Friday, March 31, 2017

Burberry Liquid Lip Velvet Review

When it comes to stunning color, the new Lip Velvets by Burberry steal the show! Available in 14 scintillating shades and packaged in chic frosted tubes, these pigments are bold, trendy and comfortable.  

I chose three shades that show-off my style – glamorous, edgy and vibrant. The lush formula glides on effortlessly and coats lips in layers of rich, highly saturated color with a beautiful matte-cream finish. Nourishing oils keep lips supple, smooth and hydrated while the formula stays moist to prevent tightness and flaking.

These gorgeous shades apply full-coverage and dramatically intense without skipping and they accentuate your pout for hours! Magenta is a red-based pin-up pink that is bright, classic and flattering. Black Cherry is deep and vampy so it makes a statement on its own or contrasted with soft eye shadow. Bright Plum is my favorite shade for every season and occasion. It is vivid yet not too daring and looks amazing on all skin tones.

The applicator is rather long and standard but it does a good job smoothing on the buttery color and blending consistently. You can also use the very tip to outline the lip contour and I had no issue with feathering or bleeding. If you are on the hunt for some new lip color I highly recommend trying these, the Lip Velvets retail for $38.00 each.

Bright Plum

On Valentine’s Day I also received some new Burberry Kisses Hydrating Lip Color and I am just as obsessed with these shades as I am with the Velvets. Magenta Pink is lightweight and lavish with a rich matte finish and striking vibrancy. Pink Peony is soft, refined and perfect for spring with sheer, satiny shine while Military Red is sophisticated and fiery - great for a night out. The lipsticks are etched with Burberry’s signature pattern and retail for $38.00 each.

Left to right: (liquid lipstick) Black Cherry, Magenta & Bright Plum. (Lipstick) Military Red, Pink Peony and Magenta Pink

Burberry Cosmetics is available at select Hudson’s Bay, Sephora, Nordstrom and online via

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Battle of the Makeup Sponges: Beauty Blender VS Real Techniques, Silicone Sponge, Sephora, THEFACESHOP & EcoTools

Makeup sponges have become very popular among bloggers, artists and women everywhere as we strive for flawless skin and perfect selfies. Since the original Beauty Blender hit the market, many brands have taken advantage of the trend and created their own applicators but how do we know which ones actually work?

Recently I received a few of the newest sponges to hit the market so I thought it would be interesting to test and compare them to determine which ones perform best. To conduct this little experiment I considered a few key factors including: efficiency of application, finish/results, ease of use, cleaning, design/material, price and durability. I will list my findings from best to least favorite.

#1 The Original Beauty Blender $28.00 (best used damp)
(Available at Sephora)
The most popular sponge on the market still ranks #1 mainly because of the material. Although many brands can market their applicators as “beauty blenders” the material used to make the original is patented – meaning it cannot be replicated or copied. The sponge absorbs a lot of water and expands into a soft, porous teardrop that is excellent for applying liquid makeup, bronzer and powder. Although it does suck up a lot of product, it blends everything quickly and consistently for a smooth, flawless finish.

Although this tool has been my number one choice for years it is pretty pricey, especially when you consider how long it lasts. This is the most delicate sponge I’ve used and just a couple days after purchase small tears began to form. Cleaning this thing is a tedious task even with the brand’s special cleansing bar. It takes a long time to get rid of all the foundation sucked into the core and the color fades. Rinsing is not enough to remove bacteria so I recommend deep cleaning at least twice a month and being extremely gentle to prevent rips. The worst thing about this product is how long it takes to dry and the moisture harbors bacteria that can trigger the growth of mold. This also makes it a poor choice for travel but when it comes to performance it is definitely the best!

#2 Sephora Perfectionist Airbrush Sponge $15.00 (best used damp)
(Available exclusively at Sephora)
The makeup sponge by Sephora is about half the price of the Beauty Blender and the closest dupe I’ve come across. When wet the sponge becomes large, plush and soft but it doesn't have a round surface. Although application is not quite as flawless, the results are still pretty amazing! The sponge absorbs some product (but not as much) and the material isn’t quite as porous which makes washing it less time consuming. It also comes in a set with mini sponges and cleansing bar.

