Real. Life. Beauty.

Where Real Women Connect.

Kat Von D’s Everlasting Lipstick

I simply can’t say enough about tattoo icon, Kat Von D’s lipstick.  First of all, her colour selection is amazing and extensive (the photo above is not the complete selection by any means).  The colours are unique and various – too many collections nowadays feature a monotonous selection of the same shade.  Whether it’s the liquid or more traditional lipstick, I have found both to be not only long-wearing but also non-drying and they don’t require a lot of upkeep once applied and allowed to set for a few minutes before eating or drinking.  They remove easily with a quick swipe of makeup remover or micellar water as well.  And for me, the best thing is the brand is against animal testing.  I can’t wait to try her other products!Kat-Von-D-liquid-lipstick-hand-swatch

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Have your Cake and eat it too!

Figuratively speaking, at least.

I have a love-hate relationship with dry shampoos.  While I enjoy the benefits of dry shampoo, and the fact that I can sleep in some mornings without having to get up earlier to wash my hair before heading to work, I am disturbed by some things when it comes to most dry shampoos:

First, the main ingredient in most spray-on dry shampoos is butane.  You know, the stuff they put in lighters.  That just can’t be good for anyone.  Or even safe.

Second, the idea of a dry shampoo is that it soaks up the excess oils which travel from your scalp up the hair shaft, creating oily, unmanageable hair.  The side effect of this is it will also dry out your scalp which, if over-used, will have a negative effect on your scalp health, which in turn drastically affects your hair’s long term health.  Plus, if you suffer from dry skin particularly during the winter months, you may exacerbate any issues you already have encountered with dry scalp and/or dandruff.

Third, like it or not, canned dry shampoos are often aerosol-based.  There used to be a time when we cared about how our beauty products affected the earth’s ozone layer.  I’m old enough to still care about such things, unfashionable as that may seem to some.hair-the-all-powderful-br-tinted-dry-shampoo-powder-dark-50g-1-7oz-1_1280x1280

And lastly, because these products contain butane other severely dangerous and harmful ingredients, many of them are tested on animals and therefore NOT cruelty-free.  I would rather have greasy, lifeless hair than know that my vanity caused pain and suffering to another living creature, so for these reasons, I have struggled with finding a dry shampoo which paired my need for product efficacy with animal- and earth-friendly ingredients.

I have tried some of the powdered dry shampoos but I find that while my hair “looks” better, it doesn’t necessarily always “feel” better.  I like to run my hands through my hair, and I often felt that the powders were very gritty and sometimes made my hair more tangled and therefore less easy to manage.

But I believe my search is now officially over: I found Cake Beauty’s powdered dry shampoo which is not only cruelty-free but also comes in 3 shades depending on your hair colour.  It also does not have a gritty feel so it’s been nice having the effect of dry shampoo without the feeling of loads of product in my hair.

You can buy it at Shopper’s Drug Mart, and possibly other locations, or direct from Cake Beauty’s site at http://www.cakebeauty.com

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Winter Skin SOS

Now that winter has arrived, our skin care routine needs to adjust accordingly.  Indoor and outdoor temperatures are getting colder and more often than not, drier.  Your skin needs extra hydration to avoid the effects of premature aging as well as to hold off from exacerbating other, potentially more harmful conditions such as rashes, eczema, psoriasis, etc.

One of the most vulnerable areas of your skin are your lips.  They’re always exposed and often neglected through eating, drinking, talking, smiling, kissing etc.

Develop a personal routine to ensure your lips stay smooth and supple and ready for any of the challenges they may face.  My recommendations:

Start with your regular facial cleansing ritual.  After cleansing your face, and while your face is still damp after blotting with a towel, apply a bit of Fresh’s Lip Sugar Serum read: https://reallifebeautyblog.com/2015/12/09/product-review-fresh-lip-sugar-advanced-therapy-serum/).

Follow with a light coating of a hydrating lip balm.  One of my favourites is Tokyomilk Dark’s Lip Elixir in ‘Dead Sexy’ (available for purchase at http://www.sephora.ca):

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(I also repeat this routine at bedtime to avoid overnight drying.)

Give the Lip Elixir a few moments to absorb and then proceed with your normal makeup application and head out the door.

With or without an undercoat of lip balm, you won’t go wrong with Kat Von D’s lipstick line.  Her lipsticks are not only ultra creamy and moisturising but you get great wear out of them even after eating and drinking.  I don’t need to reapply colour as often as with other lip colour lines and best of all, her lipsticks are cruelty-free.

