Products I’ve Used Up | Take Two

Let’s skip as much of the introductory ramble as possible. I finished some products and I wrote a lot about them…


DevaCurl No-Poo Zero Lather Cleansing Conditioner ($32 CDN/ 355 mLs): Please forgive the old packaging of my bottle; I had forgotten that I still had a quarter of a bottle left underneath my sink. I’ve been trying it out again and my feelings haven’t changed. I really like the minty citrus scent and the slip that co-wash leaves in my thirsty tangly hair. Unfortunately, this product tends to make my scalp itchy in ways that conditioner washing with straight conditioners do not. I expect that my scalp hates the peppermint oil, which is a known irritant and when my scalp starts to itch, I can easily start to have an eczema outbreak… I didn’t really find it any more cleansing than a standard conditioner and although my curls liked the slip of this product, I just couldn’t do it on more than an occasional basis. It also gave my fine hair limper roots, which I did not appreciate.

Maui Moisture Curl Quench + Coconut Oil Conditioner ($10 CDN/ 385 mLs): Loosely speaking, this product is kind of sulfate, silicone and drying alcohol free. It does contain standard alcohol but as far as I am aware, it’s acting as a solvent in the formula. I’m not sure how I feel about this but I definitely did not experience any sort of dryness as a result. It has a thicker consistency that does impart some moisture but isn’t as intensely hydrating and as slippy as I would prefer. It was a fine conditioner but it wasn’t my favourite because of these shortcomings. It’ s a good affordable conditioner with aloe, glycerin, coconut oil and fatty alcohols. Unfortunately, I did not find it to be curl clumping either. I feel like it would be better for those with thicker hair textures and less tangly hair than mine.

Shea Moisture Raw Shea & Cupuacu Frizz Defense Hair Masque ($16.99 CDN/ 354 mLs): I went an ordered this mask from Ulta because it was aimed at wavy hair – and I have waves with some curls thrown in there – and while I liked it, I wasn’t in love. It’s silicone-free, doesn’t have any drying ingredients and actually appears to be protein free. It had a thick texture that was smoothing and moisturizing but it didn’t do anything special for my finer strands. I think it would be better for thicker strands and those who are protein sensitive.

Shea Moisture Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Seal Mask ($16.99 CDN/ 354 mLs): This has to be my favourite hair mask that I’ve ever tried and I liked this so much when I finished it – over a year ago – that I held onto the empty package like a true hoarder. It’s aimed at hair curlier than mine with higher porosity but I love it for my high porosity 2c fine hair. It has great slip and is super concentrated, providing intense moisture to my strands that help curls to clump, especially at the lengths. It has some protein in it too, which my hair appreciates but it’s very moisturizing overall and is very concentrated. The texture is rich but not heavy. I recently acquired a new tub and I’ve been loving having it in my life again. It’s silicone free and drying alcohol free.

Love Beauty & Planet Argan Oil & Lavender Conditioner ($10-12 CDN/ 400 mL): This was an impulse purchase that I made upon seeing that the product was silicone free and seemed to have an interesting ingredient list. I really liked it. It’s silicone-free, has nothing drying in it and doesn’t really contain anything that could build up on the hair. It has a great spa scent, moderate moisture and great slip. It’s a great conditioner that hydrates without adding weight and contains fatty alcohols, your usual slip agents, along with coconut and argan oil. It helped to clump my curls and added no weight to my hair. It worked as a standard conditioner and as a leave-in. I would buy again, especially because of how easy it is to come across in stores here.

Suave Essentials Ocean Breeze Conditioner ($2.77 CDN/ 887 mL): The Suave Essentials conditioners are one of those things that frustratingly aren’t readily available in Canada. However, I picked one up when ordering other products from Target online and I have to say that I was impressed with the light and thin conditioner. It’s silicone free and is mainly formulated with slip agents and moisturizing fatty alcohols. This makes it a great conditioner to use as a co-wash on my fine tangly hair and as a weightless leave-in conditioner. The thin runny texture is very curl clumping and leaves me with more volume than others. I’ll buy again when I place another order online.

