Spring Favourites

I started compiling this post of favourites, back when Spring was a whole lot more wintry than it is at the moment — It’s like 30 degrees right now so it appears we are quickly veering into Summer territory around these parts. I’ve been slowly gathering the products that I’ve been loving and relying heavily upon — most of which are new but there’s a returning favourite or two. I only recently realized that perhaps I let the collection pile enough… Note: I totally thought I had published this months ago…

Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Lotion ($53 CDN | 200 mL)

This essence toner is so underrated that I wasn’t even sure it was still made. It’s a lightweight essence toner or traditional asian ‘lotion’ that’s perfect to use on the skin immediately after cleansing, or first thing in the morning. It’s fragrance free and doesn’t contain anything irritating, which has been especially important as I’ve been adjusting to using tretinoin. It’s soothing and hydrating, formulated with glycerin, some notable repairing probiotic ingredients, antioxidants like centella asiatica and caffeine, acetyl glucosamine and sodium hyaluronate. This is a light product that adds plumpness, bounce, hydration and radiance to my worn out and sensitized skin.

Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Probio Ampoule ($42.13 CDN | 50 mL)

This k-beauty favourite has been a welcome addition to my serum arsenal. It contains 5% of the wonder ingredient, niacinamide, if my memory serves correct, along with ten probiotic ingredients including bifida ferment lysate and lactobacillus ferment, glycerin, a host of antioxidant-rich ‘superfood’ ingredients, a few plant oils and a ceramide. Quite far down on the ingredient list, it does contain some citrus-derived essential oils but they don’t actually bother my skin – probably from their low concentration. I certainly haven’t been using this serum long enough to see long-term effects, but I definitely see the soothing, anti-inflammatory and moisture-boosting qualities of this serum. I can tell it will provide brightness and barrier-repair long term, which is exactly what my skin needs.

Kate Somerville Kx Concentrates Squalane + Hyaluronic Serum ($129 CDN | 30 mL)

One thing I’ve done in the last six months or so is I’ve started to try to treat my skin as if its not an enemy that needs to be aggressed in order to improve it. Incorporating serums and treatments with hydrating and barrier-supporting ingredients rather than just dose upon dose of active ingredients has been one of the main ways I’ve done this. This milky serum, while expensive, has been a great way to treat my dry and sensitive skin holistically. It contains squalane, glycerin, panthenol, adenosine, four different types of hyaluronic acid and nothing fragranced or notably problematic. It’s expensive — so I’ve been lucky enough to snag it on sale through FabFitFun and hope to continue purchasing it discounted in the future — but is the hyaluronic acid serum of my dreams. It’s soothing, plumping, hydrating and reparative with a more substantial milk texture. I love using it daily as the last step before my moisturizer.

Face Theory Lumizela Azelaic Acid Serum A10 ($33 CDN | 30 mL)

I’ve tried to get on board with the anti-inflammatory ingredient, azelaic acid, before but I found the ingredient sensitizing with the rest of the actives in my routine and I struggled with the stingy prickly sensation after application. A lot of my skin issues are inflammation based, so I was happy to discover that I could use this milky serum a few times a week without irritation or prickliness. It contains 10% azelaic acid, stabilized with a salicylic acid ester, along with colloidal oatmeal, aloe and green tea. It functions as an antioxidant but I love it for the anti-inflammatory activity it has. As someone who struggles with redness left after blemishes and sensitivity in the centre of my face, I’ve enjoyed reaching for this. The texture is really nice and hydrating on my drier skin, but isn’t heavy.

Kate Somerville DeliKate Recovery Cream ($93 CDN | 50 mL)

I was initially very resistant to buying this moisturizer because it was expensive and was housed in jar packaging, unlike the majority of the moisturizers in the line, thus leaving the ingredients susceptible to losing their stability and potency; however, once I tried this whipped balm moisturizer I could understand the packaging choice completely. The moisturizer is so thick that I assume it was likely difficult to put in the brand’s traditional airless jar. I’ll gladly be repurchasing again, hopefully with some sort of discount code. The texture is precisely like a whipped balm without being overly heavy. It is possibly the least stinging moisturizer I’ve ever tried and is perfect on my pissed off skin that’s currently adjusting to tretinoin and has been suffering from daily mask wearing. I can happily report that this fragrance-free moisturizer is so concentrated that it will lasts months and months on my dry thirsty skin, as minimal product spreads easily. The rich cream contains glycerin, shea butter, a bunch of ceramides, honey, some peptides, cholesterol, green tea extract and a host of other reparative soothing extracts. After use, my skin is calmer, much less tight and with a generally less pissed off skin barrier. This cream is rich but not greasy or heavy and I love that it’s fragrance free.

Cerave Bebe Healing Ointment ($13.49 CDN | 85g)

As someone who is incredibly eczema prone and whose adjustment period to daily mask wearing was a tumultuous one, these healing ointments have greatly improved the quality of my skin life and maybe my life altogether. I had been waiting to try the Cerave traditional ointment to come to Canada for years, so when I saw that the product was available under the baby line, I had to grab it. It’s another petrolatum-based ointment that’s enriched with panthenol, three ceramides and hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid. It’s a great balm for my sensitive chapped lips, is great to help heal and protect irritated skin around my mouth, nose and chin from mask wearing and soothes eczema and retinoid dermatitis.

Purito Cica Clearing BB Cream ($16.69 CDN | 30 mL)

I’m feeling hesitant to talk about a Purito sunscreen-containing product after the recent Purito (and other Korean sunscreen) controversy. However, this sunscreen-makeup hybrid has been a firm favourite of mine. It comes in three tints and Light Beige — the one I’m using — works well to camouflage any sort of redness or discolouration on my skin with its pale-ish greige cast without clinging to dry patches and somehow making my skin look worse. It’s fragrance and alcohol-free, contains niacinamide, three ‘cica’ ingredients and iron oxides. It’s a combination sunscreen featuring four filters — titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, octinoxate and octisalate — along with the visible light protection of iron oxides. I have worn this mid-day in the sun and actually have faith in the SPF 38 PA+++ protection. This has been a staple everyday tinted sunscreen product, with medium coverage that doesn’t cling to dry patches or bits of texture. The glowy finish is flattering, as well, especially when you’ve pissed off your skin spectacularly.

Clinique Even Better All Over Concealer + Eraser ($33 CDN | 6 mL)

I have a love-hate relationship with concealer overall. I need it to cover my dark circles and I’d like to use it elsewhere, but I find it creases like nothing else in this world, clings to dry patches and looks dry and heavy. Since trying out more moisturizing concealers that aren’t so full-coverage upon first application, such as this one, I’ve been converted. It sheers out nicely underneath my eyes, offering medium but buildable coverage and blends out nicely over large areas of the face — even those with dry patches and uneven texture. I can use it on just specific spots without it looking weirdly different from the rest of my face. I love that this concealer is available in such a variety of shades, doesn’t contain alcohol or fragrance and features niacinamide, urea, three vitamin c derivatives, sodium hyaluronate and peptides, amongst other things. Also, I’ve gotten to the place with my skin that I’m happy just wearing concealer for the first time in my life and this one is ideal for buffing out on my cheeks, chin and around my nose. The ingredients are also really friendly for dry irritated skin, which is something I’m well versed in thanks to mask-wearing and tretinoin use.

Curlsmith Feather-Light Protein Cream ($35.99 CDN | 237 mL)

Curlsmith’s most recently launched curl cream has proven itself as my favourite curl cream — and I’m a girl who adores curl creams of many varieties. It’s moisturizing enough to clump my curls, has protein to encourage bounce and ringlets and is light enough to give that fluffy effect without compromising on definition. It also has a substantial light flexible hold on its own; I pair it with a gel for wash days but I’m sure many use it by itself and use it on its own when I’m restyling or refreshing my hair. It features sweet almond oil, pvp, hydrolyzed rice protein, shea butter and a bunch of plant extracts.

Bioderma Photoderm Milk SPF 50+ ($25.99 CDN | 100 mL)

While I wear sunscreen on my face, neck and surrounding areas all year long, it’s during the Spring, when the weather suddenly becomes a whole lot warmer and sunnier that I’ve fallen back in love with this one. It has a lovely milk texture that’s moisturizing and soothing on my eczema-prone body skin that doesn’t feel greasy or heavy. This sunscreen is a hidden gem available in the Canadian sunscreen market, with incredibly robust UVA protection. It’s a chemical sunscreen — but one with these newer generation filters that are photo stable and much easier to tolerate on sensitive skin — featuring avobenzone, octocrylene, Tinosorb M and Tinosorb S. It’s not water resistant but it’s actually a favourite of mine for a day outdoors with heavy sun exposure because the protection is so good and because I’m actually willing to apply a generous amount. One of the filters is a hybrid filter so it has a slight pale cast that goes away fairly quickly. The formula is impressive, containing the newer generation UVA filters, but being formulated without drying alcohol simultaneously. It’s also a sunscreen I enjoy using on my face, but I primarily use it on my body.

