This past month has been incredibly hectic and frankly exhausting in every sense of the word. It’s so easy to give other people advice about being kind to and taking care of themselves and to be kind, but it’s so much harder to take that advice. To slow down. To not take on too much. To rest. It seems as though every time I finish a task or project, I start another one. I know that this comes from my persistent feelings that nothing I ever do, or every could do, would be “Enough”. I feel constant pressure to do more, to be more, and to prove my worthiness to just be. “I am enough” is a full sentence. I’m saying that as much to myself as I am to you, dear reader.
Better late than never, here’s everything I finished in April.
Sensibio H20 Micellar Water by Bioderma
I’ve reviewed this product before, and it’ll certainly show up in my Empties again because its something I always have on hand. This micellar water is very gentle on my skin and eyes, while at the same time very effectively removing any excess oil, makeup, or just grime that is sitting on the surface. I’ll use this as a makeup remover before cleansing on days that I wear makeup, or on its own on no or low makeup days.
Highly recommend you try it if you haven’t!
5/5 ~ $19.90 CAD
The Cleanser by Curology
While my Curology experiment might have been a flop due to the serum being too strong for me, the cleanser is nice. Sort of a hybrid between the Drunk Elephant Beste Cleanser and Cetaphil. Wasn’t too drying but still felt like it was doing something. Fragrance free, and simple. This was great to have in my gym bag and lasted ages.
4/5 ~ travel size free with trial set (US Only)
Supermud Clearing Treatment by Glamglow
The final form of face masks for oily skin.
This mask slurps up oil with its kaolin clay and activated charcoal base. You can see it happening as the mask dries and then starts getting little dark, wet spots on it from the oil that it sucks outta your face. So gross, so satisfying. Supermud isn’t just a clay mask tho! It has a blend of six acids to brighten dark spots, further unclog pores, and remove dead skin cell buildup to prevent breakouts. That said, steer clear if you have dry or sensitive skin.
As 4-time allure Readers Choice award winner, the hype is real. This is definitely a pricy mask, and something that I buy only in bulk, on sale and as part of a set with other products. Also, this mask is a great overnight spot treatment. Ask for a sample the next time you’re in a Sephora!
5/5 ~ $99.00 CAD (Value Size)
Rosewater & Glycerin by The Heritage Store
This calming rosewater toner is one of my favourite skincare products because it sits at the intersection of several attributes that make a solid purchase. It's both affordable AND a cult classic AND effective AND natural AND available at just about and health food store. Rosewater is great for reducing redness, and glycerin is a natural humectant.
Looking at the ingredients list may cause you to raise an eyebrow at “Vor-mag Water (water that has been vortexed and magnetized to raise the energy to a higher vibration that is believed to be more beneficial)”, but stick with it because the only other ingredient is Rosa Damascena Flower Oil. This is real old school hippie shit.
5/5 ~ $99.00 CAD
Glow Mask by Frank Body
I feel like there’s some kind of unspoken rule that masking is for the evening. Before the release of the Glow Mask, I would have agreed. The Glow Mask provides results in 5 minutes! For use in the morning to revive tired, dry, or dull skin, or when you’ve maybe drank a few too many the night before. This mask is packed with moisturizing shea butter, cocoa butter, cranberry and raspberry oils to moisturize, and antioxidant goji berry extract. The real star here is the arabica coffee seed extract! A generous dose of caffeine boosts circulation to obliterate puffiness, tightens skin, and leaves you looking like to didn’t get barely 4 hours of sleep.
This mask was indefinitely out of stock for several months, so I carefully rationed my first tube, but they’re back, baby!
5/5 ~ $21.95 CAD
Lip Sleeping Mask by LaNeige
This overnight lip mask is incredible. I love slathering on a thick layer (because I’m extra, you don’t need much at all) over my lips, and then somehow waking up with it still in place, and my lips PLUMPED! This cult fave packs a wallop of hydration with a tonne of hyaluronic acid and minerals to form a protective film over the lips to lock in moisture and active ingredients. This WORKS. Even if you have dry, flaking, cracked lips, this will fix your shit in as little as one night.
$24 may seems absolutely deranged for a lip balm, but I feel like it’s worth it. If that doesn’t work for you right now, this next product is the closest dupe I’ve found so far, and at less than half the price!
5/5 ~ $24.00 CAD
Lip Jelly by Ohii
Here she is, the closest dupe to the Lip Sleeping Mask by LaNeige I’ve found. While it’s not much cheaper by volume, the up front cost is lower and can be more accessible. There’s a tiny little spatula included with LaNeige’s Lip Sleeping Mask, but that’s not really great for anything besides bedside table use, but Ohii’s Lip Jelly is my go-to lip balm to use on planes since it can be applied from the dispenser.
