The Essential |Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30

Especially with the current horrific state of the Canadian dollar, Paula’s Choice products aren’t as affordable as they once were. However, I have no problem shelling over my funds for their fantastic sunscreen formulas. There’s this weird thing with sunscreen where it only works if you find yourself wanting to apply it. The Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 retails for $29 USD for 2 ounces or 60 mLs, but they offer a nice smaller size to try and run really great sales often. At first I thought this sunscreen was a really nice moisturizer-sunscreen-hybrid that had an impressively minimal white cast — as in seemingly non existent on my fairer skin. However, I would now say that it has a slight beige glow tint to it that may not show up on the skin but is enough to diffuse redness and add a glow. It reminds me of a glowy makeup primer but it’s a sunscreen and a solid protection mineral one at that.

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The vehicle of this product is moisturizing enough to be used in the place of moisturizer, but it’s not heavy or greasy. It’s a lightweight and nourishing lotion that features soothing liquorice root, kiwi extract, argan oil, linoleic acid, reservatrol, ascorbyl glucoside and niacinamide. There aren’t visible shimmer particles in the lotion but it leaves a glow behind on the skin. I think a variety of different skin types would enjoy this formula but anyone trying to look matte would likely hate it. When my skin is very dry and in the cooler months, I tend to use this on top of a separate moisturizer but in the hotter months, I get good results using this as my moisturizer.

As someone prone to dry patches and uneven texture on the face, I often find that mineral sunscreens tend to cling to these drier patches in an unflattering way, even if they aren’t drying in formula. This is not the case with this zinc oxide and titanium dioxide containing formula. The cast is minimal and the formula is cosmetically elegant, even over dry patches, but the particles are nano-sized. The slight tint it offers is a result of the ingredients it contains, not the addition of iron oxides, which can offer additional protection from hyperpigmentation. It contains a variety of soothing and brightening ingredients that actually work. I’m kind of over this blue light and pollution protection nonsense but it does offer ample protection and antioxidants.

Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 contains 5.25% titanium dioxide and 6.12% zinc oxide, offering robust protection from all wavelengths of UV light. I note that it does not make claims about water-resistance or sweat-resistance. It’s really comfortable to apply on skin with a compromised barrier and is a joy to wear on its own and underneath makeup. However, I will note that it’s not necessarily a SPF moisturizer I would wear underneath super heavy makeup as it can exacerbate shininess; it does wear fantastically underneath more lightweight sheerer bases. My best guess is also the sheerness of the tint on this sunscreen will make it work on a broad range of skintones, from the fairer end of the spectrum to maybe the deeper end of medium-tan.

What’s your current sunscreen fave?
Maggie, x.

Skinstore Sale Picks

Now, I haven’t actually ordered from Skinstore or Look Fantastic personally before.  However, seeing the Skinstore‘July 4th Sale’ and hearing great things about the company — and seeing their affordable shipping to a variety of different countries — I’m awfully tempted and maybe some of you will be too. Here are my picks from the sale. The website has loads of items on 25% off with a code and a bunch of different brands on for different promotions as well. Here are some of my picks:

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Elta MD UV Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 44 ($40.61 CDN | 60 mL)

I’ve always wanted to try Elta MD’s sunscreens but they are actually pretty difficult to access in Canada. Thus, finding this on sale makes me really want to try this tinted sunscreen-moisturizer hybrid. It’s a tinted formula that I’ve heard is supposedly sheer and suits a variety of skin tones and suits drier skins without being heavy or greasy. It features hyaluronic acid, mineral filters and vitamin e. I’ve heard that it’s comfortable but wears wonderfully under makeup. I also find my excitement over finding sunscreen on sale borderline hysterical at this point but alas…

Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Rose Gold Eye Masks ($26.81 CDN | 0.84 oz)

I enjoy a nice set of eye masks as much as the next person but many of them leave my eyes irritated or cost an arm an a leg for a single set. These ones come with six different sets and really hydrate the under eye area without irritation. They contain aloe, glycerin, panthenol, calendula, shea butter and hyaluronic acid. I wish they didn’t have the lavender oil but it’s towards the end of the ingredients list. They also stick well to the eye area so you don’t have to stop living your life to reap the benefits of the eye masks.

Sunday Riley JUNO Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil ($77.22 CDN | 35 mL)

This is an expensive but lovely oil blend that doesn’t contain any essential oils or fragrance. It’s soothing and nourishing, filled with an abundance of antioxidant rich plant oils that really help to replenish irritated skin and combat inflammation. It’s not a particularly lightweight oil and smells like salad dressing but it’s fantastic. It contains black cumin oil, blackberry seed oil, broccoli seed oil, carrot seed oil, grape seed oil, cranberry seed oil, marula oil, meadow foam seed oil, pomegranate oil, raspberry oil and acai fruit oil.

Soap & Glory Clean on Me Clarifying Shower Gel ($10.73 CDN | 500 mL)

Soap & Glory‘s bath and shower products are seriously underrated; my eczema prone skin can tolerate them without experiencing dryness and sensitivity and their scents are amazing. This shower gel doubles as a fantastic bubble bath that doesn’t dry out my skin despite containing a gentler sulphate (but not sodium lauryl sulphate) and smells like my favourite fragrance, the discontinued Miss Dior from 2012. It smells like a citrusy rose that fades into the stuff that patchouli and soft musk dreams are made of.

REN Perfect Canvas Clean Jelly Oil Cleanser ($34.32 CDN | 100 mL)

I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the most important and under appreciated steps of the skincare routine is cleansing and to be frank, I’ve got a hankering to try a new one. This is an balm-oil cleanser that I’ve heard fantastic things about as a balm to break down makeup and sunscreen and as an indulgent treat of a cleanser. This is a brand that is rarely on sale so the 25% off is enticing. Along with emulsifying agents and a few nice plant oils, this does contain some fragrance but I’m less concerned about this in a product you rinse off.