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Kat’s lipsticks come in wide range of fun colours and finishes, from the less daring to the avant-garde.  You can shop online at https://www.katvondbeauty.com/shop-all-products/lip or http://www.sephora.ca

Sometimes makeup foundations can be drying and cause more problems than the eliminate so if you wanted a finished look, try foundations and BB creams with moisturising qualities already built in, which’ll give you more bang for your buck.  Personally, I prefer light coverage to even out my skin tone, so my current go-to is Charlotte Tilbury’s Unisex Healthy Glow which is a tinted moisturiser.  This product is available at http://www.charlottetilbury.com

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This product blends and covers well and there’s no mystery shade for your skin type as it adapts to YOU.

All of these products are great but the single most important thing you can do to ensure your skin is properly hydrated at any time of year is to drink plenty – and I mean plenty – of water.  You may even have to increase your water intake during the colder, drier winter months to maintain good cellular structure of your skin cells.

Good luck, stay warm and as always, please feel free to share your comments and tips and tricks below.  🙂

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Time-Savers

I have a new favourite product which I’ve only just started using – Jergens Wet Skin Moisturizer in Coconut.  This product was not only affordable (I recently paid only $7.99 Cdn (sale price) at Shoppers Drug Mart), but it also lives up to its claim in saving time while producing results!

Shower as normal and then apply before towelling off.  I keep the bottle in my shower (so it also saves space on my bathroom counter) and a little goes a very long way.  One pump of dispensed lotion will cover most of one leg so it is great value for the money.

If you attend to other things before getting dressed – I like to dry and style my hair before getting dressed – you won’t even need to pat off the excess moisture with your towel.  But if you do, PAT it dry, don’t RUB as this will remove the lotion and its benefits.

The coconut fragrance is very light and not at all overpowering.  And unlike many shower oils, this lotion “oil” doesn’t run all over the place, creating slipping hazards in your shower and will not leave a sticky or oily film on your skin.

There are 2 other choices – Calming Green Tea Oil and Nourishing Monoi Oil) – I am looking forward to trying them all.  My skin remains hydrated throughout the day and I don’t feel the need to reapply lotion later in the day or evening.

The packaging is recyclable and takes up very little space in the shower (or on the countertop).

To summarize, work week mornings can be a little less rushed by saving time applying moisturizer by instead using this product.  You’ll also save time by not reapplying lotion later in the day if you’re a dry skin sufferer like I am.

To find out if this product is right for you, please visit:
http://www.jergens.com/products/wet-skin-moisturizers/refreshing-coconut.aspx

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WANTED: Eyeliner Tips and Tricks

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Confession: I struggle with eyeliner in the worst way.  I have tried pencil liners, powder liners, inkpen liners (even considered a Sharpie marker at one point!) and gel pot liners, all with varying degrees of success.  I’ve also struggled with how to apply liner.  Like most people, my eyes are not identical in shape or size so getting liner on both eyes to resemble each other is definitely a tricky prospect.

My biggest complaint with any eyeliner is getting it to stay put once I’ve managed to apply it in the first place.  The liner always seems to slide off my upper eyelid down into the corners of my eyes where it drips down even further down my cheek if left unchecked.  And who wants to keep checking “budge proof” and “smudge proof” liner every few minutes to make sure it’s still there?  Rather an insult to injury considering that a good quality liner is not always easy on the wallet.

So, like a lost soul returning to Mecca, I ventured into my local Sephora one day in search of guidance and inspiration.  I was escorted to the Marc Jacobs counter and was handed the waterproof gel eyeliner pictured above.  Friends of mine had tried this liner with mixed results.  Some loved it, others hated it.  Again, liner – like most makeup – appears to be a completely individual experience.

So, I took home the free sample I’d received for my birthday and went home to try it out. The first time I used it strictly as a pencil and, predictably, it didn’t perform nearly as well as I’d hoped.  When I got home after being out to supper that evening, I decided to use an eyeliner brush to touch it up and in the process, dragged out my cat eye a little farther just for some drama.

Well, that turned out to be just what the doctor ordered!  Yes, I agree wholeheartedly that you shouldn’t have to use a brush to apply pencil liner, I still can’t argue with the evidence.  Each time I have used this technique with the Marc Jacobs liner, I have enjoyed budge proof and fade proof liner without any need of touchups.  I wear it alone on top of Urban Decay eyeshadow primer (in ‘Original’) 3605970943844_espptravel_original_alt2

and with a light coat of Urban Decay ‘Cannonball’ mascara.  urban_decay_cannonball_masc

My work look is complete in just a couple minutes and I’m good to go well into the after hours.

(By the way, the Urban Decay Cannonball waterproof mascara delivers on all its promises and leaves my eyes clear and lashes undamaged without flaking, clumping or smudging.)

So, that’s my tip for you.  What I would dearly love is for your comments sharing YOUR tips and tricks for stay-put eyeliner and makeup.  🙂

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Eyeliner Lifesaver

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Like a lot of people with hooded eyes, I have had an ongoing battle with eyeliner and making it stay in place.  A hooded eyelid usually spells trouble for eyeliner, particularly a winged or cat-eye look since the simple act of blinking often causes the eyeliner to transfer to the upper eyelid, slide to the outer corners or disappear altogether.

