NAILS | Cactus Love #CBBxManiMonday

The last day of August. I cannot believe it! There is something about September that makes me feel like time is speeding up again. I think it's the fact that school starts and then you start seeing Christmas beauty releases. THAT is always what gets me feeling like the year is going to be over so soon, but a part of me wants to just survive it and hope that the rest of the world does too. From now until the end of 2020, we still have a lot of big things on the horizon. We get to see if Trump will still be President, whether COVID will force us to shut down again and whether we will all continue to stand in solidarity with BLM and support BIPOC brands. Now, that I have gone back to work, five days out of the week I am definitely more focused on my job, but I try to have some meditative time at night and on my days off to reacquaint myself with what has been happening outside of my work bubble. 

Cactus Nail Art
 PR gifted

SHEET MASK | Lancome Advanced Genifique Hydrogel Melting Mask

When it comes to classic prestige skincare brands like Lancome, I honestly don't put a lot of stock into their skincare formulations because they generally focus their dollars on celebrity endorsements, advertising and packaging. Key ingredients are always in the bottom half of the list and there is almost always a high amount of silicone-derived ingredients to give you "smoother skin" in an instant and of course a bougie fragrance. I'm not a crazy clean beauty person and don't believe we should ban silicones or the latter, but there is a time and place for both and in the case of the Genifique Hydrogel Melting Mask, I was immediately thrown off by the fragrance, but we will get to that later since the mask itself was not too shabby!

Lancome Advanced Genifique Hydrogel Melting Mask
Purchased by me

MAKEUP | Creme de la Creme Bespoke Beauty Made in Alberta

I remember thinking how awesome it was when the Bite Beauty lab let people create their own customized lip colour and how you could watch and be a part of that process from beginning to end. Until recently, I had no idea that Creme de la Creme existed and that they are a brick and mortar store right in Sherwood Park, Alberta where you can go in, sit down and make not just a lipstick, but eyeshadows too! In times like these where we are all trying to support local Canadian and local businesses, I loved this concept and thought only "cool cities" like NYC would have stores like Creme de la Creme, but there you go! In addition to the bespoke part of their business, Creme de la Creme also has products available for purchase online (also made in Alberta), and I am assuming in-store, which I was fortunate enough to get a chance to try and review for you. I even managed to put together a little makeup look that I thought turned out fairly well!

Creme de la Creme Bespoke Beauty
PR gifted

BODY | 5 Deodorants I Have Been Reaching For

I feel like every year I discover a bunch of a new-to-me deodorants and even though I haven't made a conscious effort to use the more "natural" stuff, those tend to be the deodorants I like. I used antiperspirants for a few years until switching to "salt sticks" in my early 20s which I felt were better for my skin. I feel like sweat is a natural process and I feel bad for my body when I try to stop this process, but then again, I don't sweat a lot or enough to have it be a problem so I might be singing a different tune if that were the case! One tip I picked up from Dr. Pimplepopper of all people was to apply deodorant at night! I don't have showers in the mornings as I have them at night so I apply deodorant after I come out of the shower and I am ready to go in the mornings! 

Some PR gifted (indicated with *)

MAKEUP | Giorgio Armani Ecstasy Mirror Lip Lacquers

I am not wearing anything glossy as often which is a bit sad considering the number of beautifully glossy lip products I own and would love to show off. I have to wear a surgical mask at work provided by my company that touch my lips all the time and am not allowed to wear the more "beaky" fabric masks I have at home that do not touch my lips, so anything that could smear underneath is not an option. I could not resist when I saw just how slick these Mirror Lip Lacquers looked and literally started wearing them as soon as I did the unboxing on Instagram. These are described as a full coverage, high shine, liquid lip lacquers that delivers crazy colour and hydration to the lips while being incredibly comfortable using a "Light Feel System". They also leave a long-wear stain which I guess could work in our new face mask-wearing environments.

Giorgio Armani Ecstasy Mirror Lip Lacquers
 PR gifted

NAILS | Kiwis or Bacteria? #CBBxManiMonday

We are getting down to the last of our summer manicures and I have to say that although I am still SHOCKED at how it felt like April one moment and now it's almost 5 months later, I am ready for Fall. I don't know if that's because I just want to see how the rest of 2020 plays out or if I'm just ready for a change. We can all agree that this year has felt like both the longest and shortest year of our lives and I have taken the approach of trying not to take things TOO seriously and just doing what makes me happy. I had said on IG Stories yesterday that I felt a bit grumpy and you know what seemed to cure that? Steaming the floors. There is something so satisfying about walking on freshly cleaned and steamed floors that I immediately felt productive and forgot all about being a grouch! 

