Monday, October 24, 2016

My Burberry Black vs. My Burberry Review

burberry black perfume

Earlier this year, Burberry released a bold new addition to their popular line of My Burberry fragrances. Called My Burberry Black, this new eau de parfum is like the sexier, older version of My Burberry (MB). In this new version, My Burberry Black (MBB) takes the sweet, lush inspiration of the original and layers over it with warm, sensual notes for an added level of spice and allure.

I was thrilled to receive a new full size bottle My Burberry Black and today I'm sharing my thoughts on how it compares to the original.

Both fragrances are inspired by someone wearing the iconic Burberry trench in an English garden after a rain shower. You could think of the main difference being that the MB is a garden fresh in the morning, alight with dew and raindrops, while MBB is that same garden cloaked in the embrace of moonlight, where the shadows taunt you with mystery and desire.

Design-wise, the two are meant to be very similar, except that MBB uses darker tones, such as a black ribbon instead of the taupe/khaki one used in the original. I would say even the color of the MBB is a more golden-amber color. Both use the same font in their labeling. I received mine as a personalized edition with my initials, which is very cool!

Both fragrances come in the same sizes and price, according to Sephora: a 1.6 oz for $102 and a 3 oz for $138. Pictured here is the 3 oz.

As noted in the my original review, the MB contains sweet pea, lemon flower, peony, rose and musk, whereas the MBB contains:

Top notes:
  • Jasmine
Mid notes:
  • Rose
  • Peach
Base notes:
  • Patchouli
  • Amber

burberry black perfume for her

My impressions
While many tout the MB as a fresh, floral scent, I found it too overpowering and heavy for my taste. My nose picked up mainly on MB's floral notes and didn't detect any of the aforementioned freshness. While I don't mind florals, I really dislike musky floral ones maybe as the musk or something strong came out quite immensely on my skin.

Unfortunately, the MBB wore similarly on me. I'm thinking maybe it's my skin as I really really liked this one sprayed on a fragrance swatch. My first impression of the MBB before wearing it, was that this one actually smelled lusher and lighter to me than the MB. My nose picked up on the jasmine and amber the most in this one, although the patchouli does come out after a few moments to add some spicy sexiness. The peach here is probably the saving grace of this one for me as it adds some much-needed sweetness to an otherwise heavy, overly sexed up fragrance. 

When I sprayed this on though, I fell out of love with it. Like the MB, the MBB is SUPER fragrant. One spray on my arm made me feel like I was drowning myself and everyone else around me. I wore this while riding to work in a crowded, stuffy bus and felt like gagging and had to immediately wash myself off when I got to my office. My skin just seems to pull out ALL the base notes and it drowns out the sweetness. MBB fared better for me if I sprayed a couple times in the air and then twirled my way through it.

I'm torn on whether to keep this as the bottle is so beautiful and I love how its personalized, but I cannot see myself reaching for its contents ever. Alas, will a Burberry perfume ever find its way into my heart?

* Please note that unlike my other reviews, I will not put a Final Verdict on this product. Fragrances are highly personal, more so than other beauty products, and therefore definitely take these thoughts as reflecting my own experience only. Always try out samples of perfumes before purchasing as different scents will wear differently on each person.

This post contains PR samples.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

FOTD: All-over Peach Makeup Look

One of the biggest fall makeup trends that I can't get enough of, is to do a monotone look featuring peach tones on the eyes, cheeks and lips. This look is perfect if you just aren't ready to let go of dat summah glow and you want to stand out from the horde of basic gals sporting vampy lips and smoked eyes alongside their PSL's (*please note that this blogger is one of those basic bitches!).

I really love this trend as it's butt-easy, requires minimal products and is just plain pretty. I've come to terms that my face just doesn't have that edgy sex-goddess structure to it, so girly trends like this are right up my alley.

peach makeup tutorial

Here's how to get this look...

