5/26/17

Pack With Me - Toiletries + Skincare Edition

The big day is nearly here...Dev and I will be jetting off to Paris this Monday!!! It's crazy how quick this trip is arriving, and I can't wait to share our experiences and a ton of photos when we return. But until then, I thought I would continue my little packing series by showing you exactly what I am taking away in terms of toiletries and skincare. 



The first "Pack With Me" post featured a small amount of makeup (for a beauty junkie like myself)... but I can't deny being slightly extra when it comes to toiletries and skincare. *No shame*


The madness all starts with these face masks! No, they're not necessary but they will be nice and there's a reason why I'm taking so many...I have no doubts my lover boy will want to partake in a little rehydration session, which means I need doubles!! I don't have the guts to wear one on the airplane but I expect my skin to be very dry and in desperate need of moisture after 7+ hours of flying. Plus, we'll be jet lagged and the eye masks will not only feel super refreshing - they'll help us feel more awake too. 


Keeping with the theme of skincare, there's no better feeling than taking off makeup at the end of a long and busy day. I expect to wake up early and go to bed late, clocking as many steps as possible to see as many sights possible. There's no doubt we'll be exhausted and the Kirkland Signature Daily Facial Towelettes will come in handy when all I want to do is hit a pillow. On days when I can muster up a little more energy, I'll use a liquid cleanser. 


My cousin gave me these tea tree and salicylic acid patches a couple of months ago and I have been saving them specifically for our trip. They're little clear stickers that work surprisingly well to clear up blemishes. They're super slim and much more travel friendly than my Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, which is stored in a glass bottle. 


Colab is a new brand for me and so far it's a hit! The Rio tropical (papaya and pineapple) scent is intoxicating and while the dry shampoo does turn my hair white, I like how much volume and texture it creates. In my opinion, it's also a travel essential!! With so little time in each city (four nights in Paris, four nights in Barcelona and four nights in Lisbon) I definitely won't be wasting it washing or drying my hair every day. Also...I'm just lazy. Who's with me?


Again...super extra but I am bringing three different scents of perfume. They're all mini rollerballs from the Elizabeth and James family and don't take up a lot of space, so why not have a variety? Nirvana White is more of a daytime scent, while Nirvana Black is quite masculine and more appropriate for evening wear. It's also almost gone so I'm expecting it probably won't last me the entire trip. Nirvana Bourbon is a 100 point perk I picked up from Sephora and in a slightly smaller bottle. While I'm not sure how I feel about the woodsy scent (it smells burnt to me) I do get lots of compliments when I wear it. 


Dev and I will be sharing a shampoo bar and we both agreed on Seanik because it is not too girly smelling and not too manly smelling. Plus, it's solid and therefore can be packed anywhere, saving room in my clear plastic bag for even more liquids (although probably not necessary)!



For the record, all of my liquids - makeup, toiletries and skincare - fit nicely inside this clear pouch that zipped out of my Lug Cosmetic Case. 


Everything else is pretty standard if you ask me...Deodorant so I don't smell bad; a toothbrush and toothpaste so my breath doesn't smell bad; hand sanitizer so I don't catch a cold on the plane or any other public/touristy areas we visit; hand cream...because dryness is inevitable; and spare contacts (plus cleaning solution) so I can see all the beautiful sights I'm hoping to see.



I realize we can buy most of these items while in Europe, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. I want to get there and be clean, comfortable and ready for anything!

Ps. If you missed my first post featuring all of the makeup items I am taking away, click here

xxx

5/23/17

A Multipurpose Facial Spray From Mario Badescu


I raved about the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater in my April Favourites, but I didn't really discuss all that this product has to offer. I felt it needed another moment in the spotlight, hence the reasoning behind today's post.

At just $7 for 4 fluid oz, it's one of the least expensive facial sprays I have encountered and it serves so many different purposes.

I use it after washing my face and before applying moisturizer as a "prep step" to help face creams absorb and really penetrate the skin. Sometimes I'll even use it instead of a moisturizer if I'm having a bit of a greasy (aka. oily) day. I also use it to set my makeup and help powders melt into the skin...it seems to add a nice radiance. I use it when I feel a little sweaty and in need of cooling down. I use it in the morning when I wake up and in the evening before I go to bed because the scent is quite calming and seems to make me feel more relaxed (it smells very florally and fresh...like a spa). I have even used it on the ends of my hair, which are incredibly dry and in desperate need of a chop.

