NAILS | She Sells Seashells By the Sea Shore #ManiMonday

I always feel like I am cheating when I use water decals for nail art, but they just make a manicure look so put together SO QUICKLY! Since we are focusing on British beauty brands this month (here) for the CBB I thought it was finally time to not just pull out, but UNWRAP the Models Own polishes I won from Live Love Polish three years ago! The HyperGel Gel Effect Polishes came up during the gel-like polish heydey and have a finish that is super smooth and shiny. The sad thing is that you can't even get these polishes from LLP anymore, but I know you can get still them through the Models Own website.

With the glorious May weather we've been having, it almost feels like summer with Sunday's temperature being a hot 29°C! That's pretty much beach weather which means I am officially allowed to wear beach-themed manicures! 

NAILS | 5 Awesome Nail Treatments From Duri Cosmetics

One thing I don't discuss much are the products behind my nails and nail polish even though these are the products that are vital to making my manicure look pretty and long-lasting. Over the years I have accumulated quite the collection of top and base coats, cuticle treatments - all things that promise unequivocal shine and longevity so I definitely have my preferences! A little while ago, Duri sent me a couple of "peripheral" nail products to try and after using all of these for the last, I kid you not, 5 months I have decided on my favourites that I now use all the time!

Duri Nail Treatments Review

NAILS | Holographic Drip Marble

I figured it was time to try something new and the "Drip Marble" technique has been on my nail art bucket list for a couple of months now so because it takes a bit of time, I decided to try my hand at it over the long weekend. Since I find water marbling so incredibly messy and time consuming, I'm always looking for ways to get the look without as much work. This technique involves dripping nail polish on to a plastic lid or something that you can pick up and rotate and manually, swirling the colours around and into each other. This technique gives a more random marbling pattern, but still comes out quite pretty. There are a number of videos on how to do the Drip Marble technique so pick your favourite!

A England Drip Marble Nail Art

EXPERIENCE | Hubby and I Spend the Day at NIC Spa on Granville!

I adore getting facials every month as a way of relaxing and giving my skin the boost I can't on my own. I LOVE getting extractions done and that is something I DEFINITELY don't want to be doing myself at home! Scarring? No, thank you. Facials, massages, pedicures and manicures, while good for the soul, aren't great for the wallet with my most expensive facial being $200 for one hour. Now, what if I told you that tucked away on Granville Street in downtown Vancouver is the NIC Spa where ALL of the services are just $20? Unbelievable right? Well, last week my husband and I decided to find out what this place was all about!

NIC Spa is the newest addition to the New Image College downtown campus, a post-secondary institute specializing in esthetics, film and makeup artistry. The NIC Spa menu (here) ranges from basic manis and pedis to facials with AHA peels so you really can get a full body treatment for under $100! The services are all performed by advanced level students who I felt were no different than other estheticians I had experienced. If nothing was mentioned to me, I wouldn't have known because the women we had knew exactly what they were doing!

I booked my husband and I a 30 minute massage and a 90 minute Anti-Aging Facial which included a Hydradermie treatment. The latter is actually $40 because we combined the services, but still an AMAZING price considering the treatment we received.

My husband's esthetician was Tracy while mine was Helgameh. Both were very professional, personable and gave these amazing arm massages which I would go back for ALONE! My poor husband didn't really know what he was in for and took offense to the fact that I had requested an anti-aging facial for him!

Since we went in on a Sunday, there was only one class in session that day which meant there weren't a lot of people there. It was fairly quiet save for the live music from the restaurant patio downstairs, but there was a Saje diffuser happily filling our room with something relaxing. After a brief consult, we climbed into our separate beds and though I kept looking over to make sure my husband was ok, I quickly settled into Helgameh's glorious back, arm and neck massage and tried my best to stay awake so that I could write all of this down!

For the facial, we received a combination of the NIC and Hydradermie Facial with the latter using positive and negative ions to increase and enhance absorption of serums, masks and moisturizers. The idea is that this type of stimulation opens up the "water channels" of the cells which also allows for an intense boost of hydration to the face. I have had this done once before and your face looks plump and feels bouncy for days!

