Monday, September 29, 2014

My Daily Makeup Routine



Ahh... the sweet feeling of having a set routine. After trying out numerous variations of my daily makeup staples (note: mousse foundation, pressed powder, good brushes, under-eye concealer...etc) I've finally found some real winners. Below you'll see the products I use day-to-day, and exactly how I apply them in video form. 

I tend to mix high and low - some products are designer and some only a few bucks. Despite loving a few luxury makeup items, I have found many affordable dupes for most of my high-end faves. You can see the contrasting blog posts here: low-end, high-end.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: Bella Vita Miracle Hand Balm & Formidable Cream Deodorant


As a shameless oil/balm/cream junkie, I'm always in the market for the newest innovation. I've recently started using oil as a daily moisturizer since it locks in the hydration, keeping my skin silky smooth longer than any traditional lotion. Right after I turn off the shower, I apply a thin layer of oil head to toe, then dry off the remaining water with a towel. I find that even a tiny drop of oil works wonders on my ends, far better than any hair conditioner. Just remember to keep the oil off your shower floor- no one needs broken bones. To see my favourite oils, see my (in depth) post, here.

This review will highlight two natural, propolis-based products from the Quebec brand Bella Vita, which both contain some of my favourite oils. Curious to know what propolis really is? Read on!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Is Shopping At Sephora Really Worth It?

Photo via Nicole Reviews Beauty

After receiving some "Holiday Sneak Peak" emails this week from the Sephora V.I.B. program, (thanks for making it feel that much colder!) I decided to compile my thoughts on the Sephora experience in general. I've been a part of their Very Important Beauty Insider program for 3-4 years now, so I've definitely had time to experience lots of highs and lows.

Everyone is eligible to become a Sephora Beauty Insider, which enables you to receive free birthday gifts and collect points. On a regular purchase, you receive 1pt per dollar, (before tax) and there are deluxe samples available for redeeming 100, 250 or 500 pts. Throughout the year, Sephora runs various events for Beauty Insiders which sometimes involve 2-3X the points on select items.

To qualify for V.I.B. status, you must spend $350+ at Sephora (before tax) in one calendar year. You will then receive 10% off your next Sephora purchase (one time use coupon) and one free 45 minute makeover in-store. Makeovers are typically free with any purchase of $50+ and I believe an appointment is necessary.

VIB Rouge is the next level of perks, achieved when you spend $1000+ at Sephora, before tax, in one calendar year. I haven't heard anything extraordinary about the Rouge program, aside from a few extra samples/discounts, so I'll refrain from spending copious amounts of money on more trinkets and potions for the time being.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: John Frieda Go Blonder Lightening Spray


Earlier this summer I decided to try out the "Go Blonder Lightening Spray" from John Frieda's "Sheer Blonde" range. I was feeling some lighter highlights, but didn't want anything too chunky or salon-like. Since my hair is naturally dark blonde, I figured that the product would work just fine. I've never actually dyed my hair before, so it was my first time making a permanent change.

I don't like John Frieda's shampoo and conditioner very much since I find that the shampoo feels like plastic, and the conditioner is full of slippery silicones. That being said, I've heard amazing things about some of their other products, such as the iconic Frizz-Ease line.
This lightening spray is pretty much a heat protectant, mixed with a touch of bleach and some citrus and chamomile extracts. The product is not suitable for medium brown, or dark coloured hair since it would turn rather orange. You can see the full product details on the John Frieda site here.


I used the spray around 5 times, over a span of two weeks. I strategically applied the product onto the top layer of my towel-dried hair, concentrating it on the bottom half versus on the roots. I  loosely combed through with my hands to evenly distribute the product, then continued with my typical 2 minute blow-dry. The directions state "the more heat you use, the greater the lightening effects". I don't typically use hot tools, but if you were going for an ombré style or more defined highlights, I'm sure some extra heat would help.

The results are exactly what I was looking for - noticeable highlights, without looking fake or overdone. For a drugstore product thats around $10, I couldn't be more pleased.

Happy highlighting!
xx

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fall Favourites


Now that August has come and gone, I can confidently say that the weather this summer really sucked. Both when I was at home and away, I never felt fully comfortable or prepared for the fluctuating temps. Too many days were spent shivering in the dreary rain, or peeling of layers in the sweltering sun. I'm really not looking forward to sub-zero temperatures, but I am enjoying the fresh fall chill that has now fallen over the city. A warm quilted moto jacket,  rich coloured pants, and fun accessories have been my definite go-tos this past week. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Visit To Bruges, Belgium


Bruges is the capital of the Dutch province in Belgium. The area itself is called West Flanders, and the main language spoken is Flemish - a dialect of Dutch. This city is located in the northwest corner of Belgium, about 2 hours away from Brussels. I was immediately brought back to Amsterdam when walking through the streets, since it is another canal-based city, commonly referred to as "The Venice of the North". Bruges was historically one of the most important port cities thanks to its location, which is right on the coast.

The Belfry of Bruges - a medieval bell tower

The first thing we did after arriving in Bruges was a walk up the Belfry tower. Despite the narrow spiral staircase, the 350 step climb wasn't bad at all and the view was well worth it.