Slip Silk Midi Scrunchies ($48.26 CDN | pack of 5)

The hype for these expensive silk scrunchies is real, people. I love the size of these ones that allow me to easily secure my hair on the top of my head before bed or to put some or all of it up during the day. The best part is that my hair doesn’t actually tangle up around the scrunchie and maintains its curl pattern fairly well. These are a godsend to extending the time between hair restyling and washes. I like that the colours are subdued as well.

Slip Silk Knot Headband ($74 CDN)

Now, this is a purchase I made for myself last year and I don’t regret it. The quality of silk on this headband is nice and the knotted-front design is cute. I wear it every day, either to keep my hair away from my face while cleansing or applying makeup — without disrupting my temperamental curls even while damp or as a cute hair accessory, also without denting my hair or flattening certain sections.

Plans on picking anything up from the sale?
Maggie, x.

The Favourites | Late Spring

There are times when beauty products and your self care ritual really matter; these lasts few months have been one of those times. In hindsight, it probably was not a great idea to reintroduce a prescription retinoid into my routine at the same time that the weather was changing, I was dealing from irritation from wearing a mask during the pandemic and was dealing with a bit of a seasonal transition skin freakout. The act of self-care was something I really got back into when dealing with this quite frankly super weird and anxiety-inducing time. I discovered and rediscovered a bunch of essential products and here they are:

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Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer ($43 CAD | 150 mL): This is a soothing milky toner with a minimal ingredients list that is incredibly sensitive or sensitized-skin friendly. It’s fragrance-free and has a short but substantial ingredient list featuring glycerin, meadow foam oil and green tea.  This is one of the products that helped me get through the period where I reacclimatized to using a prescription retinoid and was starting to deal with the irritation of wearing a mask. It’s incredibly soothing.

Avene Mineral Tinted Fluid SPF 50+ ($33 CAD | 40 mL): I realized that I had in previous months been slacking on the sun protection front, when I got better at applying it every single morning and my skin was looking so much better. I was enjoying using this tinted mineral sunscreen with iron oxides (that help protect further against visible light). The tint is actually a bit dark on me but I can make it work. It’s a golden kind of shade that would be ideal for light to medium skin tones. It has a super lightweight and thin vehicle that is hydrating and doesn’t include drying alcohols or anything of that sort. It was ideal for when I was using fake tan during the past few months, but can also get away with without. It was great on my sensitized skin and didn’t even highlight dry patches. Plus it offers enough coverage to actually cover redness and the like and I’ve been using it as my face product on more minimal makeup days.

Bioderma Photoderm SPF 50+ High Protection Milk ($25.90 CAD | 100 mL): Another sunscreen discovery was this one by Bioderma that I enjoy wearing (even on my face), despite being a chemical sunscreen. I’ve been happily using it daily on my neck, chest, shoulders and arms. It doesn’t contain any drying alcohol and has a comfortable lotion vehicle but most impressively, it features the less irritating filters Tinosorb S and Tinosorb M for far superior UVA protection and photostability. It leaves my skin feeling moisturized but not sticky or greasy.

Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 ($29 US | 60 mL): I’m on a SPF favourites roll, it appears. I didn’t realize how much I loved this moisturizer-sunscreen hybrid until I accidentally threw my tube out (an unfortunate accident) and instantly found myself repurchasing. It was a great daily pick on my sensitive flaking skin, with mineral actives but no real white cast on my fairer skin. The ingredients in this lightweight lotion gives a greyish beige cast to the product that adds some glow to the skin and diffuses redness slightly, without adding any sort of colour to the face. It was a gentle sunscreen option that was moisturizing without being greasy or thick. It contains soothing liquorice, kiwi extract, niacinamide and a vitamin c derivative.

Paula’s Choice Omega + Complex Moisturizer ($35 US | 50 mL): I’m a bit of a Paula’s Choice skincare fiend but it’s been years since I’ve loved one of her standard moisturizers — I’m a major fan of her sunscreen-containing moisturizers, however. In the last couple of months I bought this one and have loved it, especially during that stage when my face was flaking, burning and generally hurt. With its fragrance free, shea butter, plant oil, fatty acid and ceramide laden formula, I experienced minimal stinging and an immediate calming effect. It has a fluffy consistency that is rich without being overly heavy that I think anyone experiencing dryness would enjoy, especially if dealing with sensitivity.

Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Bronzer in 02 Butta Biscuit ($42 CDN | 0.22 oz): There’s something just so easy about cream products and I often find myself reaching for them the most often, even when I’m not doing an elaborate whole face of makeup. This is an easy to use balmy cream bronzer that blends like a dream and offers buildable colour. I really like the warm caramel colour it offers without veering into orange territory and the natural glow it gives to my fairer skin.

L’Oreal Matte Signature Liquid Dip Eyeliner in 700 Black ($14.99 CDN): Even though I’ve been into a more minimal makeup look, black eyeliner is still always in the equation. I’ve been really liking this precise brush tip liner because of how black it is and how precise and thin of a line it allows you to draw. It wears well, only smudging slightly if I nap on my side right on the wing and removes easily. I will note it requires a steady hand, as its not a pen style liner.

L’Oreal Bambi Eye Mascara in Blackest Black ($14.49 CDN):I may have rolled my eyes at the marketing of this mascara when I saw it but it’s a good one and does achieve that wide eyed effect. It achieves loads of volume and separation, achieving drama without feeling heavy on the lashes. It has a large somewhat football-shaped synthetic wand that isn’t difficult to use. It doesn’t flake or anything on me and isn’t a hassle to remove. It’s a good one.

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum ($123 CDN | 50 mL): I invested in this spendier perfume around Christmastime and I’ve been loving wearing it, even just for myself, even moreso now that late Spring is in bloom. It’s a gorgeous warm orangey citrus with some rose and jasmine and some warm patchouli. It’s a warm floral that I love that’s surprisingly fresh and lingers. There’s a reason why everyone wears this one.

What have you been loving?
Maggie, x.

