TARTE | Rainforest of the Sea Foundation


Never under estimate the powers of snazzy marketing cushioned by rave social media hype because that’s exactly how I got absolutely obsessed with getting my hands on this Tarte Rainforest of the Sea foundation. It had all the right adjectives; lightweight, full coverage, hydration boosting plus a selection of shades based on undertones – yup, I was hunted this down in every local Sephora in town until I finally made the purchase online. Now the true test is winning me over in real life but things aren’t always what they seem…

Brand: Tarte
Product: Rainforest of the Sea Foundation
Size: 30ml
Shades: 21 Shades (shown: Fair-Light Neutural)
Price: $39 USD / $51 CAD
Details: Made in Korea
Availability: Sephora, Ulta, Tarte online
Would I repurchase: Probably not.
This is a creamy yet fluid foundation that has a serum like consistency to the touch yet dries to a soft matte finish. The dropper style dispensing system not only works well with the formula but I also secretly wish that all foundations went this route because it keeps the product hygienic as well as giving me ample control over how much I want to use each time. There is an ever so slight scent from the actual ingredients but no additional fragrance. The overall design and aesthetic is on trend without being garish plus that purple and gold ombre theme just looks beautifully stylish paired with the slim frosted glass bottle.
This Rainforest of the Sea foundation imparts a light to medium finish with a water light feel yet a natural looking matte finish that does not need to powdered. For best results, I recommend starting off with very well moisturized skin and tap on using your fingers, a beauty blender or an oval type brush with dense bristles. This formula dries down pretty quickly so work swiftly and focus on one area of the face at a time. My pick of the shade Fair-Light Neutral (fair to light skin with yellow and pink undertones) seemed to be a great match for my skin tone as the next shade Fair-Sand might just be a little to yellow. I’m impressed with the thought that Tarte put into their shade selection based on undertones so that even if you had to purchase online (as I did since it was perpetually sold out in my local Sephoras), you can still get an easy match. None of those silly sudo terms like Alabaster or Sunkissed Beige which granted can be entirely different things from brand to brand.

With all the technical information aside, this foundation really threw me in for a trip because it’s a love-hate, kinda but not, this yet that type of product. Essentially, I’ve worked out that you need to have slightly oily, evenly textured, smooth skin in order to love this product and here’s why:

  • It does not sit well over the tiniest bit of flaky skin.
  • It catches over dry patches or exfoliate really well.
  • It looks great as a single or double layer but building additional layer towards full coverage makes it look heavy and cakey. So its never going to be a beautiful looking full coverage on my skin.
  • Works best in controlled environments with little temperature fluctuations, ideally mild to slightly colder seasons.

Essentially, this is why it took me so long to write up a review because I kept hoping it would be better if I tried it again. When my skin was a little worse, this foundation looked quite unforgiving and while it does look better now that my skin is also in a good phase, it’s still not wow-ing me.

What really left me flustered with this foundation is that despite its serum texture,
it really isn’t a great one to use alone if you have skin texture issue, dehydration lines, pore issues and the like. Of course, a primer might help smooth over the issues but I prefer to rate my foundations as stand alone items. I also noticed that wear time is only about 4 hours before it started to break up on my forehead and wrinkle up around the corners of my eyes despite it being the middle of winter and I was only going for a few hours on a grocery trip. I can’t imagine how this would be in the heat of summer. Granted, it never got as far as a complete mess and my face stayed at that same level of broken down until about the 6th hour when I decided it was uncomfortable and took it off. Fortunately, this didn’t cause any breakouts or clogged pores, seems sensitive skin friendly and actually appeared to leave my skin a little hydrated after removal.


Tarte’s Rainforest of the Sea foundation is a lightweight, light to medium coverage slightly buildable foundation that imparts a very pretty naturally matte finish if with used with a light hand. It does a much better job of hiding skin tone unevenness and colour corrections tasks than covering skin texture but it does catch on dry patches easily so do prep extremely well with a primer/moisturizer or skip this altogether if that’s your main concern. For most people, a powder is not necessary which cuts you that extra minute in the morning. I’d recommend this for those who work in an office environment and as a springtime foundation. While many of its likeable properties makes it a favourite for some, unfortunately, it’s not the right one for me. 

Chat soon,

Review: Shu Uemura | Drawing Pencil & Pret-a-Palette | #eyeloveshu

Shu Uemura fans are a loyal brood and while you don’t always hear word on the street about Shu, those who love their products are fiercely protective.

While famous for it’s iconic eyelash curlers, Shu is also a master colourist. The brand produces a beautiful array of artisan colours stemming from Mr. Uemura’s ideology of making makeup more creative and enjoyable for all women.