What products have been your staples?
Maggie, x.

Cold-ish Weather Product Empties Part 2

Originally, this was going to be a second empties post to follow up the one I did earlier on in the winter. However, May is now around the corner and, therefore, it is safe to say that this is more of an end of winter, early spring kind of post. Winter may have made its way into spring — for the most part –, but this doesn’t mean that my skin on just about every surface of my body is not still dry, sensitive and likely flaking. Lets get to the products:

Skin & Co Truffle Therapy Whipped Cleansing Cream ($28 US | 100 mL)

I tried this cream cleanser thanks to FabFitFun and I enjoyed using it. The second ingredient was sweet almond oil and I found it removed makeup ridiculously well and had a thick oil-rich feel to the cream cleanser. It also contained some soothing plant extracts including witch hazel, which my skin tends to find sensitizing at times, amongst chamomile, calendula and centella asiatica. I did enjoy the moisture left after using this soap-free cleanser but found it could kind of sting around the lash line and eye area when used for makeup removal. However, there are few cleansers that don’t do that for me. I liked using this but it’s expensive for what it is and I want to explore other cream cleanser options. It contains fragrance, in case I didn’t make that clear, but it smells mainly of the sweet almond oil and something subtle and spa-like.

Niod Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate ($68 CDN | 15 mL)

I would never have tried this eye serum if I hadn’t gone for the Caroline Hirons Summer Kit but I did enjoy using it, even as an eye cream skeptic with a very sensitive eye area. It was a nice kind of oily serum texture that never stung around my eyes, or seemed to irritate my dry eyes themselves. It helped with mask-related flaking and sensitivity around my eyes but I didn’t notice any sort of wow results. It contains glycerin, niacinamide, yeast extract, a ton of peptides, natural moisturizing factors, antioxidants and soothing ingredients. There was an improvement of hydration I noticed and maybe a minor improvement in my chronic dark circles. I don’t plan on repurchasing immediately as it’s not cheap and will likely experiment with some other eye products in the meantime.

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado ($66 CDN | 28 mL)

Throughout the fall and winter, I developed some eczema around my eyes that never quite went away. Consequently, I’ve been reaching for eye-specific products on the daily and I happily used up this thick fragrance-free balm cream. I’ve had it on the go for over a year — the larger size is actually more economical than you’d expect — and I liked it. It didn’t tend to sting under my eyes, helped with moisture, wasn’t irritating and helped makeup sit nicely, even on my dry and flaky under-eyes. It contains shea butter, avocado oil, hydrogenated castor oil and sodium pca. I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to buying again but I’m experimenting with different products at present.

Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer ($43 CDN | 150 mL)

I love a good calming milky toner and I’m not sure whether I prefer Paula’s Choice’s milky toners or this one. Regardless, I have had another bottle of this fragrance-free moisturizing toner ready to go for months. It has a simple but nourishing and soothing formula with glycerin, meadowfoam seed oil and white tea leaf extract. It’s a great product to use after cleansing to add hydration and combat inflammation immediately after cleansing. My skin always feels less sensitized, nourished and plump. It also helps that it never stings on my skin, even when I have active eczema on my face.

Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Emulsion ($29 CDN | 140 mL)

Despite the fact that I’ve previously loved this traditional lotion-textured hyaluronic acid, I’m not sure I will repurchase again in this form. It’s affordable, coming with a large amount of product, fragrance-free and contains five different forms of hyaluronic acid, along with glycerin, mineral oil, dimethicone and squalane. In the warmer months, it would be possibly enough to serve as a moisturizer during the day, whilst being a fantastic humectant. However, I find that when it’s layered with a bunch of different serums and moisturizers, it tends to pill. I actually ended up using this on my body throughout the cooler months along with on my face to use up. I actually repurchased the traditional liquid form of this product.

Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence ($27.99 CDN | 100 mL)

I happily used this gel-textured humectant serum once or twice every day for a good six months. Despite being labelled as an essence, I think it’s thicker than a traditional essence and, instead, is a more gel-textured serum. I would definitely buy again but I’ve ordered the newer dual-chambered formula with niacinamide to try first. It contains 96% snail secretion filtrate in all of its healing and soothing glory, sodium hyaluronate, panthenol, arginine and allantoin. This is an amazing humectant serum on irritated skin from wearing a mask, retinoid-abuse and for those suffering from flakiness and dehydration. Using this, my skin was so much more plumped and hydrated and my post inflammatory redness from breakouts seems to be resolving more quickly from daily use.

Caudalie Vinosource Riche Intense Moisture Rescue Cream ($48 CDN | 40 mL)

I’ve been using moisturizers from this range for years and have maybe happily gone through three tubes. It feels like an instant comforting hug in a tube for dry sensitized skin. Weirdly enough, it does contain some synthetic fragrance but never makes my skin sting even when my barrier is the most compromised and when I’ve overdone it the most. It contains squalane, antioxidant-rich grapeseed oil, shea butter, borage seed oil and fatty acids. I have a number of other moisturizers on the go but I don’t want to go without this one. It’s almost impossibly soothing and rich without feeling greasy. This cream is a godsend on sensitized skin with dry flaky patches.

Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer ($35 US | 50 mL)

I shouldn’t have been surprised when the pump on this fluffy comforting cream stopped dispensing product this morning. I should have known from how much I relied on this moisturizer in this fall and winter and past experiences with this pump that it would give out without warning. Happily, I bought multiples last time after it went out of stock for a while. It’s soothing on the skin, doesn’t tend to sting, definitely helps with repairing the skin barrier and acts as a lightweight barrier cream for under a mask. Interestingly enough, it’s silicone free and shea butter based with glycerin, omega-rich plant oils, fatty acids, ceramides, squalane, sodium hyaluronate and nothing typically sensitizing. It sits well under makeup and sunscreens and offers richness and soothing while still being fairly lightweight. I love this stuff and it’s excellent value for money, even at full price and when I calculate the price into Canadian dollars… This is a product that I wish existed and I knew about in my teenage years. It’s brilliant for when your skin is sore and everything stings.

Cerave Itch Relief Cream ($27.99 CDN | 340g)

My primary eczema sites are my legs and arms, so moisturizing religiously is uber important. I’ve really enjoyed using this thick whipped cream. This rich cream tends to only sting very minimally on areas with broken skin. The texture of the cream is rich but it sinks in quickly and the best feature is that while the cream works to repair the barrier, it features 1% pramoxine hydrochloride to numb the itchiness without irritation. It contains glycerin, petrolatum, shea butter, dimethicone and ceramides. I’ve repurchased it already.

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+M ($25 CDN | 200 mL)

After I saw the new more eco-conscious cardboard tube packaging, I decided to give this fragrance-free lightweight whipped cream another try. It actually uses citric acid as a preservative, which can be much less irritating than phenoxyethanol and features shea butter, dimethicone, niacinamide, rapeseed oil, vitamin e and extracts with humectant ability. I did find that the cream felt light on the skin to such a degree that I had to use an awful lot of product on my dry body skin and that likely due to the amount of niacinamide, it could sting over more irritated patches. I would use again as a nice everyday moisturizer.

Briogeo Curl Charisma Chia + Flax Seed Coil Custard ($34 CDN | 177 mL)

While it’s called a custard, I found this product a go-to cream with a bit of hold, control and ridiculous clumping. It’s rich but gave good results on my fine mixture of waves and loose curls, helping to hold my spirals together and form in a more controlled fashion. I used this cream every single wash day for months happily and I can confirm, it’s concentrated enough to be worth the money. It contains castor seed oil, fatty alcohols, glycerin, shea butter, rice and keratin amino acids, hydrolyzed quinoa, fermented extracts and a few plant oils. I tend to use this cream paired with a gel but actually does hold up as a single styler. It was an instant repurchase.

Curlsmith Curl Defining Styling Souffle ($35.99 CDN | 227g)

Over the past six months, I’ve been trying out Curlsmith products and this true loosely-packed soufflé-texture gel has been among my favourites. It’s concentrated enough that it lasted me months — even using it most wash days — and offered medium-flexible hold that casts nicely with medium weight and medium moisture. For a gel, it’s very curl enhancing and encourages my waves to form spirals, even working well as a single styler. I tended to use it to top a gel for multiple day hair that I didn’t have to think too much about. It contains glycerin, babassu oil, irish moss, flaxseed extract, avocado oil and shea butter. I bought a backup before I even let myself finish this gel.

What have you finished up?
Maggie, x.