Some Spring Product Empties

As a beauty product hoarder, the idea of finishing products and actually getting to recycle some is exciting. I’m on a bit of a spring cleaning kick and I was kind of thrilled to be able to get rid of some products that I finished — don’t worry, there are definite repurchases here too. Also, learning about the products people actually finish is fascinating to me and I hope it’s of interest to you if you’re reading this…

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Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser ($45 CDN| 125 mL): I’m disappointed with this this green beauty cleanser but I blame myself first and foremost. I had bought Indie Lee’s Rosehip Cleanser after hearing that it was a nourishing cleanser formula formulated with gentle ingredients. I like the simple ingredients list of both offerings but I didn’t find them offering anything special other than being a good gentle gel cleanser. To be fair, I only have tried these cleansers since their reformulation and I think they may have been better before. My issue with the product is probably that I’m not sure the tomato extract does anything for brightening and that it’s overpriced. The glass packaging is nice and I do like the simple fragrance-free ingredient list. Also, it does not remove makeup particularly well. I will say it feels nicely refreshing on the skin without containing any sort of harsh cleansing agents or sensitizing ingredients.

Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm ($40 CDN| 125 mL): I absolutely adore this balm cleanser for its gentleness and amazing ability to remove makeup with ease. It’s fragrance free, free of irritants and has an exceptionally short ingredient list. I’ve managed to use this when I’ve had major barrier issues and eczema outbreaks on my face without any burning or stinging. It doesn’t sting my sensitive eyes and rarely clouds my vision. I already have repurchased.

Hada Labo Shiro-Jyun Premium Whitening Lotion ($31.98 CDN | 170 mL): This ‘lotion’ had the light texture of a lightweight traditional toner and I really enjoyed using it in the toner stage in my routine in the warmer weather months. It wasn’t one of those milky toners that are immensely soothing and nourishing on the skin. Instead, it had a lighter consistency and delivered a hefty dose of tranexamic acid, a vitamin c derivative, and multiple forms of hyaluronic acid. It was gentle on my skin and I used it without any other vitamin c or solely brightening products in my routine and felt it left my skin bright and as even in tone as it has ever been. I’d be more likely to purchase the more nourishing version of this product. It would be great for slightly oilier skin, however, or just skin that isn’t so prone to tightness.

Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner ($24 US | 118 mL): I never stop talking about this soothing milky hydrating toner but it’s for good reason. I’ve purchased countless bottles of this and will continue. It’s filled with fatty acids, phospholipids, a number of interesting antioxidants, sodium hyaluronate, liquorice root and evening primrose oil. It’s soothing, helps tremendously with an impaired barrier and is great for packing in the hydration.

The Ordinary “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1% ($28.90 CDN | 30 mL): This is a hydrating serum with a cosmetically elegant liquidy texture. It contains numerous peptides, which act as humectants and help the skin to function optimally. The copper peptides give this serum the striking blue hue and helps with barrier function in tandem with the amino acids it contains. Right after glycerin, this serum contains a probiotic ingredient that shows promise in helping skin cells turn over whilst reinforcing barrier function. I’d repurchase.

Hada Labo Goku-jyun Premium Emulsion ($28.92 CDN | 140 mL): This was the product that made me fall in love with hyaluronic acid on a personal level, as a twenty something with dehydrated skin prone to uneven texture and congestion. I used it in the serum stage as a premoisturizer of sorts that I followed with a heftier cream to lock in. It’s fragrance free, contains urea, mineral oil — not a bad thing for my skin type — and five different kinds of hyaluronic acid. I’m repurchasing as it really improved the hydration, plumpness and overall appearance of my skin.

L’Oreal Revitalift Cicacream ($27.99 CDN | 50 mL): This is a comforting fluffy textured fragrance free cream that’s great on more reactive skin types experiencing any sort of dryness. It contains glycerin, shea butter, cacao butter and centella asiatica. It’s great underneath the eyes and never stings or burns. I repurchased it as soon as I realized my tube was nearing empty.

REN Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask ($ 62 CDN | 50 mL): I would have gladly repurchased this soothing and hydrating mask, had Sephora had it in stock when I placed my last order. It has a thick and creamy texture and works great to soothe redness, take down irritation and calm angry skin down. I find it super anti-inflammatory and will gladly reach for it when my skin is tight, I’ve overdone it with the acids or retinoid, I’m sick or my skin is freaking out from a weather change. At the top of the ingredient list is a probiotic or two, shea butter, jojoba seed oil and algae. It never burns on the skin (even when my skin is to tight it hurts and is in a dermatitis flare) and always leaves the skin looking more glowy and less angry. It does contain fragrance, but it’s in the lower half of the ingredient list.

Sephora The Peeling Mask ($9 CDN): I don’t normally save up my sheet masks for these posts anymore but this one was special enough to keep. It contains lactic acid and niacinamide at significant concentrations and really left my skin glowing and with increased clarity and brightness after using. It was the perfect mask to reach for on congested but sensitive skin, as you got the resurfacing from the acid but without doubling up on an acid exfoliant and potentially making things worse. It’s an expensive sheet mask but I’ll buy again.

Eucerin Complete Repair Hand Cream ($10.49 CDN/ 75 mL): This was the hand cream I purchased and would happily repurchase to combat the itchiness, dryness and dermatitis I experienced as a result of frequent handwashing, wearing gloves and increased hand sanitizer use. It’s great as both a hand product and as a product to spot treat patches of dryness and eczema throughout the day. It’s fragrance free and contains glycerin, urea, a bunch of natural moisturizing factors and lactic acid (functioning as a humectant, not an exfoliant).

What have you finished lately?
Maggie, x.

Skincare Sunday | Pamper Time

It’s a weird time to be alive and a time when skincare and the whole ritual that surrounds it has become extra important. With social distancing at the forefront of our consciousness (hopefully) towards the second month of the global pandemic, I think lots of us are experiencing traumatized skin — either from wearing masks, the change in weather or from the added stress of uncertainty. Participating in a bit of an extravagant skincare ritual helps to bring some normalcy for me and I thought I’d blog about it to be extra therapeutic. For reference, my skin is dehydrated, dry, a bit congested, dull and needs a bit of barrier TLC at the moment. I’ve been getting reacclimatized to using a prescription retinoid in my routine and may have gone a little overboard with it…

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Paula’s Choice The Unscrub ($29 US | 118 mL): Even though I have skin that is very sensitive and reactive to any sort of manual abrasion, I do enjoy gentle physical exfoliation maybe once or twice a week. As someone who is prone to dry patches of texture and is currently using acid exfoliants and a prescription retinoid, I appreciate an uber gentle product like this one. It uses jojoba esters for exfoliation rather than jagged beads, only uses gentle cleansing agents and features antioxidants and soothing ingredients. It never strips my skin and gently sloughs away at any little bits of flaking or textural irregularities.