The Summer 2014 Collection highlights the newly reformulated Drawing Pencils, the ready to wear Pret-a-Palette and the Petal Lash Mascara. Today’s post and look will focus on the shadows and pencils both of which are all about bringing more colour into your everyday makeup wardrobe.
SHU UEMURA | Pret-a-Palette* $85cad | Pink Hues
Available in 4 ready to wear, pre-selected colour combinations, my pink palette is filled with 6 pink and purple toned shadows each weighing 1 gram for a total of 6 grams altogether. The case itself can be taken apart, allowing you to refill individual shade ($19cad each) or create your own perfect rainbow combination. The full array of Shu eyeshadow pans comes in 5 finishes including matte, pearl, iridescent, metallic and glitter.
The 6 shades in this palette include

  • PK01 | Off white matte
  • PK02 | Iridescent light pink
  • PK03 | Pearl pale rose pink
  • PK04 | Medium pink glitter
  • PK05 | Cool blue pink matte
  • PK06 | Medium-deep aubergine matte

All colour descriptions above are based on what I see in the pan but a few colours like the PK3 and PK4 swatch differently on the skin. The pearl shades have a particularly reflective sheen that can appear to be two slightly different colours depending on the light. For a makeup artist’s discerning eye there is a visible difference between the few lighter shades but for the average user, they are probably too similar to be a necessity in a single palette. Personally, I’d like to see either PK02 or PK03 switched out for a different pink.

All the colours had a pleasant smooth texture that was incredibly smooth to blend with the exception of PK4, which came off only as a fine glitter with just a slight hint of colour rather than the bright pink as seen in the pan. The general depth of the colours would have much more versatility on someone with a light medium tone since the lighter shades are too close to my natural colouring for high impact.
What I find really beautiful about these shadows is how well they layer over one another. I must admit pink is not one of my most reached for colours for the fear of looking like a red eyed rabbit but the addition of the slightly smokier mauve and purple shades made this a much more wearable palette than expected. When worn over a pink base, the deepest aubergine transforms into a near magenta shade that’s colourful and unexpectedly pretty. A touch of of the glitter shade right on the center of the eyelid is one of my favourite ways to finish up an eye look.


Now if you’re eyeing that pop of colour on my lower lash line, that is thanks to the reformulated Shu Drawing Pencils which come in 4 textures and 24 shades for infinite mix and match options. And when Shu says colour, we’re talking reds, baby blues, yellow and even a hot pink in addition to your wearable everyday neutrals. If you’re having a hard time choosing your colours, 10 shades are specially picked out to fit Asian skin tones: M01, P01, M02, M03, M04, M05, M81, M82, M83 and M84.

SHU UEMURA | Drawing Pencil* $28cad | 24 shades total
These pencils boast a soft texture, blendable consistency, intense colour payoff in a waterproof formulation and I say they pass all the above. They have a firm feel that allows for control but still smooth enough for an easy glide, a little less creamy than the Rimmel Scanadaleyes but perfectly workable.

The intricate combination of ingredients contains an evaporating agent which allows the colour to be blended almost like an eyeshadow when applied but once the solvent evaporates, it sets and your fine work is here to stay. I even ran my hand under water and proceeded with some vigorous rubbing which made absolute no difference to the eyeliner. Can we say, thoroughly impressed?

L-R | M11, ME7, M81, M01

To compliment the Pret-a-palette, I wore the matte black to fill in my upper lash line, M11 (red purple) along the outer lower lash line/slightly as a base in the outer crease and ME71 (sparkly purple) along the lower lash line topped off with PK06 eyeshadow for a really vibrant look.
On the cheeks and lips I am wearing the Shu Uemura Lip and Cheek Tint* in “gelato”.

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For a limited time, free shipping is available online for all orders with the code: “PETAL”.



For a girl who prefers colour on her lips rather than eyes, I must say I am happily impressed by Shu Uemura’s approach to colour. The Pret-a-Palette is easy to work with, travel friendly, design smart and layers beautifully for all kinds of experimentation. It was very important that they don’t get muddy when blended but build smoothly with each layer and these certainly fit the bill. The matte shades are especially worth checking out if Shu is within your budget. For those seeking for maximum versatility then the Drawing Pencil liners will be your new favourite play thing. Reminiscent of artists colouring pencils, I’ve seen Shu makeup artists create some incredibly quick and polished looks with just a few of these blended together. Altogether, I am beginning to understand why Shu has such a faithful following and I can’t wait to work these colours more into my every wardrobe.


Review: Maybelline | Color Show Nail Polish & Swatches

It absolutely bewilders me how I’m attracted to nail polish like a bird to shiny things despite not wearing polish on a regular basis. But over the past few years I’ve somehow managed to amass quite a decent selection of Maybelline Color Show polishes. With their attention grabbing ads in magazines, to their constant flow of limited edition colours, this little beauty bird just keeps picking them up.

Brand: Maybelline New York
Product: Colour Show Nail Polish/Nail Lacquer
Colours: 48 shades (not including limited edition)
Details: 3-Free, no formaldahyde, DBP or toulene
Size: 7ml
Price: $3 – 4 CAD (often on sale)
Availability: Drugstores nationwide
Would I repurchase: Possibly.
Website: www.maybelline.ca

Maybelline has been making nail polishes on and off for decades but these new fashion forward Colour Show polishes were launched in mid 2012 and seems to be part of a bigger brand strategy to overhaul its overall appeal.