Kiwi Nail Art
 PR gifted

SHEET MASK | Bioeffect Imprinting Hydrogel Mask

I cannot say enough good things about BIOEFFECT and though I have not featured this Iceland-based brand on the blog before, you may have seen me mention them on social media multiple times in the past whether it was for an event or for their coveted and hero product - the EGF Serum! I find BIOEFFECT to be such a cool brand because they are actually a "side business" for the much larger biotech company ORF Genetics which focuses on plant proteins for use in medical research, stem cell technology and skincare. You guys know that with my degree in genetics, my ears instantly perk up when a scientist decides to head into the world of beauty, let alone in an area as saturated as skincare. Once I met and listened to, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Bjorn Orvar speak on the products and brand, I knew this was a very different company that prided itself on putting results first with REAL clinical trials of sizeable sample size AND over long periods of time. I feel like if I had known about this brand when I was a student, I would have looked at my career options differently because what Dr. Bjorn is doing now would have been my dream! 

Bioeffect Imprinting Hydrogel Mask Review
 Purchased by me

SKINCARE | O&Young ACME Collection

Though I haven't been using O&Young for very long, I have been thoroughly enjoying the products and trying to learn more about the brand as it began as a plastic surgery hospital in Seoul (still running to this day!) and then formed a stem cell research center in 2008 involved in disease and cosmetic biochemical research. I always have an appreciation for a skincare brand with a more research-based background because of my own background, but it also means that I expect more from these types of brands in terms of ingredients and performance. O&Young did not disappoint and I found the products I was sent quite fascinating in composition and use.

O&Young ACME Collection KBeauty Review
PR gifted

HAIR | ghd Platinum+ Professional Performance 1'' Styler

In the early 2000s, having sleek and straight hair was very in, but growing up with relatively strict Asian parents meant that beauty and makeup items weren't exactly a priority. Even though my hair at the time was wavy and always had a layer of frizz on top, there was nothing I could do except tie it back in a soft scrunchie and hope for the best. I would honestly pray to God the night before for a good hair day because my hair was always such a gamble! In my first year at UBC, I had my first job which meant a little bit of my own money to spend so I bought my first straightener! I was scared of ceramic plates or anything scary and damaging-sounding so I bought a steam-based straightener that I had to fill with water and for once my hair was finally STRAIGHT. 

ghd Platinum+ Professional Performance 1'' Styler Review
 PR gifted

NAILS | Neon Geometric #CBBxManiMonday

It's a hot one tonight with Vancouver being at over 30 degrees today and humid which I know is fairly common out East and in Asia, but here it's not the norm and most houses and apartments do not have air conditioning so it can get really sticky and uncomfortable. I even had a cold shower and now I'm just as hot as I was before so I have a feeling that sleep will not be something I will have a lot of tonight, but thankfully it will cool down later on in the week. I do try to enjoy Vancouver summers as we often get rain most of the year, but feeling hot just makes me feel so unproductive and lazy and I think THAT'S what I don't like about hot weather. Ooh, and as I type this, there is now thunder! 

 Some polishes PR gifted

SHEET MASK | O&Young ACME Beta-Glucan Intensive Moisture Mask

When I think about the number of Kbeauty brands and sheet masks I have yet to try in my lifetime, my eyeballs start to bulge because there are just SO MANY. Even though I got into the Kbeauty game 10 years ago, I never quite caught up and I think I will forever be chasing new products which is fine by me as it means always discovering brands like O&Young, which from what I have pieced together is the parent brand of Candy O' Lady, which is a fun and colourful cosmetics brand with sheet masks I have tried once before. O&Young aims focuses on skincare that repairs damaged skin and I was fortunate enough to have been selected by the Reviews bySophie team to try out a new sheet mask as well as an ampoule and toner that I will have up in a blog post this Friday. I wasn't going to talk about this sheet mask until then, but when I tried it last week I was so blown away that I thought it deserved a place in #SheetMaskSunday!   

 PR gifted

MAKEUP | 5 Eyebrow Pencils That Give My Brows Life

If you had asked me when I first started blogging about my eyebrows and what to do with them, I would have given you a blank stare. I look at back at photos from 10 years ago and it looks like part of my face is missing. I did NOTHING to them so while they have a shape, they are very light as my eyebrow hair is very thin which means that in photos, they really don't show up. Then bushy brows became a thing and everyone needed to be #onfleek so I tried to learn and it really wasn't until five years ago that I felt like my brows looked decent with pencil. Then I got microblading in 2016 and didn't bother with my brows until last year when the tattoo started to fade so now I've had to hone my brow drawing skills again and I have noticed that I constantly reach for the same five eyebrow products so here is why I like 'em!

Eyebrow Pencils
 Some PR samples featured

MAKEUP | Mary Kay Intuitive pH Lip Balms

These Intuitive pH Lip Balms arrived as a beautiful care package from the Mary Kay Canada team during the height of Quarantine and I didn't use them that often until I started going out a bit more and just wanted to wear a tinted lip balm underneath my mask. It's funny how you tell yourself that it doesn't matter what you are wearing on your lips if no one is going to see them, but it totally DOES matter to me! I like knowing that my lips look perfectly blushed and pink underneath probably because I don't have the nicest natural lip colour (I am SO pale) and short of lip tattooing (I have considered it, but I am scared of the swelling and healing!), a pH activated lip balm sounded like the perfect way of hydrating my lips while giving them some much needed colour.