  • Guerlain Meteorites Baby Glow Foundation in Light (review)
  • Make Up Forever HD Pressed Powder
This look desperately requires a glowy base, so glow it up with your dewiest foundation, then tamp things down to a more fall-appropriate velvety glow by dusting on a generous layer of your go-to translucent or tinted powder. 

  • Stila The Natural palette
  • Lise Water Rivages palette (review)
  • Sephora Pantone Universe Shimmering Marsala Trio (review)
  • Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner
  • Stila Huge Extreme Mascara
  • KISS Top Brow Fine Precision Eyebrow pencil (review)
To do the eyes, all you need is a fluffy blending shadow brush like the MAC 217. First, apply all over lid a muted pink-taupe like the shade Linen from the Stila The Natural palette. Then warm things up a bit by applying over top of the first shade a satin gold shade, like the one in the Lise Watier Rivage palette. I want to emphasize the use of a satin shade, as a glittery or super shimmery shade will just look too harsh and over done in this type of look, which is all about subtle prettiness. 

Next, load up your brush with a warm peach shade. Here I'm using the coral shade from my Sephora Pantone Universe Shimmering Marsala Trio, which is actually a blush palette. I like using blush shades whenever I want a pink tone on my eyes as the pink shades in blushes are so much more diverse than what you usually can find in eye shadows; just be sure that your blush color is safe for use on eyes. Apply your chosen peach accent to the crease if you have more Western eyes and in an all-over wash of color if you have monolids. My lids are hooded, but I have a slight crease, so I like to apply my peach slightly above my crease so that I have a lighter spot right next to the lash line. In terms of choosing your peach, the rule of thumb is that the darker your skin, the brighter the peach you can go with. Apply the peach as strong as you like.

Lastly, line your eyes with a thin line of eyeliner along the top lash line to give definition and generously apply mascara and brow pencil to further make your eye area pop. 

peach makeup products

  • Sephora Pantone Universe Shimmering Marsala Trio
Using a kabuki or fluffy blush brush, generously apply the same peach color as your blush to apples and cheekbones. 

With a fluffy eye shadow brush, apply a gold highlight (I like the one in my Marsala Trio for this) to the tops of cheekbones, bridge of nose, cupid's bow of the lips and brow bone. The idea here is to apply targeted, micro-highlighting for a subtle glow. No crazy strobing!

  • Kiko Milano 3D Hydra Gloss in 08
Finally the inspiration for this look, my new fave peach gloss that I picked up in Spain! I looove this Kiko Milano gloss and really regret not going back to buy all the shades; this gloss is so pigmented, doesn't settle into lines and smells yummy. This shade in particular is a great coral for my lips, but has a titch bit of brown in it that keeps it from being too too summer, y'kno?

peach makeup look

And that's the whole look! I hope you enjoy these types of everyday, and accessible, makeup looks. If you have requests or ideas for other looks you'd like to see me too, please suggest it in the comments!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Achieving a Healthy Scalp for Healthy Hair with Elence 2001


Created after 2001 attempts to find the ideal formula to give Asian women healthy hair, Japanese haircare company Elence 2001 was born. Based out of Tokyo, Elence 2001 focuses on repairing and revitalizing hair products that combine science and natural ingredients to help women achieve longer, thicker locks.

The basis of the Elence 2001 approach is the belief that a healthy scalp equates to healthy hair. Using thirty unique plant extracts, Elence 2001 seeks to undo the damage more conventional products wreak on your scalp and aims to gently restore it to its natural state so that new hair can grow more freely.

As someone with lifelong fine hair, I'm all for trying something to give me thicker, lusher locks so I've been trying out the Elence 2001 Twin Scalp EX-2 system ($83.97) the past couple months and am now here to report back to you with my results!