The view from the top of the Belfry Tower

Friday, September 12, 2014

Brussels, Belgium

A tourist's view of Le Grand-Place, Brussels

For the last stretch of my stay in Europe, my sister and I ventured to Belgium to stay with some of our cousins. Belgium was historically a Dutch-speaking country, but has now become primarily French. The city of Brussels is a major centre for European and International politics. Both The European Union (EU) and The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have their headquarters in the city, along with other various international organizations.

Myself, my sister and my cousin Andrea at The Atomium building in Brussels


The Atomium building was constructed for Expo 58, which is the Brussels World's Fair that took place in 1958. For the science lovers out there, this monument is in the shape of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times! The building looks especially gorgeous on a clear afternoon.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Travelling or Studying Abroad: Packing List


A few weeks back, I read a great little article on The Glitter Guide, one of my favourite sites, outlining some essentials to bring when studying abroad. As I reflect on my own 6-week European adventure, I have created a (slightly longer) list of the necessary, and not so necessary, items to tote along on an extended trip overseas. Check out my other Travel posts here to see which cities I visited.

Rain jacket

I have a  rain jacket from Uniqlo which is just amazing, especially since it was around $40 (it's sadly not available online at the moment).  This jacket is so repellant that the water droplets don't even linger like they would on something like plastic. You can literally shake the water off, and the jacket rolls up into a little weightless bundle. Such a steal. 

Sunglasses

I always pack one cheap pair for contacts-day and my good prescription pair for glasses day. I like to make sure I have two, to ensure that I'm never without them. 

A secure hat

It's so important to protect your scalp and face on super sunny summer days. I'm not a baseball cap kind of girl, but that would be the best option here. A large, or loose fitting hat will surely fly away in the wind and never be seen again. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Visit To Amsterdam


There is truly something for everyone in Amsterdam, whether you prefer history and culture, late-night partying or just the relaxing charm of an old European city. My sister and I spent three nights at Hotel La Bohème and couldn't have asked for better accommodations. The staff were so helpful and we enjoyed an incredible breakfast each morning. The hotel is in an ideal location, only a few minutes by foot to nearly every popular attraction. See more about La Bohème here. Since there's literally more bicycles on the streets than people, it was only fitting to take an afternoon tour around town on snazzy red Mac Bikes. 


It was quite a relief travelling from France to the Netherlands since nearly everyone in Amsterdam speaks English. We took a gorgeous canal tour, which brought us through the most popular areas of the city. There are hundreds of bridges scattered throughout, which made the tour that much more picturesque.



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Palace of Versailles


The extravagant lifestyle of 17th century French Monarchy is certainly put into perspective with a visit to Versailles. It’s always a struggle to put down the camera and really take it all in, when the views just keep getting better and better at every turn. I’ve visited the area once before, but that was in March when the gardens weren’t in full bloom. Last week we had the most perfect warm sunny day to spend strolling through the grounds.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Paris, France

The view that always takes my breath away

It has been around 5 years since my last stay in Paris, and I couldn't have been happier to go back. My first trip was in the middle of March, which means that both the weather and flowers weren't as desirable as the end of August. Scattered throughout the past week, my sister and I were able to hit up every last monument, museum and church on our list of must-sees. For our first two days we were lucky enough to have my amazing friend Sibylle show us around and help us navigate the winding web of Paris' Metro. Read on to see some of my most favourite places to visit in this gorgeous, twinkling city.

Top: Luxembourg Gardens, Arc de Triomphe. Bottom: Sacre Coeur Basilica, Notre Dame Cathedral 

The Luxembourg gardens were absolutely beautiful when we visited at around 7pm. With the more subdued sunlight, the colours of the flowers were fresh and striking against the perfectly manicured green grass. What a fabulous place to kick back in a chair and read a book. 

The Arc de Triomphe, in the centre of the "Charles de Gaulle Étoile" is the perfect end (literally) after a walk down the Champs Elysées. There was an amazing drummer performing in the square, which made sitting down for a people-watching break much more fun. 

Our walk up to the Sacre Coeur Basilica was slightly tedious since we got caught in a small rain storm. My Uniqlo rain jacket was a real godsend at that point as it literally repels water and weighs next to nothing. But visiting both the basilica and cathedral were very special experiences, both for the incredible detail and well preserved interior. I always appreciate the serenity of sitting down and spending a few moments of silent thought in such a sacred space.



Friday, August 29, 2014

A Weekend In Marseille


There is one thing that's for certain: the south of France never disappoints. Yes, the alpes, rolling countryside, and lakes are swoon worthy, but a salty sea breeze and pretty flowers partout surely wins over my heart.

I was lucky enough to spend my birthday weekend on the beach in sunny, sandy Marseille. I love a good piece of fish, so this port city is the place for me. You can see a shot of the Vieux Port above, with its pretty boats lined up row by row. 


Despite being widely accessible by subway and bus, most tourist sites are within a reasonable walking distance from the town centre. One that was particularly close to my home that weekend was the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde. This basilica was truly spectacular, both in its ornate interior, and the view from above. 



I had also studied up on the MUCEM for a course earlier this year, so it was pretty cool textbook moment walking through the iconic museum in real life. Admission is free, and there only is a small fee for students to view the temporary exhibits. 

I was most amazed by the stunning architecture of the newest wing, which is suspended over the ocean coast on one side, seamlessly joining up with the ancient Fort Saint Jean on the other. The new building has a very detailed metal wall encircling, which provides a jungle-like filter out on the upper terrace.


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