The Winter Favourites

There’s nothing I love reading, watching and writing more than a favourites post or video but doing them on a monthly basis has proven excessive for me. Happily, we’ve reached the point in my year to do my winter themed favourites. It was actually really difficult to edit myself down to this many and I can easily say these were the products I enjoyed using and relying on when I wasn’t at home, complaining of tiredness and overthinking.

The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm ($12.99 CDN | 150 mL)

I feel slightly ridiculous that I couldn’t narrow it down further than three cleansers, but when you have skin that hates surfactants and harsh cleansing like mine does, you really appreciate the good ones, as I have done. I’ve been loving this affordable fragrance-free cleansing balm. It removes makeup quite well (but requires more product than some makeup annihilating balms) and leaves the skin wonderfully hydrated and soothed. It uses sweet almond oil, oat kernel oil, candella wax and almond glycerides. I love how practical the tube packaging is — even though it can separate. I use it most nights to melt makeup and sunscreen happily and remove it after emulsifying with a microfibre cloth. It’s very gentle around my sensitive eye areas and is a gentle skin cleanser in its own right.

Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cleanser ($53 CDN | 120 mL)

This cleanser actually has enough delicious oil content to break down makeup and sunscreen without scrubbing or rubbing, but I actually enjoy it best as a treatment cleanser, or on the rare mornings I want to cleanse my face. It’s expensive but I honestly only use a little bit and would probably have never bitten the bullet if it wasn’t included in the Caroline Hirons Summer Kit. It contains fragrance but no essential oils and includes grapeseed oil, jojoba seed oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, goat milk, milk protein, lactic acid and honey as ingredient highlights. The texture is a nice cream that leaves my skin soothed, glowing and hydrated. I tolerate it well even on my eczema patches, although it can kind of burn under the eyes if used to remove makeup — but this is probably because I have eczema patches around my eyes. I’ve been using for months and months and I’m happily going strong. It helps with texture, dry patches, general dryness and sensitivity.

Cerave Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser ($17.99-$18.99 CDN | 355 mL)

I’ve been a long term devotee of Cerave’s traditional Hydrating Cleanser but I love this one even more. It has a creamier lotion texture that foams slightly — but in a non drying way — and features amino acids, salicylic acid and natural moisturizing factors along with their classic ceramides. Unlike the original cleanser (since its most recent reformulation), this never makes my uber-reactive skin sting and it leaves my skin moisturized and comfortable afterwards. It does contain a little bit of salicylic acid so I don’t tend to use it to remove eye makeup but it does remove makeup better than Cerave’s other cleansers. It’s a great cleanser especially for skin with an impaired barrier from using actives, mask wearing and the like. It’s soap-free of course and uses very gentle cleansing agents.

Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence ($24.99 CDN | 100 mL)

This thicker gel texture more closely resembles a serum in my opinion, but I haven’t gone a day without applying it in months. It’s 96% snail mucin, along with betaine, sodium hyaluronate, panthenol, arginine and allantoin and serves as a fantastic humectant serum, with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s profoundly soothing on an impaired barrier, fights transepidermal water loss, plumps up the skin, aids in skin healing and helps to prevent and treat scarring. I find it helps fade pink marks left on my skin after a breakout or reaction in a more timely fashion while keeping my skin hydrated and soothed. The bottle is huge, too, so its excellent value for money. I know I included it in my last few favourites posts but I couldn’t help myself.

Neutrogena Bright Boost Gel Cream ($23.97-$34.99 CDN | 50 mL)

This is another repeat favourite of mine but I do love reaching for it as a mild daily chemical exfoliant in a lightweight cream vehicle. It acts as a humectant, formulated with mandelic acid, gluconolactone, acetyl glucosamine and squalane. It’s perfect for when my skin is feeling a bit too fragile for a heavy-duty acid toner but I still want the gentle resurfacing of an acid, along with the hydration of a humectant. It also has a pink sheen that’s nice and brightening, yet subtle.

Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellular Facial Oil ($95 CDN | 35 mL)

This winter, I got right back onto the facial oil bandwagon on a daily basis, applying this fragrance-free oil blend on my cheeks, around my chin and mouth and under my eyes, where I experience flaking and irritation, exacerbated by daily mask wearing. It has made a huge difference in the severity of my flaking, dry patches and radiance of my skin, when applied just before moisturizer. I’ve always found the combination of cold-pressed omega-rich oils anti-inflammatory and soothing. No matter how angry my skin has been, this oil doesn’t burn, sting, or have any sign of reaction.

Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer ($35 US | 50 mL)

I’m onto my second container of this moisturizer this winter even though I’ve had plenty of others on rotation. It’s a lightweight whipped cloud cream that’s fragrance-free, kind of bland in the best way, and either super low on silicones or silicone-free and thus, never pills, even with the skincare layering I’ve been doing. It’s a beautiful comforting cream that works well as a barrier under a mask while sinking into the skin and leaving a demi-matte finish under makeup. It contains shea butter, omega-rich plant oils, fatty acids, amino acids, ceramides, an antioxidant or two and a bunch of skin-soothers. It’s great for an impaired skin barrier and generally angry skin.

REN Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask ($63 CDN | 50 mL)

This mask is the only mask I’ve reached for with any sense of regularity, because it’s fantastic for skin that’s suffering with dermatitis, eczema, redness, soreness and any sort of irritation. It’s that one product that never stings — despite the fact that it contains fragrance including fragrance derived from essential oils — even during the throes of flaking painful skin that can barely even be touched with water without potent discomfort. Coincidentally, this is a favourite product to throw on after hours of mask wearing. It contains shea butter, a bunch of emollients, lactobacillus-derived probiotics, algae extract and an angel dusting of white mushroom extract. The product leaves a definite film to the skin but I don’t mind as I tend to rinse off or pat off excess or leave on when my skin is in need of dire help. After use, my skin is calmed, soothed, less reactive and definitely moisturized. I notice an immediate reduction in redness and inflammation when I use this and am able to follow with the regular steps of my skincare routine.

Cerave Itch Relief Cream ($27.99 CDN | 354g)

This winter, I had the delight of an experiencing a months long eczema flare. Applying creams like this one, loaded with shea butter, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, emollients such as petrolatum and dimethicone has helped keep my dry itchy legs and arms under control. What particularly helped about this formula is the 1% pramoxine hydrochloride, which relieves the unbearable itchiness that accompanies eczema with none of the side effects that ingredients like menthol have. This cream reminds me of the original cream formula but with an added richness and whipped texture from the addition of shea butter and the itch relief. When used with ointments on the individual patches of concern, this kept me from itching patches for long enough to let them heal.

Curlsmith Scalp Recipe Clarifying Scrub Shampoo ($37.99 CDN | 250 mL)

This shampoo not only is clarifying without ruining my waves and curls or turning my hair into a literal lion’s mane of tangles, but also has kept my scalp happy and not itchy, dry or flaky throughout the entire season. I tend to reach for this gentle exfoliating sulfate-free shampoo in between more standard shampoos. It uses perlite, a volcanic rock, for exfoliation rather than irritating beads, keeps my scalp soothed with probiotic ferments and clarifies without traditional sulfates. My scalp is super happy afterwards and all product build-up is removed, without that stripped feeling. It’s concentrated — so I still haven’t gone through the tube — and has a delicious subtly fruity spa scent. It also contains vinegar without smelling like vinegar.

Maybelline Superstay Ink Crayon in 20 Enjoy the View ($12.49 CDN)

While I’m certainly not wearing makeup everyday, I have been enjoying wearing it 2-3 times a week. When I have been actually reaching for a lip product, I’ve been playing with this warm kind of rusty rose colour. The formula is a comfortable semi-matte kind of finish that lasts well without being drying or clinging to dry patches. I’m not selling the colour either, but it’s incredibly flattering, adding colour to the face without actually being a bold lip. It also easily applies at full opacity and works nicely as a stain with lip balm on top for more of a subdued flush.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Sultry Eyeshadow Palette Vault ($86 CDN)

On the days I’ve been wearing makeup, I’ve enjoyed playing with eyeshadow. I think I’ve been reaching for this formerly limited edition palette the most. The formula is pigmented, buttery and a little bit powdery, and there’s a nice combination of spectacular metallic shades and practical matte shades of varying depths. Although this palette reads quite cool, I actually found it quite neutral on my warm undertones with a mixture of shades on both spectrums included in a neutral but not boring colour story. I love the mixture of different light-to-medium metallic shades to play with on the lid, of course I like the matte peach pop in the crease, and I love that the palette includes a matte black and matte chocolate brown with an impeccable formula. I like the shadows for an easy slap on kind of eye look but I love them for when I want a glitzier smoky eye. It’s kind of frustrating that the palette has to be bought in the vault form but I can’t complain, having missed out on it the first time around.

