Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lush Mangnificent vs.Parsley Porridge Soap Review

As a big fan of Lush soaps, I was excited to try two of the new summer releases: Mangnificent and Parsley Porridge. Filled with natural ingredients and fresh fragrances, both of these soaps are designed to invigorate your morning shower and leave you squeaky clean - so which one got my thumbs up?

The Products
Mangnificent is a zesty tropical punch in the face for your morning shower. With its fresh splashes of Sicilian lemon oil, mandarin oil and neroli, this soap had me super excited as I love citrusy scents and mangoes in general.

Parsley Porridge on the other hand is designed more for cleanliness than for fragrance. This soap uses the dirt-busting powers of oatmeal, parsley and tea tree oil to thoroughly cleanse skin.

The Guts
Mangnificent primarily contains:

  • Rapeseed oil - this oil forms the basis of this and many other Lush soaps as an alternative to palm oil, which Lush claims is often is aggressively harvested and leads to deforestation of native forests. It's also known as canola oil... which is also farmed on a large-scale... so go figure.
  • Coconut oil - similar to most oils, it acts as an emollient (helps lock in moisture)
  • Glycerine - run of the mill, work-horse moisturizer
  • Fresh mango - a natural antibacterial cleanser and also is packed full of antioxidants
After this all the other ingredients in this soap are basically fragrances and coloring.

Parsley Porridge primarily contains:
  • Tea tree infusion - a natural acne-fighting ingredient that has antibacterial properties. Oddly enough, this can also cause irritation for people with acne by drying out their skin.
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Glycerine
Other ingredients of note are aloe vera (anti-inflammatory, moisturizing), parsley (antioxidant), oatmeal (anti-inflammatory, moisturizing), thyme oil (acne-fighting), sandalwood oil (astringent, moisturizing) and grapefruit oil (astringent). 

Compared to Mangnificent, the Parsley Porridge is packed with way more cleansing ingredients and so clearly wins here. 

Price & Packaging
Both soaps cost $6.95 for 100g. Like all Lush soaps, they come wrapped rustic-style in waxed paper.

In terms of the physical shape of each, I much preferred Parsley Porridge. Perhaps my piece of Mangnificent was actually a little bigger than PP, but I found it trickier to hold and the sharp edges made it difficult to really work it between my hands to get a lather.

Mangnificent as expected smells citrusy and of fresh mangoes, but I was kinda surprised that it wasn't as "in your face" as I expected. Usually Lush products are SO FRAGRANCE, but in a good, natural way and this soap just kinda fell flat. Mangnificent had a scent for sure, but only if I put my nose really close to it.

Parsley Porridge on the other hand, smelled just like what it was: a mix of oatmeal, parsley and tea tree oil. Kinda like a medicine cabinet. Luckily, the scent doesn't linger on the skin!

After using each for a few weeks, I have to say that Parsley Porridge is my favourite. It lathers nicely and rinses easily without leaving my skin tight. I actually like the kinda menthol-y smell it gives off and it is strong enough to wash feet that have been running in beach sand all day.

Mangnificent on the other hand hardly lathers at all and leaves a bit of a film when rinsing off. I think it still did a decent job of cleansing, but I guess without that soap lather, it's hard to really feel like it's working.

Final Verdict
Buy - Parsley Porridge, but ditch Mangnificent.

Buy both products from Lush.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Guest post: A Purple Look featuring Ilamasqua from Swatch and Review

Hey friends! I'm Julie from Swatch and Review hanging out on Just J as part of the Canadian Beauty Bloggers guest post series!

This month our them is: PURPLE! For me, this is a win-­win situation as everything I own is some shade of purple. And lately, I have really been trying to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to eyeshadow. I usually just swipe on a cream shadow and go.

Two of my favourite new purchases are from Illamasqua, a brand out of the UK (currently on sale for 25% off at The Bay). They are both cool purple matte shadows and I have been playing around with a few looks and have come up with something I love!

Illamasqua CREEP is a soft lavender purple shadow. It is the perfect, near­white base to mix with any shadow and it gives sort of a "mod" look.

Illamasqua PREEN is a rich royal purple (almost a blurple). It may look alarming in the pan, but I assure you this is not too bold or bright and it is buildable so you can blend, blend, blend until you're happy.

Incorporating purple into your eye look is really simple. I swept CREEP over my lid and into the crease. Then I blended PREEN into the crease and outer V.

After that, I blended the edges out with a bit of CREEP, added a purple eyeliner (Avon mark. No Place to Run liner) for a bit of pop against the light base and ... done!

Now it's easy to get carried away with colour, but just focus on one thing. I went bolder with my eyes and toned down the rest with a light rosy pink blush and a clear lip gloss.

Chat with me in the comments!

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Wedding Dress Inspiration

The most exciting part of thinking about getting married and being engaged to be married is not the joining of your two families or (shamefully) the speaking of vows to join you and your beloved together forever. It is definitely all about the dress!!

Even before I had met Mr. Artist (or known he could be Mr. Right) or before I was even ready for that kind of thinking, I was already thinking of the fashion. The Dress. That rare occasion out of a few moments in your life where you can absolutely be allowed to blow hundreds or thousands of dollars on a piece of clothing. Where you can legitimately consider wearing a designer whose name people recognize!