The Elence 2001 Twin Scalp EX-2 system consists of three products:
  • Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Shampoo EX-2 to gently cleanse 
  • Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Hair Pack EX-2 to deeply hydrate and repair
  • Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Essence EX-2 to encourage hair growth

The first step is to use the Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Shampoo EX-2 ($26.94). To use, shake the bottle and massage into damp hair. The Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Shampoo EX-2 has a light floral scent and consists mainly of:
  • Water
  • Sodium laureth sulfate - not to be confused with the maligned sodium lauryl sulfate, this coconut derived cleanser is much gentler and less prone to irritation
  • Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate - a foaming cleanser
  • Ethylhexyl palmitate - an emollient (seals in moisture) and solvent
  • Cocamide dea - a foaming cleanser, that does have some warnings (like an EWG score of 7) but is deemed safe for use in rinse-off cosmetic products
as well a variety of thirty natural extracts such as evening primrose oil (moisturizing), panax ginseng root (improves hair condition) and mallow extract (moisturizing).

I found this shampoo to be super watery, so I usually need a couple handfuls to cover my head thoroughly. It's also a low-foaming shampoo, so if you're used to a ton of soap bubbles then it will take some getting used to. I found this shampoo to be gently cleansing and sufficient for my needs as I wash my hair every couple of days. If you regularly use a lot of hair products, I'm not sure whether this will be strong enough for you and you may need to do a repeat wash.

After the shampoo, the second step is to generously apply a layer of the Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Hair Pack EX-2 ($32.19) to the scalp and tresses for at least five minutes. This hair mask is designed to hydrate and stimulate your scalp to generate new growth and volume. The Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Hair Pack EX-2 contains primarily:
  • Water
  • Cetyl alcohol - thickens products and acts as an emollient
  • Glycerin - a humectant (draws in moisture)
  • Ethylhexyl palmitate
  • Cetearyl alcohol - an emulsifier
This hair mask also contains a similar mix of plants extracts as in the shampoo. I really love using this mask to hydrate my perpetually parched scalp. Although this conditioning mask is very hydrating, it doesn't feel heavy at all and rinses away cleanly so you don't need to worry about buildup. My hair feels softer and more nourished without being weighed down, and my scalp feels comfortable, although after a couple days it starts to itch again.


Lastly, after cleansing and conditioning, the final step in the EX-2 system is the Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Essence EX-2. This spray on essence can be used to increase volume and encourage growth. Simply shake and then spray on to problem areas. The Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Essence EX-2 contains:
  • Water
  • Denatured alcohol - likely to help ingredients penetrate more easily, but could be potentially drying
  • Glycerin
  • Butylene glycol - moisturizing and is a solvent
  • Laureth-9 - an emulsifier and also helps reduce irritation
as well as twenty-four different natural extracts, such as swertia japonica extract (moisturizing), tussilago farara leaf extract (moisturizing), achillea millefolium (anti-dandruff) and celery extract (moisturizing). Despite all these cool sounding ingredients, most of them seem to be moisturizers and I didn't see anything overtly designed to help stimulate hair growth. 

As I used all three products together, it's hard to judge their effects separately so I'll give my opinions based on the system as a whole. After two months of regular use, I would say that I like these products, but I'm skeptical that they are life-changing or super-effective. During my time using these, I haven't noticed any significant change in terms of my hair's volume, thickness or rate of growth. What I do like about this line is its use of plant extracts, lack of artificial fragrances and how gentle is on my hair. You could definitely use these products safely with colour treated hair and these would be great for damaged hair as well. Besides the EX-2 line for fine hair, Elence 2001 also offers products for thick and curly hair. 

The Elence 2001 products are pricier than the usual drugstore options, but if you're looking for something a bit more high end than I think they're well worth the money. The Elence Premium 2001 Twin Scalp Hair Pack EX-2 in particular gets my thumbs-up as it's a huge tub that will last you a long time. Out of the three, I would skip the essence as I don't think it does much at all. 

Final Verdict
Buy - an interesting alternative to Western hair products, Elence 2001 offers gentle yet effective products that would work well for all hair types.

To shop Elence 2001 products, head to their website.