Christian Dior Miss Dior Le Parfum ($122 CDN | 40 mL)

I’m hesitant to include my staple scent over the colder months, as it — like all good things it seems — has been discontinued. It’s the warmer spicier big sister to Miss Dior in its standard version that captures some of the magic that previous iterations of the scent had for me. It’s not the kind of scent I would ordinarily expect to reach for in cooler months, spent mostly at home in casual attire but I learned that I love this heady scent applied lightly into clothing; it makes me feel cozy, sophisticated and put together. I get compliments when I wear it, especially when it has been applied to clothes days before — it has that kind of longevity. It’s a patchouli and rose scent with added warmth from amber and vanilla.

What were your winter staples?
Maggie, x.

The Review | Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 25% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliant Peel

When these at-home rinse-off peeling products became popular, I found myself incredibly annoyed that I was unable to easily purchase them in Canada. After the irritation that many of us have faced from over-zealous use of acids and high-potency actives, I kind of understand why Canada has limited the sales of high percentage over-the-counter acids. The Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 25% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliant Peel ($39 US | 30 mL) was released as limited edition in 2020, but has recently become available again in a permanent capacity and I have to say that I have enjoyed using it. I do emphasize that using acids in this kind of concentration — even in a completely non-irritating and soothing vehicle — can be incredibly irritating and should be treaded with caution; the ten minute guideline should also be taken very seriously and literally.

This lavender-hued gel contains a 25% complex of alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, tartaric acid and malic acid), along with 2% beta hydroxy acid, sodium hyaluronate, and a number of soothing antioxidants. I can happily report that it doesn’t contain any fragrance or weird potentially irritating plant extracts. I will comment that on my more delicate skin, this can tingle and make my following products sting, which is to be expected on a routine involving a prescription retinoid while using a high-strength acid. I can happily report however, that I’m left with skin that’s noticeably brighter, smoother and resurfaced. It helps with congestion as well. I do note that I use this maybe once per week at maximum. I do, however, get instant results after I use this, as directed, of course. I suppose I use it as a mask-peel when I want exfoliation, instant gratification and visible results.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Aminomethyl Propanol (pH adjuster), Glycolic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Lactic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Mandelic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Isoamyl Laurate (emollient), Tartaric Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Propanediol (hydration), Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid/exfoliant,) Malic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Butylene Glycol (texture enhancer), Clitoria Ternatea (Butterfly Pea) Flower Extract (antioxidant/skin-soothing), Sodium Hyaluronate (skin replenishing), Glycyrrhetinic Acid (licorice-derived skin soothing), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), Tocopherol (vitamin E/antioxidant), Bisabolol (skin soothing), Allantoin (skin soothing), Hydroxyethylcellulose (thickener), Hydrogenated Lecithin (skin-restoring), Xanthan Gum (thickener), Polyglyceryl-4 Laurate (emulsifier), Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6 (stabilizer/thickener), Titanium Dioxide (Cl 77891) (mineral-derived pigment), Mica (CI 77019) (mineral-derived pigment), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).

It’s formulated at a pH between 3.5-3.9, which keeps the acids functioning optimally as exfoliation agents, without being excessively irritating as exfoliants veering on the excessively acidic side of things. Along with the standard but effective 2% concentration of pore-penetrating salicylic acid, the formula contains 8.4% glycolic acid, 7.1% lactic acid, 5% mandelic acid, 2.5% malic acid and 2% tartaric acid. As someone who is sensitive to glycolic acid in higher concentrations, I enjoy using it in a medium-high strength in a rinse off product to minimize irritation from the deep-penetrating acid, while still getting its benefits. Other than the acids, this formula includes butterfly pea flower extract, which is a more novel antioxidant that has calming and redness reducing properties. Of course, it contains a hyaluronic acid, a number of antioxidants and some other soothing ingredients as well.

In Canada, my purchasing options are limited to the official website here. However, I like that they offer affordable quick shipping to Canada that’s free over quite a low minimum and have good sales. I know those in the US can also purchase from Amazon — with prime eligibility– , and will soon be able to purchase the brand from Sephora, along with some Nordstroms. I also believe in the UK, they can purchase from the official site for the region along with Cult Beauty. I can also happily report that Paula’s Choice ships to a wide variety of countries through different regional sites. Dermstore, Skinstore and Skincarerx are all authorized online retailers as well that run frequent sales.

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.

Cold-Weather Product Empties

Like many others, I’ve realized that I have an excessive amount of beauty products and that the ritual of using beauty products has helped me not lose my mind during the pandemic. I’ve been rather good at getting through products in my stash and actually letting products go when they are finished, so much so that I amassed too many empty products to share in one post. Here’s the first batch of products I’ve finished in the past number of months:

Pur-lisse Blue Lotus 4-in-1 Cleansing Milk ($36 US | 150 mL)

This milk cleanser was great and lasted a ridiculously long amount of time, but was kind of a lot to spend on a cleanser. It’s gentle, soothing, removes makeup and never ever stings, even on a really compromised and angry skin barrier. My skin was always left soothed and hydrated after I used it: it contains gentle non-foaming cleansing agents and soothing oat extract, green tea extract and liquorice root. It contains essential oils towards the bottom of the ingredient list but I actually didn’t experience any irritation.

Paula’s Choice Resist Advanced Replenishing Toner ($24 US | 118 mL)

I’ve repurchased this fragrance-free milky toner numerous times and will likely purchase again. It has fatty acids, sodium hyaluronate, a number of antioxidants and evening primrose oil. This is a godsend to apply after cleansing and exfoliating to lock in moisture and keep my skin barrier happy. I’ve said for years that this is a reparative serum in liquid form. It’s a dream to press into the skin, especially when your skin is angry and you’ve overdone it.

Grace & Stella Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum ($22.99 CDN | 50 mL)

Strangely enough, this was the first (or second, depending on how strict your definition of serum is) hyaluronic acid serum I’ve ever tried. I chose it in a FabFitFun box and it was good but I wouldn’t repurchase. It contains three different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, glycerin, panthenol and castor oil and had a gel-like texture. My skin wasn’t irritated by it and I did notice my skin stayed nice and plump when used underneath a moisturizer.

Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb ($27 CDN | 25 mL)

After trying this moisturizer as a sample, I picked up the smaller size at Sephora and happily made my way through it in a couple of months. I repurchased to say the least. This silicone and oil-rich moisturizer has a cushion-y texture, leaving my dull, flaky and a bit sensitive skin plump and dewy. It contains a number of fermented extracts, silicones, panthenol, squalane and soothing extracts, such as oat kernel. I will note that some of the extracts are fragrant so it’s not a moisturizer I reach for when my moisture barrier is screaming out for mercy.

Paula’s Choice Defense Antioxidant Pore Purifier ($31 US | 30 mL)

This is a great introductory serum of sorts, being aimed to combat environmental aggressors, brighten the skin and combat congestion, but with the strength of the actives in my routine already, I find kind of irritating. One of the main ingredients is ascorbyl glucoside (a vitamin c derivative) and another is pore-clearing salicylic acid, which is shortly followed by potassium azeloyl diglycinate (an azelaic acid derivative). There are also a number of antioxidants in this serum. I actually enjoyed using it on my chest and shoulders where I’ve always been more prone to breakouts and scarring. Essentially, the ingredients in this antioxidant serum are very nice but they give my skin active overload when used in my routine on my face. Also, it makes my face sting.

Neutrogena Bright Boost Gel Cream ($34.99 CDN | 50 mL)

I love using this lighter cream as a humectant in the ‘serum’ stage of the routine. I love it despite the fact that it contains fragrance and is housed in jar packaging that can degrade the squalane and mandelic acid it contains. It leaves a flattering pink glow to the skin while being loaded with the polyhydroxy acid, gluconolactone, restoring acetyl glucosamine, mandelic acid and squalane. It gently resurfaces the skin whilst restoring the skin barrier and drawing moisture to the skin. I bought another jar. It’s even more reasonably priced on Amazon…

Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream ($15.49-$17.99 CDN | 226g)

Somehow I managed to only use up one body moisturizer in this season and a half since I last emptied my empty products bin, but it’s one I’ve repurchased yet again. This is a good cream for my eczema, which has flared up in the cooler weather. It stings less than pretty much everything else I’ve tried, is soothing with 1% colloidal oatmeal and keeps my eczema-prone skin in check. It also features castor oil, mineral oil, soothing liquorice root, a ceramide and an antibacterial ingredient. It’s fragrance free and feels comforting on dry tight winter skin.

Curlmix Sweet Almond Oil Flaxseed Gel ($26 US | 236 mL)

I liked this creamy fragrance-free flaxseed gel but it didn’t quite have the hold and obnoxious curl-clumping abilities I’m looking for. I ended up having to order it from US Amazon — but it’s not even available there at the moment — and ended up having to pay a bit for shipping consequently and it wasn’t worth the hassle. I will say it was nicely creamy and moisturizing and left me with defined shiny waves and curls that had body. The lighter weight creamy gel was fantastic for refreshing, I must say.