The squeeze tube is very pleasing, both aesthetically and physically. Each flavour comes in tone on tone packaging, and while I’ve only tried the Vanilla one, the Mint and Rose ones are probably just as yummy. Urban Outfitters has frequent sales, especially in their app, so be on the lookout!
5/5 ~ $10.00 CAD
Multistick in Cashew by Bite Beauty
Cashew is a versatile rose-taupe that looks great as a pink on cheeks, a brownish yet wearable lipstick, even as a quick eye look since Bite Multisticks apply as a cream but wear like a powder. Multifunctional products can be super convenient, but issues arise when one product (or person!) tries to do too many things. The Multistick isn’t hydrating enough to be worn as a lipstick on its own, but it also doesn’t have enough staying power as an eyeshadow. Both of these issues can be resolved with a bit of lip balm, and a touch of powder eyeshadow, respectively.
3.5/5 ~ $28.00 CAD
Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Glow in Fenty Glow by Fenty Beauty
If you’re still sleeping on this then wake tf up! This rose nude gloss is super hydrating, surprisingly long lasting, looks incredible, and comes in a HUGE tube. The product description says that the scent is peach-vanilla, but it seems like watermelon to me. The formula is slightly sparkly, but still very wearable for day and has zero grit.
The doe-foot applicator is also giant, but super soft, making application as unfussy as any gloss has ever been. I think I wrote this product off initially because I was thinking it would be just like all of the sticky, slippery glosses of the late 90’s and early 00’s that would wind up either gone or all over your face and hair.
I can’t believe I ever doubted Rihanna.
4.5/5 ~ $10.00 CAD
Lash Slick by Glossier
Previous to the launch of Lash Slick, I’d used the same mascara type for at least 8 years. As an oily skinned babe, I have ZERO tolerance for smudging, since it will inevitably lead to panda eyes on me.
Marketed as extensions without the extensions, and apparently taking 248 formulations to perfect, Lash Slick bills itself as boing the perfect everyday mascara… and I’d have to agree. At $20.00 CAD, its certainly not the cheapest, but it really is a high quality mascara without the headaches that afflict even higher priced designer mascaras.
The packaging is classic Glossier: Millennial pink, yet minimal despite the large logo. The formula is seriously great. It lengthens lashes via 1 and 2 millimetre fibers without clumping them together at all. Since the fibers are so short, they built the lashes to a natural point of extension, without looking obviously false or spidery.
Lash Slick mascara is water resistant and stays in place until you want it to, coming off easily with a swipe of makeup remover.
5/5 ~ $20.00 CAD
Agave Lip Mask in Smashed by Bite Beauty
(At the time), the most intense lip therapy from Canadian natural beauty darling Bite Beauty. A super intense lip mask intended for nightly use to replenish moisture, and yet released with red colouring..?
The formula was so-so, and I felt like it was always just sliding into my mouth, requiring reapplication. The packaging was charmingly simple at first, but ended up being a major paint point since it was too easy to dispense too much product. This is less of a concern with un-tinted varieties, but the bright red of Smashed was hard to play off. I found myself attempting to top up my lip balm, and ending up wiping gobs of red off of my lips, hoping not to look totally deranged. The edges of the tube can also become weakened over time by bending, leading to weak spots.
2.5/5 ~ $30.00 CAD
Un Coverup Concealer/Foundation in 22 by RMS Beauty
While I’m still not convinced I’m found the ideal concealer for me, this one is pretty solid. I gave up wearing foundation on a daily basis over a year ago, and choose use a sunscreen and then spot correct, focussing on blemishes, under my eyes, and around my nose. The formula melts and blends easily, providing medium coverage with a natural finish.
3.5/5 ~ $45.00 CAD
Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium Anti-Fatigue Body Wash by Ren Clean Skincare
Smells great (rosemary, clary sage) and makes my muscles feel good post-workout.
4/5 ~ Uncertain of price, came as part of a set
Original Coffee Scrub by Frank Body
We’ve all been scrolling through our feeds at one time or another (but certainly in 2014-2015) and saw a super hot influencer sitting in their bathtub, smiling, covered in brown gritty shit. This is that!
It’s an Australian coffee scrub that’s actually pretty great and smells unreal. Sort of orange-chocolate. Start with a warm shower to wet your skin, then turn the water off and start scrubbing! Keep the shower curtain closed because this scrub is MESSY. Like, messier than you’d think. Leave on your skin for 5-10 mins, rinse, and revel in your wildly soft skin!
Keep a cup handy to rinse the coffee grounds away once you’re done, no harm, no foul.
4.5/5 ~ $19.95 CAD
Renewing SA Lotion by CeraVe
Really impressed by this lotion. It contains salicylic acid (thus the “SA”) to gently exfoliate skin, hyaluronic acid to draw in moisture, and cermaides to help strengthen skin’s natural barriers. This is basically the holy trinity in the winter time, since leaving excess dead skin on the surface can draw moisture out from the living skin cells in layers below.