* This post features PR samples

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Roundup: Best Body Lotions and Moisturizers

Hola, I'm back from vacation! I have so many thoughts and photos to share with you from my recent trip. Currently I'm wading through my hundreds of photos and planning to put together a series of travel recaps so I can share the best parts of my Spain trip. In the meantime, it's back to your regular programming with this roundup of my recommended body lotions!

It's kinda weird, but I'll always make sure to pack moisturizer, yet I get so carefree (a.k.a lazy) on vacation that I often forget to apply it and of course in the end, I regret it as I dry up into a scaly prune. One of the first things I did upon returning home was take a long shower and SLATHER myself in deep moisture. Nothing feels so good as freshly moisturized skin!!

Anyhoo, it got me thinking to put together a roundup of some of my favourite body moisturizers, as well as introduce you to some new ones I'm trying.

nuxe huile prodigieuse oil for hair, body and face

If you're planning your own sunny vacation, then you may want to consider packing a body oil in your suitcase. A nice dry oil is the perfect moisturizer in hotter months as they're not as sticky as heavy creams yet still deeply hydrating; oils also give your skin a beautiful glow and sheen that looks great in the sun! For sure, my favourite body oil is the Nuxe Dry Oil Huile Prodigieuse oil with its luxurious blend of six different plant oils, such as macadamia nut, hazelnut, camellia and sweet almond. It also smells heavenly with notes of orange blossom, magnolia and coconut milk. Check out my full review here.

ogx body lotions

Continuing along with the theme of good smelling things, is the OGX Sea Mineral Body and OGX Eucalyptus Mint Body lotions. These are great "medium-texture" moisturizers; they don't feel too heavy, spread easily, absorb quickly and smell fantastic! The OGX Sea Mineral Body lotion reminds me of the old-school The Body Shop Oceanus scent - so fresh, clean and beachy! On the other side of the spectrum is the OGX Eucalyptus Mint Body lotion, which, you guessed it, smells of mint and eucalyptus and really gives off that cleansing, spa feeling. Both lotions are widely available at drugstores everywhere and retail for around $10. I've been loving these as a refreshing perk-me-up in the mornings and they leave my skin feeling silky smooth.

l'occitane aromachologie relaxing body cream

Now, different scents can elicit different moods and while the OGX lotions are great energizers, it's nice to have something more soothing at night. One of my absolute favourite de-stressing lotions is the L'Occitane Aromachologie Relaxing Body Cream. Like the rest of the Aromachologie line, this cream has a real vintage flair with its apothecary-inspired packaging and use of essential oils that gives it a comforting, spa-at-home feel. Needless to say, this cream is quite moisturizing, but what really makes this one standout is its fragrance. Specially designed to help you relax and unwind, the Aromachologie Relaxing Body Cream contains notes of fresh cypress and juniper. When designing this cream, L'Occitane did studies to prove that these scents really do help users relax and focus better, so slap some on when you know you'll need to be extra-sharp the next day! Check out my full review here.

lush sleepy hand and body moisturizer

If cypress and juniper herbal scents aren't your jam, then Lush has got your back with their Sleepy Hand & Body Lotion. This light almond oil and organic Fair Trade cocoa butter based lotion contains lavender and tonka bean to soothe you into dreamland. Normally I detest lavender, but I actually really like this one! I've just started using this one, but I can already attest to its powerful hydrating skills - my hands just drink this one up!

dr. teals epsom salt lotion

Last, but not least, is my favourite heavy hitter for the depths of winter: the Dr. Teal's Pure Epsom Salt Body Lotion. This super rich and thick cream is chock-full of emollients and smells like a relaxing mix of bath salts and eucalyptus goodness. After just one application your skin will thank you! Check out my full review here.

What are your favourite body lotions and creams?

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Travel Packing List for Spain Part 2: Makeup

what to pack for makeup when you travel

If you tuned into the blog Monday, then you saw what was on my packing list skincare-wise for mine and Mr. Artist's upcoming honeymoon/first anniversary trip to Spain. Today I'll be sharing a funner post, which features my packing list for makeup!