Garnier Fructis Curl Treat Shaping Jelly ($7.49 CDN | 311 mL)

This gel is a favourite of mine that I recently finished up, but was mainly using last winter and spring. It has a thick and gummy souffle kind of texture that only works well on drenched hair but when used in this way, it creates awesome hold and clumps without stickiness or stringiness when it dries. I get the best results when I use a curl cream underneath but I can use it on it’s own too. It contains glycerin along with other more complex humectants — including film-forming ones — and coconut oil. This gel has given me some of my best hair days but only when I use it on soaking wet hair properly. I repurchased it. It’s a hard hold gel and holds up particularly well in high humidity.

The Mane Choice Cheers Super Strength & Full Protection Gel-ato ($13.99 US | 355 mL)

I knew that buying this incredibly thick and sticky oil-rich gel was a risk for my fine wavy curls, but I found myself pleasantly surprised. My best results were thinning out the gel slightly in soaking wet hair to evenly distribute the gel and form the best multiple-day curl clumps, using this gel as my sole styling product. It’s one that takes a while to dry and smells like boozy grapes but has given me some of the best hair days, especially in humid wet east coast winter weather. It contains a lot of protein but is offset with humectants and oils. Even though it’s a pain to get in Canada and the texture is borderline repulsive, I’d repurchase. It gives me smooth, defined and shiny curls that clump together nicely. The hold is firm in my opinion, even in my long porous strands that seem to eat up product. This would be great for parched frizzy tighter curls.

Curl Junkie Spiral Lotion ($28.99 CDN | 236 mL)

This curl-cream-stroke-leave-in was a thinner, slippery-er texture than I usually prefer but I loved it, nevertheless. It’s not a styler I would use on its own except in a refreshing capacity, but it encouraged my curls and waves to spiral underneath a gel and left my hair with texture and bounce. It contains irish moss, your usual slip agents, hydrolyzed pumpkin extract and cranberry seed oil. It’s also fragrance-free. I’ll repurchase when I’m making an order on a site that sells it and ships affordably to Canada.

L’Oreal Bambi Eye Mascara ($14.49 CDN | 8.5 mL)

During the past number of months, I finished two different tubes of this mascara. It has solidified its place as my favourite everyday mascara. It’s a lightweight volumizing and separating mascara with a football-shaped synthetic brush. It doesn’t get clumpy easily and does lead to a wide-eyed effect that isn’t a pain to remove with a balm cleanser. I’m onto a new tube now.

L’Oreal Matte Signature Liquid Dip Eyeliner ($14.99 CDN | 2.25 mL)

As a winged eyeliner addict, I really enjoyed using this traditional brush-tip liquid eyeliner. The tip was firm and creates precise thin lines but I will admit that it requires a steady hand, which isn’t always my thing. It was super black and stayed black for months and months. It doesn’t smudge or anything, yet removes easily with cleanser. It was good enough that I repurchased it before dumping the old one into my empties bag.

Physician’s Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner+Serum ($15.99 CDN)

I’ve been using this brush-tip-pen-hybrid eyeliner happily for years. I think the serum claims are semi-ridiculous but it does create the fastest and most fool proof flick. I repurchased and will repurchase again. It removes easily with cleansing balm or any oil-based cleanser and doesn’t smudge unless you nap, laying down on the wing precisely.

Maybelline Brow Studio Brow Tint Pen in 355 Soft Brown ($14.49 CDN | 1.1 mL)

I’m not sure if I got an iffy pen or what, but there wasn’t much liquid in this pen and it wouldn’t even let me fill in one eyebrow without running out of ‘brow juice’. The colour was alright — medium in tone but a bit warm for my cooler brown strands. I used it to fill in the tail of my eyebrows on minimal makeup days but after months, I got sick enough of it that I gave up.

What products have you emptied?
Maggie, x.

2020 Favourites | Skincare

Well, 2020 has been a year. It has definitely been a year of skincare for me. All of the mask-wearing and hand-washing played a definite toll of my skin barrier and my eczema. Also, the ritual of doing my skincare routine likely helped to keep me sane in this quite frankly weird time. Here are my absolute picks for skincare products I used to keep myself sane and/or to keep my face and body from flaking off:

Purlisse Blue Lotus 4-in-1 Cleansing Milk ($36 US | 150 mL)

This non-foaming cleansing milk both works as a gentle morning cleanser, second cleanse in the evening or to remove a lighter face of makeup and sunscreen. It contains some essential oils low on the ingredient list but actually remains gentle enough to remove makeup from my sensitive eyes without stinging. It contains gentle surfactants and soothing ingredients including oat, green tea and liquorice root. It goes on as a light milk that rinses completely clean when water is added, but leaves moisture in the skin after removal. This is both a gentle cleanser that never stings and a nice treat. I will acknowledge that this cleanser is rather expensive, especially for a brand that I haven’t heard much about, but it is so concentrated I’ve had it on the go for maybe nine months… And when my face was raw and sore this was one of the only cleansers that didn’t burn or sting. Did I mention it doesn’t burn or sting?

Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturizing Cleanser ($50 CDN | 120 mL)

I didn’t actually realize this oil-rich cream cleanser was a favourite until I put this post together. It was included in the Caroline Hirons Summer Kit and wasn’t an instant favourite in the summer. It’s quite expensive but I do enjoy this ultra gentle cream cleanser. I could do without the fragrance, but fortunately it’s towards the end of the ingredient list and isn’t offensive. For a cream cleanser, this cleanser is both ridiculously gentle and rather good at removing makeup and sunscreen. It doesn’t burn my very sensitive eyes and actually does remove eye makeup well. This cleanser is formulated with super gentle cleansing agents, a number of plant oils, soothing milk proteins, honey and a teensy bit of lactic acid. This is a cleanser that I adore especially in the dry winter months alongside my prescription retinoid.

Pestle & Mortar NMF Lactic Acid Toner ($44 US | 200 mL)

This is the chemical exfoliant I have happily been reaching for most days in the latter half of the year. It contains lactic acid, gluconolactone, niacinamide and soothing black tea extract. It has been easy enough to tolerate in a routine with a prescription retinoid and leaves my skin radiant, even in tone and texture and with very few clogged pores. Using this toner, I find my skin looks resurfaced and bright.

Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer ($43 CDN | 150 mL)

This year, I discovered a new milky toner or rather moisturizer in liquid form. It’s fragrance free,has a short and benign ingredient list and really helps to soothe, hydrate and calm the skin. It’s a godsend at any point but was particularly useful when my skin barrier was compromised and my skin was red, raw and sore. It contains glycerin, meadow foam oil and the antioxidants, white tea extract and vitamin e.

Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence ($23.81 CDN | 100 mL)

Although it’s marketed as an essence, this was my favourite serum discovery of the year. It contains wound healing and reparative snail slime, sodium hyaluronate, soothing allantoin and barrier-repairing panthenol. It might feel a bit slimy but I enjoy the instant comfort it provides and the hefty dose of humectants it imparts into the skin. After using this, my skin was always plumped up, calmed and significantly more hydrated. This was a godsend, especially in a world where everyone was going overboard with the active ingredients. It resulted in generally less pissed off hydrated skin.

Neutrogena Bright Boost Gel Cream ($24.97 CDN | 50 mL)

To my chagrin, this gel-cream textured humectant — which I use as a kind of serum-moisturizer hybrid underneath my sunscreen during the day or underneath a heavier moisturizer at night — comes in a pot and is substantially cheaper on Amazon than anywhere else. It contains glycerin, mandelic acid, gluconolactone, acetyl glucosamine and squalane. The acids it contains are larger molecules and therefore are gentler on the skin and the polyhydroxy acid performs as a humectants while exfoliating. The acetyl glucosamine is an interesting skin brightening ingredient and squalane adds extra nourishment.

Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer ($35 US | 50 mL)

This whipped comforting shea-butter-containing moisturizer really helped me to get through a really rough bout of flaky, red, sore and raw skin at the beginning of the year and I haven’t stopped buying since. Actually, I love this whipped cream so much that I was a bit panicked when my container was empty and the product was out of stock. It never burns or stings with it’s gentle fragrance-free formula and is soothing. It relies on shea butter, omega-rich plant oils, ceramides, fatty acids and replenishing ingredients including sodium hyaluronate.

Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Balm ($50 CDN |50 mL)

If I hadn’t tried this moisturizer in a sample, I don’t think I’d have ever tried it from the ingredients list alone. It’s packaged in a jar, contains a bunch of potentially irritating plant extracts, contains some fragrance and doesn’t contain many barrier reinforcing or reparative ingredients. It can sting a little on skin with a compromised barrier but I must say, I love the cushiony silicone-y feeling of this moisturizer that soothes the skin, immediately sinks in and imparts lasting hydration. It contains glycerin, silicones, macadamia oil, soothing fermented extracts, panthenol and oat kernel extract.

Paula’s Choice RESIST Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 ($33 US | 60 mL)

My favourite sunscreen discovery of the year was this tinted mineral sunscreen. The sunscreen, while marketed towards normal, oily and combination skin types, works well on my dry skin, especially throughout the hot and humid Summer we had. The finish of this sunscreen is semi matte and still flattering on drier skin but doesn’t lean shiny and the tint on it is a fairer subtler grey-beige. It doesn’t offer much for coverage but was enough for a base on its own for me a lot of the time, diffusing redness and evening out the skin. It’s a fragrance-free formula, enriched with a number of antioxidants and soothing ingredients and iron oxides for additional visible light protection. I love that it works for me on top of a serum or moisturizer and doesn’t cling to dry patches.

Avene Mineral Tinted Fluid SPF 50+ ($33 CDN | 40 mL)

This was another tinted mineral sunscreen that I happily discovered in 2020. It uses nano sized particles but still offers robust protection and includes even more iron oxides for added visible light protection. It has a beige tint and offers substantially more coverage, suiting light to medium skin tones best — I can get away with it, particularly when I have fake tanned or when I accidentally have gotten a bit of colour in the summer, on my fairer skin. It has a glowier, more moisturizing finish that can get kind of shiny, when sweating is involved. The formula contains numerous emollients and tocopherol and not much else. My favourite way to use this sunscreen was actually mixed with the aforementioned Paula’s Choice option to get my perfect colour and finish.

Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 ($29 US | 60 mL)

This mineral-sunscreen-moisturizer-hybrid was one of the products that got me through early lockdown, when my was red, raw, sore and flaky. It has a moisturizing lotion kind of vehicle and contains antioxidants, skin-soothing ingredients like liquorice root, a peptide, fatty acids and barrier repairing ingredients. From what I’ve read and experienced, the particles are nano sized but this allows for the soothing mineral sunscreen to not cling to dry patches and apply evenly, with basically no cast. On my fairer skin, I basically do not experience a cast; instead, it has a slight grey-beige cast that diffuses redness without depositing any kind of colour. I will note that the finish it leaves is dewy and it does have a glowy kind of sheen to it but it never angers my skin, even in the phase where everything was angering my skin. It’s also a fantastic sunscreen choice when you’ve overdone it with the acids or retinoids.

Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream ($15.47 CDN | 226g)

2020 has been a year of eczema outbreaks for me on body, unfortunately, but I have become better at dealing with it as a result. This cream is one that I’ve repurchased multiple times and have used twice daily to decrease itchiness and irritation and help to repair my quite frankly damaged skin barrier. This fragrance-free cream contains 1% colloidal oatmeal to soothe the skin and act as a skin protectant, mineral oil and castor seed oil, soothing liquorice root extract and a barrier-repairing ceramide. It feels comforting on the skin and doesn’t sting on super irritated patches.

Polysporin Cracked Skin Healing Balm ($16.47 CDN | 312g)

This thick and kind of greasy balm has helped me tremendously throughout the year, allowing for some painfully itchy and sore eczema patches to heal. Applying it regularly on these patches allows them to heal, and keeps the dryness and itchiness at bay to a certain extent. If I’m feeling very broken out, I’ll use it all over areas but I usually just use it on patches of dry irritated skin. It contains glycerin, fatty alcohols, dimethicone and oat to seal moisture in and repair the skin. The formula is very bare bones and fragrance free but it works incredibly well to seal moisture in super dry and irritated areas.

Eucerin Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($8.54 CDN | 50g)

I originally fell in love with this petrolatum and mineral oil based ointment as a lip balm for my chronically dry, flaky and chapped lips. However, I came to rely on it to keep moisture in chapped patches of skin from mask wearing or random causes around my mouth, eyes and nose. It also contained panthenol, glycerin and bisbolol so it’s healing in the sense beyond being just a pure occlusive agent. It does contain lanolin as well, which can be an issue with some people prone to eczema.

What products got you through 2020?
Maggie, x.

Fall Favourites

I’m one of those girls who lives and breathes for the Fall; however in typical me tradition, my skin went super dry and dehydrated and I came down with a bad combination case of allergies and flu-cold- virus-hybrid when the season truly emerged. I was exhausted, dry and itchy and not sleeping well at all. These are the products that I heavily relied on during this time and continued to use even when I started to feel better, but still kind of felt like my skin was cracking. They also were a lifesaver when it got actually cold and my skin freaked out yet again.

Pestle & Mortar NMF Lactic Acid Toner ($44 US)

This acid toner that I tried in the Caroline Hirons Summer Kit had become — and continues to be — my most frequent choice for a chemical exfoliant and it’s been a godsend as my skin went sore, parched and a bit more sensitized. It features a blend of lactic acid, gluconolactone, niacinamide and a few barrier-enforcing ingredients. It’s a gentler choice and helped my skin remain bright, even in texture and minimally flaky.

La Roche Posay Toleraine Ultra 8 ($25 CDN)

This is the mist that changed my mind on mists. I honestly was starting to believe mists were watered-down milky toners until I tried this one. It contains only eight ingredients and works wonders to plump up and to sandwich in the moisture underneath my milky toner and serum. It contains glycerin, soothing allantoin and the peptide carnosine. Best of all, it never stings on pissed off skin.

Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence ($23.81 CDN)

I have zero qualms about putting snail slime on my face. I’m not entirely sure what that says about me. Nevertheless, this gel-serum is 96% snail mucin and also features betaine, sodium hyaluronate, panthenol and allantoin. It’s a fantastic humectant serum that is really healing, deeply hydrating and delightfully non active. It’s great for plumping up that kind of sick tired skin and injecting moisture. I also reckon it would be amazing on hungover skin…

Dr. Dennis Gross Stress Rescue Super Serum ($96 CDN)

This was another product that I was introduced to by the Caroline Hirons Summer Kit and likely wouldn’t have tried otherwise. It’s an expensive milky serum, with niacinamide, squalane, plant oils and a bunch of soothing plant extracts with antioxidant activity. I found it to be concentrated enough to maybe even be worth the money — it’s lasting me months — and definitely barrier reinforcing. I will note that on my most irritated skin days, there was a tiny hint of a sting around the eyes — but this is likely due to the few essential oils it contains. Essential oils aren’t my favourite but I’m pleased that they aren’t citrus or peel oils. This is an awesome serum for sensitized skin and a pissed off skin barrier. It’s so moisturizing, I could get away with using without a moisturizer on top on my dry skin.

Paula’s Choice Omega + Complex Moisturizer ($35 US)

I’ve been loving having this fluffy shea butter containing moisturizer back in my life, especially dealing with dry, dehydrated and irritated skin. It has omega-rich plant oils, fatty acids, ceramides and squalane. It’s really great on sore skin and helps to maintain a healthy skin barrier. Not only is it a favourite to apply after serums and treatments at night, it also wears fantastically under makeup. It’s a good one also to wear underneath a mask to help protect sensitive skin from being aggressed further. 

Dior Forever Skin Glow 24h Wear Radiant Perfection Skin-Caring Foundation ($64 CDN)

For months, it had been so hot and humid that I wouldn’t dream of reaching for an actual foundation and instead was relying exclusively on tinted sunscreens. Now that cooler weather is in bloom, I’ve been enjoying using a small pump of this lightweight skin like foundation applied with my finger tips. It has a luminous finish and sits in the versatile medium-coverage category. It feels lightweight and doesn’t require being set.

Huda Beauty Naughty Nude Eyeshadow Palette ($85 CDN)

On the days I can muster the energy to do more than get myself out of bed and slap some skincare on my face, I have been really enjoying playing with eyeshadow. I recently tried out this palette and have been loving the quality and warm, neutral and smokey colour story. There are a bunch of mattes that serve as blending colours, crease colours and deeper shades to add depth, pretty satin and sheeny shades and fun metallic shades and micro glitters. The shadows are easy to work with and wear well. I enjoy the variety of light to mid-toned shades to use as lid colours and the overall burgundy-plum shift to the palette. The blue duo chrome shade is also to die for. I love that I have so many options with this palette and don’t find myself needing to pull from other palettes or single shadows. 