The Hydradermie Facial uses metal ball "rollers" rolled methodically across your face and though there is a small electric charge coming out of them, I did not feel a thing. Honestly, having the metal balls massaging your face is the most relaxing thing because there is a roller for each side of your face so it is done symmetrically and rhythmically. I fell asleep a few times because it was just so soothing. After this was done came a moisturizing mask followed by serum, eye cream and moisturizer from the skincare company Guinot along with tons of facial massage in between. I did not receive any intensive exfoliation as I had had an AHA peel just four days prior.

Both my husband and I opted for a head massage at the end of the facial (you can choose an arm massage as well) which of course felt amazing, but left me with the biggest hair I have ever had! With my hair being so dry from going blue, it is quite coarse and tends to tangle easily so let's just say that all I could do was throw my hair up in a bun! My skin was glowing and intensely moisturized at the end of our session while the husband's skin was a bit red from extractions. His skin looked glowy and very plump though so I reassured him that he would be fine to go to work the next day. Funnily enough, he ran into an old friend and his friend actually commented on how his skin was looking "kinda glowy"!

I would hands down go back to NIC Spa to get the Hydradermie Facial again and try something else on their menu like one of their body treatments. I also cannot get over their prices because I'm pretty sure I would have paid at least $150 for the Hydradermie Facial alone had I gotten it done elsewhere! My husband and I were very pleased with the service and the only thing I would have probably changed is maybe a shorter facial because 90 minutes lying down is a long time! The NIC Spa is certainly not the typical spa environment where everyone speaks in hushed tones and the lights are dim. It is a school and bustling with activity most days, but honestly after going to the more frou frou spas for years where exits aren't clearly labeled because they never want you to leave and relax FOREVER, I can get onboard with a more relaxed environment!

Book your appointment at the NIC Spa today!

Complimentary treatments provided. 

MAKEUP | Quo Cosmetics Lip Velours with Lip Swatches

More matte lips, you say? Well, ok then! I have more awesomeness from Quo Cosmetics with six new shades from their Lip Velours collection. At this point, I think we have all tried a few matte lipstick formulations and I remember when long-lasting and matte meant discomfort and lips that were crying out for help! Thankfully, this is no longer the case and we can now wear intensely beautiful shades with ease.

The Quo Lip Velours ($14.00 CDN) apply as a liquid and transform into matte, cream-looking, finish. They are long wearing, transfer-proof and of course have mega pigmentation. I don't think I have ever seen a matte finish that wasn't pigmented. I don't even think it's doable really.

Quo Cosmetics Lip Velour Swatch Review

The one thing that makes the Lip Velours different from other matte liquid lipsticks is that the applicator is an actual brush as opposed to a doe foot applicator. The brush is supposed to make application more accurate, but I found it to be about the same. If anything, the slanted edge of the doe foot applicator is helpful to have. 

Quo Cosmetics Lip Velour Swatch Review

What seems to be a running theme with the matte liquid lipsticks/creams I have been trying out this year is the inconsistency in formula across different colour. With these swatches below, we can definitely play a game of "one of these things is not like the other"!

Quo Cosmetics Lip Velour Swatch Review

After Diva* (lip swatch here), Envy* was my second favourite shade and formula with the same easy application and relatively weightless formula. This bright orange-red seemed to brighten up my skin and add a nice pop of colour to an otherwise neutral makeup look.

Quo Cosmetics Lip Velour in Envy Swatch Review

There are some shades that just don't work and unfortunately Bombshell* was one of them. This probably would not have been so bad in a gloss or cream formula, but this peachy pink looked almost clown-like on me and made me look like I was glowing from afar. Formula was the same as Diva and Envy, but this colour was just too much for me.