Unlike skincare, makeup is even harder for me to narrow down. I usually choose what makeup I'm going to wear based on what I'm wearing and feeling that day and you just never know what you'll feel like in advance! Usually what I end up doing is bringing everything and then wearing none of it as I end up going makeup-free because it's too hot or I'm too lazy. Well not this time! This time I am going to be very selective in what I bring. This is partially motivated as well by the fact that I'm not doing checked luggage, so all my makeup must be able to fit in the Harajuku Girls pouch above.

Here's what I'm packing for my two week trip:

travel makeup packing list - base and face

First and more importantly are base products. If I'm going to be slack with my makeup, at the very least I'll have a decent base. All of these number among my ride-or-die products. The Makeup Revolution palette (reviewed here) can be used for contouring, as eyeshadow and the matte yellow shade makes a nice under-eye setting powder. The Guerlain Meteorites Baby Glow foundation (reviewed here) feels so weightless, gives my skin an amazing glow and also has SPF 25, and this Coola Mineral Face SPF 30 Cucumber Matte Finish is my HG sunscreen with its mattifying texture and use of physical suncreens over chemical.

travel makeup packing list - eyes
Realized later that I'm missing mascara here, but at this time I'm not sure which one to bring yet!

Next is eye products. Since Spain's weather at the end of September/beginning of October is still pretty sunny and warm, my makeup choices here are more reminiscent of spring than fall. Between this Stila The Natural and this Lise Watier Rivage palette (reviewed here), I can do looks from soft and pretty, to sultry, to soft touches of color with that mossy green. As for eye bases, it's all about my OG Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, but the Clarins Ombre Waterproof Shimmering Cream Color is a close second lately, as it gives my eyes a nice bronze tint and acts as a great primer.

travel makeup packing list - lipsticks

Lastly is lips. Since I couldn't decide on just a couple, I'm bringing four lipsticks to fit any and all occasions: vampy red for nights out in candlelit tapas bars, brown-rose for everyday wear and smoky eye looks, orchid purple for when I feel like having a fun splash of color, and a girly coral for walking around during the day.

Makeup travel packing tips:

  • Pick products that are multi-use e.g foundations with SPF, or cheek/lip sticks
  • Think about what types of activities you'll be doing on your trip and pick your colors accordingly
  • Opt for eye shadow palettes vs. singles so that you don't have to think of shadow combos

That's my makeup packing list and my last post until I get back - see you all in October!

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lush Superbalm Review | Ultimate relief in a mini tin

lush superbalm review

As I've mentioned before, my saga to relieve my dry, itchy scalp continues. For some background, I think after a few too many misadventures with reviewing shampoos, my scalp decided to just rebel and now I'm super cautious about what I use. To counteract the incessant itching and flaking, I've tried a few different oils, but nothing seemed to work - nothing that is until I tried Lush's Superbalm.

This thick all natural paste is specifically designed to relief and repair flaking, itchy scalp:
  • Coconut oil - a natural emollient that deeply nourishes skin and can relieve psoriasis and excema
  • Candelilla wax - another natural emollient that's often used as a substitute for beeswax in vegan products
  • Salicylic acid - an exfoliant that helps encourage your scalp to shed buildup that causes scalp irritation
  • Rose wax - an emollient
  • Rose, chamomile and lavender oils - help soothe and calm irritation
Like all Lush products, Superbalm has a strong fragrance. While some reviewers were turned off by Superbalm's scent, I personally loved it. Superbalm smells like a mix of menthol, coconut oil and something almost medicinal, which really appeals to me as I find medicinal scents relaxing. 

The balm itself is housed in a cute 45 g tin that retails for $23.95 at any Lush store. It's a thick, pale green balm, with a texture similar to hair pomade. To use, simply scoop out a bit at a time and massage it directly into your scalp; wait 20 minutes and then wash it out. 

lush superbalm

The trickiest part of using Superbalm is knowing how much to use. After reading through the reviews, it's pretty common to over-apply and end up with super greasy strands; since you typically use this pre-shower though, that's not a big problem. I like to scoop out very little at a time, just slightly covering the pads of my fingers with product, and applying it a bit at a time wherever my scalp is irritated. 