Although my facial skin and scalp are oily, everything from my neck down is dry AF. So much so that I moisturize my whole body in the morning after showering and usually again before bed. The light formula of the Renewing SA Lotion is easy to dispense from the pump top and absorbs quickly, making this my possible favourite over the Renewing SA Cream (below).
While is product is fragrance free, a “non irritant”, and non-comedogenic, it does contain mineral oil and parabens, which may make it a no-go for some people.
4/5 ~ $17.99 CAD *this item was gifted to be by the brand
Renewing SA Cream by CeraVe
This cream is very similar to the above in its active ingredients: salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, and cermaides. The main differences are the thicker formula and the packaging. Slightly less convenient, but extremely hydrating.
4/5 ~ $25.99 CAD *this item was gifted to be by the brand
Naked Body Butter by Bliss
Picked this up at CVS in Las Vegas, since I like to travel carry-on only and needed to snag some body moisturizer. Bliss isn’t readily available in Canada, so I was eager to try this drugstore fave. The Naked Body Butter is fragrance free and is more or less a pretty-okay body lotion with shea butter and coconut oil as the feature ingredients, while still relying on silicone-family ingredients like dimethicone, despite their “Blissfully Free From…” anti-ingredients lists. The inclusion of these ingredients doesn’t bother me, but it’s tonally strange to take such a high and mighty stance on some things but not others. I guess we all have our things.
3.5/5 ~ $12.00 USD
Shimmer Lights Shampoo by Clairol Professional
Shimmer Lights is an absolute cult classic, that has only recently begun to be dethroned by newcomers to the bleach blonde beauty scene. As a purple shampoo, it uses colour theory to erase yellow tones and brassiness from blonde and grey/silver hair.
As fellow bottle blondes will attest to, I only wash my hair about twice per week, and that doesn’t mean I shampoo every time I wash. Often, I’ll just coat my hair in conditioner or a hair mask, leave it on for as long as time permits, and then rinse. The oils in my hair and scalp bond to the oils in the conditioner, and my hair is left clean and soft, without feeling stripped. I recommend this method to anyone who wants to ween themselves off of washing their hair too frequently. The concept of washing my hair every day is wild, and sound exhausting. Also: Dry shampoo is your friend!
All that said, this shampoo is chalk full of classic harsh surfactants like SLS, which can work if you use a lot of hair product or only wash once per week, but feels always way too drying on my ends. Also, the fragrance isn’t very contemporary: powdery, floral, soapy.
3/5 ~ $18.78 CAD
Hair Perfector No. 3 by Olaplex
A product that I’m a fan of and I know it works, yet I almost never remember to use. It’s really pricy, so maybe I feel like I’m saving it? I have no idea what kind of psychology is going on here, but I know that I neglect my hair / have little to no idea what to do with it.
Anyways, Olaplex No. 3 is not a deep conditioner, its a treatment to strengthen the actual structures of your hair. As someone with bleached hair, I rationally know and understand that this is something I should be using every week, and yet I honestly Olaplex maybe once a month. But it makes my hair feel almost unprocessed and super strong right away so I don’t know what my excuse is.
5/5 ~ $38.00 CAD
Hair Oil by Ouai Haircare
I refuse to rate this product. Jen Aatkin, the Kardashian- adjacent founder of Ouai is such a bully that I cannot endorse products from Ouai in any shape or form. Could I give it a star because it has a nice smell? Sure. Another star for formula? I could. Another for minimal design and packaging? Yep. But I’m flatly refusing to assign any value. Jen Atkin is a multimillionaire hair stylist and beauty guru, but chooses to pick fights on Instagram. First, she went after gelcream when Yana gave Kim Kardashian’s perfume (the bottle of which was a knock off of a knock off, most broadly known from the work of noted anti-Semitic racist Jean-Paul Gaultier) a poor rating.
Then, Jen Atkin came for me. After trying samples of “hydrating” shampoo and conditioner from Ouai, I gave them a very short (negative) review in my instagram stories, which lead to the awkward instance of Jen Atkin sending me a rude DM and the official account of Ouai messaging me, kindly asking for feedback on how they might improve. lol. Get a social media manager to put your founder on a leash.
No Rating ~ Received as sample with order
Thirsty Girl Coconut Milk Leave-In Conditioner by IGK
I was really underwhelmed by this product, which I had high hopes for since it bills itself as “a coconut milk-infused leave-in conditioner that nourishes and protects hair, adds shine, and controls frizz for up to 24 hours”. Sounds great! Unfortunately it left my hair stringy, which is quite a feat on my thicc tresses.
Also, not crazy about aerosol products. Never feels like it contains as much product, and feels more wasteful.
1/5 ~ Received as sample with order
All products, unless stated, were purchased by me, with my own money.