Fully coordinated in shiny black caps, a base range of colours were put out and is supplemented with seasonal limited edition options during the year ranging from new colours to textures and finishes. The cylindrical glass bottles certainly have a more modern stylized feel to them and the small bottles actually contain 7ml of product rather than the traditional 15ml of most brands. A rather smart move in my opinion as I’m one to like options in my collection but rarely find myself finishing up an entire large bottle of polish.

Although been dubbed the “easy flow” brush, there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly new in this department. It doesn’t hold a very large amount of product so if you have a larger nail bed, you’re going to need a few dips to finish your each nail.

The consistency of the product seems to vary depending on the finish, the creams can be slightly streaky but the metallics and sparkle finishes go on great. Most colours I own require 2-3 coats for complete coverage.

Rose Bling (LE) | Gold’s Night Out (LE) | Sea-Quins (LE) | Clearly Spotted
The sequins and polka dot collection are some of my favourites as they make for a fun accent nail or top coat. All of these seem to have a high ratio of giltter/specks to clear polish so not I’m sitting around layering 5 coats to get some action. Do note that the sequins can dry out a little but a little top off with a clear polish should take care of the issue.
Midnight Swim (LE) | Styled Out | Navy Narcissist

The Colour Show collection makes some of the best blues around and with an interesting mix of finishes and textures. The “denim” series is unique formulation that contains a subtle glitter mixed into a base colour which minics the natural sheen and irregularity of real denim.

Metal Icon (LE) | Impeccable Greys | Purple Icon | Iced Queen | Poolside (LE)

I like the idea that Maybelline doesn’t make too many “repeat” shades and the focus is very much on trendy brights, neons, pastels or textures instead of merely safe girly neutrals. Paired up with it’s limited edition offerings and you can very quickly build up quite a substantial colour palette. Drying time is rather quick but the shine factor varies with the finish you choose.
My major issue with these polishes, especially the cream shades is the extremely poor wear time when worn solo. Granted, I put my hands through a lot during a normal day but these have been known to chip with in the day for me and that’s not way for a polish to behave. A base coat and high shine topcoat is an absolute must if you plan on wearing these for more than just a quick wardrobe change.

All the swatches below are done using two coats of polish.





With so many good things going for it, the Maybelline Colour Show Nail Lacquers are easy, colourful, fun and very inexpensive. The formulation needs a bit of work as it has a hard time staying on my nails and thus I normal reserve these for date outfit matching, when I only need it to stay pristine for a few hours. This is not going to be a favourite, reliable product for me but I’m rather certain I’ll continue to get lured in by the great shades that Maybelline puts out.

Wearing | Poolside & Clearly Spotted

Ingredients: (May vary slightly depending on colour)
Butyl Acetate, Ethyl Acetate, Isopropyl Alcohol, Adipic Acid/Neopentyl Glycol/Trimellitic Anhydride Copolymer, Nitrocellulose, Triphenyl Phosphate, Trimethyl Pentanyl Diisobutyrate, Stearalkonium Bentonite, Ethyl Tosylamide, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Tosylamide/Epoxy Resin, Sucrose Acetate Isobutyrate, Benzophenone-1, Alumina, Aluminum Calcium Sodium Silicate, Citric Acid, Silica, Tin Oxide, Dimethicone. May Contain: CI 7789
1/Titanium Dioxide, CI 77120/Barium Sulfate, CI 19140/Yellow 5 Lake, CI 15850/Red 6 Lake, Mica, CI 77491, CI 77499/Iron Oxides, CI 77510/Ferric Ferrocyanide, CI 15850/Red 7 Lake, CI 77266/Black 2, CI 15880/Red 34 Lake, CI 77000/Aluminum Powder, CI 42090/Blue 1 Lake, CI 73360/Red 30.

Review | A’PIEU | Aurora Luminous CC Cream

If at once you don’t succeed, try try again.

A’Pieu is a Korean beauty brand that has been on my beauty radar for quite a while since hearing about them through popular Korean beauty shows yet my first trial with their bb cream left much to be desired (read it here). Not one to call it quits so fast, I decided to try out their Aurora Luminous CC Cream that was featured in the hit show Get It Beauty by a Korean makeup artist demonstrating a 10 minute multi-tasking makeup look.

Brand: A’PIEU
Product: Aurora Luminous CC Cream* in CB01
Colour: 2 Shades Available
Size: 2.9g (Concealer), 30ml (CC Cream)
Price: $24.74USD (via W2Beauty)
Availability: W2Beauty (online), A’PIEU (Korea)
Would I (re)purchase: No
Website: www.shop.beautynet.kr/apieu
A’Pieu’s CC Cream comes packaged in a dual dispensing system identical to that of the (discontinued) Laneige Snow Crystal Foundation. In fact, the design of the product is what caught my attention straight away as its both hygienic and easy to control exact amount you need per application. The cap portion opens up to reveal a creamy concealer, mirrored under the lid for easy touch ups. A quick push on the top of the bottle dispenses the cc cream itself which is white, sweetly scented and littered with tiny colour bursting beads that adjusts as you “burst” them when rubbing into your skin.

The colour adjusting process takes quite some vigorous blending to achieve and the beads feel slightly gritty at first but nothing that takes away from the final look. Due to the thicker consistency, I found that blending in directional strokes with a sponge worked out much easier than using bare hands. Apply less than you think you need and work in one small section of the face at a time.