#3 Real Techniques Miracle Sculpting Sponge $10.49 (best used damp)
(Available at, Walmart & select drugstores) 
The original Real Techniques makeup sponge gained popularity as the Beauty Blender’s more affordable cousin. Recently the brand has released a new sponge with a better design and material.

Of all the sponges I’ve tested this one has the most variety in terms of application surfaces. It has a rounded body, flat base and a pointed top with one side shaved flat to access hard to reach areas. Once wet it becomes soft and delicate (watch out for tears) and it is one of the easiest to clean. The material is porous but doesn’t seem to absorb as much foundation as the Beauty Blender and although I have to layer a bit more product for full-coverage, I love the smooth, silky finish it provides. The sponge takes a while to dry but if you are looking for an effective applicator for a great price it is definitely worth having in your makeup bag.

#4 EcoTools Perfecting Blender Duo $15.99 (best used damp)
(Available at,  Walmart & select retailers)
EcoTools is well known for their brushes and they recently released a new sponge duo that claims to provide 50% better application than leading prestige sponges. There are 2 sizes in the pack: large and soft - for light, buildable coverage and mini which is firmer for precise coverage. The material isn’t quite as light as the Beauty Blender but it is soft with a dense core that seems more durable. These sponges absorb a lot of water which is not a bad thing when it comes to retaining dampness for application and the large one swells to almost palm size! They do take more time to dry and clean but I love the big flat surface, plump rounded end and the long tapered edge. In terms of attaining a flawless finish, it gets the job done quickly and efficiently!

#5 BEAUTE.e Clear Silicone Makeup Sponge (Silisponge) $8.85
(Available on Amazon – click HERE for direct link)
Silicone sponges are the newest beauty trend to hit the market with claims to reduce product waste and be easier to clean. At first I had no idea how a flat, implant looking product could produce a smooth, poreless finish but it does have some advantages. Since you don’t have to wet it, there is no drying time which also makes it ideal for travel. It wipes clean, doesn’t harbor much bacteria (although you should wash it with soap and disinfect occasionally) and it’s true what they say – you can use less product because it isn’t absorbent.

The downside (and this is pretty major) is that foundation application is substantially less consistent because the sponge (if you can even call it that) feels like a flat piece of gummy rubber that simply smears everything around. My results were not nearly as smooth and flawless as I’d hoped and there was some patchiness. Using flat strokes seems to be most effective but my foundation looked like I merely rubbed it around on the surface of my skin instead of blending it out seamlessly. Although I think the Silicone Sponge fails with makeup, I like using it to apply moisturizer, serum and cream.

#6 THEFACESHOP Holiday Beauty Blender $20.00 for 3
(Available in stores and
Although these sponges look most like the original Beauty Blender they rate last on my list. The material is like a firm ball that actually bounces which is much too hard for proper blending and once wet they don't soften or enlarge. This is probably the least effective applicator I’ve used and it left my foundation looking patchy instead smooth and even.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Essence Shape Your Face Contouring Palette, Luminizer Palette & Satin Touch Blush Review

This spring Essence has released a beautiful array of products with improved formulas and trendy shades!

The new Face Palettes are all about sculpting, fresh seasonal hues that enhance the complexion and radiant shimmer. Ready Set Pink includes a sheer bronzer that requires some layering to intensify but once built-up it provides nice definition and the soft powder is easy to blend. The matte highlighter is also quite faint but you can pack it on to boost brightening or use the Luminizer Palette for more sheen. The blush has a light dusting of glitter (but nothing too sparkly) to awaken dull skin with a rosy tint.

Ready Set Peach has the same bronzer and cream powder with a coral blush that doubles as highlighter for a luminous orangey-gold frost. In terms or pigmentation the blush has great vibrancy but the other two powders could have been more saturated. If you aren’t a fan of extreme contouring or baking, these mild, natural finishes may work for you and the palettes retail for just $6.99 each.

