Friday, November 14, 2014

The Green Scene | Tea Tree Oil

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I have been having trouble with my skin lately. I had a bad reaction to something. While my skin is slowly healing, I still get the occasional blemish and I'm left with lots of dark spots. I typically rely on BHA or benzoyl peroxide products to help heal blemishes, but lately I've been loving a more natural remedy—tea tree oil. Here are a few products I've been loving:

The Body Shop | Tea Tree Oil

This is a concentrated oil to help target blemish-prone skin. Many people think this little bottle contains 100% tea tree oil, but it only contains 15%. Even so, it’s very effective—especially when you consider that a 5% concentration is enough to see results.

I love this oil because I see immediate results. It helps minimize and treat breakouts. It absorbs quickly into the skin and it doesn’t feel dehydrating.

The packaging isn’t the best design . It’s hard to regulate the amount of product you get & it’s also difficult to get drops out once you’re used up 75% of the bottle. Nonetheless, it’s definitely worth that little hassle.

Thursday Plantation | Tea Tree Cream

This light weight face cream from Thursday Plantation* is a balanced combination of tea tree oil, macadamia oil, rose hip oil, vitamin E, and shea butter to help maintain clear skin and restore moisture. It absorbs quickly into the skin and it doesn’t feel greasy or oily. I apply this right after cleansing my skin and it leaves my skin looking slightly matte but not dry. I’ve had no problems with applying tinted moisturizer over this face cream, either. It sits well on the skin without sliding off.

Thursday Plantation | Tea Tree Blemish Stick

For on-the-go treatment with a convenient sponge tip applicator, I turn to the Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Blemish Stick*. It’s a blend of tea tree oil, spearmint oil, and vitamin E. The spearmint helps mask the smell of tea tree if you’re not a strong fan of that scent. It comes in clear tube so you know how much product you have left and the clear gel dries invisible so you can reapply without having a weird spot on your face. It's a great spot treatment to help target any blemishes you get—it's a great daytime remedy.

The Body Shop | Tea Tree Blemish Fade Night Lotion

Whenever I get a blemish, it is always accompanied by a dark sport. Without fail. This Tea Tree Blemish Fade Night Lotion from the Body Shop works well to help lighten the darks spots and any other scarring. It doesn’t work as quickly or effectively as other hydroquinone products I’ve tried, but if you have the patience, you will see results. This not only fades dark spots, but the tea tree oil helps prevent future blemishes. Win, win.

The Body Shop | Tea Tree Face Mask

If you want an instantly cooling and refreshing face mask, the Tea Tree Face Mask from the Body Shop may be for you. It feels so good on the skin. It helps absorb excess oils and soothes the skin. It does leave a tingling sensation on the skin, which is normal as long as it doesn’t feel painful… but if you have sensitive skin, this may not be for you. It’s great for a weekly treatment to help clarify and soothe your skin, especially if you’re like me & acne-prone.

Beware, this product is bright green, so don’t use it while wearing anything you’d like to wear out in public again.

(*) This post contains products sent to Stylish & Literate for consideration. Read disclosure here.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The New Clean | Oils, Balms, Gels, Oh My

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Cleansers have come a long way from what I started with back in the day (i.e., a bar of soap). When I was younger, I was perfectly content with scrubbing my fave with a Dove bar (actually, I still practice this occasionally), but I have definitely stepped up my cleansing game.

I ooh and ahh over new cleansers every chance I get. This one is soap-free, this one is 100% natural, this one is an oil, this one is a foam... there really are so many to choose from. Today, I'm focusing on my current obsession: cleansing oils (and I threw in a balm, a gel, and a milk cleanser for kicks).

Shu Uemura - High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil

It's only fitting to start with the one who paved the way for a new clean: Shu Uemura's cleansing oils.

This is the first cleansing oil I've tried and it will forever hold a special place on the top shelf. I have always loved this stuff, it's pricey but so worth it. They come in a range of different versions to target different concerns. The High Performance Balance Cleansing oil is one of my favourites (probably tied with the Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil).