My point is...I basically use it all the time!


It is refreshing, hydrating, soothing...all the ings! It makes my skin feel better and look more glow-y and alive. It does feel slightly sticky at first, which makes it a great base or primer for makeup, but the tackiness disappears after it fully sinks into the skin.

The ingredients are quite natural, simple and minimal, featuring water as the main component along with aloe leaf juice, thyme leaf extract and dog rose extract. It does contain added fragrance, which runs the risk of irritation but I have not experienced any bad reactions and I've now used more than half the bottle. The addition of aloe and herbs in fact help to combat acne and redness.

Mario Badescu is also cruelty free!


The mist is quite fine and the pump is not difficult to press. I know firsthand how terrifying it can be when a mist is too hard to trigger and basically attacks the face without warning. A well-dispersed and even mist is key for any facial spray and can truly be a make or break a product.

The amount of liquid in my bottle seems to be disappearing quite quickly, and I can confirm that once it's gone I will be running out to buy a new one! Maybe two...

xxx

5/19/17

Healthy Meals Made Easy With Chefs Plate

Cooking healthy meals with fresh ingredients has become a breeze with food delivery services gaining popularity worldwide. Chefs Plate is on a mission to make cooking fun again and encourage Canadians to bond over delicious meals.


Dev and I tested the service last week while home and pet sitting for family friends. It was great because we didn't have to worry about stocking the fridge with a ton of groceries (and condiments) that probably wouldn't get used up. Each box contains the perfect amount of farm-fresh ingredients sourced from Canadian suppliers to create two portions without any waste.

We have another box arriving next week for the same reason. With our European trip quickly approaching, we won't have to worry about food going off while we're away.



The ingredients for each recipe arrived in a refrigerated box and packed into recyclable brown bags (aside from the ground pork which sat alone under a big pack of ice). Both fit nicely on a shelf in the fridge and were super easy and compact to store. 



I thought it was so cute how the eggs were packed into their own little boxes - although one of ours was broken - and the little jars of peanut butter, sesame oil and tamari were just too adorable! There was even little packets of sugar! Literally everything we needed (aside from cooking oil, salt and pepper) to make some delicious grub was at our fingertips and there was no need for an emergency grocery trip. 



Initially we were both very concerned about how big the portions were going to be. The first recipe we tried came with about 1/2 a cup of rice, which didn't seem like a lot. But the good ol' saying "our eyes are bigger than our stomachs" rang true and after indulging in a pretty decent sized plate full, we were both pleasantly stuffed and there was even leftovers for Dev to take for lunch. 


New recipes are introduced each week - there are typically seven to choose from - and feature a variety of meat, fish or vegetarian options. They're all well balanced and seem to contain interesting flavours or combinations I personally would never think to try.

For our first two meals with Chefs Plate, we chose:

Kimchi & Pork Fried Rice (with snap peas, shimeji mushrooms and a fried egg)

The ingredients included:

Lean Ground Pork
Sticky Rice
2 Eggs
Shimeji Mushrooms
Green Cabbage
Snap Peas
1 Yellow Onion
Gochujang
Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Sugar Packet
1 Kimchi Spice Mix Packet (sesame seeds, ground ginger and gochugaru)


This was definitely our favourite of the two!

I've never tried kimchi before, let alone make the spicy, pickled cabbage myself. Trying new things can be scary, and not knowing what the heck Gochujang is made me thankful for not having to purchase an entire bottle of it. For the record, I think it's a chili paste... 

Now that I've tried the dish, I can confirm that I probably would make it many, many times again and therefore can justify stocking my cupboard/fridge (wherever it's stored) with Gochujang. Just don't ever ask me how to pronounce it...


The directions for each recipe included pictures to follow and made whipping everything up super easy. We saved time by not having to dig for measuring cups or spoons because everything was pre-portioned and our meal was ready in roughly 30 minutes. 


The Kimchi & Pork Fried Rice had just enough heat, but the snow peas added a nice sweetness and the cabbage really bulked up the meal to help us feel full. 



Crispy Five Spice Tofu (with cauliflower rice and creamy peanut sauce)

The ingredients included:

Extra Firm Tofu 
Cauliflower
Brocoli
1 Red Onion
Peanut Butter
1 Brown Sugar Packet
Sesame Oil
Tamari
1 Chinese Five Spice Packet
1 Lime


This recipe was also very good!