The Light Up Your Face Palette has two high-impact shimmery highlighters and a matte powder. The champagne and golden hues are suitable for all skin tones and although I don’t really use the sheer beige (far left), you may enjoy having a subtle option. The pigmentation is buildable so you can sweep it on lightly or amp it up for vivid radiance. The palettes retail for just $6.99 so if you are new to highlighters this is a great starting point.

The new Satin Touch Blushes are silky, smooth, fresh and gorgeous! The color payoff is good with a nice level of saturation and although these shades appear quite similar on the skin they are mild and flattering.

On days you don’t feel like wearing bright cheek color these soft hues boost the complexion without all the drama. The deeper color is called Satin Love and the lighter shade is Satin Coral. The blush retails for $3.99 each.

The new Make Me Brow Duo Powder comes in two shades and is great for travel. The brown is a bit ashy (for a more natural effect) but the color is deep enough for dark hair and can be blended to fill sparse areas for a fuller, sculpted look. The pigmentation is good so I have no problem achieving the coverage I need and when used with my brow pencil or gel it totally works! The compact retails for $4.49.

Essence is available at Shoppers Drug Mart and Ulta Beauty in the U.S.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

NYX Perfect Filter Shadow Palette, Duo Chromatic Illuminating Powder & Prismatic Shadow Review

What I love most about NYX is their high quality cosmetics and affordable, trendy pigments. When it comes to drugstore makeup they offer some of the best products on the market and many of their formulas are comparable to higher-end brands which makes them popular among artists and social influencers.

The Perfect Filter Eye Shadow Palette is available in 5 color combinations inspired by different photo filters. Marine Layer has an eclectic mix of shades that I wouldn’t normally think of putting together but they are surprisingly multidimensional. The lovely emerald green has a refined glittery sheen and black base for a pretty duo-tone effect while the vivid blue is enhanced with pearlescent purple and the pink comes alive with mild shimmer. The inclusion of chocolate brown always comes in handy to shape and define the crease plus it contrasts well with all shadows in the palette. I love the iridescent silver (top left) and the frosty grey-blue underneath. There may be one too many grey shades in the top row but I like the balance of shimmer and matte.

The texture of the powder isn’t creamy but it is smooth and the formula and color payoff is good. The shadows have buildable saturation to customize coverage and the palette retails for $22.00.

The new Duo Chromatic Illuminating Powder ($13.00) in the shade Lavender Steel may look unassuming in the pan and photo but don’t let that fool you, this highlighter is amazing! It comes in 4 awesome hues including Twilight Tint (soft blue), Crushed Bloom (dusty rose with pink and light blue), Snow Rose (white base with pink) and Synthetica (pink base with gold). The lavender has a chromatic pink tint that brightens the skin for a gorgeous glow and as the light catches it at different angles you can see a multitude of colors. 

The Prismatic Shadows ($7.99 ea) have a shimmery diamond-like effect that sparkles beautifully and the pigmentation is fantastic! The vibrant, metallic color applies bright and dramatic which looks great alone or mixed and matched with supporting shades.

Bottom - top: Shadows and highlighter

NYX Cosmetics is available at drugstores including Shoppers Drug Mart, freestanding stores and online at

Monday, March 27, 2017

Gliss by Schwarzkopf Ultimate Repair & Ultra+ Moisture Hair Care Review

A few weeks ago I attended the Canadian launch of Gliss Hair Repair – a popular European brand that is now available at Shoppers Drug Mart. As I entered the warm loft decorated with colorful bottles of shampoo and conditioner, I also noticed a hand painted caricature of myself on the wall which fittingly captures my long, thick mane. As the night progressed I learned more about these fantastic smelling products and heard positive feedback from other beauty gurus who can’t seem to get enough of these effective formulas.

I decided to test two collections suited to my hair type – Ultimate Repair to mend damage and Ultra+ Moisture which hydrates dry, unruly strands. The other choices include: Color Guard (with 12 weeks of color protection), Oil Nutritive and Ultra Volume.

Ultimate Repair is formulated with 3X liquid keratin to help reinforce and rebuild weak hair fibers that have been damaged from things like heat styling, coloring, weather, pollution and daily stress. It is formulated to boost shine up to 90% while restoring health and improving texture. The range has a nice scent (not heavily perfumed, yet strong enough to pleasantly fragrance) with jojoba and castor oil so hair feels clean and fresh instead of stripped and brittle. It also removes build-up, excess oil and impurities while preparing your locks to absorb more moisture.

