L’Occitane Solidarity Balm 2017


Today is International Women’s Day and just like last year, L’Occitane has released another Solidarity Balm that goes right along with it. This year’s balm is Shea Butter Violet and it smells amazing. I was first introduced to the yearly Solidarity Balms last year with the rose scent. I literally use this stuff for everything; lips, cuticles, scrapes, chapped and broken skin. I haven’t found a limit to what I can use it for and I still haven’t finished last years. I love nearly anything rose scented so for me to love this violet scent even more in unprecedented.

What I love even more about the actual balm is that L’Occitane will use 100% of the profits to fund NGO’s projects to support women’s leadership in the world in partnership with UN Women and the L’Occitane Foundation. Not all of us can or will participate in women’s marches around the world but we can all try and spend $6 on this balm to try and support other women.

You’ll probably want to pick up more than one though because the Solidarity Balms are amazing and you’ll feel like you’ve contributed a little.

You can find the Solidarity Balms on sale on the L’Occitane website.

Mani Monday: Londontown Lakur Enhanced Colour

I love trying new beauty brands, but I especially love finding new nail polish brands. Londontown is an American company with roots in the UK. The founder implemented her great-aunt’s botanical recipe in a nail care brand that’s not only vegan but 9-free. I received a number of Londontown products to try but I’m starting with the three Enhanced Colour Lakurs before I move on to the other nail care goodies. I had seriously varying results between the three shades but with 80+ polishes to pick from, there are quite a few more I’d like to try. As far as I can tell, if you want to buy these in Canada, the Shopping Channel is the only place to get them.

Tube Underground

Londontown calls Tube Underground a ‘perfect dark chocolate cream,’ to which I say, nope. There is very little that’s brown about this shade, it’s really verging on black. I would actually like the shade a lot but the formula was a little thick and hard to spread. Two coats looked good but I would probably add a touch of thinner before I use this one again.

Lady Luck

Where Tube Underground was too thick, Lady Luck’s dark burgundy formula was a touch on the thin side and actually got really runny which made it settle weirdly. Two coats got full opacity but I almost wish I could find the happy medium between Lady Luck and Tube Underground.

Buckingham Blue

And then I did. I swear these polishes were starting to feel very Goldilocks and Buckingham Blue was just right. This deep navy looks a lot more blue in person and it was a one-coater. Pretty much everything about this shade was perfect. I love the formula and the colour and this is the one that makes me want to try more.

Makeup Most Wanted February 2017: Alyssa’s Picks

I might usually say I can’t believe how fast a month went by but for some reason I feel like I completely missed February. Maybe it’s because Toronto’s weather was so unseasonably spring-like but it’s almost like it went from January to March in one day. Luckily I did actually use a bunch of new stuff during February and some completely blew me away.

Shiseido IBUKI Smart Filtering Smoother

Everyone is all about selfie filters (except me, I *might* have a total of 3 selfies on my phone) and this lightweight lotion is supposed to give you the appearance of a filter on your face. I don’t know how Shiseido came up with this but I’m going to need it in my life forever now. In the week or so I’ve been using it, my pores look smaller, my skin is matte and I have a little glow. While it’s mattifying, it doesn’t dry out my skin. I’ve used this on it’s own and as a primer under makeup and I absolutely know I’ll get another once I run out. It’s pocket size, so it’s great to keep in your purse or to travel with but I wish there was a larger sized option as well. I might start keeping these everywhere just in case.

Tarte Lifted Sweatproof Mascara

I might not work out as much as I should but I go to a lot of sweaty concerts and I’ve been looking for a mascara for years that won’t melt off but won’t be horrible to take off when I get home either. Tarte finally gave me what I was looking for. This sweatproof mascara only comes in brown-black and while I love my mascara blacker than black, I actually really like the shade of this. It’s a dark enough brown that it can pass for black without the harshness. It does a great job giving me a lot of volume and it doesn’t clump while I’m layering it on. I do find it can get a tad flaky but not enough to really bother me. Plus it’s actually sweatproof but comes off easily with makeup remover. I’m used to still seeing waterproof mascara the next day, after I’ve tried to scrub it off for half an hour, so this is a nice change.