The Dress.

My fantasy was always to wear something fabulous, like a Marchesa or an Elie Saab. Obviously, when the time came, that was way out of my budget, but their influence on my dream dress remained. For me, a wedding dress is all about the glamour - whatever glamour means to you. The dress doesn't have to be sexy, but it does have to embody your most beautiful sense of self. What I mean by that, is that the dress should make you feel like the proverbial million bucks. Your wedding dress should flatter and elevate your natural beauty so that you are as gorgeous as you are when your guy looks at you.

I've already bought my dress, but below are some inspiring looks that I hope will help you to craft your wedding dream dress vision!

Anna Campbell Gossamer collection. 

Check out the beautiful beading on this dress! I could see this on an "edgier" bride with its epaulet style shoulders.

Etsy dress

For the fancy pants among us, is this beautiful mermaid-style gown. Mermaid gowns make your figure look stunning and I love the addition of a train on this one to further amp up the drama. It's a little old-school and a whole lotta sexy!

The skirt on this dress is such a dream. I love how elegantly simple this dress is and yet it has such an impact. The sheer top with that strategically placed lace and beading is very sexy, yet just looks ethereal here instead of trashy.

Photo: Bridal Musings

For a more conservative bride, or a winter wedding, lace sleeves provide coverage and grace. Lace is always a go-to for weddings and no two patterns are alike, meaning you can look classic and still be unique.

Naomi Neoh dress. Photo: One Fab Day

Although I had my heart set on something lacy and beaded, this simple chiffon dress really caught my eye. The way the chiffon just shimmers in the slightest of breezes and that classic Grecian neckline really just takes my breath away. More so than the other dresses here, this one really puts the spotlight on the wearer.

Photo: Style Me Pretty

Finally, of course I have to close off this collection with a vintage inspired gown. The champagne color, the delicate lace sleeves and that sprinkling of beading across the front just ticks off all my check boxes for wedding dress must-haves. Absolutely beautiful!!

Which dress is your favourite?

Also, don't forget to check out some of my previous wedding features:

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Matrix Biolage Scalp Sync Soothing Serum review


Do you have a dry, itchy scalp? Do anti-dandruff shampoos or other treatments not work for you? Then maybe this is the product that could change your hair woes.

The Product
The Matrix Biolage Scalp Sync Soothing Serum is a revolutionary product from Matrix Biolage, a Canadian line of hair care products sold in salons across the country. As part of the Scalp Sync line, the Soothing Serum is designed to help moisturize, nourish and eliminate dry, itchy scalps. As someone who suffers perennial dry scalp, I was very interested in trying out this product.

The Guts
The primary ingredients in this product are:

  • Alcohol denat a.k.a denatured alcohol - used for a variety of reasons in products, such as to make a product feel light and slippery and for its astringent properties
  • Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor oil - again, likely included here to provide this product its light, gel texture
  • Arginine - an amino acid that supposedly helps promote hair growth and strength; not sure what this has to do with dry scalp, but okay!
  • Parfum/fragrance
So far, the major ingredients in the product are more to do with providing texture and not with moisturizing or repairing the scalp. Other ingredients of note in this product are: menthol and peppermint.

Price & Packaging
As this product is just being released this summer, I couldn't seem to find any pricing info, but it is sold primarily through salons. You can find a salon retailer near you via the Matrix Biolage website.

In terms of packaging, it's a pretty standard pump dispenser in a clear bottle.

To use, simply dispense 1-2 pump into your hands and work it into the roots where your scalp itches. My biggest pet peeve is that this product is only to be used on towel-dried hair. I'm not sure why, but I'm guessing there's something in the serum that reacts to moisture as I noticed that when I tried it on dry hair, I didn't notice nearly as big an impact as on wet hair.

When used on wet hair, this serum is amazing! I like to be generous and use 3 pumps on the lower back half of my scalp, massaging it gently into the roots. The product comes out clear from the bottle and absorbs quickly. It really feels as if my scalp were a dessert and this stuff is a fresh spring rain. Within a few seconds, my scalp feels this huge tingly, minty feeling; sort of like eating a really strong mint. The sensation almost burns, but in a totally pleasurable way. The serum also has a really refreshing scent of peppermint and something slightly flowery.

I've been using this for a few weeks now and while I love how it feels, it hasn't eliminated my itchy scalp. Since I've started using it with a tea tree oil clarifying shampoo, my problem has gotten a bit better, but nothing life-changing. That being said though, I do still really like this serum!

Final Verdict
Buy - I'm addicted to the tingling, peppermint sensation it provides my scalp. Instant relief in a bottle.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

A Book Devoured: Under the Hawthorn Tree by Ai Mi

It's been FOREVER since I've done a book review post! Over the summer my blog backlog got filled with product reviews and event recaps so book posts fell to the wayside, but since I enjoy writing them, I've decided to bring it back. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Under the Hawthorn Tree is a book written by Chinese author Ai Mi. Actually, the author's name is a pseudonym and the story is "based" upon a true story. Personally, after reading this book, I like to believe it is 98% truth!