Even though most cc creams focus on tone correcting, I was pleasantly surprised to find this A’Pieu version offered medium coverage. Paired with the medium to buildable concealer, which had a slightly peach tone perfect for under eye darkness, I ended up with quite an amount of coverage overall. The final look was a satin glowy finish and my skin tone was more uniform with small blemishes perfectly concealed.

Infused with extracts of borage seed oil, argan oil, aloe vera and marine collagen, the Aurora Luminous CC Cream was very moisturizing…too moisturizing in fact for my combination skin and this is exactly where it all went wrong. While it did keep my skin plump and hydrated, I found this to have little staying power. Even minutes after application, you see the cc cream sinking into my marionette lines around my mouth (evidence below) and within 2-3 hours the product was merely just floating on top of my skin ready to be rubbed off onto any object that came into contact with my face.

Sadly, after just a few days of wear my skin called it quits and showed it’s annoyance with a few spots and clogged pores which sealed the fate for this product.

Loved the concept, loved the coverage and the 2-in-1 product packaged into one easy bottle but the A’Pieu Aurora Luminous CC Cream just did not get along with my skin. While I don’t have the full ingredients list in English to see what went wrong, I suspect the heavier consistency was too much for my easily clogged skin. The concealer itself was especially lovable for its creamy smooth feel and medium to full coverage. Altogether, I’d only recommend this for very dry skin or those living in dry cold climates.


Review: Aqua Smoky Extravagant Mascara | Make Up For Ever

If there are two makeup items that women are constantly debating over, it’s foundation and mascara. When it comes to the latter, I am a hard customer to win over. Mascaras vary in formulation, brush, opacity and a plethora of minute details that needs to match not only to my own lash condition but also my desired results. With a name like Smoky Extravagant however, this mascara has much to live up to.

Brand: Make Up For Ever
Product: Aqua Smoky Extravagant Mascara*
Variation: Washable, Waterproof
Size: 0.23oz
Price: $28CAD
Availability: Sephora (Sephora online), Make Up For Ever Boutiques
Would I (re)purchase: Possibly
Let’s take a few steps back, this waterproof concoction in a tube is actually the new version of Make Up For Ever’s ever popular Smoky Lash that released a few years ago. The original formulation promises thick voluminous lashes that pairs well with a dramatic look.
For Summer 2014, this Aqua Smoky Extravagant touts micronized iron oxide pigments for an intense colour, pro vitamin b5 to nourish lashes, volume, length and curl in addition to being water and oil resistant.

A quick examination of the mascara in your hand and you’ll notice its unique brush head which comprises of a conical shaped design; a large size at the base and tapering to a precision tip. Formulation wise, I found the product to be quite creamy, easy to adhere to my fine lashes and easily combed through with the brush for an even distribution.

The before and after photos (below) shows the Aqua Smoky Extravagant applied to my curled lashes (with the Shu Uemura lash curler if you are interested) in two coats on both top and bottom. Note that I decided not to wear any eyeliner so you can see the full affect from this mascara alone. From experience, I never count on a mascara to curl my natural lashes but rather measure it’s ability to hold my curl in place all day. 
As you can see, this gave me a very pretty fanned out and defined lash line. No lash comb was used and this mascara didn’t need it at all. For those with thinner lashes like mine, you’ll likely achieve more length and definition rather than any real smoky volume however I have seen some impressive dramatic result from those with better lash density. Surprisingly I found the conical brush easy to use and was actually very helpful in reaching to my corner lashes. I was also able to hold the wand vertically and really define the base.

My curl lasted well throughout the course of the day which and I loved how it was able to achieve that without a heavy formulation thus being completely comfortable and weightless to wear thanks to its synthetic thermoplastic resin coating that forms a film around each lash. This worked well for the waterproof claim however I did notice some minor smudging after a few hours which takes a point off the oil resistant claim for me. 


Having been around the block with mascara products, I really thought I resigned myself to a few staple drugstore options. Yet the Make Up For Ever Aqua Smoky Extravagant Mascara caught me by surprise with its lash separating brush and all day definition, this is a mascara that this false lash addict would actually wear on a casual basis. Personally, I would have liked an extra dose of volume but I think you could easily layer this with another density building product to get the best of both worlds. The price is reasonable for the high end market (though a little expensive for my everyday budget) and it’s something I would happily pick up again when I feel like a bit of a splurge. This is a near perfect mascara for me. Enough said.



Ingredients: Water, Paraffin, CI 77499 (Iron Oxides), Polybutene, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Triethanolamine, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Acacia Senegal Gum, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Silica, Phenoxyethanol, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Algin, Hydrolyzed Rhodophycea Extract, BHT, Serine, A13301/01.

Review: HD Primer "Mauve" | Make Up For Ever

Love ’em or hate ’em, foundation primers are often touted as an essential step to starting off your makeup for the day. Over the years, I’ve grown a little apathetic to primers mainly because their thicker silicone textures didn’t sit well with my acne prone skin. But a beauty blogger never gives up and today’s contender is the Make Up For Ever High Definition Primer.