Quo Cosmetics Lip Velour in Bombshell Swatch Review

Finally we come to Vamp*, which is actually a beautiful colour but the formula was oddly watery. It made me think that I perhaps received a dud, but even with searching online for reviews I wasn't able to find a swatch of Vamp. You can see below that because the formula was so watery, even application was near impossible. My husband thought I had a lip gradient going on, but that is just the patchiness happening...

Quo Cosmetics Lip Velour in Vamp Swatch Review

Final verdict:
Diva is the shade I wear most often because of how neutral and flattering it is with any makeup look, but Envy is a close second! The formula is fairly comfortable, but I still find the Make Up For Ever Artist Liquid Mattes (review) a bit more comfortable to wear. The Lip Velours were indeed transfer proof, which I tested out by eating a very leafy salad, and last the day. There was some wear on the inner part of my lip after eating which I think is to be expected, but other than the formulation issue with Vamp, I liked the shades that did work and hopefully darker shades like Vamp will be better on the next iteration.

Quo Cosmetics is available exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart.

NAILS | A England Symphony in Blue and Silver...and Cats

The summer A England Collection is HERE! I know there are a number of companies that do holographic polishes now, but there is always something incredibly classy about the way A England does it and no, it's not because I'm saying it in my head with a British accent! I find that the collections are never repetitive and though holos make up a large number of their releases, there have been cremes, glitters and duochromes as well. The collections are always smaller which I appreciate because how many times have you seen a nail polish release with 8-12 "new" shades. There are only so many ways to do a nude or red so nothing ever really feels new except for the combination of colours. Never the case with A England!

This summer's A Sargent's Vision Collection is named after the American painter John Singer Sargent who specialized in the Edwardian era. I will be working my way through the collection of four polishes over the next week or two, but for today we will start with the first polish that caught my eye - Symphony in Blue and Silver* ($15.50 CDN) which is a powder blue holo with shimmers of green and silver.

A England Symphony in Blue and Silver Swatch Review

SKINCARE | The New La Roche-Posay Micellar Water Ultra with Glycerin

If you haven't heard of micellar water, well I won't make fun of you because when I would speak to people at Sephora about their skin, a lot of them truly thought this was just water repackaged with fancy skincare marketing jargon. Before I launch into small science talk, I use micellar water quite often for cleansing and there are some I absolutely adore and some I feel could be better. I have always thought of La Roche-Posay as one of the more "derm" brands not only in the drugstore, but in the overall skincare world. They go beyond the basic cleanser, toner and moisturizer with a focus on skin conditions like psoriasis and rosacea and sensitive or reactive skin. Earlier this year, La Roche-Posay debuted a brand new micellar water formula combining the cleansing power of micelles with hydrating glycerin termed "glyco-micellar". The addition of glycerin is intended to provide better adhesion to makeup and dirt, a smoother glide leading to less rubbing and lasting comfort so that skin does not feel stripped or dry.     

La Roche Posay Miceller Water Review

MAKEUP | Quo Cosmetics Matte Revolution Foundation with Before and After Face Shots

Foundation is probably one of the last makeup products I really got into (after brow products) because it is one of the most terrifying things to apply on your face. It isn't a product like an eyeshadow or a lipstick that is just a small fraction of your face, but involves ALL OF YOUR FACE. If you have the wrong colour or less than stellar blending, there is no coming back from it. For years I stayed away until I discovered roughly what colour family my skin was in and though I still prefer a more natural finish to my skin, I have come to love foundation to the point where I treat it like skincare. I have probably 30 foundations that I rotate through on a daily basis and with new foundations, BB creams and cushions coming out all the time, I find myself always up for trying something new!

This year Quo Cosmetics released the Matte Revolution Foundation* ($24.00 CDN), a foundation and concealer in one that provides full coverage while feeling absolutely weightless. The formula is creamy and promises to blend seamlessly to even out skin tone and give skin the ultimate matte finish. This kind of finish is foreign to me as I prefer my skin dewy, but as I have been getting more and more into matte lipsticks, maybe a matching foundation might be interesting?