It never seemed to matter which eyeliner, or which eye moisturiser, eye makeup primer or concealer I used, by an hour or so into the look I was trying to achieve, the eyeliner would smudge or pool at the corners of my eyes into unattractive salamander feet-shaped splotches which I would have to touch up at least two to three times throughout the work day.

I recently visited my local beauty headquarters, Shoppers Drug Mart and met beauty expert Jessicca who listened patiently while I bemoaned my eyeliner woes.  Like me, Jessicca has hooded eyes and she shared this simple, yet invaluable little tip: clear lip liner.  That’s it.

Jessicca advised me to apply my eyeliner in whatever manner I usually did.  In my case, I generally apply it to the top lid and wing it out slightly to elongate the length of my eye.  I have smaller eyes, so I generally skip lining the bottoms of my eyes as this tends to make them look even smaller.

Jessicca’s advice was to then simply outline the area you just lined with darker pencil with a clear lip liner.  The lip liner I use already is clear and is made by one of my favourite brands, Urban Decay.  It works obviously with any colour I choose to use on a given day and so this morning, I lined the outside of my eyeliner’d area with Urban Decay’s Ozone Lip Liner and so far, everything is staying put.  My cat eye is still in place, there is no smudging or transferrence whatsoever!

This just goes to show that sharing tips and tricks with your girlies and friends makes all the difference in each of us attaining that level of beauty which makes us feel like the sexy and confident women we all are!

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Product review: Essie Gel Couture

Essie has a great lineup of products, along with an outstanding array of colours to choose from, so naturally I was thrilled to learn that they had come out with a line of gel polishes which as an added bonus, don’t require a UV or LED lamp.

The colour I chose is ‘Tropical Lights’ since I had been looking for a subdued shade of blue for quite some time which was universally flattering to all my outfits, but also ‘quiet’ enough to wear to work.

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I lightly buffed my nails to smooth out any ridges or rough spots. If your nails are already smooth, skip this step as excess buffing will weaken your nails over time. Then I cleaned the nail surface with a nail cleanser. You can also use regular non-acetone nail polish remover to cleanse your nail surface.

Afterward, I simply applied 2 coats of polish, allowing time between each coat to dry and then applied a single layer of clear topcoat. Essie says about 60 seconds between coats is sufficient. However, since I was watching one of my favourite TV shows at the time I applied this polish, I simply used the commercial breaks to apply the second coat and top coat.

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Make sure you follow up your top coat with a good cuticle oil or moisture-rich lotion to rub into your cuticles which will also help prolong your manicure.

Since then, I have washed dishes, weeded the garden and even sanded the steel rims of my truck, all without chips or fading. I’m super-impressed with this so-called gel polish because unlike my experiences with both Revlon and Sally Hansen, Essie’s no-light-required gel polish actually seems to deliver on its promises of lasting colour with long wearability. I can’t wait to try the other colours, but for the moment, I’m reluctant to remove this polish (just use regular nail polish remover) since it’s lasting so long and doing so well!

Verdict: 5 out of 5 #essielove 🙂

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Clarins.

Growing ever more impatient with my dry, flaky skin and worried about the long-term effects of that prolonged dryness, I recently took the plunge into the higher-end product line, Clarins. I assure you that this step was not taken lightly since the outset costs may be understandably hard to justify on any budget, particularly if you have not had any previous experience with the product line – which I hadn’t. I made sure to consult one of the Shopper’s Drug Mart Beauty Boutique salespeople and grilled the poor lady with questions before committing to my purchase.  She seemed relieved when I finally bought my items and left the store.

Before using this skin care line, my pores were open, crows’ feet were extending farther and farther outward from the corners of my eyes and my skin was continually tight and irritated from being perpetually parched despite my best efforts to religiously use the products which I had been using.  An unstable winter season didn’t help matters much and so my skin felt as if it were in constant turmoil trying to balance itself out, with varying degrees of success.

Within a mere 2 days of using the cleanser,

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eye cream

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and daytime moisturiser,

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I felt immediate relief and I haven’t looked back since. The creases in the corners of my eyes have all but disappeared along with their close relatives, the crows’ feet. My pores are visibly smaller as well. Most importantly, my skin isn’t yearning for moisture as the daytime moisturiser lasts me a good 24 hours, if not more. By not having to cleanse or moisturise as often at nighttime, I am saving money on fewer products and less usage of the products I do use so you get pretty good mileage out of these products which

I also took a foray into some of Clarins’ more specialized products like the [intensive oil treatment], the skin refining scrub which I use only once a week and the daily foaming cleanser. I am happy to say that with each of these products, a little goes a very long way so when you offset the cost against the long-term value, the initial outset cost is somewhat easier to bear.