L’Oreal Energizing & Brightening Pure Clay Mask ($14.99 CDN | 50 mL): Despite having a drier skin type, I do enjoy a gentle mud mask on occasion, particularly when I’m dealing with some congestion. The most important thing is that they have a gentle formulation like this one, which contains glycerin, a mixture of three types of clay and charcoal powder. This one is good because it’s gentle, doesn’t break the bank and can be removed easily (as long as you don’t let it dry excessively). I do find my skin is less dull after use, as well. I will note that I only apply the mask to the areas that I need it, which is essentially my t-zone where my skin can be more normal and less dry.
Olay Regenerist Luminous Overnight Mask Gel Moisturizer: I like applying a moisture mask in the areas that I skipped out on with the clay mask, which is primarily the cheeks, the area around my eyes and the area around my mouth. I wont dwell too much on the formula because it looks like this product has been replaced by the Olay Brightening Overnight Gel Mask, which is fairly similar. Both contain glycerin, niacinamide and the vitamin c derivative sodium ascorbyl phosphate.

Paula’s Choice Resist Advanced Replenishing Toner ($24 US | 118 mL): When I want to pamper my skin, there’s no way I’m patting anything into my skin after cleansing other than this milky toner. It’s loaded with fatty acids, barrier-repairing ingredients and antioxidants. It’s soothing and deeply hydrating.
Laneige Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer ($43 CDN | 150 mL): This is totally unnecessary, with the milky toner in the rotation but when I’m feeling indulgent, I like to layer both. It’s a pretty simple formula but it’s soothing and very hydrating with glycerin, meadow foam seed oil and green tea.
Paula’s Choice Resist Advanced Soothing Treatment 10% AHA ($37 US | 30 mL): This isn’t my everyday acid exfoliant but I do love using this exfoliant-serum hybrid once or twice a week when I want an extra treat. It’s gentle and contains glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, tartaric acid and salicylic acid. It also contains glycerin, peptides, ceramides, liquorice root extract, green tea, oat extract and a number of other soothing and antioxidant ingredients. It’s really gentle (but effective) and definitely binds water to the skin and contains a bunch of ingredients that repair the skin barrier and combat any sort of disruption to the barrier.
Laneige Bright Renew Original Serum ($59 CDN | 40 mL): This serum has a pleasant milky texture especially when pressed into the skin as an addition layer of hydration — can you tell I’m rather dehydrated at the moment? It contains squalane, niacinamide, milk thistle, green tea and liquorice root extract. It’s a nice option for an antioxidant serum that also helps with barrier function and luminosity. Also, it’s a good option for when you are using enough actives that a pure vitamin c serum would not be prudent.
Paula’s Choice Omega + Complex Moisturizer ($35 US | 50 mL): This is a fragrance-free, soothing moisturizer that has a rich yet lightweight fluffy texture. It’s hydrating and soothing with shea butter, glycerin, a myriad of antioxidant-rich plant oils, fatty acids and ceramides.
Eucerin Aquaphor Multipurpose Healing Ointment ($10.99 CDN | 50g): As someone with dry sensitive and flaky lips, it’s rare I find a lip balm that works without causing irritation. This old school ointment has been one that has actually made a difference and holds moisture in my lips, leaving them smooth for hours on end.
Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 ($29 US | 60 mL): I know traditional SPFs aren’t the most indulgent products but it’s important to wear one daily and this is one that I genuinely enjoy applying. It’s a mineral filter that contains ingredients that give it a slight sheer greyish beige tint, offsetting any sort of white cast it might otherwise have, on my skin at least. It has a lightweight lotion texture and leaves a nice luminosity without being heavy. It uses liquorice root and loads of antioxidants as well. It leaves my skin looking luminous and slightly evened out on makeup-free days.

What products are you reaching for?
Maggie, x.

Current Skincare Saviours

As much as I like obsessively researching skincare product and adding to the stash, I must say that I’ve been enjoying and reaping the benefits of relative consistency in my routine. Note, I do say relative simplicity… And with everyone spending much more time holed up in their homes and hopefully practicing social distancing, I think we’ve been reaching for a little bit more skincare self-care. I figure it’s a fitting moment to share some of these favourite products of mine. This could also double as a 2019 skincare favourites post which I now realize I didn’t write… Oops.

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Paula’s Choice Defense Gel-to-Cream Cleanser ($18 US): As someone with drier and more reactive skin, I’m not sure why I even  tried this gel cleanser but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it. It’s a soothing gel cleanser that emulsifies into a slightly foamy (but not stripping) cream. It’s soap-free but contains a few gentler detergent agents that provide the slight foaming effect. It’s the gentlest and most soothing gel cleanser I’ve ever tried and removes makeup much better than most skin cleansers — but not as well as a balm or cleansing oil. However, it will remove a full face of makeup with a warm microfibre cloth and I have the kind of skin makeup likes to cling to for dear life. It contains a bunch of soothing agents like oat amino acids, aloe, green tea, liquorice root and sodium PCA. I attribute the cleanser’s soothing quality to the inclusion of these antioxidants, anti-irritants and skin replenishing ingredients.