I love that cleansing oils are applied to dry skin. It's like giving your skin a massage while getting a perfect cleanse. It removes all face and eye makeup without drying your skin.

Garnier - Nourishing Cleansing Oil

This is one of the first products that opened the door for drugstore cleansing oils. It's great for dry skin and combination skin.

It takes off all my face makeup and eye makeup, although I would still recommend a separate eye makeup remover.

I like it & I would buy it again. It still doesn't measure up to the high-end cleansing oils, but for the price point, it's hard to go wrong.

Not a fan of the packaging. The pump is very handy but it's a bit messy. The oil seeps out a little & makes the bottle a bit slippery.

Shoppers Drugmart, Walmart | C$11.99

L'Oreal Sublime Radiance Sensational Cleansing Oil*

Another economical cleansing oil that removes face and eye makeup well without irritating the skin. This one works great with waterproof mascara, too.

It feels great on the skin (especially if you enjoy a mini facial massage with your cleanse). Once you rinse it off, your skin feels balanced and hydrated. I love that this, like many cleansers, doesn't strip your skin from its natural oils while maintaining a non-greasy finish. No double cleanse necessary... this one does the job in one go.

Shoppers Drugmart, Walmart | C$10.99

Marcelle - Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel*

This gel cleanser will not be for everyone, but it has its benefits.

For one, you can use it on dry skin using a cotton pad or massage it into wet skin and rinse with luke warm water. It doesn't foam or lather like other cleansers, but that's one of the reasons I like it (and I'm sure those with sensitive skin will like it also).

It is very gentle on the skin, but it still gives you a thorough cleanse. It's oil free, fragrance free, soap free, sulfate free, and non-comedogenic—this basically means it really is good for all skin types.

Shoppers Drugmart, Walmart | C$12.99

Clinique - "Take the Day Off" Cleansing Balm

While being the first and only cleansing balm I have tried, I have to say this stuff is great.

The pros? It doesn't break me out, it removes face & eye makeup very well, it travels well (much easier than an oil), it's great to use for a facial massage and it works great with all skin types.

The only con, and I'm grasping at straws here, is the price.

Avon Elements Nourishing Cleansing Milk Cleansing Milk*

This is another oil-free alternative. This is another dry or wet cleanser. I usually prefer to wet my face but it is nice to have the option. This oil-free cleansing milk works gently cleanse the skin. It's great for face makeup and even eye make up... just be careful not to get this into your eyes (or any cleanser for that matter). 

It feels moisturizing and luxurious on the skin. It leaves your skin feeling soft, hydrated, and fresh.

I also like using this with my Clarisonic for those days where I really want to feel like I'm getting a deeper clean.

Ps, two post from me in one week? It has been a while since that has happened!

You've probably noticed how MIA I've been in the blogging scene... The last few months (and even now) have been really hectic but I am dedicated to bringing you a great blog experience with at least a couple posts a week! Thanks so much for reading & I will see you in the next one! x

(*) This post contains products sent to Stylish & Literate for consideration. Read disclosure here.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Beauty Picks | Sephora VIB Sale

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It's that special time of the year again—the Sephora VIB Sale. Of course, 20% off our favourite brands is bound to cause a hectic frenzy, but who knew it would cripple Sephora's website? Yet, it did... for more than 24 hours, in fact.

Nonetheless, I was able to take advantage of the sale (a couple times, actually). I popped into the store during the VIB Rouge soirée and I also picked up a few things online (ebates was just too good not to). I didn't really need anything... I mean, I never really need anything, but there were a few things that I wanted to try out. Plus, this is the best time for sets and kits.

I have my eye on several First Aid Beauty products and I'll probably knock off a few more things on my list before the end of the sale, but I couldn't pass up on these two sets. The FAB Faves To Go Kit and the FAB Hydrating Duo, while acutely similar, are the perfect travel companions. I'm kind of obsessed with the Ultra Repair Cream, so I don't mind having two.