Redken No Blow Dry NBD Airy Cream

I basically never heat style my hair so I’m a huge fan of the new air dry trend, mainly because I’ve been doing it that way for years. Redken’s newest release is three air dry stylers. Airy Cream for fine hair, Just Right Cream for medium hair and Bossy Cream for coarse hair. I’ve been using Airy Cream and I flat out love it. I wash my hair at night, add this cream, throw my hair in a braid or a bun and wake up to nearly perfect hair. It does a great job of getting rid of my frizz without weighing my hair down and you can’t feel it once it dries. Did I mention it smells amazing too?

Beautycounter Desert Sunrise Palette

Beautycounter is a fairly new brand for me and I love that they’re making great products while taking out things that are bad for you. Their spring collection is called Desert Sunrise and it was love at first sight for me and this palette. With six eyeshadows (two are brand new) and three blushes, I’ve done quite a few looks with this palette already. I don’t get any fall out with the shadows, but I wish they were a touch more pigmented, especially the lighter shades. But they’re fairly buildable and I’ve worn all the shades and can’t pick a favourite. The blushes on the other hand are amazing. I automatically gravitated towards Bloom (the middle shade) and I love the pink shade on my skin. It just screams spring to me. The blushes seem to be a lot more pigmented than the shadows and you really only need a tiny but. I’m definitely going to be using this palette a lot more and I can’t wait to try more from Beautycounter.

Volition Ultimate Anti-Aging Trio

If you are serious about moisturizer, I think that I’ve found the product for you. Volition has created a 3-piece moisturizing set that works year round, from day to night.

It all starts with the Dual Cream Base. This is their standard moisturizer. It makes for a nice and simple moisturizer. It isn’t scented. The texture and thickness is right in the middle. It’s moisturizing enough for the winter, but also thin enough to wear in the summer. It absorbs very quickly with a matte finish.

Now here is where it becomes advanced. This luxury skin care set from Volition comes with two special “ampoule” or liquid to be mixed with the moisturizer for more advanced benefits. They look the same, but act different.

The Day Active is full of wine extract, which sounds like the start of a great day. It has anti-aging benefits, collagen and moisture that will help plump up dry skin. The Night Active has more soothing ingredients like chamomile, rose hips and vitamin C that will soothe skin and brighten your complexion while you sleep.

The little droppers allow you to add your chosen active formula to the base moisturizer when needed for added benefits. You can add this to any moisturizer if you want, but right now it is only sold as a set from Volition. You have to get all three things.

Personally, this moisturizing set is a bit too advanced for me. I like my skin care more simple. That doesn’t mean it’s not for you. This trio is perfect for someone looking for the next step in skin care. You can really customized what you use and when for the perfect match.

Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Ultimate Remedy Extreme Restoration Collection


We try so many hair products that’s it’s pretty hard for me to be blown away by any. I was already a huge fan of Shu Uemura, so I had fairly high expectation for my first time trying one of their hair lines. Ultimate Remedy is for ultra-damaged hair, so winter is probably the best time to try it. My fine, wavy, frizzy, highlighted hair gets pretty dried out in winter and definitely needs some extra help. Unfortunately most extreme hydration lines also weigh my hair down a lot. We received the shampoo, conditioner and duo-serum and there’s also an extreme restoration treatment (hair masque).

The entire line has a lotus infusion and the scent of the collection is peppermint. I honestly don’t smell mint and didn’t really like the scent at first but the more I use the line, the more I love it. The bottles are a really pretty green but the shampoo bottle is a little hard to squeeze due to the shape and how heavy the plastic is. I love that the conditioner is a pump though. The shampoo is a really interesting consistency. It’s kind of a gel-oil texture and doesn’t get a huge lather but enough that you know it’s there. I have to say, to me, this is the hero product of the collection. The shampoo feels so silky and nourishing and I’ve even thought about not using conditioner after it because I think I could get away with it. I’m used to loving conditioners or styling treatments but this is the first time I seriously love a shampoo.