Tarte Knockout Tingle Treatment Toner ($51 CDN): I was resistant to trying this acid toner but I love it. I hate that it’s marketed as if tingling is a sign of a product working and don’t completely understand the inclusion of a few weird potentially irritating plant extracts (onion bulb, horseradish, myrrh and a few others) and am kind of ambivalent about the acetic acid it contains. However, this is the acid I use most nights and love the smoothing results, radiance, even texture, hydration and overall clarity it brings to my skin. I’m fairly convinced that the liquid toner texture that includes a penetration enhancer makes it a particularly potent acid exfoliant that my temporamental skin likes. It contains niacinamide as the second ingredient and uses both BHA and AHAs to exfoliate the skin. It uses the gentler gluconolactone, lactic acid, citric acid, malic acid, phytic acid and salicylic acid. I love it but this might not be the most gentle acid exfoliant to start with. I notice results quickly using this toner without any sort of tingling.

Paula’s Choice Resist Advanced Replenishing Toner ($24 US): I’ve waxed poetically about my love of this soothing milky toner so I’ll keep it brief. It contains fatty acids, cell communicating ingredients like epigallocatechin gallate, antioxidants, hyaluronic acid and plant oils that really help to restore and maintain the skin barrier and add lightweight hydration  and plumpness that isn’t fleeting. It’s also a necessity for whenever I’ve pissed off my skin.

Paula’s Choice Resist Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA ($37 US): A few times a week, I will skip the acid toner and use this serum instead. I don’t find it has quite as much resurfacing oomph as the toner but I love it’s hydrating serum texture, combination of glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid and tartaric acid and the inclusion of pore-penetrating salicylic acid at a 0.5% concentration. It’s a brilliant potent water-binding exfoliant that’s loaded with peptides, glycerin, ceramides, skin soothing ingredients and antioxidants. As a result, it’s an excellent serum and exfoliant that gets you the benefits of a 10% AHA that’s easy to tolerate.

Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Emulsion ($28.92 CDN): This emulsion is essentially a humectant based product that could act as a moisturizer that I apply before my moisturizer or sunscreen. It’s fragrance free, doesn’t have anything irritating in it and features five kinds of hyaluronic acid, urea, allantoin and mineral oil. The bottle lasted me nearly a year and I noticed my skin holding onto moisture much better without adding any real producty feel to the skin.

The Ordinary “B” Oil ($9.20 CDN): This rich fragrance free plant oil blend is economical and just so close to Sunday Riley’s Juno in my experience. It’s super anti-inflammatory and soothing with squalane, a variety of antioxidant-rich plant oils and some novel extracts, sourced from algae that research suggests are also anti-inflammatory in their own right.

Paula’s Choice Resist Skin Restoring Moisturizer SPF 50 ($33 US): This is actually the only synthetic or chemical sunscreen product that my reactive skin has been able to tolerate and I credit that to the gentle formula, loaded with antioxidants and anti-irritants. It has a comfortable cream-lotion texture that never feels oily, thick or greasy, while providing my drier skin all it needs in a moisturizer. It contains shea butter, allantoin, niacinamide, liquorice root and oat kernel extract. It uses a combination of broad spectrum filters but I wouldn’t use it for a day in direct sunlight for hours as these filters have stability issues over time. This moisturizer is one I happily reach for often; makeup applies wonderfully over it and it doesn’t seem to migrate into my sensitive eyes.

Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 ($29 US): I’m more of a daily mineral sunscreen girl at heart and this is likely the best one I’ve tried. It offers great broad spectrum stable protection and the cast is offset by the slight beige tint the ingredients have. I don’t think relatively fair to medium skin tones would really experience a cast because of the slight tint the ingredients naturally have. The formula also leaves a luminosity to the skin without visible shimmer particles or anything of the sort. It’s an emollient moisturizer that doesn’t feel overly thick or heavy, whilst adding a substantial dose of hydration. The formula contains glycerin, liquorice root extract, kiwi extract, argan oil, some fatty acids and peptides, a couple of different vitamin c derivatives along with other antioxidants. It’s really soothing on dry or parched skin as well.

L’Oreal Revitalift Cicacream ($27.99 CDN): This more affordable moisturizer has been a solid favourite in the last year or so that I’ve had it. It’s recognized for skin health by the Canadian Dermatology Association for being fragrance free and ideal for weakened skin. It contains glycerin, sesame seed oil, shea butter, cacao butter and a notable amount of centella asiatica. It feels comforting on the skin and definitely helps to protect and rebuild the skin barrier and fights inflammation. The centella also supposedly increases collagen production significantly.

REN Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask ($62 CDN): This is a thick occlusive cream that does wonders for pissed off skin and/or an impaired barrier. It’s an excellent product for when I’ve overdone Differin and the acids or when my skin gets crazy dry and angry when I get sick or the weather changes. It contains lactobacillus ferment, which is an non-living probiotic with demonstrated ability to enforce the skin barrier and soothe and hydrate the skin, along with algae extract, a potent water-binding antioxidant, a few other probiotic ingredients and arnica flower extract. It’s not a cosmetically elegant cream to slather all over the skin and leave on overnight — although I do do this on occasion. However, it nips irritation of any sort and a problematic barrier in the bud without stinging on the skin in the slightest.

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.

2019 Favourites | The Haircare

Having started my Curly Girl Method journey — for the second time — at the tail end of 2018, I was always planning on sharing my favourite product discoveries at the end of 2019. I had done so much research, so much experimentation and had definitely found some products that really did work. I even had fairly extensive notes saved on my phone. However, I then realized there were almost too many products. Also, the DevaCurl drama then unfolded and I was torn whether or not to still include my favourite products from the line when others were experiencing horrific results. Regardless, here I am sharing my favourites. For reference I have long high porosity hair thats pattern most closely resembles a 2c. My mixture of curls and waves are fine in texture but I have high density hair, overall. Oh, and I live in a humid east coast environment and my hair tends to just eat product and tangle up like nothing in this world.

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As I Am Coconut Cowash ($11.99 CDN): I’m just not a traditional co-wash or conditioner washing kind of girl but I do enjoy using this product in between shampoos. I swear this is a bit more cleansing than a traditional conditioner and doesn’t piss off my scalp. It has amazing slip and leaves my hair smooth and shiny. Best of all is that I don’t have to use a separate product to condition. It has a weird thick oatmeal-y consistency and my only complaint is that I go through the tub rather quickly. This is why I don’t have one to include in the picture. I have a new one on the way, though…

Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Conditioner ($13.49 CDN): As someone who finds that their hair clumps and spirals the most nicely after using a deep conditioner, I’m used to often using masques and deep conditioners in the standard conditioner stage. However, this old school Shea Moisture offering gets me the curl clumps, moisture and control without requiring me to use a deep conditioner. It’s a medium weight conditioner that my fine hair eats up with enough slip to cut through tangles — but not the most slip in the world — and leaves my waves and curls moisturized for days. I like the mixture of conditioning agents, plant oils, shea butters and hydrolyzed protein the product contains.

Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate + Repair Protein Power Treatment ($15.49 CDN): I really found myself enjoying this easily accessible deep conditioner, but it is not a protein treatment by any stretch of the imagination. Real protein doesn’t make an appearance until the end of the ingredient list in the form of a protein-water-soluble-silicone polymer and hydrolyzed keratin. This is the thickest deep conditioner I’ve ever tried but it doesn’t weigh down my curls and waves. It uses hydrogenated castor oil, shea butter, honey, yogurt powder, coconut oil, baobab seed oil and mafura oil to moisturize the hair. Due to the thick texture, it doesn’t have the most slip but still works to detangle my tangly hair.

Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask ($46 CDN): I absolutely adore this deep conditioner. It’s pricy but extremely concentrated. It both offers amazing slip and a balanced moisture and protein. With just a minimal amount of product used, the fatty alcohols and plant oils melt tangles and leave my hair smooth and hydrated. The hefty dose of biotin and hydrolyzed keratin leave my hair full of bounce and leaves my curls and waves nicely clumped together. It’s definitely lightweight but works wonders, even on thirsty strands.

DevaCurl Deep Sea Repair Seaweed Strengthening Hair Mask ($49 CDN): Another mask that I adore using both as a deep conditioner left in the hair for a notable amount of time or in the place of normal conditioner is this one. Despite being brought out by DevaCurl, it’s not actually entirely water soluble, with sunflower seed wax in the ingredients and potentially enough coconut oil to require a sulfate-free shampoo for removal; this is okay with me because my scalp and I are on board with regular use of gentle shampoo. It has amazing slip, making detangling a breeze — even in knotty hair — and adds a great balance of moisture and protein without being heavy. It leaves my hair hydrated, smooth and lends a bit of control and help with clumping my waves and curls. It uses loads of coconut oil, your traditional slip agents, hydrolyzed proteins in good concentrations and amino acids.

Curl Junkie Repair Me Reconstructive Hair Treatment ($36 CDN): This was one of those products I discovered and instantly fell in love; my thoughts haven’t changed. It’s a product that’s lightweight and incredibly nourishing and might have the most slip I’ve ever experienced in a product. The miraculous part is that it’s incredibly moisturizing without weighing the hair down and contains hydrolyzed keratin protein as the fourth ingredient, along with hydrolyzed yeast and amino acids further down the list. As a result, I find using this has added so much elasticity and bounce to my hair and has made a significant difference in getting my ends to curl nicely again. Whenever my hair is limp and lifeless, I reach for this product and it always improves matters. It helps the hair to spiral and clump nicely, without requiring a separate hydrating treatment. It contains your usual slip agents, the hydrolyzed proteins and a plant oil or two.

DevaCurl Leave In Decadence Ultra Moisturizing Leave In Conditioner ($36 CDN): As someone who tends to use fairly intense conditioners in the shower and doesn’t rinse it all out, I’m not into heavier leave ins. This one smells heavenly (like a musky natural coconut) and adds a nice dose of hydrolyzed protein and lightweight moisture. It’s on the lighter end of things, however. It helps my hair clump nicely without added weight. It features coconut oil, hydrolyzed quinoa, argan oil, aloe and a few other oils. It’s kind of a small container, however, and I have gone through it fairly quickly.

DevaCurl B’ Leave In Miracle Curl Plumper ($27 CDN): This is actually a product that I have a deep love for that started way before 2019. However, it was a contributing factor on most of my good hair days so I couldn’t write this post without  including it. It’s my favourite curl enhancer. I use it after a curl cream and before gel to help my fragile curls clump together and stay clumped and add some bounce. It contains an emollient, a whole lot of hydrolyzed protein and some botanical extracts. It really helps my curls and waves to have bounce that lasts.

DevaCurl Styling Cream Touchable Curl Definer and DevaCurl Supercream Coconut Curl Styler ($38 CDN): I couldn’t decide between these two Devacurl curl creams that I discovered in 2019, mainly because they are so incredibly similar. They both really help to clump and define curls while adding moisture to the hair and a substantial light hold on their own. Styling Cream lends a little bit more hold and might be slightly lighter and Supercream might give me slightly clumpier curls with the coconut oil it contains. It works for me year round and while I can use the creams on their own, I get the best results paired with a gel on top. They both lend the hair control, definition and smoothness.

DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel ($32/$60 CDN): Throughout 2019, I was using and loving this medium-firm hold gel. Among the first few ingredients are glycerin and hydrolyzed proteins, both of which are polarizing ingredients. I find that the glycerin and hydrolyzed proteins lend some curl enhancement and bounce to my hair. My favourite thing about this gel is that it’s lightweight enough to dry quickly while adding enough hold to give me multi day hair — I have hair that soaks up everything and many products leave it without hold. I’ve discovered that I’m a curl cream kind of girl and this pairs really well with them. It also leaves me with some volume. I will note, however, that it works best for me in spring, summer, fall and early winter. Note: I actually did better with the Ouidad Vitalcurl Tress Effects last winter. However, I haven’t tried the newer formula so I didn’t want to include it. I think I kind of just did though…

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.

Some Winter Empty Products

It’s been a minute since I’ve done one of these posts. However, I realized that I had finished a good assortment of products that I have thoughts to share on. Sidenote: Rather than dwell on the Deva Curl drama when I talk about individual products, I will note here that I’m well aware of the scalp issues that people have experienced using their products and the reports of hair loss. I did experience itchiness and scalp irritation when using their cleansers and full on routine. However, I love the results of their stylers and the occasional treatment products. They aren’t for everyone though, and they certainly aren’t the be all and end all of products for textured hair.