Brand: Make Up For Ever
Product: HD Primer* in “Mauve” #02
Variation: 7 colours, 6 tinted 1 clear
Size: 30ml
Price: $39CAD
Availability: Sephora & select Make Up For Ever Boutiques
Would I (re)purchase: Undecided.

Slim, sleek and housed in a frosted plastic bottle, this primer is part of Make Up For Ever’s iconic HD range which now consists of primer, foundation, blush and powder. The twist to this product however is that there are a total of 6 colour adjusting shades to choose from in addition to the invisible primer.
  • #00 NEUTRAL | Adds natural luminosity
  • #01 GREEN | Minimizes redness
  • #02 MAUVE | Illuminates muddy complexions, minimizes yellow tones
  • #04 CARAMEL | warms and enhances medium skin tones, illuminates darker complexions
  • #05 BLUE | Illuminates fair skin and minimizes slight redness
  • #06 YELLOW | Lightens dark complexions and yellowish skin tones
  • #07 PINK | Adds radiance


    The packaging itself is rather large for 30ml of product and makes traveling a little less convenient but it has a precision pump that I really appreciate as I can dispense as little or as much product with equal ease.

    Marketed as a light weight, non-greasy, oil-free primer with hydrating properties the texture of this primer is very likeable. Similar to a lightweight creamy lotion, the formula smoothed easily onto my skin and did not exasperate any dry patches (especially around my nose). No need to wait as absorption is immediate and this leaves a comfortable dry to the touch finish on the skin.

    Now I do think it’s worthwhile mentioning that although this is a water based product, there is still a heavy dose of silicone in this primer (have a look at the ingredients list further down). This may or may not be an issue for you although the lightweight consistency prevents this from feeling uncomfortable and slick like many full silicone formulations.

    The idea of a tinted primer is nothing new but it still seems to be a concept that perplexes people. My option in this primer is #02 Mauve but I could have easily worn #05 Blue or even #07 Radiance.
    For a moment, I had worried that this would either leave me purple or do nothing at all but as you can see, when swatched on my skin (above) that it is simply a translucent lavender tint. The results are surprisingly clear in the photos below. While my skin tone isn’t very sallow, I do have some notable unevenness especially when compared to my chest. With just the Make Up For Ever primer alone, it helped to brighten those areas and create a more uniform tone overall and with foundation on top, dare I say my skin looks rather pretty!

    Two things to note there. One, this primer will slightly change the finish of your foundation into a more velvety look. I had worn a rather glowy base on top of this and found that this did change the final finish on my skin. Two, is that this primer with it’s silicone ingredients will diminish the effectiveness of your water-resistant or waterproof foundation as it’s now sitting on the primer instead of directly on your skin.

    As the day wore on, the addition of this primer did add a few extra hours to the long-lastingness of my base makeup although I wouldn’t say it would be enough on it’s own if you have very temperamental or oily skin. What this seemed to do was create a barrier between my skin and my foundation so that the skins natural oils do not seep through and dissolve your base makeup.

    And unfortunately this is exactly where I ran into a speed bump. Happy I was with the way this smoothed out my skin texture irregularities and evened out my complexion, I can not wear this every day without eventually ending up with a few spots. The fact that this really coats my skin, especially with the high silicone content, still aggravated my acne prone skin type. 


    For colour correcting, smoothing out skin texture and enhancing the photogenic quality of your base makeup, the Make Up For Ever HD Primer does an excellent job. I loved the light weight feel of the formulation and even the slight (banana?) scent of it. This is still a product that I would keep around for photo shoots, special events or filming but everyday wear is out of the question due to skin incompatibility. If you are having similar issues with this, try using the HD Powder in conjunction with the Mist & Fix spray instead. All other skin types, ask for a sample at your local Sephora and try it out!
     I have also reviewed the HD Powder and the HD Second Skin Cream Blush.


    Review: Even Advanced CC Cream | Alba Botanica

    One of best things about the beauty world, is its constant urge to innovate and create. With BB Creams slowing loosing their sparkle, the new hot word on the street are CC Creams. Known as “colour correcting” products, they are often sheerer, lighter and meant to enhance rather than cover. I picked up the Alba Botanica Even Advanced CC Cream on my last iHerb haul (see video) to see if “natural” could really get the job done, especially when it comes to the complex world of base makeup.

    Brand: Alba Botanica
    Product: Even Advanced CC Cream SPF15
    Colours: Fair-light, light-medium
    SPF: Zinc oxide, Titanium Dixode
    Size: 50grams
    Price: $12-15USD (often on sale at iHerb)
    Details: 100% Vegetrian ingredients, no animal testing, no artificial colours, no synthetic fragrances, no parabens, no phthalates, no sodium lauryl sulfate.
    Availability: iHerb (online), select natural health stores/markets
    Would I repurchase: No.

    The Even Advanced CC Cream has many things going for it. The simple slim plastic tube houses 50ml of product in an easy to dispense squeeze format, topped with a flip cap. Labeled as a “tinted mineral perfector”, its light SPF content is a popular mix of old traditional zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which are know to be gentle on sensitive skin.