The conditioner is a little on the thinner side and you feel like it’s not doing much until you rinse it out but it’s made my hair really manageable and hydrated. The duo-serum is an interesting styling product. One side is a texture-oil and the other is a cream. You have to pump the bottle just right to get both at the same time but it’s great for detangling and getting frizz out. Once it dries, you don’t even know it’s there. I find that I have to use quite a bit of it though and at a $56 CDN price tag, that’s a little bit of a bummer.

I really like the Ultimate Remedy collection as a whole but I love, love, love the shampoo and if I’m going to buy anything once I run out, it’s that.

Body Lotion Head-To-Head Part Two

When I said we were serious about our body lotion and skin care in the winter, I mean it.

Yes To Coconuts Dry Skin Head-To-Toe Hydrating Balm

Yes To Coconuts Dry Skin Head-To-Toe Hydrating Balm

Description: Take moisturizing to the next level with a super moisturizing balm that is for the most extreme dry and cracked skin. The Yes To line creates products that are also natural on top of everything else using natural ingredients the way they were meant to.

Look: This package looks pretty boring and unassuming. The little bronze package doesn’t look very exciting. The balm looks like margarine or maybe coconut oil. It doesn’t look very appealing.

Scent: It does have a coconut scent, but since it is a balm there is also a kind of waxy scent to it. It doesn’t have an overwhelming scent, but it is noticeable.

Feel: This is similar to coconut oil. It looks like a solid, but melts with your body heat to turn into more of an oil consistency when you apply it to your skin. Because of that, we agree that you should use it on only your most dry parts. It can be a bit greasy and oily for the rest of your body. It feels amazing on my feet. I can just slip my socks on after applying to keep the moisture close.

Cost: This might be the strong moisturizer that you can get for under $10. I think this is an investment piece that you should always keep handy, especially in the winter.

Volition Illuminating Body Milk

Volition Illuminating Body Milk

Description: I thought this was a regular moisturizer, but this product has little particles that help to illuminate the skin with a pearly glow, leaving your skin not only moisturized, but shimmering in the light as well.

Look: This box is really pretty. The cream in the box has such a shimmery pearly shine to it. When you open the jar, the cream itself isn’t really that pretty. It’s smooth, but looks so thick and chunky.

Scent: Somehow Volition made a body milk with no scent at all. I am not joking. I can’t smell anything at all. It’s really surprising. I truly expected it to smell all light with flowers and roses because of how it looked.

Feel: In the container it feels somewhere between a paste and a gel. It’s really weird. If you can get over the strange feel, it does smooth quickly when you apply it. This milk almost completely disappears when you apply it. The shimmer quality is really subtle. It’s the adult version of those shimmer creams. It’s just a bit of a healthy glow, as opposed to a shimmer in the light. It leaves my skin feeling soft, but not really moisturized. This is definitely a luxury product, once you have an intense moisturizer worked out.

Cost: This luxe product costs $35 for one jar, but think of it more as a splurge. It’s also a great gift for the girl who has everything.

Nivea Creme

Nivea Crème

Description: This classic Crème has been around for over 100 years! I would bet that there is a whole generation of people who haven’t tried it yet. There are so many other options on the market that sometimes a classic is overlooked. Nivea’s Crème is perfect for all skin types, ages and any part of the body.

Look: The all new Nivea Crème now comes in a blue tin that feels really iconic. It’s a great look. The white cream inside looks a bit like a paste.

Scent: Nivea’s cream smells more medicinal or clinical. It’s not overwhelming. When you apply it to your skin, you can’t even smell it at all. Perfect for people who are sensitive to strong smells.

Feel: This is the one cream where I feel almost instant results. My rough dry spots feel smoother without any residue left behind. Sometimes, you can’t beat a classic. Theirs is a reason Nivea has been making this product for so long.

Cost: A tin of Nivea’s Crème runs between $10 and $15, but this is kind of a household must have in my books. One tin will last a while, so it’s well worth the money.