I often contemplate becoming a vegetarian or pescatarian and have eaten plenty of tofu in my days. Devon, however, was the true test for this recipe...and it was a hit! He compared the crunchy bits of tofu to french toast bake, only a little more savoury. He also admitted being surprisingly full after, despite consuming a meat-free meal (although he did joke about driving through McDonalds for some preservatives).


I'm a sucker for anything with peanut butter, and this combo was really nice. It was our first time trying cauliflower rice, and although we couldn't find a grater where we were staying to shred the veg, Dev did a pretty good job chopping it up small so it cooked through quickly. The flavour and texture combinations were awesome and I would totally make this dish again!

Although the subscription service is a little pricey ($49.80 weekly for a 2-Person Plan), it's completely flexible and can be skipped or cancelled at any time.

Dev and I had so much fun spending time in the kitchen cooking together and experimenting with new flavours. Both recipes made us feel inspired to eat out less and create better home cooked meals more often. They were both dishes we had never tried before and we look forward to recreating them someday in the future.

I also can't wait to test out a couple of new recipes when our box arrives next week. I'll be sure to keep you posted on our thoughts. 

xxx

5/16/17

Pack With Me - Makeup Edition


Dev and I leave for Europe in two weeks and while I can barely contain my excitement, I'm also stressing (just a little) about what to pack. I'm choosing to go carry-on only (backpack style), which is not only a challenge for myself, but will also be super convenient when walking along cobblestone streets or running to catch a train.


Of course my first concern with such a small amount of space, however, is what makeup will I pack?!

I did a little test-run the other day and managed to fit everything I need for a 12-day trip in my carry-on bag (an Osprey Farpoint 40 if you were wondering). I think I've done a pretty good job pairing down my makeup, which will include:


You may have noticed a foundation missing from this list. Although foundation bottles typically fall within the TSA sizing requirements, they still take up room. Plus they're a liquid product and therefore must be sorted into a clear plastic, sealable bag, along with all other fluids. I tend to skip foundation on a daily basis anyways and instead use concealer to hide dark circles and cover any pesky blemishes. If I feel the need for more coverage, I can use a little extra concealer. 


Since booking our flights a few months ago I have been collecting new items specifically for the trip. For example, the e.l.f. High Definition Undereye Setting Powder is itty bitty and perfect for travel! I hardly ever set my entire face and this is nice and brightening under the eye on its own or to set concealer. It was also only $3! 


Aside from my beloved Tartiest Pro To Go Palette and Mac Lipstick in Faux, everything I plan to take is very inexpensive. I can't risk losing a high-end blush or breaking an expensive highlighter. Some other items I purchased specifically with price-point and travel size in mind include the wet n wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder in Precious Petals (it's gorgeous) and the e.l.f. Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder in St. Lucia (a two-in-one product to take up less space). Both cost me less than $5 and while the blush and bronzing powders are quite sheer, they're easily buildable and the tones compliment almost any look.


I also recently picked up the Essence Make Me Brow Eyebrow Gel Mascara, which is a tad too dark for me but works well to tame the fuzzy caterpillars on my face.  


Everything else is pretty standard as far as I'm concerned. A white eyeliner is perfect for brightening tired eyes, a deep brown can be used for a more smokey look and mascara is a MUST in my opinion!

For lips, I wanted to have a variety of options without going overboard. I picked a nude lipstick, a vibrant pink lip stain, a mini red lip cream and a mauve lip liner. I'm obsessed with how the Essence Lipliner in Satin Mauve looks when worn on its own, all over the lips. At this point, after much lovin', the pencil is getting pretty stubby and therefore doesn't take up a lot of room. It gives me an additional colour option but I'll just have to make sure it's sharp before we go (there definitely isn't enough room to pack a sharpener).  


Of course all of the liquid items will be packed into a separate clear bag. Otherwise, everything (including my makeup brushes and Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge) fits into this cute little pouch I purchased on sale at Indigo a couple of weeks ago. It's bright poppy red with gold accents, says Cancer (my Zodiac sign) and has the hashtag #FindMeUnderTheCovers written along the bottom. I freaking love it!

I feel content with the amount of makeup I am taking away with me. I'm sure most mornings will be spent doing very basic, five-minute makeup and all of this will not be necessary. But we are going for a wedding and I'm sure there will be a few other fancy dinners that I will want to get dolled up for. 