Quo Cosmetics Matte Revolution Foundation Review

NAILS | Avon Gel Finish 7 in 1 Nail Enamel in Dazzle Pink

I don't think single nail swatches like this really get a lot of interest, but this kind of post reminds of ye old blogging days when I would just post a nail polish I was loving that week and then you wouldn't see me for another week because I didn't blog about makeup or want anyone to know my name or see my face. Obviously things have changed and instead of the lazy pace I used to move at, it feels like there are so many products and releases to cover. I've never been the fastest or the one with the complete set of swatches because there are a ton of other blogs that can give you that. I generally prefer to do nail art over swatches unless a polish is so stunningly unique that art would detract from its beauty, but this week has been a long one and today will be just a swatch, but a pretty one! 

Avon Gel Finish in Dazzle Pink Swatch

BODY | "Getting in Shape" with the Nip+Fab Body Collection

I have Asian genes where I have always been naturally slim, but as I hit my mid-20s, a guy in my comp sci class referred to me as "skinny fat" meaning that I look slim, but my insides are pretty much the equivalent to a not-so-healthy person. I stopped exercising once I graduated UBC and have pretty much been coasting since. Now, that I am approaching my mid-30s I am really starting to feel every muscle ache and seeing parts of my body look "not 21" anymore. I have recently made some dietary changes by cutting out dairy and going more plant-based with my food choices and as a result have been feeling healthier since making the change and now feel ready to start working out again. I think I just have to rip off the bandaid and do it instead of thinking about it, but in the meantime, the other thing that has gotten me thinking about getting back in shape are these new-to-me products from Nip+Fab Body

Nip and Fab Body Review

NAILS | Micelle Micellar Water Nail Art #ManiMonday

Sometimes silly things pop into your head when you're going the most mundane things and in this case it was while I was in the process of reviewing the La Roche Posay Micellar Water Ultra. I was was in deep thought while removing my makeup with this when I started thinking about how micelles in soap act as emulsifiers to lift oil from the surface of the skin. We know that water cannot rinse off oil so when we use soap, the hydrophobic tail inserts itself into oil (what we're trying to dissolve) while its hydrophilic head faces outward. When soap is mixed with water, micelles are formed with the oil trapped in the center and oil can now be washed away as the hydrophilic heads love water!    

Micelle Micellar Water Nail Art

BATH & BODY | Live Clean Spa Therapy Collection Review (More Products!) + Giveaway!

Happy Mother's Day everyone! Last month I raved about a couple of products from the Live Clean Spa Therapy collection (here) and now I am back with the rest of the collection because I needed to experience the rest of this wonderful line! Lemon, aloe vera, ginger and green tea blend together to create one of my favourite scents EVER from Live Clean. Well, other than the Exotic Nectar Argan Oil collection...that scent is pretty amazing too!

Live Clean Spa Therapy Collection Review

MAKEUP | Urban Decay Makeup Primer and Setting Sprays

When it comes to setting sprays, there are really only two that come to mind - MAC Fix+ and Urban Decay's All Nighter. Not only has Urban Decay spiffed up the packaging of this old favourite, but have recently added hydrating and nourishing primer sprays and two more makeup setting sprays!

Urban Decay Primer Makeup Setting Spray Review

BATH & BODY | Treat Mom to Some Lush Mother's Day Goodies!

Some of the most fun posts for me to write are the Lush ones because I feel like a child again just rambling on about bath time, colours and bubbles. There is something liberating about using whimsical bath bombs as an adult like having waffles or ice cream for dinner - it's because you damn well can! This year, Lush's Mother's Day launches seem more appealing to everyone instead of the more floral scents that are typically released. With fun animals, scents and colours, my tub is going to be a psychedelic masterpiece for the next few weeks!

Lush Mother's Day 2017 Review

NAILS | It Makes Me Happy When My Nails Match My Watch #ManiMonday

One thing I love about doing Mani Mondays is that there is nothing like waking up Monday morning and seeing my freshly painted nails. Whether it is something as simple as a swatch or crazy detailed like plant cell, it honestly makes me feel better knowing that I have fresh, new nails!