Since I have long thick hair, the consistency of the conditioner is a bit thin for deep hydration but it is light enough to detangle or co-wash frequently without the formation of heavy residue. I have to use a generous amount to evenly coat and saturate my lengths but once combed through and left on for a few minutes, my hair feels soft, smooth and replenished. In order to get the most from this line I definitely need a deep conditioner at least once a week and although the collection does come with one I don’t think it is currently available at local drugstores.

The Leave-in spray is a light treatment that helps fortify with a final blast of liquid keratin before styling. Although it does not seem to offer thermal protection, it does help eliminate lingering tangles and create a sleek finish.

Since I didn’t get quite enough hydration from the Repair line I decided to try the Ultra+ Moisture Collection which replenishes from the inside out with 19 key ingredients. The shampoo (like most shampoos) basically works the same - it cleanses from root to tip and foams away dirt, oil and other gunk to unblock hair follicles and purify the scalp. This blend also contains sulfate but it isn’t particularly harsh and I like the scent.

The Conditioner contains ginseng root and protein (among other things) to reduce breakage by up to 85%. Although I find the formula quite thin for my hair type, it did provide a bit more moisture than the Repair line and sometimes I mix both conditioners to form the perfect rejuvenating treatment. For best results I leave the conditioner on while showering (approximately 10-15 mins) which allows the steam to enhance penetration. My hair feels soft, bouncy, light and smooth with a little extra body and shine.

The Express Repair Leave-in Spray separates into an orange liquid and a milky conditioner so make sure to shake well before use. I love how silky this makes my hair feel and when I wear my hair curly (instead of flat ironing it straight) it meshes well with my other leave-ins to rejuvenate my curls and keep them neat. This collection may also be beneficial for preventing split-ends, frizz and roughness.

These products retail for $9.99 each at Shoppers Drug Mart

Monday, March 20, 2017

L’Oreal Hydra Genius Skincare Review & New Micellar Water

It’s the time of year when most of us are trying to manage dry skin and maintain a healthy glow despite harsh weather, indoor heating and odd temperature fluctuations as we move into spring. L’Oreal’s new skincare range is light enough for all seasons and formulated with 3 types of Hyaluronic Acid to reduce water loss, plump, smooth and improve skin’s natural moisture barrier.

The products are inspired by Korean skincare and have a light water base that penetrates fast with an invigorating sensation and continuous hydration. The liquid care for oily and normal/dry skin comes in bottles with a rejuvenating gel-serum consistency. One formula mattfies to control shine and smooth skin texture while the other has a radiant, supple finish for a youthful glow. The soothing aloe and cool water infusion feels like a refreshing drink for the skin as it revives parched areas and absorbs quickly with no residue. Once set the hydration is very light so I usually apply more or layer with moisturizer. Since the texture isn’t creamy, I barely notice it on my skin and both formulas help create an even canvass for makeup application without becoming greasy during the day. The Liquid Care retails for $23.99 each.

If you need even more hydration (which I do) I layer the liquid care with the 72 hour comforting cream which has a richer texture and the same cool alleviation for dryness relief. The cream seeps in instantly and nourishes with layers of velvety moisture while protecting against pollution, UV rays and dehydration. Skin feels soft, resilient and silky with a luminous finish and adding a lush oil creates a revitalizing night treatment to lock in moisture. The cream retails for $23.99.

The new Micellar Water removes long wear makeup (including waterproof formulas) and lifts away impurities, dirt and excess oil with no harsh rubbing. It is also gentle enough to use on the eyes and lips without irritation or stinging. The entire bottle is equal to 200 makeup wipes and the solution is free of oil, fragrance, alcohol and soap so it leaves skin clean and fresh instead of dry and tight. Although I still recommend washing your face with cleanser, the Micellar Water is an excellent first step and helps loosen stubborn mascara, heavy foundation and faint lipstick stains. Although I didn’t notice a substantial difference between this formula and a few others I’ve tried, it is quite effective. 

