Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Book Devoured: Quiet - The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Have you ever felt awkward when it comes to speaking up? Felt more tired than energized from a social situation? Then perhaps you too are an introvert. 50% at least of us are, but according to this book by author Susan Cain, many of us deny our nature to the overall detriment of society.

In Quiet - The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Cain argues the virtue of the introspective self by demonstrating how Western society became the land of the Extrovert Ideal. This idolizing of extroverted qualities: gregariousness, lack of caution, excitedness, etc. all became so overwhelming in society that we now strive to correct children as young as 5 from their "failings" of being shy, or reserved. In modern society, shy, cautious and brainy have become taboo - which kinda explains a lot if you pay any attention to American politics!

Cain, in her own introverted way, establishes a rallying call for introverts to recognize themselves and to value their own unique abilities. It's also a great read for extroverts to learn about the other half and how they can better learn from their quieter companions. In the end, the book isn't about introverts or extroverts being better than one another, but about how society needs both sides of the coin to function best.

I found this book to be incredibly gratifying for me as I noticed many introverted traits within myself. I've struggled with shyness all my life, to the point where one teacher even told my mom that I "would never amount to anything" because of my shyness - a classic example of an extroverted misjudgment! By reading this book, I've learned to take pride in my introverted qualities and to recognize them as valuable strengths I can use to lead others, instead of as failings that I have to overcome.

Qualities that make me an introvert:

  • As much as I love my friends and socializing, I absolutely need and crave alone time
  • I HATE small talk and mingling and therefore always dread large parties
  • Although I prefer working in a team, I prefer to work in a team where we work on tasks alone and meet only to discuss issues rather than trying to work and accomplish tasks together, which I find less efficient
  • I prefer to wait for others to approach me than for me to approach them (people are scary!)
  • If I make even the slightest social gaffe, I obsess and rethink it over and over in my mind even though the other party probably has long forgotten it
  • I rarely volunteer first for anything and am usually the listen-first-speak-later type

So, are you an introvert? If so, what do you think is your best introverted quality?

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Annabelle Stay Sharp Self Sharpening Lip Liner Review

Just J: Annabelle Stay Sharp Self Sharpening Lip Liner Review

Although I'm a big lip product person, the one lip product I am not into are lip liners. As a 90s child, the words "lip liner" evoke images of Drew Barrymore with her platinum blond bobs, babydoll dresses and pale lips with dark brown lip liner *shudder* so you can imagine how I've never been able to get into lip liners. However, they do say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and lately I've been slowly warming up to the idea of lip liners again.

You see, lip liners are great products for ensuring your bright lipsticks stay put and they are also an easy way to get a nice stain of color on your lips that lasts longer than regular lipstick. I decided to give lip liners a try once again when I recently received one of the new Annabelle Stay Sharp Self Sharpening Lip Liners.

The Product
The Annabelle Stay Sharp Self Sharpening Lip Liner is a revolutionary take on the traditional lip liner. Available in 6 super pigmented shades, this lip liner is waterproof, stay-proof and self-sharpening, meaning it will sharpen itself each time you take the cap on and off - AND it keeps the shavings inside some magical pocket in its cap so you don't even have to worry about shavings!

The Guts
The primary ingredients in this liner are:
  • Isododecane - a waxy ingredient that provides texture and spreadability
  • Synthetic wax - ditto
  • Pentaerythrityl stearate/caprate/caprylate/adipate - a binding agent
  • Hydrogenated polydicyclopentadiene - another texture/binding agent
Nothing too interesting here; most of the top ingredients all have to do with providing texture and are the physical ingredients that make up the lip liner.

Price & Packaging
A regular sized pencil costs $9.95 off Annabelle's website. Looks-wise, this liner appears just like a regular pencil, but the cap somehow contains a teeny pencil sharpener. I actually peered up the lid, but I couldn't see any teeny blades, so I was skeptical at first that this actually would work. However, all you have to do is twist on and off the cap and presto - instantly sharp! And where those little shavings go, I have no idea. Did Annabelle somehow learn the secret of teleportation??

The texture of this lip liner is hard, but creamy if that makes sense. Softer than a pencil from the 90s, but definitely not as easy to apply as a lipstick. It helps if your lips are pretty soft already so prepare to exfoliate beforehand! Since my lips are perpetually dry and I prefer to apply liner before balm (so the color sticks better), I had a bit of a hard time applying the color evenly.

My favourite part of this lip liner though is its pigmentation! The shade I received is Glam Red, a beautiful classic red that is similar to the Annabelle TwistUp in Monroe, but deeper. It is also brighter and orangier than Sephora lipstick R04.

Just J: Annabelle Stay Sharp Self Sharpening Lip Liner Review
L to R: Annabelle Stay Sharp in Glam Red, Annabelle TwistUp in Monroe, Sephora brand lipstick in R04

If you want to just casually swatch this lip liner than be warned - this baby lasts! I wore this throughout my work day with multiple cups of tea and through lunch without any budging or reapplying. Because it is a liner, it did feel drier on my lips, but that's expected when you're dealing with such a long wearing product.

This liner is supposed to be waterproof as well, but I didn't get any chances to dive underwater to try it out.

Just J: Annabelle Stay Sharp Self Sharpening Lip Liner Review
Good lipstick,horrible hair!

Final Verdict
Buy - it's perfect for dates or for going out when you want to be on the go without worrying about touch-ups; however I still prefer my creamier lipsticks to this somewhat rough pencil!

Buy via Annabelle.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge Review

In the past few years a plethora of new makeup sponges have flooded the market. Wedges and cubes? PASSE. It's all about the beauty blenders, the miracle makers, the pore erasers, the sponges 2.0! But along with these cool new shapes and names, come not-so-cool prices. That's where Real Techniques comes in.

The Product
The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion sponge is the drugstore alternative to over-priced makeup sponges. If you haven't heard of Real Techniques before, don't worry, I hadn't either until about a year ago! I've noticed that drugstores and makeup stores in general, do a pitiful job of supplying makeup tools, but in the last while London Drugs has upped its game by stocking Real Techniques and trust me, they are worth the money! Affordable and high quality, RT gets rave reviews in the beauty blogger scene, so I was pumped to try out this, my first RT product.

This multi-faceted sponge is designed as your all-in-one tool for foundation application. The flat side helps you to apply foundation to the contours of your cheeks and nose, while the precision tip gets into those little corners. Then the curved body helps to stipple foundation across wider areas of your face.

Price & Packaging
One sponge costs you $9.99 via FarleyCo and is also available at London Drugs, Pharmasave and Lawtons.

How to use it
Now, you might assume that this is just a regular foundation sponge with a cooler shape, but you'd be wrong. This baby is different! You can use this sponge dry, but the real power comes when you wet it.

Run the sponge under water and it will grow soft and almost twice as large. Once the sponge has reached maximum size, squeeze all the water out and then apply foundation as normal.

When used with the wet method, this sponge works like a dream. I've never had my foundation apply so naturally, so seamlessly as I have with this sponge. This sponge blends my foundation easily and quickly while still providing adequate coverage. Truly delivers that airbrushed finish while also leaving skin dewy and soft.

To keep your sponge fresh, simply wash with a bit of soap and leave to air dry.

Final Verdict

Buy via Farley Co.

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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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