    The product itself is quit thick with a creamy, slightly tacky consistency that is a cocktail of moisturizing ingredients such as aloe, shea butter, crambe abyssincia seed oil (essential fatty acids) and soybean oil, just to name a few. While no synthetic fragrances are added, this cc cream smells slightly of old fashioned sunscreen but with a hint of sweetness.

    Application is easy and can be done equally well with a foundation brush or just your finger tips, covering up a few pores and smoothing over the skin with relative ease. If you have trouble with dry patches, patting this over the skin instead of rubbing will help it go on more evenly.

    Two shades are available, Fair-Light and Light-Medium, a rather disappointing selection as the range is neither very pale or very dark. The Fair-Light which I own (see above) swatched rather peachy, the wrong undertone for my skin but because the sheer coverage made it less noticeable.
    As a “colour correcting” product, I think it does serve its purpose though I’m not sure if this exact colour does much for my skin tone. A concealer is definitely needed to cover under eye circles and other blemishes. I would even recommend laying down a primer if you have large pores like I do.
    Looking at the photos again, I’m surprised at how well this photographs and seems to soften the look of my skin. Despite those gains, this CC Cream feels terribly suffocating on my face and I had to fight the urge to wipe it down only an hour after putting it on. Better suited for dry to very dry skin, this was fabulous at keeping skin hydrated and would might even be a choice for normal skin types during the winter season. However, with its creamy formulation, this never quite sets on the skin and remains slightly tacky with a heavy feel, a drawback that seems to hover over most mineral/natural base products.

    On my combination skin, longevity was also poor and a slight brush with a tissue meant transfer marks. Topping things off with a powder may help slightly but do choose a very lightweight invisible powder (Make Up For Ever’s HD Pressed) to prevent adding extra heaviness on the skin. At the end of the day, product pooled in my pores while other areas looked patchy and worn down. I finally gave up on this after noticing clogged pores and some burgeoning spots after a few days of wear. Alas this was just too heavy for my skin.


    Despite how much I loved the look of the ingredients and its abundance of moisturizing additives, the texture, colour and overall feel of this product was a letdown. Alba Botanica’s Even Advanced CC Cream lacks the sophisticated texture for it to adaptable for a larger variety of skin types. In the end, I just could not bear to keep on wearing it. I would only recommend this to those with very dry skin and/or a peachier skin tone. Everyone else should probably move on.

    Active ingredients: Zinc Oxide 4.0% (Sunscreen), Titanium Dioxide 3.5% (Sunscreen)
    Inactive Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Isoamyl Laurate, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Polyglyceryl-2 Sesquioleate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Coconut Alkanes, Glycerin, Polyglyceryl-3 Ricineoleate, Propanediol, Algae Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice(1), Beta Vulgaris (Beet) Root Extract, Chlorella Pyrenoidosa Extract, Chondrus Cruspus Extract(1), Dictyopteris Membranacea Extract, Echinacea Purpurea Extract, Enteromorpha Compressa Extract, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Macrocystis Pyrifera Extract, Pancratium Maritimum Extract, Polygonum Aviculare Extract, Spirulina Maxima Extract(1), Ulva Lactuca Extract(1), Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Seed Oil, B
    utyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Alumina, Calcium Ascorbate, Caesalpinia Spinosa Gum, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Lactic Acid, Magnesium Stearate, Magnesium Sulfate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch, p-Anisic Acid, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Stearic Acid, Talc, Tocopheryl Acetate, Alcohol(1), Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool, Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Mica (CI 77019), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891). (1) Certified Organic Ingredient 

     * * * * *

    * This post contains an iHerb rewards code that I was given upon my introduction as a first time customer. When used by other first time customers, I gain rewards points which can be redeemed towards my own next purchase for a limited time. This “cash back” reward comes from iHerb’s own marketing budget, not from your order.

    Review: Colour Elixir Balms | Maybelline

    You know what they say about does it all products, those that claim to do everything often accomplishes nothing at all. Yet, I couldn’t help but be lured by the Maybelline Colour Sensational Elixirs which are formulated to provide colour, care and shine. I really ought to blame it on the gorgeous ads that they have created for this product along with the newer uber sleek packaging because before you know it, I came home with two.
    Brand: Maybelline New York
    Product: Colour Sensational Elixir Balm/Gloss
    Colour Range: 20 shades 
    Size: 5ml
    Price: $10.99CAD msrp (often on sale $6.99)
    Availability: Drugstores nationwide
    Would I repurchase: Probably yes.

    Silver caped square tubes with an inner chamber shaped like a lipstick bullet, these Colour Elixirs are quite the looker. The wand is a diamond shaped velour applicator that holds the perfect amount of product for a single application. And while I personally enjoy the sweet (tea/latte) scent the rest of the blogosphere seems to be divided on this matter but do note that it does have a noticeable fragrance that does linger throughout the day.

    So how exactly does one define an “elixir”?

    With big words like “hyper saturated”, “cushiony feel” and “glass shine” in the advertisements, I had in mind a futuristic vinyl like gel emulsion. Instead the texture is a smooth balm that coated my lips in a protective layer while also imparting a semi-opaque wash of colour. With the exception of a few of the darkest shades perhaps, these are not what I would call hyper saturated but more of a medium intensity colour depending on your shade selection. Though still more pigmented that most of my current glosses, the beautiful glossy rich red worn by the model in the commercial will require a copious amount of product to achieve on your own lips.