Briogeo Curl Charisma Chia + Flax Seed Coil Custard ($34 CDN)

Despite being a fine haired gal with a head of waves and looser curls. I’ve been loving using this thicker richer styler as a cream paired underneath a gel. I have high porosity hair that forms juicy clumps with a richer kind of cream and I’m enjoying this one in soaking wet hair. I’m liking how much control this cream gives to my hair and how concentrated the product is. I enjoy the boost of protein along with the glycerin, castor seed oil and shea butter. It also works well to keep my hair in clumps for multiple days and revives clumps on subsequent days. I can also get away with this cream as a single styler.

Zara Tobacco Collection Rich Warm Addictive ($25.90 CDN)

Ever since the chill has come into the air, I’ve been happily wearing this fragrance that’s actually from the men’s line. It’s a warm boozy vanilla that isn’t too sweet or too overpowering. It’s not so intense that it’ll last an obscene amount of time but I find it easier to wear on more casual occasions as a result. This is warm and cozy in a bottle and definitely reminds me of Elizabeth and James Nirvana Bourbon that’s no longer available. 

What have you been loving?
Maggie, x.

 

Fall Sephora Sale Edit

I legitimately have spent enough money at Sephora to maintain my VIB Rouge status from these biannual — or sometimes more frequently if we’re lucky — savings events the last three years. Starting today, October 30th, VIB Rouge members will have access to 20% off until November 9th. Beginning November 3rd, VIB members will have access to 15% off until the 9th as well and beginning November 5th, any Beauty Insider member will have access to 10% off until the 9th as well. The code is HOLIDAYFUN and can be used as many times as one desires. Here are some products I’m interested in or would suggest you think about:

Briogeo Detox + Restore Kit ft. Scalp Scrub Shampoo + Don’t Despair Repair Hair Mask ($67 CDN | 2×236 mLs)

The Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Hair Mask might actually be my holy grail deep conditioner and those aren’t words I use lightly. This kit also comes with a full sized deep conditioner along with their scalp scrub shampoo for only a little bit more than the price of the deep conditioner alone. The mask is lightweight, silicone-free and contains a myriad of oils, biotin and some hydrolyzed proteins. It always leaves my wavy curls bouncier, clumpier and moisturized — the slip is also out of this world fantastic. The scalp scrub shampoo is a more recent discovery of mine and I enjoy using it as well — and it’s expensive so this kit is appealing. It doesn’t contain sulfates but it has more deep cleansing surfactants than I would usually use, leaves my sensitive scalp feeling soothed and refreshed and my hair not dried out. I’m usually against essential oils but I love the peppermint when I’m in need of clarifying.

Briogeo Merry Multi-Masking Kit ft. Don’t Despair Repair Deep Conditioning Honey Bear Hair Mask ($46 CDN | 1×236 mLs, 2×59 mL)

Because the very thought of running out of the cult-favourite hair mask gives me feelings of anxiety and because I’ve wanted to foray into their other mask offerings, I picked up this set during the Friends and Family Sale. I must say that for the price of the full-size classic deep conditioner — and a full sized product — this holiday kit provides excellent value. It has a full sized honey rendition of the classic mask that I’ve always wanted to try and two smaller tubes of the classic Don’t Despair, Repair and the new protein-free Be Gentle Be Kind Avocado + Kiwi Mega Moisture Superfood Mask.

Bumble & Bumble Repair Blow Dry ($38 CDN | 150 mL)

While the most heat I’ve used on my hair in a year has been a diffuser, I would still recommend this leave-in cream for those of you who blow dry or flat iron slash curl your hair. It contains silicones to smooth out the hair and, lock out humidity and protect the hair from heat damage — but I never experienced build up using a sulfate-free shampoo either. It doesn’t provide loads of hold but leaves the hair smooth, shiny, moisturized and super-soft. It’s a particularly great cream to use while blow-drying even wavy-curly hair into a smoother style.

Briogeo Curl Charisma Chia + Flax Seed Coil Custard ($34 CDN | 177 mL)

I’ve always been a curl cream kind of girl and that hasn’t changed since I’ve started or restarted the curly girl method. However, I’ve been struggling with finding the right one to help my waves and curls clump and form nice curls — especially since that whole Devacurl debacle began and I can no longer recommend their creams. Despite this being marketed as a custard and for way tighter textures, it’s an excellent medium to rich textured cream with light-medium hold. It’s silicone-free but contains castor seed oil, fatty alcohols, shea butter, hydrolyzed proteins and amino acids, glycerin and plant oils. I tend to pair it with a gel but I don’t have to and I actually don’t have to use much product in my thirsty, high-porosity waves and curls.

The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm ($12.99 CDN | 150 mL)

I’m borderline fanatical about using a balm or oil cleanser to dissolve sunscreen and makeup thoroughly with ease and minimal disruption to my admittedly fragile skin barrier — and this is one I’ve had my eye on. I’m not even sure if it’ll be eligible for a discount but I’m not sure I care. It’s fragrance-free, in tube packaging and contains sweet almond oil and oat kernel oil, along with soothing oat extract. It’s no frills but I’ve heard amazing things.

Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer ($43 CDN | 150 mL)

This milky toner and moisturizer hybrid might seem boring as sin but it’s been a love of mine since I discovered it. It has a thick milky toner-lotion consistency that adds loads of hydration, soothing action and can function as a toner for drier skin types or a liquid moisturizer for the more sebum-blessed. It has an incredibly short and simple ingredient list: glycerin, meadow foam seed oil, vitamin e and tea extract. I’ve found it helps with hydration, protecting and repairing the skin barrier and leaves the skin luminous.

Viseart Aperol Spritz Eyeshadow Palette ($55 CDN | 12g)

This warm peachy-coral toned neutral palette is among my best makeup purchases of 2020. Ever since I bought it, it’s been my daily go-to palette; it’s easy, simple and has all of the shades I find myself reaching for on a daily basis. I love the variety of finishes and just how easy the drier formula shadows are to work with. I’m enjoying this edit format of Viseart’s palettes, as you get the versatility of one of the larger palettes and a variety of finishes. I would highly recommend Viseart shadows in general, but this format is my specific pick.

Huda Beauty Mercury Retrograde Eyeshadow Palette ($88 CDN | 16.72g)

This is actually a pick in my current small cart for the sale. A close friend of mine absolutely raves about the Huda Beauty shadows — I’ve never tried before — and in particular, this palette. I like the combination of some neutral shades in a variety of finishes, along with some pops of colour. Some of the colours are a bit outside of my comfort zone but I’m excited to play with the blues and purples — both shades are notoriously difficult to formulate but I’ve heard great things about these versions.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Face Palette – Sculpture ($105 CDN | 8.4g)

Those who have been long time readers of my little old blog here and those who I’ve waxed poetically about makeup to in real life will be aware of my love for the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder formula. I have a bunch of the blushes — which I absolutely love –, a highlighter — that I’m not in love with — and a semi-shattered palette of the original powders but I’ve held off on buying the larger palettes they tend to release each year. The large palettes are very expensive, kind of impractical — I mean, I don’t always reach for large face palettes in my day-to-day makeup life — and are worse value for money than buying the original individual products but I’m happy with this one that I bought in the Friends & Family Sale. It features the powders in Diffused Light and Dim Light — which are the two shades I’d be most likely to use anyway, a pretty champagne highlighter, Glistening Strobe Light, two blushes in Mood Exposure and Vibrant Flush and Natural Bronze Light. The powders are some of my favourites as a powder-disliking gal on the fairer end of the spectrum.

Will you be buying anything in the sale?
Maggie, x.

Summer Essentials

I feel the daggers being spliced into my eyeballs any time I ever mention that I’m kind of over the heat and humidity of the summer and am looking forward to fall. Regardless, I’ve found some essential products in this season of heat, humidity, sweat and mask wearing. Can you tell I’ve had this post sitting in drafts for a while? Regardless, let’s get to my product staples that helped to keep me sane over the summer:

Pur-lisse Blue Lotus 4-in-1 Cleansing Milk ($36 US)

While this non-foaming cleansing milk does contain a bit of fragrance, it has become one of my favourite gentle cleansers, especially because it both removes makeup and gently cleanses the skin. It’s one of the few cleansers I can massage into my eyelids without stinging or irritation and it does remove makeup fairly well — but not quite as well as an oil or balm — and cleanses, leaving the skin hydrated and soothed. I use it as a first cleanse when I’m not wearing shedloads of makeup or as a second after I use a balm or oil. It contains soothing oat, antioxidant tea extract and liquorice root extract. It was a blessing, especially when dealing with an impaired skin barrier or generally angry skin.

Tarte Knockout Tingle Treatment Toner ($51 CDN)

Honestly, since the whole pandemic situation, I think I’ve been rather lucky on the mask-ne front. I dealt with some chin breakouts at the very beginning when I was dealing with the horrifically irritated skin. I accredit my skin staying clear to using this acid toner along with Differin a few nights a week. This contains a mixture of AHAs — but no glycolic acid –, salicylic acid, polyhydroxy acid and niacinamide. Vinegar is used as a stabilizer which you can definitely feel and smell on the skin but I find my skin brighter and resurfaced when I use this exfoliant 3-4 times a week. I would not describe it as a gentle entry-level kind of exfoliant, however. I’m still rolling my eyes at the stupid tingling marketing; the tingle is not indicative of the acids working, the tingle is indicative of the vinegar the formula uses to stabilize it.

