adding as much or as little to create a unique look suitable for your taste.