I hope you enjoyed today's post! I've decided to turn my packing adventures into a bit of a series, so stay tuned for more blog posts! Skincare and toiletries will be up next!

xxx

5/9/17

No 'Ordinary' Skincare Haul

A Toronto-based beauty company is breaking the norm when it comes to skincare.


DECIEM refers to itself as the 'Abnormal Beauty Company' and believes that quality should not be determined by cost. They pride themselves in selling authentic, different, functional and sensibly priced skincare. Their line of products called The Ordinary each contain only one or two active ingredients, which means they require less technologies to manufacture and therefore cost less to make. This, combined with very basic packaging, is why they are able to sell skincare at such an incredibly affordable price.

For some reason consumers (myself included) have been brainwashed into thinking skincare will only work if it costs an arm and a leg. The truth is, our dollars are typically spent on luxurious packaging or even a brand name, rather than the product itself. DECIEM is changing the way we think by proving that effective skincare can also be budget friendly. The Ordinary features an array of serums to target a variety of skincare needs, making it easy to customize a morning and night time routine.

At the moment, I am concerned about premature wrinkles and dry skin. Continue reading if you're curious to learn about the four products I picked up to target these struggles.


Advanced Retinoid 2% - ($9.80 CAD)

Most retinoid serums are quite expensive (do a quick search on Sephora and you'll find some for $50, $80 and even $100) and they often contain unnecessary ingredients, including fragrance oils to make them smell nice, which can often lead to bad reactions for anyone with sensitive skin. 

This retinoid serum (along with most products from The Ordinary range) is water-free, alcohol-free, oil-free, soy-free, silicone-free, nut-free, vegan, gluten-free and cruelty-free. It is milky yellow in tone and looks a little like banana medicine (without the yummy scent because it is also fragrance-free).

It is the first retinoid serum I have ever purchased, and to be honest...I'm slightly intimidated! It comes with caution of UV radiation, which means sunscreen every morning is an absolute must! There are also warnings signs to not use with any other retinol product and to use just once a week at first to prevent increased dryness or peeling. My understanding, however, is that The Ordinary's Advanced Retinoid 2% is much more gentle and less likely to cause any irritations than some others on the market. 

Retinol is an active ingredient that has been scientifically proven to improve the appearance of wrinkles and hyper pigmentation, so once I get over my fear, I look forward to seeing results! 



The term 'acid' can sometimes sound harsh (think glycolic acid which chemically removes dead skin cells and can sometimes cause major flake-age) but hyaluronic acid is incredibly gentle. It has the ability to attract up to 1,000 times its weight in water and therefore locks in moisture. It helps to make the skin more plumped and evenly toned. I actually noticed that my skin felt much more soft and even looked a little smoother after just a couple of uses. 



I have never seen an eye serum for less than $10 and this one makes me very excited! It combines a high concentration of caffeine with Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside (EGCG) from green tea leaves. The two ingredients have been proven to reduce the look of dark circles and puffiness. 

The solution looks a little like maple syrup but smells slightly (very slightly) like Coca Cola. It's a nice thin consistency and one drop is enough for both eyes, which means this bottle will go a very long way! It also feels a little cooling as it dries and sinks into the skin. 


I quite like the simple labels and there's something fun about using a dropper, but my one complaint is that the bottles all look quite similar. I fear accidentally using one instead of another if not paying attention (most groggy mornings). 


I bought this for two reasons: 1) I was in need of a moisturizer, and 2) I needed to add something to my cart in order to qualify for free shipping. It's thick, but not too thick and does a nice job to hydrate parched skin without feeling greasy. The price also can't be beat!

Sidenote: I placed my order on a Monday and the box was in my hands by Wednesday afternoon. That's pretty impressive if you ask me...

Unfortunately, this is the second time I have written this post (I had a major blogger fail and accidentally deleted the contents of my draft last week) but looking on a more positive note, it has provided more time to put these products to the test. Although a week isn't really long enough to see results or tell you my true opinions, I can confirm that I really enjoy the texture of both the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG - and believe it or not, I actually see a difference in the appearance of my skin. The moisturizer is good but nothing overly impressive (although I like that it is small and will be good for travel). As for the retinoid...well...I'll use it eventually and I'm sure it will be a lot less scary than I am expecting.

I will  keep you posted in a month or so with more honest thoughts on each product. 

xxx