I also like that these products are lightly-scented or completely unscented, and for the most part, the products are plant- or botanical-derived.

There is some ambiguity as to whether these products are tested on animals. It is likely a case of the producer not using animal testing, but some ingredients made elsewhere may be tested on animals so this is still a point of contention for me as I do try to use as many cruelty-free products as possible so you may also wish to bear this in mind before committing to your own purchase.

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Product Review: OGX Shampoo

Many hair care products promise many things, but don’t always deliver on those promises. I have often used shampoos promising volume – like Kevin Murphy’s Plumping Rinse – but the accompanying conditioner seemingly undoes all the volume-building accomplished by the shampoo.

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Kevin Murphy’s Hair Plumping Lineup (I do not own the rights to this image.)

Sometimes it’s both halves of the shampoo/conditioner grouping that add too little or too much, depending on what you’re looking for.

Another complaint I frequently have is the fragrance of the shampoo or conditioner is so overpowering that throughout the day, as your body temperature heats your hair, all you can smell is your hair and for me, this is not an appealing proposition. I prefer my hair to be clean and manageable, but I don’t wish to smell it all day. Particularly if I am wearing other styling products like hairspray or serums, in addition to lotions, deodorants, etc. – which are also usually scented to some degree – as wearing so many fragrances all at once produces an olfactory cacophony which is hard to ignore, especially if you or your coworkers have scent-related allergies or sensitivities.

Many people nowadays have colour- or chemically-treated hair, so no matter what your hair’s natural tendencies are toward being thick, coarse or otherwise, colouring and chemically-treating your hair will greatly reduce the volume of each hair shaft, making your hair thinner overall and more prone to frizziness, drying, static, etc. So where do you turn for a reasonably-priced, but effective shampoo and conditioner combination?

Falling into this category of aging, thinning hair due at least in part to colouring it on a regular basis, I have tried a number of shampoo/conditioner combinations with varying success. I also prefer to use products which are justifiable in terms of my budget because, after all, you’re literally washing the product down the drain and your money with it, so it’s best to find something that provides good mileage as well as coverage, and is reasonably-priced, and if at all possible good for the environment (not containing any, or too many, sulphates which later wind up in our drinking water and waterways).

My happy medium is the Coconut Water (Weightless Hydration) shampoo and conditioner by OGX. This brand is found in most of the major retail drug stores and grocery stores and when I last purchased it (at London Drugs), it was a mere $9.99 excluding tax for each bottle.

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OGX Weightless Hydration Coconut Water Shampoo and Conditioner Duo (I do not own the rights to this image.)

The shampoo lathers well, despite being sulphate-free, and rinses out easily. I often let my hair go unwashed for 2-3 days at a time, and so I find that shampooing only once gives me great cleansing without stripping my hair of its natural oils.

The conditioner is lightweight, yet effective, and since I am able to go 2-3 days without washing, it is obviously not at all greasy. I have long hair and have found that a small dollop of conditioner (about the size of a Canadian $1 coin) goes a very long way. My hair has plenty of bounce and shine and is easily manageable and workable with my various styling tools.

Adding more value to this product, the coconut fragrance is appealing not just to the females in your house, but also the males as it is commonly a unisex fragrance and isn’t too strong.

If the coconut fragrance doesn’t appeal to you, OGX also offers other

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Some of the OGX Combinations (I do not own the rights to this image.)

fragranced, similar shampoo/conditioner pairings such as Kukui Nut, Macadamia, Argan Oil, etc. depending on your hair’s specific needs and concerns.

 

 

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 for value and overall brand appeal.

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Product Review: Fresh Lip Sugar Advanced Therapy Serum

With the onset of winter, each of us is likely faced with chapped and cracking lips thanks to the cold outdoors and dry heated indoors.  I recently received a sample of this product with an order from Sephora, and after only 2 uses, I am HOOKED!

This product delivers on its promise to smooth creases, and to provide hydration and relief to your lips and their contour area.  I applied it once before bedtime last night and felt and saw an instant transformation.  I applied it again this morning before leaving for work and despite the chilly temperatures outside, I still felt no need to apply further product.  The product absorbs quickly and easily, and your lips feel completely cared for without being greasy or cakey as many lip balms and similar products might feel.

I also liked that this product has very little fragrance (in fact, I didn’t notice it at all once the product absorbed into my skin), so it wasn’t obtrusive to my husband who frequently complains about overpowering fragrances of different beauty products as he has sensitivities to many of them.

I can already see that this product will be a permanent member of my skin care lineup.201408-omag-OBeautiful-14-949x1356

Rating: 5 stars out of 5 for instant gratification and promises delivered!

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