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Enriched Calming Toner ($21 US/ 190 mL): These milky toners from Paula’s Choice have been an essential part of my skincare routine for a few years now and I wouldn’t want to switch them out. They add another layer of weightless moisture and prevent transepidermal water loss. There’s loads of anti-irritants, antioxidants and hydrating ingredients and nothing known to be irritating. It’s essentially a serum in liquid form that’s very calming with the ability to help repair the barrier.

Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment ($37 US/ 30 mLs): This 10% alpha hydroxy acid solution wasn’t an instant favourite but I grew to love the dual chemical exfoliant and serum enough to repurchase it, even before my bottle was empty. I find it to be an effective exfoliant and water-binder, with lactic, glycolic, malic, tartaric and salicylic acid – at effective concentrations – ,helping to smooth, brighten and even out my complexion. I find that the 0.5% of salicylic acid that the formula includes is enough to help prevent my skin from breaking out on my chin for the most part and I find the antioxidants and anti-irritants make the formula very easy to tolerate.

NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base ($33 CDN/ 7 mL): Despite having dry skin, I have somewhat oilier eyelids that are prone to creasing and wearing through eyeshadow in general. This is one of the few eyeshadow primers that I’ve tried that has consistently reduced the creasing I experience and increased the wear-time of eyeshadow. I’ve repurchased this.

L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara in Mystic Black ($13.99 CDN/ 8.5 mL): This dry volumizing formula has been a fantastic discovery in the last year or so. It’s so dry that it meets my standards for volume and curl without the risk of getting everywhere during application that wetter formulas have. It creates lots of drama in the lashes without being overly clumpy. My only complaint is that the tube gets grimy and the wand gets gunky earlier on than other mascaras so I find myself having to repurchase more often, which is probably a good thing for my eye health. I have repurchased and I will buy more soon.

What have you used up recently?
Maggie, x.

Top 18 of 2018

Some of my favourite posts to read and videos to watch are those detailing yearly favourites. However, I haven’t managed to write one since 2015. I’m remedying this now, after much thought on what products I would include. You can’t possibly imagine how much time I’ve spent thinking and thinking about this.  The way that I thought about the yearly favourites were the eighteen products that I relied on the most and got the best performance from throughout the year. I do note that some of these won’t surprise any regular readers here in the least and they aren’t products that just came out this year or products that I bought in the last year necessarily. Here we go.

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Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm ($39 CDN)

This fragrance and known irritant free balm cleanser was a late 2017 discovery that firmly has become my favourite makeup remover because it dissolves everything without stinging my eyes, blurring my vision – unless I’m an idiot and use way too much – or irritating my skin. It’s such a gentle balm cleanser that I managed to use it during an eczema flare when even water made my skin burn and itch without an issue. It’s nothing glamorous but removes even the toughest eye makeup and dissolves foundation better than anything else I’ve tried without that stripping factor. It’s so good that I can skip a second cleanse if I’m feeling lazy without getting under the skin bumps the next day.

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Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner ($24 US)

Since trying out the Skin Recovery Toner in 2015, I haven’t wanted to be without one of these Paula’s Choice milky toners. Honestly, I tend to flip flop between this offering and the Skin Recovery one but just using one of them is essential for my skin that is prone to irritation, dehydration, flaking and eczema. It honestly provides many of the benefits of a serum in a milky liquid form. It’s obviously formulated without alcohol, fragrance and ingredients that are known to be irritating. It’s soothing and is incredibly helpful in maintaining a healthy skin barrier and repairing a compromised one with fatty acids, antioxidants and hydrating ingredients. It provides a soothing effect short term and long-term keeps my skin looking healthier and brighter, without dry patches and calmed.

Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA ($36 US) | review

Along with my prescription retinoid, – and more recently my azelaic acid – I rely on an AHA exfoliant to keep my skin smooth and clear on the whole and hydrated. This one keeps my pores from getting clogged and with the 0.5% salicylic acid and I find the glycolic, lactic, malic and tartaric acid formula to be gentler than pure glycolic acid but still have the same even-ing, brightening, smoothing and water-binding impact that single note formulas can have. More impressively, I love how gentle the formula is and how it combines the exfoliating ingredients with antioxidants and skin-replenishing ingredients. Essentially, it acts as a serum and effective exfoliant at once and I find it easier to tolerate, likely as a result of the antioxidants and anti-irritants.