Body Lotion Head-To-Head

In case you haven’t noticed, we are serious about winter skin care. On that note, we wanted to give you a deeper look at all of the body lotions, moisturizers and skin balms that have been making the rotation this winter to give you all the information that you need to make smart skin care decisions. From the packaging to the feel to the price, here is a look at some great body lotions for everyone any time of year!

Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion

Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion

Description: This lightly scented lotion (which also comes in unscented) is ideal for the most sensitive of skin. It helps not only dry skin, but the driest, itchy skin. It’s made with their special oat formula that is meant especially for sensitive skin.

Look: It’s classically Aveeno. No surprises here. From the look of the bottle to the look of the cream.

Scent: I am surprised that this can be considered as gentle as a sensitive skin product, because the coconut smell is rich. If you love coconut, like me, then you will like it. But it’s not subtle.

Feel: This moisturizer is surprisingly thick when you spread it over your skin, because it doesn’t look any thicker than your regular moisturizer. It’s thick to spread and absorbs into the skin very slowly. It leaves my skin feeling still damp and a bit dewy for quite a long time after, which could be thought of as a curse or a blessing.

Cost: You can get a 354 mL bottle for about $10, which is a great deal when you think about how well this cream works. I used it on an itchy new tattoo and keep one on my desk at work, so it’s clearly a favourite!

Nivea Cocoa Butter Body Lotion

Nivea Cocoa Butter Body Lotion

Description: This moisturizer has pretty standard description of soothing rough skin and restoring your glow. It’s a mixture of cocoa butter and Vitamin E that will restore your skin back to good health.

Look: The bottle that I have is huge. It’s actually a bit overwhelming. This could be a lifetime supply of moisturizer, which is a little unnecessary. The lotion itself looks a bit thin, but fairly standard.

Scent: The smell of cocoa butter is so soothing and nice, isn’t it? If you agree, then you will love it too.

Feel: This moisturizer doesn’t apply as thin as it looks at first. It could have been a fluke, but on my skin it was really cooling. It applies thin and moisturizing and doesn’t leave my skin feeling tacky at all. I like that I can’t really feel it at all. I am just left with nice skin.

Cost: This big 21.1 oz bottle is under $10 in stores, so you can’t find a place to get more for your money. Overall, it’s a pretty standard and straight forward  moisturizer, so you can’t go wrong at that price.

Live Clean Moisturizing Body Lotion

Live Clean Moisturizing Body Lotion

Description: Who doesn’t want to help the earth while helping their skin? Live Clean’s lotion is packed full of natural ingredients and organics and doesn’t have any of the additives most products have. They also come in great scents with little added benefits from different ingredients.

Look: The packaging is clean and simple. The lotion looks simple. No tricks here.

Scent: The scents of the Live Clean collection can be hit or miss. They seriously depend on your tastes. Choose your scent carefully based on what you are in the mood for.

Feel: Live Clean’s moisturizer feels nice and smooth. They are fairly standard as far as moisturizer go. It works great on dry skin, but doesn’t last for hours. I find myself reapplying often when I use Live Clean lotion only.

Cost: Live Clean is amazing value for the money. It’s one of my favourite brands. You can’t go wrong with it. This moisturizer is a steal at just $6.

Korres Body Butter

Korres Body Butter

Description: Korres uses beautiful natural ingredients to help soften the skin and moisturize. They also use special oils that help improve elasticity and give better long term effects on your skin.

Look: The bottles of these body butters are beautifully designed with different colours and styles for each scent. The cream itself looks thinner than some intense body butters.

Scent: My Korres Body Butter is a beautiful jasmine scent. It’s fairly strong, but it’s more like perfume than just a moisturizer. It’s an advanced and complex scent. This isn’t a cheap throwaway smell that will hurt your senses.

Feel: Sometimes body butter can be too thick. It can leave a film or texture on your skin. Korres has created a body butter that is surprisingly light. It’s soft and leaves my skin feeling pampered.

Cost: At about $30, this is a more luxury cream, but you will get a more luxurious result. Be sure to find the scent that is right for you first, because it’s a bigger commitment.