L'Oreal is available at drugstores nationwide

Friday, March 17, 2017

Quo Cosmetics 2017 Limited Edition Spring Collection Review

Quo’s new spring collection features colorful marbled packaging and fresh, uplifting shades inspired by a mellow color palette.

From highlighter, blush, bronzer, shadow and lip crayons, the range includes some of the season’s softest hues contrasted with bright pops of color and warm summery tints.

The Down To Earth Face Palette contains 3 highlighters, 2 bronzers and a peachy-pink blush that is perfect for the season. With the exception of the bottom right bronzer which has a beautiful orange undertone that can also be used as blush, all the powders have subtle pigmentation. The highlighter at the top right has a beautiful luminous finish for a natural glow while the other two are sheer and pale. Although the silky texture is easy to blend, the formula lacks intensity and isn't very buildable. On fair skin these mild shades may work but I prefer richer pigment.

The Heat It Up Palette contains light pastel hues and a pink blush that transmits sheer and vibrant. The shimmery hues (top right and bottom left) provide a lovely sheen but the beige bronzer disappears on my skin tone and the lightest powders are a bit bland and chalky. It’s a shame that the color payoff isn’t better because the packaging is gorgeous! The face palettes retail for $20.00 each.

The Eye Shadow Palettes ($18.00) are a bit better in terms of pigmentation but you still need a good primer and some layering to achieve anything close to full-coverage saturation. No Pressure contains smokey plum and 3 iridescent hues that appear sheer and almost identical on the skin. Although the mint, pink and yellow tints are overshadowed by a strong silver undertone, the frosty finishes can be used to highlight the face.

Rock It includes navy, brown, peach and cream with sheer color payoff. The blue adds more depth for crease shaping and definition but you still need to pack on the pigment and maybe pair these shadows with others in your collection to enhance their effect.

The Brow Palette comes with 2 powders, 1 highlighter, eyebrow cream and a double-sided applicator. The deepest brown is a bit ashy but still rich enough to fill in sparse areas so brows appear natural and full. The sheer highlighter provides just enough coverage to help accentuate the shape of your brows and the cream helps tame unruly hairs to keep everything neat. For just $12.00 the palette is handy for travel and quite stylish!

I didn’t have great results with some of the face powders but I love the Matte Lip Crayons! The slender shape is perfect for outlining and filling in color and the creamy, lightweight texture feels soft and comfortable without drying out the lips. The bright red is stunning and the smooth, velvety texture glides across the skin effortlessly to provide vivid color that can be layered and intensified. The crayons retail for $12.00 each and twist-up for easy access (no sharpening required).

Quo Cosmetics is available exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dior Addict Lacquer Stick Review

Dior is a trendsetter when it comes to revolutionizing style and the new Lacquer Sticks are effortlessly chic. Inspired by fearless young women who like to experiment with makeup, this unique lipstick-lacquer hybrid combines rich pigment, comfort and liquid shine in one easy to use formula.

Available in 18 show-stopping shades the lacquers are sheathed in elegant plum tubes and the slender sticks are perfect for maneuvering around the lip contour.

The texture is smooth and ultra hydrating with a blend of 5 lightweight, nourishing oils chosen for their radiance boosting abilities. The vibrant color glides across the lips with a fondant-like effect and melts to form a lush, reflective finish. The brightest and deepest shades seem to emit the most color payoff and each lacquer is 44% more transparent than a classic lipstick resulting in sheer to full coverage with the versatility to be enhanced or blurred.

The striking pureness of the richest hues is definitely comparable to a lacquer but the finish is light and moist, similar to a balm with the vividness of a lip cream. The luminosity creates a beautiful, volumizing sheen and the spectrum showcases the coolest trends of the season including: pastel, neon, classic and wild.

With normal wear the lacquers hold up for a few hours but like most lip products they transfer during meals and fade with direct contact. Even as the color wears away, the formula continues to condition dry skin and keep your pout supple with no stickiness. Reapplication is easy and you can adjust the intensity to suit your needs.

The Lacquer Sticks retail for $43.00 each available at Dior counters nationwide including Sephora and Hudson’s Bay.

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