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Deva Curl B’Leave In Miracle Curl Plumper ($26.55 CDN | 177 mL): This is actually my most repurchased hair product of all time and I’m going to repurchase it again. I’ve gone through at least four tubes of this product since my first attempt at the curly girl method years ago. It’s not actually a leave-in conditioner. It’s a smoothing thin gelee textured product that works fantastically on my fine delicate curls. It helps my curls that easily clump together maintain that clumped and spiral-y formation that they can lose at the drop of a hat during the drying process. It helps bulk up my waves and curls into spirals and adds bounce. It’s glycerin based product that also contains wheat amino acids and a couple of different kinds of hydrolyzed proteins high on the ingredient list.

Deva Curl Wave Maker Touchable Texture Whip ($36.54 CDN| 147.9 mL): Having finer hair, a looser curl pattern and wanting volume, I was convinced that this was going to be the curl cream for me. It wasn’t. It was so lightweight that I found I had to use lots of it and created texture and separation in the way I didn’t want. It separated my curl clumps. After I didn’t like this cream styler, I thought that maybe curl creams weren’t for me. I was wrong. It does have medium-ish hold on its own and contains way less glycerin than their other creams. I think this product could be great on baby fine hair that is easily weighed down and those wanting beachy kind of texture.

Deva Curl Supercream Coconut Curl Styler ($38 CDN | 150 mL): I honestly don’t know if I would have thought  to try a different curl cream from Devacurl if I hadn’t randomly grabbed a sample of this from Sephora. I found myself pleasantly surprised by this curl cream and ended up purchasing it. It really helped to clump my curls together into spirals and gives the hair structure and moisture. It contains a whole lot of coconut oil and glycerin and a bit of protein. However, it’s not overly heavy and helped to control my hair (especially in the humid summer) while offering light hold. The subtle authentic coconut scent was pleasant.

Deva Curl Styling Cream Touchable Curl Definer ($38 CDN | 150 mL): I bought the original curl cream after I liked Supercream so much. It’s fairly similar to Supercream but is a little bit lighter and has a bit more hold — and can actually be used on its own without a gel or holding product — and doesn’t contain coconut oil. It’s also glycerin based and has a similar cream consistency. It helps my curls and waves clump together but might leave my hair with slightly more bounce and volume. It’s offers a little bit less control than Supercream though and has a sugary fruit scent. I bought it again.

Deva Curl Ultra Defining Gel ($58.06 CDN | 946 mL): I consistently used this gel over the last year or so and there’s nothing I’ve gotten better results with. It has medium firm hold that will develop a cast that isn’t too tenacious and is fairly weightless on the hair. It contains a whole lot of glycerin and quite a bit of hydrolyzed protein. Both of those ingredients help to enhance my fine waves and curls, regardless of season. It plays particularly well with a cream underneath. I’ve repurchased the litre size again. This gel also leaves me with more volume than several others I’ve tried and dries faster than most gels.

Curl Junkie Repair Me Reconstructive Hair Treatment ($36 CDN | 355 mLs): It should speak volumes that I placed an order to specifically get this protein deep conditioner back into my life even before I was out of it and that I cut the bottle open to get every last bit out. It’s a great deep conditioner with out of this world slip. It contains hydrolyzed keratin as the fourth ingredient so it lends the strands a serious protein boost, while still being a super moisturizing treatment. It’s rich but relatively lightweight and always leaves my waves and curls a little bit bouncier and clumped after use.

Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Conditioner ($12-$13.49 CDN | 379 mLs): This ended up being an easily accessible medium weight concentrated conditioner. It had moderate slip and offered the right amount of weight and nourishment for my fine but incredibly thirsty strands. It’s silicone free and is comprised mainly of glycerin, shea butter, jojoba, argan and olive oil, along with a bit of hydrolyzed silk. It was enough moisture for multi day hair, encouraged my waves and curls to clump together in a nice way but didn’t weigh down my hair. It also worked as a leave-in; I’d buy again.

Aveeno Intense Relief Overnight Cream ($12.49 CDN | 208 mLs): This was a nice fragrance free cream that helped calm the winter dry itch and hydrated the skin nicely with petrolatum, shea butter and oat extract. However, it was so lightweight that I went through the tube very quickly, applying a generous amount twice a day to my legs and arms. I’ve moved onto richer creams that seal in moisture on my patches of eczema better.

Marc Jacobs Beauty Under(cover) Perfecting Coconut Face Primer ($58 CDN | 30 mLs): This ended up being a very expensive moisturizing product for me, offering no sort of priming benefits beyond one of my standard moisturizers. It was smoothing in the way that moisturizers containing silicones are and had that kind of thick semi-oily feel that only coconut alkanes as an ingredient leaves behind. I experienced no issues but I also didn’t find that my makeup looked better or lasted longer with this primer.

Physician’s Formula Eye Booster Lash 2-in-1 Boosting Eyeliner & Serum in Ultra Black ($15.99): I’ve gone through countless tubes of this liquid eyeliner and I’m sure that won’t be changing anytime soon. This brush and pen hybrid style liner turned me into a liquid girl. This pen creates a slim flick with ease in seconds and doesn’t require a steady hand.

What have you used up lately?
Maggie, x.

 

 

 

 

2019 Favourites | The Makeup

Rather than doing one big lengthy post of my favourite beauty product discoveries of the year, I’ve decided to do it in segments I’m thinking. Today I’m starting with the makeup products that I’ve discovered and fallen in love with over the last year. Hopefully this won’t be too atrociously long-winded…

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L’Oreal Infallible Glow-Lock Illuminating Primer ($18.99 CDN): I’m kind of shocked that I found a primer I liked throughout the year, as I’m not usually impressed by them. It’s a water, silicone and plant oil based formula that leaves the skin moisturized and smoothed with a soft glow – but no actual shimmer particles – and allows for a more skin like foundation application on my drier skin. I find it to be less of a glowy primer and more of a great hydrating one that has a slight brightening effect.