I usually apply Superbalm before I shower, or if I plan to shower in the morning, then I'll wear it overnight. I've even taken to applying it during the day if I'm feeling particularly itchy and it helps a lot to keep my scalp comfortable.

Immediately after applying, it feels like my scalp just breathes a sigh of relief. My head just feels so relaxed and I have no nagging feeling of itchiness like I normally do. Yes, it is a bit of a pain to wash this stuff out and if I don't wash my hair for a couple days then the itchiness returns full force, but based on my experiences so far, this is the closest to actual relief I've gotten yet. I'll definitely be repurchasing this again and again!

Final Verdict
Buy - a powerful balm that instantly reliefs dry, itchy scalp. Must have!

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Travel Packing List for Spain Part 1: Skincare

Only eight more days till Mr. Artist and I leave for our Spain trip!! I can't remember if I had mentioned or not on here, but the past couple months I've been slowly researching and planning out our trip to Spain for our honeymoon/first year anniversary. Hard to believe we've been married almost a year already, but I'm thrilled to celebrate it in beautiful Spain.

We are going away for two weeks and four cities in Spain: Barcelona, San Sebastian, Seville and Granada and most of my trip planning has centered on researching attractions, figuring out accommodations, transportation and of course food! Now that things are getting down to the last few days though, it's time to get down to business, namely putting together a packing list.

Normally my toiletries make up the majority of my suitcase as I can't bear to mess up my skincare routine while travelling, but this time I'm really forcing myself to pack light so I can avoid checking luggage. What you see below is literally all I'm planning to bring with me skincare-wise, minus some eye cream and toothpaste:

travel packing skincare essentials

Doesn't look like much right, but the trick here is to use up those samples and trial sized items that I've been storing away for just a time like this!

In more detail, here's what on my skincare packing list:

OGX hair care for travel

These travel sized satchels of shampoo and conditioner are just what I need to keep my hair from getting dried out in the arid plane air and Spanish climate. Each of these has plenty to last me through several washes and is a great chance to try out three different OGX lines for free!

laneige water bank hydration kit

I've been wanting to try the Laneige Water Bank line since forever, so when I saw this six-piece hydration kit set for sale on Sephora, I snatched it right up! This kit contains a moisturizer, sleeping mask, serum, emulsion, toner and exfoliator, and each are well under that pesky 100 ml limit. Depending on how heavy the moisture cream is, I'll use it in combination with the emulsion at night and solo or just the emulsion during the day. I also have a couple other mask samples too that I got from past Sephora purchases.

lush earl grey massage bar

The most annoying part of carry-on luggage is dealing with the liquid restrictions, so I opted for non-liquid formats wherever I could, such as with this Lush Shades of Earl Grey Massage Bar. Although meant for massage, this bar can also be used as a body moisturizer with its luxurious notes of organic cocoa butter, shea butter and bergamot oil. I also purchased this cute Lush tin for a couple bucks more, which you can use to store soap, more massage bars or little trinkets!

sephora coconut water makeup removing wipes

Nothing feels better than wiping off the dirt of walking around all day, whether you wear makeup or not and when I travel my absolute necessity is facial wipes. These Sephora Coconut Water Cleansing Wipes are gentle enough to use on eyes and will thoroughly cleanse away makeup and dirt while refreshing with hydrating coconut water. I love anything with coconut water (so long as I'm not drinking it) so these were a no-brainer to bring.

Travel packing tips for skincare:

  • Use up those samples!
  • Purchase travel sized bottles and jars from the dollar store to store your products in
  • Wherever you can, avoid liquid products so you don't have to worry about spills or security limits

Stay tuned for part two on Friday when I'll share my makeup packing list!

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