I haven't really heard a lot of things about the Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Overnight Detox Oil, but it looks promising. It is a 100% plant-based dry oil. I've used it a few times already and so far so good. It's a lightweight formulation that keeps my skin hydrated throughout the night and refreshed when I wake up in the morning. The scent isn't my favourite, though—I can't quite describe it, but it's strong. Fortunately, it fades quickly.

I picked up another NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. This stuff is awesome. It lasts all day, it doesn't cake up, and it's really easy to apply. I use Ginger under the eyes, but I decided to pick up Bisquit for blemishes and dark spots. Bisquit is a bit too dark on it's own, but mixed together with Ginger does the trick.

En Route...

These are the few online purchases that I am still waiting on:

    • I adore the Elizabeth & James Nirvana White fragrance! I've actually already finished a bottle. That says quite a lot. It shows how much love I have for this fragrance and how quickly you can use up the bottle. I do wish that it lasted longer on me (it only lasts about 5 hours), but it is so good while it lasts. This set comes with a small bottle of the perfume oil and I can't wait to try it.
    • Minis and masks... does it get any better? I have a full-size of the Charcoal Mask, but this Origins Mini Mask Marvels is a great way to test out some of Origins' sought-after masks without committing to a full tube.
    • A couple months ago, I dabbled with the Foreo Mini because I felt like I needed a change from the Clarisonic. Unfortunately, the Foreo Mini was kind of underwhelming. I didn't feel like it cleansed or invigorated my skin in any way. Needless to say, I ended up crawling back to my trusty Clarisonic. I still craved a change so I decided I would swap my go-to Delicate / Cashmere brush heads for the new Radiance one. After a bout of breakouts, I definitely need something to perk up my skin & I'm hoping this won't disappoint.
    • The #12 brush from Anastasia is the perfect companion to the Anastasia DipBrow Pomade. The brush you use for application really makes a difference and this brush has just taken my love for the DipBrow to a whole new level.

    That's all I've picked up for myself during the sale. Like I said, I'll probably pick up a couple more things before the day is over—by the way, today is the last day of the sale!

    Let me know what you've picked up or if you're planning to make any last minute buys!

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    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    Packing & Luggage | HEYS Portal SmartLuggage

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    I love to travel (I mean, really... don’t we all?). 

    Traveling is one of my favourite things to do, but packing is not. Fortunately, luggage has come a long way and there are new small but intuitive changes that make packing that much easier for me.

    I have a couple big trips planned (and we’re also approaching a busy travel season), so I thought I’d take you along on my packing journey and have a little chat on luggage.

    Picking new luggage can be a tough decision, but making the choice depends on what you need & your preference. Here’s what I look at when shopping for new luggage:

    1. The Material — this is probably the most obvious when you’re choosing between luggage sets. Your choices are typically between nylon, polyester, or polycarbonate. Choosing between the three is essentially choosing between durability (and also aesthetics).  I have always gravitated towards polycarbonate because the hard sides do a great job of protecting my stuff. Plus, they’re often really lightweight and look pretty sleek.

    2. The Size — bigger isn’t always better when it comes to choosing a size. Be wary of 30” suitcases! Sure you can fit three extra pair of shoes and two extra outfits in there, but it also adds to the weight. The heavier the suitcase, the more likely you are to pay extra for it. Plus—traveling can sometimes be tiring enough without having to lug around a cumbersome suitcase.

    3. The Wheels — you haven’t traveled until you have traveled with four-wheeled luggage. Having the ability to easily glide luggage beside you rather than pulling it behind you is a simple yet effective luxury. Standing at long customs lines has never been so hassle-free. Plus, if you are in a situation where two-wheeled luggage is a benefit (i.e. Parisian cobbled streets) then you still have that option.

    Enter the HEYS Portal SmartLuggage*. Readers beware: I am biased because I’ve always loved traveling with HEYS products (by the way, did you know they’re a Canadian company—founded right out of Toronto?).