Paula’s Choice RESIST Skin Restoring Moisturizer SPF 50 ($33 US)

It appears that I may have a thing for the Paula’s Choice RESIST line for dry skin, I’m realizing. I think that this is because they are chalked full of antioxidants and anti-irritants that make the formulas the most soothing and replenishing as possible, which my easily irritated skin needs. This is a very hydrating and cosmetically elegant lotion that is formulated with chemical sunscreen actives and is unique because it’s the only chemical sunscreen I’ve ever tried that has not immediately irritated my skin. I think I’ll always be a mineral sunscreen girl but I love this one for how it’s truly hydrating, isn’t greasy and never clings to dry patches in the way that mineral actives do. I think I tolerate this one because of the robust antioxidants and anti-irritants in the formula.

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($72 CDN) | review

There’s no foundation that I’ve tried in the last three years that has knocked this cult favourite foundation from its spot as my go-to foundation. It looks incredibly skin like, even on my uneven texture and dry patches, and has a satin finish that lasts until I remove it on my dry thirsty skin. I like the medium-buildable coverage that it offers and how it will cover even reddened eczema patches, without losing that radiant finish. Without fail, this expensive foundation always makes me feel and look my best. Plus, it photographs fantastically.

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Laura Geller Balance n Brighten Baked Colour Correcting Foundation ($45 CDN)

Being someone with drier skin that doesn’t suffer from issues of makeup longevity, I have a tendency to skip powder altogether. However, I have discovered that I really like this one because of the light coverage it provides that mainly serves to cancel out redness of my face and because of the soft focus radiant (but without shimmer in sight) finish that it  provides over my t-zone. I tend to like wearing it if I’m going to be taking pictures and I loved wearing it in the unseasonably hot summer that we had. Also, the smoothing finish and coverage it provides works nicely as a low maintenance ‘foundation’ alternative on good skin days and days when I’m doing two or three minute makeup.

L’Oreal Paris True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation ($20-25 CDN)

I’m beyond irritated that this foundation doesn’t seem to be carried by most drugstores in Canada anymore but I’m pleased that they haven’t discontinued my favourite lighter coverage base entirely. The cushion foundation is not the most economical option but as someone who rarely goes through foundation, it’s worthwhile for an easy option that’s almost undetectable on the skin and doesn’t cling to dry patches in the slightest. When I’m unsure of what to grab as a base and I don’t have time to think about it, I reach for this light to medium coverage offering because it’s hydrating, weightless and doesn’t cling to dry patches. The dewy finish is very brightening and it covers redness well but always looks like skin.

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick in Amber ($31 CDN)

As someone whose face just looks better with a bit of shading, I find myself often reaching for this cream-to-powder contour colour because it’s easy to blend into the skin and has a realistic grey tone that reads as a shadow. Also it works with both powder and cream products in my routine.

Colourpop Super Shock Highlighter in Wisp ($8 US)

I bought this putty-cream textured highlighter in a kit last year with a hefty dose of skepticism but I found myself really enjoying the gleam and sheen that this bronzier golden champagne highlighter provided to my cheeks. It’s one of those highlighters without obvious shimmer, I must note. Being fair, I find that I have to use a lighter hand but I love the luminous sheen it gives my cheekbones and how it adds life to my skin.

Physician’s Formula Eyebooster Lash Boosting Eyeliner & Serum ($15 CDN)

I feel like I’ve rambled on about how much I love this brush-tipped pen style liquid eyeliner so much recently but I do adore reaching for it on a daily basis because it creates a bit of a kitten flick with ease. I don’t have to worry about my eyeliner if I use this one. It removes easily and doesn’t really budge either.