    In the shine department, I find the reflect quality to be rather elusive. Yes you can achieve a glass like finish but only in specific lighting conditions where there is light directly shining in your face. Other wise with dispersed ambient light or even regular day light, these Elixirs show off a more subdued shine.

    When it comes to the two colours I own, “Nude Illusion” gives me a soft muted lip without taking away too much from my own lip colour and in contrast “Hibiscus Haven” adds just the right amount of pop without the heavy look of a lipstick. Certain shades contain a hint of fine shimmer while others are a jellly/cream finish.

    Maybelline Colour Elixir | “Nude Illusion” & “Hibiscus Haven”

    Application is smooth and easy on the lips with this formulation but certain shades (like Hibiscus Haven) can tend to settle into lip lines so stick to softer and lighter shades if you find yourself prone this issue.

    What I really love about these Elixirs are their staying time, which is usually an easy 3-4hrs if not longer. While these aren’t kiss proof or lunch proof, I do find a good amount of product still remains on my lips after such activities that it’s not always absolutely necessary to touch up immediately. The balmy consistency also helps the colour to say within my outer lip line and prevent traveling which can happen with glossier pigmented liquid products.

    Even more surprisingly, instead of just preventing my lips from dehydrating, I often find my lips a bit more moist after the gloss wears off. It doesn’t quite beat a proper lip balm for moisturization but it is one of the more care conscious lip colours in my collection.

    Almost perfect under my highly standards for a gloss, these Maybelline Colour Sensational Elixirs falls short due to the lack of promised “glass shine” and the fact that it can settle into lip lines of which I have many. On the other hand, I love the balmy application and cushion feeling that these provide so a few more colours might have to be added to my collection. Overall, a good product to own and an easy choice for an everyday look.

    Ingredients: (May vary depending on colour)

    Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate,Trimethylsiloxyphenyl Dimethicone, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Hydrogenated Styrene/Methyl, Styrene/Indene Copolymer, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Hydrogenated Styrene/Butadiene Copolymer, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Hydrogenated, Castor Oil Isostearate, Bis-Behenyl/Isostearyl/Phytosteryl Dimer Dilinoleyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Cetyl Dimethicone, Silica Silylate, Pentylene Glycol, Poly C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate, Caprylyl Glycol, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, Punica Granatum Seed Oil, Alumina, Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Linalool, Silica, Polyethylene Terephthalate, Tin Oxide, Limonene, Aluminum, Hydroxide, Acrylates Copolymer, Dimethicone, Parfum / Fragrance

    May Contain: Mica CI 77891 / Titanium Dioxide CI 45410 / Red 28 Lake CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499 / Iron Oxides CI 15850 / Red 7 CI 45380 / Red 22 Lake CI 15985 / Yellow 6 Lake CI 19140 / Yellow 5 Lake CI 75470 / Carmine CI 42090 / Blue 1 Lake]. 

    Review: Essence | Eyeshadow Singles

    Of all the wonderful abundance of beauty products out in the drugstores these days, I must say that I’d be hard pressed to find a really lovely eyeshadow. While I’m no eyeshadow connoisseur, it does seem that such a product requires the perfect combination of pigment, smoothness and blendability to really stand on it’s own. Over the past few years, Essence cosmetics has become my little secret treat. Their low prices and frequently occurring limited edition collections have always kept me coming back.

    Brand: Essence
    Product: Mono eyeshadow
    Colours: 15 total, non including limited edition
    Size: 2.5grams
    Price: $2.49 CAD
    Availabilty: Select Shoppers Drugstore locations nationwide, Ulta (in USA)
    Website: www.essence.edu/ca

    Yes you read that right, at only $2.49CAD a piece this is the low calorie answer to your beauty sweet tooth. I’ve collected 4 shades thus far, out of a permanent total of 15 in the mono collection not including the limited edition releases.

    Essence’s target market is quite the young crowd and everything from their pricing to packaging reflect fun and affordability while promoting experimentation. The clear plastic container of the single shadow compacts may seem utilitarian but are, in usage, very functional as I can clearly pick out the colour I want without having to open each lid individually.

    The range of colours seem to be categorized into 3 main finishes, metallic, sparkling and shimmer effect. Your choices range from pearly pastels to a few surprising brights and handful of basic nudes. Pigmentation as whole is very satisfying with a few shades being excellent. Note that my photo (below) was taking in natural light so less of the metallic and shimmer particles came through, with flash photography however you can get quite a disco going here.

    • DISCO DIVA | (metallic effect) | Exceptionally pigmented and creamy with just the right amount of cool toned shine, this lavender eyeshadow rivals some of my MAC favourites.
    • GET READY! | (shimmer effect) | Dark cool toned brown with fine gold shimmer, can be borderline chalky and hard to blend. Not a favourite.
    • PARTY ALL NIGHT | (metallic effect) | Metallic stardust effect on the lids with a champagne undertone, buttery and smooth.
    • SHRIMP ME UP | (shimmer effect) | Unexpectedly lovely medium toned coral that leans towards satin rather than shimmer, creamy but can be a tad uneven to apply.
    *swatched on bare skin*

    All four of the colours I own do have decent colour payoff though smoothness isn’t consistent among them. When it comes to application, try using your fingers or a sponge tip applicator to press the product onto your eyelids for best adhesion as I find a brush tend to make the colours very sheer.