Laneige Whitening BB Cushion ($43.70 CDN): This was easily my most reached for everyday base. It never clung to dry patches, looked like my actual skin but evened it out and brightened it to a significant degree, leaving a luminous skinlike finish. It has broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen with a PA+++ rating, containing zinc and titanium dioxide, along with the chemical active octinoxate. Despite having skin that typically gets irritated by chemical filters, I happily used this one. It offers buildable coverage too and actually lasted hours and hours on my skin. I also applaud the product for having actual skincare benefits. It contains a healthy dose of the superhero niacinamide, anti-inflammatory green tea and a stable form of vitamin c.

Dior Forever Skin Glow 24h Wear Radiant Perfection Skin Caring Foundation ($64-68 CDN): This foundation discovery almost makes me forgive Dior for discontinuing my longtime favourite Star foundation. I might say it actually improves on that formula. It has become my go-to foundation when I’m looking for more coverage and substance than the cushion provides. It’s a solid medium buildable coverage foundation that leaves a luminous finish and brightening, skin smoothing effect. It has a much improved shade range and lasts forever on my drier skin without highlighting texture and dryness.

L’Oreal Infallible Full Wear Concealer ($16.49 CDN): It’s rare that I find a concealer worth raving about, let alone one that I love enough to purchase in multiple colours for any sort of skintone variations; this one has made me do both. It’s super full coverage but doesn’t highlight dryness excessively when you thin it out to the degree I do, so I’m able to achieve coverage without much in terms of creasing. Also, it wears fantastically as an eyeshadow primer on my crease-prone lids. I love using it under my eyes to camouflage my dark circles and it also functions as a spot concealer. The shade range is ridiculously good as well and it comes with much more product than the typical concealer, making it economical.

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter ($54 CDN): I honestly can’t tell you the last time that I found myself reaching for a highlighter that wasn’t this one, and it’s even made its way into my more minimal makeup routine. The oversize doe-foot applicator allows for effortless application and it leaves a gorgeous pale dewy sheen to the skin that doesn’t read makeup-y and doesn’t highlight texture. I also love that it’s alcohol free – especially because I apply it to a particularly sensitive area on my face – and features replenishing squalene.

Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow Contour Duo in Fair/Medium ($85 CDN): You could say that 2019 was the year I tried out and fell in love with this hyped luxury line. The real reason I loved this product was the perfect neutral bronzer tone that the bronzer has. To be honest, the highlighter isn’t my favourite. This bronzer builds up nicely and with ease and has a nice neutral golden tone that helps to sculpt my moderately fair skin while still providing a sun kissed hue.

Anastasia Beverley Hills Modern Renaissance Eyeshadow Palette ($55 CDN): This crimson-leaning neutral palette was actually included in last year’s version of this post with the caveat that it was a last minute discovery. I’m happy to report that I still love wearing this mostly matte palette for natural to smokier looks. I really enjoy the combination of pale shimmery lid and highlight shades and rustier and pinky-red hues. I’m even willing to forgive the powderiness of the formula.

Anastasia Beverley Hills Carli Bybel Eyeshadow Palette ($60 CDN): The latter half of the year, I invested in and happily used this eyeshadow palette. Initially I was hesitant of investing in yet another influencer collaboration but I must admit that I like the selection of colours and textures featured in the palette. I really enjoy the pigmented and powdery formula, also. Rather than being comprised primarily of mattes, the palette is an even mixture of mattes and shimmers/metallics. The colour scheme is surprisingly versatile, with a nice selection of neutral shades with fun metallics and pops of colour thrown in, creating neutral looks, smoky looks of varying intensity and looks with a bit of colour. I do get the most use out of the warm neutrals, however.

Any favourites to share?
Maggie, x.

 

The Acquisition | Dior Miss Dior Le Parfum

It started with the December Sephora Bonus. They were offering a significant discount — I can’t remember what, maybe it was $25 on a $75 purchase. I also had a gift card that would take care of a significant portion of the rest. I decided that I would be good and wouldn’t buy any more makeup and skincare so I decided I would invest in a perfume. I had loved the Christian Dior Miss Dior Eau de Parfum for years. I had never bought myself a bottle because it was expensive and I had seemingly never ending smaller sampler bottles from past Sephora purchases. I was ready to buy myself a bottle but then I remembered that due to the changes in fragrance regulations, it had been reformulated in 2017 and I didn’t love the reformulation as much. Upon research, I decided to take a risk with the Christian Dior Miss Dior Le Parfum ($129 CDN | 40 mL), as many reported it was similar to the scent prior to the reformulation and hadn’t had the reformulations that the other versions of the scent had. To be honest, I don’t find it that similar but I do love it.

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This scent seems to be marketed as the Miss Dior scent with a higher concentrations of fragrance oils and more intensity. However, I’d describe it as more like a flanker to the original scent, with less notes and some different notes. The fragrance relies on a singular top note, which is mandarin. The middle notes are Bulgarian and Turkish rose absolut. It’s in the base notes, however, that the fragrance really deviates from the line’s standard notes; it dries down to a blend of patchouli, amber and vanilla. I only get the citrus vibe for a moment in the very beginning and the rose leaves a general floral impression but is subdued like in older versions of the scent. The scent really smells like a warm, deep and spicy amber and patchouli blend with a bit of floral in the background. The sillage and projection is insane. The longevity is also like twenty four hours on my skin itself and days upon days on my clothes. This scent is so powerful that I can only really use a spray or two.

I’ve been loving this scent, nevertheless. I will caution you that the strong amber note may really bother those scent sensitive and could potentially give a headache to some. I can be scent sensitive, however, and this scent applied lightly does not bother me in the slightest. It definitely makes a statement — especially at first — but I adore it sprayed lightly. It has the patchouli and subtle rose scent of the original, but has unique depth and warmth with the spicy amber. It makes me feel cozy, warm and indulgent. I also find myself enjoying the scent even more the longer it sits on my skin. While I wouldn’t say its filled the hole of the reformulated 2012 scent, it’s become a valuable addition to my fragrance wardrobe that I didn’t quite know I was searching for.

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.