Viseart Matte Eyeshadow Palette in Warm Mattes 10 ($100 CDN) | review

Ever since I picked up this expensive sunset-hued matte palette towards the beginning of 2018, it’s been my everyday go-to. I love how the shades have that flattering warm hue and that everything except a black is included for shade selection. Most of all I like that the shades crease on me the least of any eyeshadow formula, last for ages, blend like a dream and do not cause fallout. The red shade in this palette even got me on the red eyeshadow train.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette ($55 CDN)

It seems like whenever I do these kinds of posts, I can’t resist including a product or two that I’ve more recently discovered. This palette I might have only picked up at the beginning of November, but it has become a real favourite of mine since then. The colour choices are a bit more interesting than the Viseart, being a mixture of neutral mattes (with a few shimmers thrown in), along with some red and berry-toned shades. I love how it makes a nice one and done look and I’ve enjoyed experimenting with the more red shades. The formula’s powderiness doesn’t seem to leave fallout, either. Also, the formula is pretty easy to work with. I love the inclusion of a few shimmery shades for the lid and to add some dimension.

MAC Eyeshadow in All That Glitters ($9/$19 CDN)

I came close to including a selection of the MAC eyeshadows that I reached for some throughout the year but in all honesty, I mainly reached for this peachy champagne shimmery shadow. I’ve repurchased it countless times and when I wanted a lid shade, I always find myself reaching for this one and am pleased with how it looks.

MAC Brow Set in Beguile ($22 CDN)

While I might have a lot of brow, they are sparse and tend to look unnatural unless a lot of care is put into gently filling them in and taming them. This year, I discovered that using this brow mascara with a light hand held them in place and helped to fill in the sparse sections, without looking product-y or unnatural in the slightest. It was a godsend for when I wanted to do something with my brows but did not have the time or energy to really fill them in.

L’Oreal Pro Matte Liquid Lipstick in 360 Angora ($12.99 CDN)

My lip product discovery and favourite of the year was easily this liquid lipstick formula and my go to shade was this medium-toned greige shade. I have super dry lips and aren’t a particularly clean eater and drinker and tend to experience lip products wearing off unevenly through the day, accentuating my dry patches. I like a lip product that I don’t have to think about and this one fits the bill, especially because once I let this product set on my lips, it can last through a Christmas dinner. I also like how the formula doesn’t have a super dry feel but sets on my lips. Also, the colour is interesting enough that it feels kind of cool and different without being a bold or jarring colour.

MAC Lip Pencil in Boldly Bare ($22 CDN)

As much as I like buying lip products, I don’t find myself reaching for them on a daily basis because I can’t be bothered with the upkeep and having to think about them. On days when I wanted some colour to my lips, I often found myself filling in my lips with this neutral coral-hued rosy pencil and topping it with lip balm or a sheerer neutral lipstick offering. It happily lived in my purse throughout the year.

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DevaCurl One Condition Delight Weightless Waves ($32/$62 CDN)

I have long porous fine wavy curls that tangles like nothing else in this world and this conditioner ticks all of the boxes for a daily conditioner; I can use it as a leave-in to keep my curlier underlayer of hair hydrated and defined without flattening out the wimpier waves that are prone to falling out on the top layer of my hair and as my standard conditioner of choice.  I have a ton of hair that requires a ton of slip to detangle and this fits the bill, whilst adding the dose of protein that gives my hair the bounce it needs to look good. It has great slip and provides moisture without weight for my thirsty locks. It’s free of drying alcohols and silicones.

DevaCurl B’Leave In ($27 CDN)

This year, I noticed that most of my good hair days – when I actually wore my curls and waves down – occurred after using this curl boosting product in addition to gel and whatever cream product I was using. This holdless gel-textured product added a weightless dose of protein to my fine hair and really boosted the bounce and curl in sections of my hair that are prone to wilting and falling flat. I’ve used this product before with good results but I rediscovered it this year when I started putting more effort into my hair again.