    This HEYS Portal SmartLuggage ticks all the boxes of my luggage criteria:

    • It’s a hard-sided luggage (durable, lightweight, and in a great colour that's easy to spot in the luggage carousel)
    • It comes in a check-in size of 26” (and also a 30" size for the brave)
    • It sits on four wheels that spin at 360 degrees

    My favourite thing about this luggage set: compartmentalized packing. Unlike traditional luggage sets that only allow you middle access to the luggage, this Portal SmartLuggage gives you front access, too. Seems simple enough, but this design makes packing and accessing your stuff much easier.

    Let's start with how I pack my check-in...

    This is the Portal 26" SmartLuggage. It's large enough to fit everything I need for a three week holiday but small enough to be carried around easily. Clothes, shoes, and laptop cord take up the bottom half of the space...

    While my extra purse, extra pair of shoes, undergarments, toiletries and luggage scale take up the top half of space. I love the mesh pockets in the divider... it allows you to store items to prevent them from getting tangled with the rest of your stuff. The entire divider is also removeable, which allows you to access the very back (or the bottom) of the luggage using the front access system.

    I always travel with my HEYS Packing Cubes. I've used them for years. They're a great way to organize your stuff and they also save you a bit of space. My favourite thing about them is that they can go straight from your luggage to a counter or a drawer. You don't have to go through the hassle of unpacking your clothes, you can just keep your stuff in the packing cubes for easy access.

    I reserve my carry-on luggage for things like my makeup case, leather jacket (not for the flight but for when I get out of the airport), headphones (loving these ones from Frends) and external camera microphone...

    The Portal 21" SmartLuggage displays the front access system at its best. In the front, I keep my camera, extra lenses, chargers for my phone and laptop, a sweater in case it gets chilly on the plane, and my laptop...

    Buckling the two front clips on the side allows much easier access when the luggage is in the upright position. You don't have to worry about your things flopping out.

    The front access also houses a padded laptop sleeve that fits my 13" MacBook comfortably (it's actually sized to hold up to a 15" laptop). What I love about the front access is that you don't need to lay the luggage flat in order to get something out. If you put the items you're likely to need during your flight in the front, you can always them access easily.

    Other Cool Features

    Each piece in this set comes with a built in three-digit combination TSA lock...

    They also come with a 3-dial combination lock for the front access zipper. I love that it's a combination lock because I always worry about loosing keys to travel locks. Plus the TSA feature allows Security to easily unlock, inspect, and re-lock your luggage easily. It's disconcerting to think of someone going through your stuff without knowing but at least you don't have to worry about your lock being broken or cut.

    On to the giveaway...

    HEYS was nice enough to give away a Portal 21" SmartLuggage in your colour of choice (conditional on what's available at the time) to one of you. This giveaway is open to Canadian / US Residents only. 

    Please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below...

    Good luck if you're entering!

    The HEYS Portal SmartLuggge comes in a three piece set. You can check them out on or

    (*) This post contains products sent to Stylish & Literate for consideration. Read disclosure here.

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    Friday, September 05, 2014

    GODIVA | A Chocolate Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration

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    A limited edition chocolate box? How can you say no? 

    GODIVA is celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with a limited edition box of deliciously themed chocolates. This concept was initially launched in Asia about seven years ago & it was such a hit, GODIVA brought it to North America.

    This year's mooncake collection combines new tea and fruit flavours with my first love—chocolate. The latter is smooth and creamy, while the fillings are rich and flavourful. If you love mooncakes and chocolate as much as I do, you'll love this!

    The box contains nine chocolates. In addition to the large dark chocolate centerpiece filled with crunchy grapefruit mousse and a black-tea infused chocolate ganache, the collection also includes three additional mooncake flavors: 


    Milk chocolate filled with goji berry mousse, macadamia cream and cocoa nibs, and topped with a black tea-infused chocolate ganache.