Most Wanted Winter Skin Relief

My skin takes a serious beating in the winter. All the forced heat indoors and extreme dryness outside, I get extremely dry, cracked skin. Even the combination skin on my face dries out completely during winter. These products have saved my skin this year and given me some major relief from dryness.

Dr. Roebuck’s Ultimate Hydrating Serum
Dr. Roebuck's Ultimate Hydrating Serum
This serum has an almost gel-like texture and a few drops goes a long way. It absorbs into your skin instantly and doesn’t leave you with that greasy feel that you can get from some serums. I definitely feel a moisture boost when I use this one and when you add your moisturizer on top of it, it’s amazing. This is the only Dr. Roebuck’s product I’ve tried but I like it enough that I want to try more.
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Deep Moisture Balm
Kiehl's Ultra Facial Deep Moisture Balm
When this first showed up, I was convinced it would be too strong for my combination skin. I mean, the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial was almost too strong for me and this sounded much richer. But I had a week where my skin was so dry, nothing I had was helping, so I tried this out and it worked. The texture is a little like butter, fairly thick and spreadable. But it absorbs much quicker than I expected. Plus the moisture lasted hours and hours. I don’t need to use anything else for a full 24 hours when I use this. I also didn’t have any issues with my sensitive skin and it didn’t make me break out, but if you’re concerned, get a sample first.
Aveeno Gentle Scent Skin Relief Body Wash and Lotion in Chamomile
Aveeno Gentle Scent Skin Relief Body Wash Chamomile
The skin on my body gets much more dry than the skin on my face and I’ve used numerous things over the years that didn’t really help. Aveeno’s Gentle Scents line comes in Chamomile and Coconut options and the Chamomile smells amazing. It’s not a strong scent but it’s really fresh. The body wash doesn’t make my skin feel stripped of moisture and is soap and dye free and allergy tested, so it doesn’t irritate my skin. The addition of Colloidal Oatmeal gives you a boost of moisture. The matching lotion has the same scent and absorbs quickly and isn’t greasy. The combination leaves my skin feeling hydrated and way less itchy.
L’Occitane Intensive Hand Balm
L'Occitane Intensive Hand Balm
I honestly don’t know how many L’Occitane hand creams I’ve gone through over the years and I was convinced that nothing would work better on my dry, cracked hands than their classic Shea Hand Cream. Well when this hand balm arrived, it was clear I was wrong. This is quite a bit stronger than the hand cream but not much thicker. It takes a little longer to absorb but in under a minute, I can go back to whatever I was doing. I find if I use this before I go to bed, I don’t have to use hand cream until the next afternoon and it’s healed the cracked skin in my hands and cuticles. It might be a couple dollars more than the regular hand cream but if winter is killing the skin on your hands, it’s worth the money. I would actually go so far as to say, if you only buy one thing for winter skin, L’Occitane’s Intensive Hand Balm is what you need.

OPI Infinite Shine PROSTAY + New Iconic Shades

OPI Infinite Shine PROSTAY System
I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not a fan of OPI’s Infinite Shade base and top coats. So when the reformulated versions arrived at my door, I was definitely ready to test them out. The new PROSTAY system comes with a primer (base coat) and gloss (top coat). These new formulas are supposed to give you up to 11 days of gel-like wear and shine. I can’t even tell you how much better they work than the original formula. I would use both of these with any polish. The primer is really smooth and dries quickly but is also a little sticky which makes polish stay put. The gloss dries your polish in minutes and gives off serious shine. I had zero problems with these while I was testing out six of the new Infinite Shine Iconic shades.

OPI has added 30 new shades to the collection this month, and while we only got six, I had never tried any of them in the regular formulas before but there are definitely more I want to try. The formulas are pretty fantastic and I had multiple one-coaters, which is pretty exciting for OPI polish.

Sweet Heart
OPI Infinite Shine Sweet Heart Swatch
The sweetest, softest pale pink
This delicate blush pink is so pretty. Two coats went on pretty well and while it was a touch patchy and chalky, the overall result was a really classy nail.