Any favourites to share?
Maggie, x.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Review | Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment

I didn’t realize that I enjoyed the Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA ($36 US/ 30 mLs) quite so much until I found myself repurchasing it at the Black Friday Sale. Unlike the discontinued Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment 10% AHA, I don’t use it one night and instantly notice that my skin is so much smoother and brighter, and that my textural irregularities have been toned down notably. However, I do notice that this formula likely gets me to the same place whilst being even more gentle and having even a soothing action on my easily-angered skin with continued use. What I enjoy the most about the newer addition to Paula’s line is that it combines a gentle alpha hydroxy acid with enough salicylic acid (0.5%) to combat the clogged pores that I’m prone to around my chin and lower cheeks, whilst also being a skin-restoring serum. The most impressive part is that it does this without irritating my sensitive skin that I keep in check with prescription Differin and azelaic acid.

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This formula is different than most exfoliants on the market for two main reasons reasons: (1) It’s formulated without drying alcohol and irritants and is at the correct concentration and pH to be effective (2) It’s an effective mixture of the bog-standard glycolic acid and the larger molecule alpha hydroxy acids lactic acid, magic acid and tartaric acid. In more recent years, I’m happy to report that other effective gentle acids have come onto the market but few contain the restoring soothing ingredients that Paula’s do at her more reasonable price tag. I believe that this acid product’s brilliance is that it provides the potent 10% AHA concentration (that I can tell you is effective firsthand) but is gentler because it combines the slightly more gentler AHA’s along with the glycolic acid that features in most AHA exfoliants, along with skin repairing ingredients, antioxidants and anti-irritants. Now let’s segway into the ingredients in more depth:

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Glycolic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Lactic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (texture enhancer), Malic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Tartaric Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 (skin-restoring), Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 (skin-restoring), Ceramide NG (skin-replenishing), Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract (skin-soothing), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant), Avena Sativa (Oat) Bran Extract (skin-soothing), Punica Granatum Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract (antioxidant), Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (antioxidant/skin-soothing), Peucedanum Graveolens (Dill) Extract (antioxidant), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Adenosine (skin-restoring), Hydrogenated Lecithin (skin-restoring), Bisabolol (skin-soothing), Polyquaternium-10 (texture enhancer), Xanthan Gum (thickener/emulsifier), Carbomer (texture enhancer), Polysorbate 20 (cleansing agent), Sodium Bicarbonate (pH adjuster), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Aminomethyl Propanol (pH adjuster), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Benzyl Alcohol (preservative).

As previously mentioned, the formula’s basis is the 10% concentration of water binding alpha-hydroxy acids along with 0.5% salicylic acid to help penetrate the pores and aid with treating congestion. As with all Paula’s Choice products, it does this without fragrance, drying alcohols and plant extracts that are known to cause irritant reactions. The alpha hydroxy acids work to bind water to the skin and smooth its texture and diminish the look of imperfections and any sort of discolouration. Glycerin helps to bind water to the skin and the peptides theoretically help to normalize skin cell activity and reinforce the skin’s barrier. The ceramides that the formula contains play a significant role in repairing the skin’s barrier, which is important for everyone’s skin health but is especially important when you have a tendency towards eczema and naturally have an impaired barrier. The formula also contains a bunch of antioxidants and anti-irritants but I’ll talk most about the ones that appear in higher concentrations and are the most notable. Licorice root extract is anti-inflammatory ingredient that also plays a role in treating hyperpigmentation. Sidenote: this extract also appears to act against acne causing bacteria. Chamomile is antioxidant that also has evidence of extra anti-inflammatory ability.

The texture of the product is a lightweight but not watery gel thats effectively dispensed in a dropper. The product is fluid enough that I believe that the packaging is probably the most effective style that it could be and is definitely practical and a bit more sophisticated than Paula’s Choice packaging of the past. The packaging improvement and inclusion of so many beneficial ingredients makes the middle of the road price tag worthwhile for me. I do note that Paula’s Choice products have increased in price in the last several years but I do believe that their formulas have become more sophisticated, as has their packaging as a result. Even though you get very little product, I don’t find you need much and I appreciate that it functions as a nice serum as well as an exfoliant. For those wondering, this product is not clearly stated as vegan – see the Paula’s Choice animal testing page for the full details – but it’s certainly cruelty free.

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.