When I received the Swept Away Ombre Watch in Red* ($24.99 CDN), I immediately wanted to do a gradient with some new Avon polishes I had received and then of course, wear the watch! This medium-sized watch with a minimalist leather strap, comes in three other colours, all of which are perfect for spring and summer so definitely have a look! 

Avon Watch Red Gradient Nail Art

SKINCARE | Charlotte Tilbury Instant Magical Facial Dry Sheet Mask - Yes, It's Actually DRY!

The dry sheet mask. Not often am I so curious about a skincare product that I take my photos and start using it right away! I adore Charlotte Tilbury makeup and even though I get sent things from time to time, I have done a fair share of purchasing because the quality, colours and packaging meet all of my criteria when it comes to a high end makeup product. Oftentimes, I am wary of when colour cosmetics companies start wandering over into skincare. I never feel like the transition is clean and because I am somewhat anal about what goes on my skin, I would rather use makeup from a skincare company than skincare from a makeup company. Charlotte Tilbury has not let me down yet so when i saw the Instant Magical Facial Dry Sheet Mask* ($27.00 CDN) I experienced a range of emotions including: intrigue, suspicion and excitement.   

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Magical Facial Dry Sheet Mask Review

MAKEUP LOOK | Teeez Cosmetics Mini Reviews with Swatches

Dutch company, Teeez Cosmetics, launched last year at Hudson's Bay in Canada and initially, I wasn't too crazy about it. I found the packaging a little "too cool" for me and thought that I was just too old for this type of branding. Then, I TRIED the products. And shut my mouth because the products were freakin' awesome! Graphic packaging aside, the actual product quality was impressive and is another example of not judging a book by its cover! 

Teeez Cosmetics Fashion Vendetta Review Makeup Look

MAKEUP | MAKE UP FOR EVER Artist Liquid Matte Lipstick with Lip Swatches

Look at me doing a review on something that is current! Ha! Usually that happens when I try something and cannot get enough which happens to be the case with the new MAKE UP FOR EVER Artist Liquid Matte Lipsticks* ($25.00 CDN). At its roots, this is a super matte, fast drying, ultra pigmented liquid lipstick that boasts a whopping 20 hour wear time! I have been pretty addicted to my Colourpop Ultra Satins so when these guys arrived, I put immediately put them to the test and was blown away (sorry, I ruined the ending for you)! 

MAKE UP FOR EVER Artist Liquid Matte Lipstick Review

BATH & BODY | Lili Aromatherapy Body Scrubs + Giveaway!

Body scrubs have always been a must-have in my shower and I go through about 200g a month. Yes, I have calculated. My skin gets so congested if I don't exfoliate at least every other day so body scrubs are probably one of the few products I am easily able to finish, but I do have very specific preferences for what I look for in a body scrub. The second thing that is now a daily ritual in my shower routine is adding 6-7 drops of pure lavender or peppermint oil underneath running water so that when I step in, I get an aromatherapeutic blast of relaxation and clear-headedness. In the last two weeks, I have been getting a 2 for 1 experience with Lili Aromatherapy Body Scrubs which are 100% vegan, natural and cruelty-free. They are infused with my favourite essential oils and I have to restrain myself from standing there sniffing handfuls of scrub in the shower! They all just smell so good!

Lili Aromatherapy Body Scrub Review

NAILS | Negative Space Flowers #ManiMonday

Negative space manicures have been my go-to the last two weeks because just the simple absence of polish can turn a regular old swatch into a sought-after minimalist nail art. I was feeling the urge to do more negative space, when the thought of flowers also permeated my brain. Next, came the Pinterest surfing where I happened upon this gorgeous manicure done by nail art goddess So Nailicious. Everything about this woman's perfect hand position and manicures always has me in awe! I still like her manicure better, but my flowers still looked decently springy by the end of it!

Negative Space Flower Nail Art