Got The Blues For Red
OPI Infinite Shine Got The Blues For Red Swatch
A melodious blue-red that hits all the right notes
This dark red verges into burgundy territory depending on how many coats you do. 1 coat looked good and was a lot brighter but two coats just looked so much better. The photo is with two. I love this shade a lot.

Do You Lilac It?
OPI Infinite Shine Don't You Lilac It Swatch
Light purple with attitude
This pretty lilac shade is one-coater and look at that depth. It’s so, so pretty and was a dream to work with.

That’s Hula-rious
OPI Infinite Shine That's Hula-rious Swatch

This pastel mint green makes me dance with joy!
I like the colour of this one a lot and two coats went on pretty well but this was the only one where I had tip wear almost immediately and it chipped as well. Considering I only wore it for about twenty minutes, that’s saying something.

Cosmo-Not Tonight Honey
OPI Infinite Shine Cosmo-Not Tonight Honey! Swatch
Make “space” for this pale gold touch of star shine.
I’m really not a fan of these champagne shades but I know a lot of people who love them. This formula was pretty runny but two coats were good. My biggest issue was getting the top coat on it. You really have to have a lot on the brush and barely let the brush touch your nail or you’ll get big drag marks.

OPI Red
OPI Infinite Shine OPI Red Swatch
The shade that started it all.
I don’t buy a lot of red polish, which is really the only excuse I have for never trying this cult red classic. This kind of red is perfect for my skin tone and I was thrilled that it went on in one perfect coat. I seriously love this polish and I can understand why it’s loved by so many. Iconic indeed. This is my favourite of the six.

I’m so happy OPI redid the Infinite Shine system, it really works so much better now. I can’t wait to try it with some of the older shades IS shades I have.

Teeez Fashion Vendetta Collection

Teeez Fashion Vendetta Collection
Since European makeup company Teeez launched in Canada, I’ve really wanted to try their products. The extremely fashionable company does things a little differently when it comes to their collections. Each one has a theme and from what I can tell, none of the products cross over. We had a chance to try out a few things from their Fashion Vendetta line; the To Die For eyeshadow quad in Cinnamon Revolution and two of the Serial lip stains, in Radical and Faux Pas.
Teeez To Die For Quad
The inside of the eyeshadow quad has a lot of shiny, mirror parts, which made photographing it really difficult. But it’s set up like pretty much every other quad I’ve used. Two lighter shades on top and darker ones on the bottom. Cinnamon Revolution’s shades are pretty much exactly what you’d expect. All neutral, they range from a light pearl to a deep brown.
Teeez Serial Lip Stains
There are five other quads to choose from in the collection and this one is probably the best one for a subtle day look. The shadows themselves are pretty good. I had zero fallout to deal with and the darker shades are extremely pigmented. They blend pretty well and lasted all day on me without a primer. I also loved the darkest shade as a liner.
Teeez To Die For Cinnamon Revolution SwatchesThen came the lip stains. The word serial makes me think of things that go on for a while and honestly, these stains last forever. Radical is a really pretty red and Faux Pas is a chocolate brown. There are six other shades to choose from but I’m really happy I got these two although I’m eyeing a couple more.
Teeez Serial Lip Stain Radical & Faux Pas Swatches
When people complain about liquid lipstick not drying fast enough or coming off too quickly, they clearly haven’t tried Serial. These dry in seconds, you’ll want to keep your mouth open for a bit because they gets sticky before they’re completely dry, but once they’re dry, they’re not budging. Like, at all. It takes me forever to get these off my lips. Teeez calls it ‘an indelible film that feels like a second skin on your lips,’ and they’re partly right. If you use a lip balm before you apply, the dryness isn’t bad and it feels like nothing. If you don’t add a balm, your lips will feel like every ounce of moisture has been pulled out of your face. I do love these though, the matte finish is gorgeous and I’ve never had to reapply. I just wish they weren’t so drying and I could get a more precise line with the brush.

The other products in the Fashion Vendetta collection are a highlighter, two different kinds of lipsticks and a couple mascaras. I can’t wait to try more makeup from Teeez and I’m pretty impressed with what I’ve used so far.