    Unfortunately the major downfall of these shadows is their wear and long lasting ability. If you plan on wearing them for more than 2-3hrs then a primer is definitely needed to keep it from traveling to places you don’t want it to go and also make the colours a touch more vibrant. Personally, I love a cream shadow or paint pot underneath.

    Disco Diva | One of my go-to purples


    Not every colour is going to be a win in these Essence mono shadows but it’s definitely worth picking up a few if you want an inexpensive way to play with some fun colours or as a starter kit for a makeup beginner. All stands have testers and I do suggest you make use of them since consistency and smoothness vary between the colours. For the true eyeshadow connoisseurs, these likely won’t make the grade but for the casual wearer, it’s worth owning a few.



    Review: 3CE | Back to Baby BB Cream

    Korean urban brand Style Nanda is having a major style moment in the past few years. Since opening their shops in 2004 their cool girl style has not only been trending in Asia but has also gained popularity overseas where they frequently shoot their ad campaigns. As part of the total package, Style Nanda offers a range of beauty products sub-branded as 3CE which caters to an aesthetic that’s flawless, simple but with a pop of colour.

    Brand: Style Nanda / 3CE (3 Concept Eyes)
    Product: Back to Baby BB Cream* SPF35 / PA++ (one shade)
    Size: 30ml
    Price: $35 via YesStyle
    Availabilty: YesStyle online
    Would I (re)purchase: Undecided
    Website: http://en.stylenanda.com

    In the category of base products, 3CE’s Back to Baby Skin BB Cream caught my eye and rightly so, with its claims of a second skin feel and a glowing luminous finish. Small and compact in size, this comes in a simple squeeze tube packaging and (as most bb’s seem to be) is only available in one shade. Unboxing it for the first time, you’ll notice a sticker seal on the lid as well as on the squeeze nozzle tip, an expiration date is stamped on the crinkled end of the tube.



    Ingredients wise, this bb cream contains a mix of both physical and chemical sun protection from zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and octinoxate for a combined factor of SPF35 on the rating scale. While this doesn’t claim any particular skin benefiting properties, it’s worth noting that it does contain niacinamide, adenosine and sodium hyaluronate, all of which are commonly found in skincare products to promote hydration and soothe skin irritation.

    Having owned a good number of bb creams in my collection, the term “baby skin” usually meant a sheer, light coverage product but surprisingly this is quite the opposite. A thicker, creamier consistency with a soft “skincare” scent, this 3CE Back to Baby BB Cream gives medium coverage with a slightly velvet touch yet imparted a pearl sheen on my skin.


    My skincolour : MAC NC15-20
    (see more matches in My Stats)

    While this is only available in one shade, it seemed to be a relatively likeable match to my skin. A tinge grey perhaps but nothing that a little powder can’t fix and for the most part, it doesn’t bother me. However I did notice some ashy tones when applied over the darker areas of my face such as my forehead so this wouldn’t be idea for medium to darker skin tones. In certain lighting, I might even say that it looks a bit too pale for myself and does seem to have a slight white cast.
    Best method for application came down to the just using my fingers though their website recommends a puff or sponge. This bb cream does have enough slip to be used with a brush but I feel the thicker consistency and quick setting time will make it hard to work with that way. When applied correctly, it indeed feels light and thin my skin.


    I’m also rather impressed by how easily this cancels out redness and with just a small amount can cover my entire face. Any problem areas (like that perpetual red spot on my nose) can be layered over with more product until it almost disappears and that’s more than I can say for most bb creams which often build up very thick and heavy on the skin. While this does a fabulous job of evening out the complexion, it’s formulation isn’t the most friendly towards large pores or skin texture irregularities. If you do suffer from pore issues, either try it with a smoothing primer or skip on it altogether.



    I am also thoroughly pleased with how long this bb cream lasted on my combination skin. In mild to warm weather this was a solid 5hrs before I felt the need to whip out my compact for a blot. The combination of moisturizing ingredients did their job of preventing my skin from drying out yet did not cause any excessive greasiness either. For those living in a hotter climate, I’d say this is better suited for dry weather rather than humid ones.
    And while this didn’t cause any breakouts, the thicker consistency does have tendency to clog pores so a thorough cleansing with a cleansing oil or heavy duty makeup remover is highly recommended. Take the time to do a double cleanse and you should be in the safe zone.


    When it comes down to combination of texture, coverage, long lasting ability and overall effect I’d say this Style Nanda 3CE Back to Baby BB Cream is a very likeable product. Personally there were a are issues with colour as well as pore coverage that prevented this from being a total hit with me. Having little to no skincare benefits, I’d categorize this as a luminous, medium coverage foundation rather than a bb cream. A good product none the less and one that I can see myself reaching for until it’s gone but not quite a perfect pick for me.