Mary Kay Intuitive pH Lip Balms
 PR gifted

NAILS | Holo Mermaid #CBBxManiMonday

We are more than halfway through the Holo Taco Rainbow Collection and I have been WAITING for this green! I love greens, blues and purples so the last couple of shades will be shades I look forward to trying, but the green is pretty amazing too! This is Green Taffy and in the bottle, I was expecting something like Nubar Reclaim and it is verrrrry similar. I think Green Taffy is a touch brighter and maybe a bit more multidimensional on the holo, but these two polishes are very much in the same family for me. While I obviously HAD to take photo of Green Taffy in its holo glory, I still needed some nail art for our "Summer Lingo" #CBBxManiMonday theme and what goes well with green? Mermaids of course!

Holo Mermaid Nail Art
Some polishes PR gifted

SHEET MASK | Verso Intense Facial Mask

You are probably going to see slightly more sheet mask reviews thanks to embarking on the #100DaysofSheetMask challenge again this week, but instead of putting pressure on myself to review EVERYTHING I use, I focused on dedicating blog reviews to just 2-3 of the more interesting masks out of the 7 I use each week. Maybe it's a brand I love, a cool technology in the mask or some noteworthy ingredients like the Retinol 8 used in the Verso Intense Facial Mask! 

Verso Intense Facial Mask
 Purchased by me

NAILS | Orange and Feathery #MidWeekMani

I so rarely do my nails in the middle of the week, but I have been timing my holo nails with hopefully some sunny days off, which are now Sunday and Monday until further notice, which means that in between, I want to showcase AS MANY summery bright manicures as possible before we say hello to Fall. It's insane that we are already into the first week of August. 2020 is going to be such a weird way to remember things. Already, my memory of things is "Before COVID" or "After COVID" and it's not like COVID is really over either. I just think of March and April as that scary time when we didn't know what things would be like and honestly, with the numbers climbing back up again, I feel like the Fall might be another scary time. I am definitely one of the more cautious people who totally doesn't mind not seeing people in person and if anything, I am a TRUE homebody as I was doing just fine hanging out with my husband and cats, but now that I am at work, I do get some extra socializing so I welcome staying at home. It must be so hard being single now, but at least we might have $100,000 worth of glory holes thanks to YouPorn LOL. If you don't know about this, leave a comment and I will link you the tweet! 

 Polishes PR gifted

LIFESTYLE | What I Learned About Myself and Money in Quarantine and My Plans for 2020

Remember at the beginning of this year when 2020 still seemed like it was going to be ok? We can all agree that every month this year has been intense with all of us having to do some major self-reflection and serious thinking about our futures and how we plan on conducting ourselves. Bad things happen in the world all the time, but COVID-19 shut down THE GLOBE. Every single person on the planet has been united and affected by this incredibly contagious disease and I count my blessings every day that myself and those closest to me are still healthy. While I have been back at work for the last 2 months, being without work for 7 weeks gave me some much needed clarity and I know I am not alone in that. I never thought in my working life that I would have this amount of time off and after freaking out for about a week, I pulled a Carrie Underwood and basically said "Jesus, Take the Wheel". Whatever will be, will be and if I'm going to be at home with nowhere to go, I may as well do what I want on my own terms and in my own time.

NAILS | Holo Ikat #CBBxManiMonday

Today's manicure was somewhat frustrating in that summer heat makes polishes pretty goopy and very rarely do I remove the base colour and redo manicures, but that's what I had to do with this Ikat design. Not only did I have some issues with creating the design, but the application of Holo Taco Lemon Sucker as well. Holo finishes can fix most of my nail polish grievances, but in this case I am really not sure when I will use this shade again other than for a photo prop.

Holo Ikat Nail Art
All polishes purchased by me

SHEET MASK | Mediheal Line Friends Edition

I have a feeling that by now, a large portion of you have seen this rabbit, bear and chick in various places. Originally developed for use as stickers or emojis for the messaging app LINE, Cony (rabbit), Brown (bear) and Sally (chick) now have a following of their own similar to Hello Kitty and the Sanrio gang. Though I consider myself fairly "Canadianized", I will admit that I have sought out LINE friends paraphernalia like cell phone cases and household accessories. When I first picked up the Mediheal Line Friends edition of their bestselling sheet masks, I just thought the packaging was cute and did not know about the characters. I thought this packaging was limited edition, but I have seen it sold in-store and online with updated expiration dates so it looks like you can get them anytime!

Mediheal Line Friends Edition Sheet Mask Review
 Purchased by me