The story takes place during the Cultural Revolution in China, a turbulent time where the Communist government sought to reform society according to its tenets. Centered around a young girl, Jing Qiu, whose family has been marked as being of a "poor class" (landowners), the story follows Jing Qiu's struggles to make ends meet and her eventual love story with the dashing young Old Third, the son of an army general.

Although the story take place during the Cultural Revolution and it's certainly its own character within the book, the story is really about Jing Qiu and Old Third's love. The novel is marked by Jing Qiu's steadfastly innocent nature and unless you've watched some Chinese shows, you would probably find her rejection of Old Third's kindness and her sexual naivete absolutely mind-blowing and unbelievable. However, I can tell you that her character is actually believable, given the era and the fact that this type of doomed love between a beautiful innocent girl and an honourable, handsome young man is just the sort of thing that Chinese films are made of. Torn apart by geography, time and class, you just know these two are doomed. Normally I hate romantic films and books but this one just had me hooked. Its mix of romance and historical events gave this book the depth it needs to elevate this story from omg-this-is-so-hokey-just-have-sex-already to omg-this-is-so-epic-and-they're-SO-IN LOVE-whyyyyy.

After wild success in China and being translated into multiple languages, Under the Hawthorn Tree became a movie in 2010 and was directed by Zhang Yimou. I can't wait to try to watch the movie now!

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Happenings Lately: Summah Summah Time

Omahgad guys, it's August. Summer is WAY too short!! This is a sign that I should move to somewhere warmer. Like Hawaii. You see, at heart I'm an island girl and the beach is one of my favourite places to be (alongside being in a makeup chair getting my face done). The weather here in Vancouver has been absolutely stunning with day after day of sunshine. Unfortunately I've been mostly enjoying it from inside an office as I work full time.

On the career front though, I've recently started a new job! It was definitely bittersweet leaving my old office and the comfy confines of my position. It's always a little frightening to push yourself into something new and not knowing how it will work out. I realized the other day that I've had 4 different jobs in 6 years! While I'm a serial monagamist, apparently I'm a serial dater when it comes to jobs! That's all a part of fulfilling your ambitions though right? Plus the new office has a dog policy so there are always dogs running around!

Besides work, Mr. Artist and I have begun planning our wedding!! We are thisclose to picking our venue. I can't wait to show it all to you when it's finalized, but for now I don't want to jinx it.

Ever since getting engaged, I've noticed I've been more emotional. Seeing weddings on Youtube or TV make me tear up and going to my friend's weddings this summer has made me all very watery eyed and I am NOT normally a teary person. Lately, I've noticed that more and more people are doing personal vows and I've been contemplating whether to do it myself. I know just what I would say, as I'll admit it, I've been kinda thinking of the words for the past year or two! However, I don't know if I'd be able to get through it without bawling. Married ladies, should I do it?

Being a bridesmaid at my friend's recent wedding

One of the other things Mr. Artist and I have begun for our wedding is a new fitness regime! It's called T25 Focus and is similar to the popular P90X and Insanity workout series, except that it's just for 25 minutes. Lest you think that 25 minutes is going easy on yourself, let me correct you. The first couple days were rough - so rough that I was beginning to question my sanity and had trouble walking.


Thankfully it wasn't anything that a good protein shake couldn't fix. I cannot believe I just said that or that I now drink protein shakes on the regular.

We curse this lady every night. She is WAY too high on fitness.

3 weeks in though and I am starting to see the results - my endurance is better, I feel stronger and a bit tighter and according to Mr. Artist, my ass looks better!! OH YEAAA.

That's what is happening with me lately - now tell me what's new with you!

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

July Beauty Favourites

Just J: July Beauty Favourites
All about summer makeup baby!

I was all up in that summer feeling last month. With the hot weather, makeup for me was all about simplicity and splashes of colour. Also, some Hawaiian scents are always welcome.

1. The Body Shop Colour Crush lipstick - just the right amount of tint for everyday wear, this pinky watermelon colored lipstick gives you shine, colour and moisture. View full review.

2. Revlon Colorstay Overtime mascara in Blackest Black - I love this mascara! It builds up my lash volume and adds great length. You can pile it on and it won't get clumpy!

3. Makeup Forever HD Pressed Powder - this translucent setting powder gives your skin a flawless velvety finish and literally erases pores. Having never used a translucent powder before, it was a little tricky to tell just how much I was applying, but a light touch is really all you need.

4. Almay CC Concealer + Brightener - this lightweight concealer is great at erasing dark circles and lasts all day. The brightening side acts as a subtle highlighter, but be aware that it does tend to crease on eyelids. View full review.

5. Bath & Body Works Oahu Coconut Sunset body lotion - this luxurious lotion contains hydrating rice bran oil and acai to nourish skin. It also smells AMAZING - literally like a tropical paradise with its scents of coconut blossom, Hawaiian Monoi, and molten amber. I swooped up 2 other lotions from this BBW line and can't wait to try the others out! This lotion leaves my skin feeling so soft and moist that I don't even need to moisturize everyday!

These were my favourites this month - now tell me yours!

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