Neutrogena Bright Boost Gel Cream ($34.99 CDN)

I’m not sure where to even categorize this gel-cream in terms of my routine but I’ve been enjoying using it as a humectant-slash-pre-spf-moisturizer. In the cooler months, I’ll sometimes use a full-on moisturizer underneath my spf-containing moisturizer but in this generally sweaty weather, I’ve been happily applying this cream to combat dehydration, draw moisture to the skin and add some general protection from the elements. Some of the ingredients would do better in different packaging but I do love the cream inside. It contains mandelic acid, polyhydroxy acid, glycerin, acetyl glucosamine and squalane. These ingredients almost all function as humectants, drawing moisture to the skin and a few work by imparting a brightening effect via surface exfoliation. I also like the brightening effect this gel-cream offers via its sheer pink tint it has.

Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 ($33 US)

A reoccurring theme this summer has been sweating and complaining about humidity and thus, I’ve enjoyed a tinted sunscreen with a lighter texture and more of a semi-matte finish. It’s a fairly pale greyish tint that has sheer to light coverage and matches my relatively fair skin — but I get my best match when I add a bit of the Avene Tinted Mineral Fluid to add some warmth, match my body and add back a bit of glow. It’s super lightweight and is somewhat mattifying but does not dry out my already dry skin when I use a moisturizer underneath. I’ve been enjoying using this as my daily sheerer base with added sun and antioxidant protection.

Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 ($29 US)

On days that I’m leaning drier or am going to wear more of a traditional foundation, I reach for this mineral SPF-moisturizer hybrid. With a serum underneath, I enjoy that I don’t reach for a separate moisturizer — unless I’m feeling extra — and am left with my redness diffused, my skin brightened and more luminous skin overall. There’s a very very very faint greyish cast that fades quickly but you are left with a glowy kind of sheen that isn’t for anyone wanting to look anything close to matte. The vehicle is a lightweight but hydrating lotion with soothing liquorice, kiwi, ascorbyl glucoside, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and niacinamide as antioxidants, along with a peptide and fatty acids. It’s great for dry sensitized skin along with anyone else looking for a glow and a robust formula.

Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Bronzer in Butta Biscuit ($42 CDN)

An everyday staple in my makeup routine has been this cream bronzer. The formula is creamy, easy to blend and lasts all day. The colour is actually a nice warm caramel that’s light-medium in tone and adds shape to the face while helping my face match my darker body. The colour is buildable — but builds quickly — and melts nicely even into dry skin. It actually wears well over sore, dry and flaky skin, which was a godsend.

Viseart Spritz Edit Eyeshadow Palette ($55 CDN)

This palette is more of a recent addition but it’s the perfect everyday eyeshadow palette for me. It’s a warm neutral palette — how shocking — with a mixture of mattes and shimmers and leans a bit peachy-crimson in the overall tone selection. These shades are really flattering on my blue eyes and slightly warm-toned fairish skin and blend like a dream, have the most minimal fallout and have a nice buildable formula that lasts. The shimmers are creamy and the mattes are on the drier end of the spectrum but are my favourites to work with, as per usual. I love how compact the palette is while having a mirror and twelve sizeable shades.

Have you tried any of these products? Do you have any favourites to share?
Maggie, x.

Summer Empties | Bodycare & Haircare

As promised, I’m following up with the remaining products that I’ve used up over the summer. If you’d like to hear me ramble on about products for fine wavy hair and eczema, read on.

Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream ($15.49 CDN | 226g)

This is one of the better moisturizers I’ve used on my eczema prone areas (legs and inside of elbows) that actually has helped with the tightness and areas of dermatitis. It never stung even on more active eczema patches and actually had a soothing effect. It’s fragrance free, contains 1% colloidal oatmeal, glycerin, castor seed oil, mineral oil, fatty alcohols, liquorice root, a ceramide and piroctone olamine (an anti fungal ingredient). Using this cream daily might actually have decreased the itchiness and inflammation and I would buy again. The texture was a thick and moisturizing but not unpleasant cream. I did buy again.

Eucerin Complete Repair 5% Lotion ($21.99 CDN | 500 mL)

While this body moisturizer wasn’t one that I reached for during an eczema flare, I’m definitely going to repurchase. It’s fragrance-free, free of irritants and has a nice lightweight soothing lotion texture that’s enough for dry and tight skin in my experience. It contains 5% urea, shea butter, a myriad of barrier-restoring ingredients (sometimes called natural moisturizing factors), a little bit of lactic acid and a ceramide. I really liked using this on my back, chest and upper arms that’s prone to blemishes, keratosis pilaris and general bumpiness/roughness. It worked well overall in keeping my skin hydrated, smoothed and soothed. I noticed an improvement to skin texture and was enjoyable to use with a lightweight texture and easy to use pump packaging.

Cerave Moisturizing Cream ($26.99 CDN | 539 g)

This cream is a tried and true favourite of mine. While it doesn’t cure my eczema and can kind of sting when going over irritated and broken skin, it’s one of those rich but not overly heavy creams that decreases itchiness when used daily and helps to heal my extremely fragile barrier on my body. I love the new jar with a pump on it packaging, as you get the ease of a pump but can get every last bit of the emollient cream out with minimal effort. It contains glycerin, fatty alcohols, ceramides, emollients and a bunch of natural moisturizing factors. I will always repurchase. It’s actually a decent moisturizer for the face too, especially when your a bit irritated and dry.

Cerave Renewing SA Lotion ($17.99 CDN | 237 mL)

As a teenager and into my early twenties, I dealt with stubborn moderate acne on my chest and back that was resistant to just about anything. One of the things that really helped was using gentle products and using a leave-on acid-containing exfoliant. This lotion is a comforting option that contains 3% salicylic acid — but at a slightly higher pH which mitigates any sort of sting and irritation — along with mineral oil, ceramides, fatty alcohols, lactic acid, vitamin d and natural moisturizing factors. It works well to keep my back and chest clear — and to heal the minor blemishes quickly without irritation – and to keep the texture on my arms smooth. I actually find it gentle enough to use on my eczema-prone areas as well. Too bad it seems to be out of stock everywhere in Canada…

Bioderma Atoderm Hand + Nails Cream ($9.90 CDN | 50 mL)

This was actually a gift but I could see myself buying it if the mood struck me. It has a nostalgic scent, the slightly floral spa-scent of their Hydrabio line. It has a nice comforting texture that doesn’t take too long too sink in. I liked using it, especially during the current era of frequent hand washing. The fragrance can definitely be irritating but I don’t mind using it on my hands and dry patches throughout the day. It has some glycerin, some shea butter, a bit of niacinamide and their typical soothing blend of sugars.

Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Conditioner ($13.49 CDN | 379 mL)

This is a favourite of mine for my fine tangly but full head of waves and curls. It’s great bang for the buck as I don’t find I actually have to use a substantial amount of the bottle to smooth through and detangle my hair. It contains some protein along with the butters and oils and helps to clump my curls together. It doesn’t weigh down my hair unless I leave in an excessive amount. I’d buy again.

Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask ($46 CDN | 237 mL)

This is my favourite hair mask or deep conditioner that I’ve ever tried. It’s a nice balance of moisture and protein with a number of plant oils, hydrolyzed proteins and biotin. It has amazing slip for detangling purposes and requires very little product to see results even on my super-long head of hair. It’s very lightweight but still adds lasting hydration, body and shape to my wavy curls and always guarantees a good hair day afterwards. I repurchased right after I ran out. It’s silicone free and doesn’t contain anything drying or otherwise problematic.

As I Am Dry & Itchy Scalp Cowash ($14.99 CDN | 454 g)

I actually ended up really loving this cleansing conditioner of sorts. It offered significantly more cleansing power than a typical ‘cowash’ or just using conditioner as a cleanser, and did help with my dry itchy scalp throughout the cold winter months. Despite usually being sensitive to essential oils, I did really enjoy the peppermint and tea tree smell in this cowash and it lasted days on me. The best part about this cowash is that it offers amazing slip and really moisturizes the hair while cleansing and therefore is a great multitasking product, as you don’t even need a conditioner step afterwards. I tend to alternate using this with a regular sulfate-free shampoo. It also contains 1% of zinc pyrithione, and I’d buy again. I’m using their original cowash at the moment, however. It’s silicone-free as well. I’d buy again. I’m currently using their classic formulation.

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.