    White chocolate filled with mango apricot mousse blended with Brazilian hazelnut pieces, and topped with a green tea-infused chocolate ganache.


    Dark chocolate filled with ginger-spiced mandarin orange mousse topped with a black tea-infused dark chocolate ganache.

    My personal favourite is a tie between the milk chocolate and the white chocolate. The mango / green tea combination of the white chocolate was delicious but at the same time, the goji berry mousse in the milk chocolate was heavenly.

    If you want to give these sumptuous treats a try or gift them, it will set you back $50. You can pick up a GODIVA chocolate mooncake box right now in GODIVA boutiques nationwide (if you're in Canada, click here to find out where your closest boutique is).  The individual mooncakes retail for $6.50/ea and are available exclusively in GODIVA boutiques. The collection is available for a limited time (only until September 8, 2014), so, go, go, go before they're gone!

    Ps, there are two chocolate mooncakes—Grapefruit Black Tea Crunch and Lychee Green Tea Crunch—that are available individually exclusively in GODIVA boutiques.

    I don't know about you, but a GODIVA visit is definitely in my foreseeable future.

    (*) This post contains products sent to Stylish & Literate for consideration. Read disclosure here.

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    Friday, August 29, 2014

    Sun Stuff | L'Oreal Sublime Sun

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    Summer is coming to a wrap and while it probably wasn’t the hot, sunny and rain-free season that we were hoping for, we still had to protect our skin from those UV rays! Here are some sun protectors I’ve been loving this summer:

    L’Oreal Sun Oil SPF 30

    Unlike tanning oils, this is a non-greasy, lightweight dry oil spray that will not only nourish your skin but protect it from UV rays. Plus, spritz this on your legs if you want an effortless glow! I am now on my second bottle of this… though I did opt for the SPF 50 this time.

    L’Oreal Silky Sheer BB

    I hate face sunscreens that feel sticky or leave white streaks on my skin… luckily, this does not do that. I love that this sunscreen has a bit of a tint to it (though not nearly enough as to provide any sort of coverage). I tried by first tinted sunscreen last summer (the TiZO Facial Mineral Sunscreen) and I think they’re the bomb dot com. They act like a lightweight tinted moisturizer to give your skin a glow, but more importantly, protects your skin from harmful rays.

    L’Oreal Silky Sheer Mousse SPF 30

    No, this is not for your hair. Yes, it is a foam sunscreen for your body. What will they think of next? Though it may seem gimmicky and while I use up way more of this than I probably need to because I just can’t grasp the foam-to-sunscreen ratio, I love this stuff! I much prefer this over regular (read: boring) cream sunscreens. It has a slightly cool feeling when you rub it into your skin and it absorbs really quickly.

    L’Oreal Silky Sheer Lotion SPF 50

    This is the one that I have been keeping in my purse throughout the summer. I love it because it’s lightweight, non-greasy, and it’s great to reapply on my face or skin throughout the day. No weird white streaks and it doesn’t clog up my pores.

    L’Oreal Sublime Sun — 

    After Sun Rich Repairing Lotion

    We’ve all been there, sometimes you just get a little too much sun and your skin is feeling really dry. I’ve used this After Sun lotion a few times this summer—I definitely needed it after a Blue Jays game one afternoon (I could just feel my skin cooking under the sun). This lotion is in fused with Aloe, which is not only cooling but uber soothing, too. Perfect after a sun overdose. I love to apply this after a day out, it makes my skin feel so rejuvenated.

    Application Tip //

    Dermatologists say that you’re supposed to use about a teaspoon of sunscreen for your face and about a shot glass for your body. That’s every time you reapply, too!

    Here's hoping we'll need some of this for the last long-weekend of summer, but in case the weather forecasts are right & it does end up raining... Keep these in mind when getting ready for your next tropical getaway! I think we could all use a real taste of summer, even if it’s just for a week or two.

    (*) This post contains products sent to Stylish & Literate for consideration. Read disclosure here.

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