Thursday, June 28, 2012

George's Cream

While I sport a rather oily face, I'm lucky enough not to struggle with skin woes from chin down. When George's Cream contacted me back in March to review their products especially formulated for dry skin weathering tough Canadian winters, I was hesitant because I'm not exactly the best subject for the dry skin test. However, I've had ample time to try out George's Cream since and find that it's affordable and effective and worth reviewing in case it helps anyone out there struggling to find the right products.

Here's an excerpt from the team behind George's Cream:

About George’s Cream 

George’s is a great Canadian success story and George himself has some interesting stories about how he initially decided to develop a non-prescription cream to help combat severe dry skin for some of his local customers at his pharmacy in Calgary.  Using his wife’s cake mixer and working on formula after formula in his kitchen – the ultimate result was cult success for George’s Special Dry Skin Cream. [Gotta love the cake mixer!]

George’s Cream is appealing to many customers because it is a non-prescription therapeutic skin moisturizer that has no additives and is fragrance free.

George's Special Dry Skin Cream...
  • Was created for lasting dry skin relief.
  • Provides relief from several different types of skin conditions.
  • Works!  That is why it is recommended by dermatologists, pharmacists and physicians.

George's Light Special Moisturizing Lotion...
  • Is a lighter version of George's Special Dry Skin Cream, and has been carefully researched and formulated to soothe and protect problem skin.
  • Is gentle enough for use every day and can be used by those with sensitive skin .
  • Maintains the integrity of the cream with a minimum of ingredients and has no additives that could cause allergies.

When my parents began their new business in March and it required all three of us to continually wash our hands throughout long days, I brought both samples of George's Cream to keep at the store and used George's Light Special Moisturizing Lotion for my hands after each wash. It really started to grow on me because applying hand lotion doesn't always prevent dry flakes and patches when you wash your hands that often, but I didn't experience a single moment of dryness or discomfort for as long as I diligently applied a small dab of the Light Special Moisturizing Lotion after each hand wash. I encouraged my parents to use it often as well, and while my dad ignores it for the most part, my mom volunteered one day that the George's products are "pretty good." I don't know about your parents, but mine were never much for high praise. "Pretty good" coming from my mom translates to regular people's version of "Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Between the two products, my favourite is the Light Special Moisturizing Lotion.

For something that claims to be light, it's actually not. It has the look of a lotion but has the weight and feel of a heavy body cream. That's how I prefer my hand moisturizers and often I'll substitute body butters for hand creams.

Because of its thickness, you do have to rub it into the skin for a few seconds longer than you would other lighter moisturizers. At first there's the slightest bit of a sour yogurt smell that fades into nothing at the same time as the skin absorbs the lotion, leaving it healthy and plump.

Prior to reading Tracy's review and being approached by George's Cream personally, I hadn't noticed it anywhere else before. But now I see it proudly taking up a spot on the shelves of Shoppers Drug Mart and am glad to see that the price is reasonable and worth spending on for those struggling with thirsty skin in need of desperate relief.

@ Shoppers Drug Mart

For more information, check out George's Cream online at:!/pages/Georges-Cream/222768827756265

Products were provided for review. But I really mean what I say.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Today's Loves

Usually I'm all about the summer heat, but lately I'm appreciating moderate temperatures. It's especially nice when a cool breeze floats into the room as you're sitting back with a coffee/tea/wine and listening to some soothing music. One of my favourite soundtracks is Jane Campion's Bright Star. John Keats is my second favourite Romantic poet (after William Blake) -- and while I wasn't crazy about the movie itself as a whole, I fell in love with the music and Keats' poetry all over again. Have a listen if you're so inclined.

I enjoyed my previous visit to Kennedy Public House so much that I went again this morning with Friend S. I ordered the same giant pulled pork-stuffed omelette called the "Wake & Bake" and took a picture this time to show you the massiveness and goodness.

And while I was reading and studying for my Shakespeare final this past week, one day I was horribly distracted by the sound of birds chirping very loudly outside the living room window. There were five of these cute little birdies crowded upon one branch in a bush right by the window while this little guy sat primly and peacefully by itself away from the others. As I watched, its eyes closed and head fell forward into the sweetest little bird nap! I had to slap both my hands over my mouth to keep from squealing in delight.

And now that the pressure of the course is off, even the weeds look beautiful and precious.

I'm also having a terrific skin week. I've been avoiding wearing makeup since I took most of this week off from work to study. Letting the skin breathe for consecutive days is probably the best thing I've done for it for years and years. For the brunch, I just groomed my brows and dabbed on a bit of cream blush.

NYC Blushable Creme Stick in Mauvin' Uptown

I love the soft, emollient texture and the buildability of the colour.

Hope you're all having a fantastic weekend. What have you been enjoying this week?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Inventory #12.1 - Makeup Removers and Facial Cleansers

I'm back!

Granted, it has only been one week, but it was a very long week and felt more like a month in my mind. Thanks for all your well wishes -- I am feeling much better now and have only a lingering cough, which is sooo annoying to both me and everyone around who has to listen to the constant hacking. Hopefully this will be my one sickness of the year and I'll go back to being as healthy as a horse.

While I should have been focused on Shakespeare's problem plays, all week my mind kept wandering in the direction of the endless stash of crap I keep hoarding, and I'm more convinced than ever that this is a serious problem. I don't need 11+ cleansers in my arsenal. It seems that I haven't improved much from a year and a half ago, based on the last inventory. Let's see what's going on here today.

Removers/Cleansers in Rotation

Marcelle Essentials 3 in 1 Cleanser - This jumbo size goes for about $16.99 at the drugstore and I snagged it on a sale for only $10. I've never come across a Marcelle product I disliked, but this is the first. The idea behind it is that you massage this milky makeup remover over your dry face and wipe away all traces of makeup with a cotton. It's supposed to act as a cleanser and toner as well, so technically you shouldn't have to double cleanse nor rinse. Well, I'm not crazy about those things. I like a thorough water & soap cleanse at the sink and using tissue or cotton to wipe away makeup also feels doubly wasteful. Also, I tried using it the way they instruct and it resulted in endless amount of tissue and makeup still remaining on my face when I disregarded the instruction and swiped toner-soaked cotton pads over my face. I do use it to remove my foundation at the end of the day, but I rinse it away with water and follow with a regular facial cleanser and a toner. In comparison to my holy grail, Philosophy's Purity Made Simple, the Marcelle Essentials is a distant second.

Bioderma Micelle Solution for Sensitive Skin - $30 of hype that I want a refund for. I really need to stick to my rule of trying new products with the smallest size, not the biggest. But the cheapo in me could not resist a bargain when I saw the jumbo size at discounted price in the winter. Everyone -- and I mean, everyone -- has been raving about this micellar water cleanser, and I doubted myself and came to believe that the entire world could not be wrong. Well, world -- you're wrong. Like the Marcelle cleanser/remover, it doesn't exactly wipe everything away and I feel the need to scrub my face at the sink afterward although it says you shouldn't have to. The toner test reveals that even after using five tissues' worth of this micellar water, foundation remains on the face. I suppose I'll keep it and use it as an eye makeup remover or backup toner, but as a makeup remover/facial cleanser, I find it severely lacking. Feel free to disagree but I will not be swayed again. I can't believe that heavy foundation wearers are happy with this as the sole product in the face cleansing routine. Maybe one lazy night, sure, but certainly not to be depended on on its own for consecutive nights.

Etude House Happy Teatime Milk Tea Cleanser - A frippery I picked up from Singapore that is now in the empties bag. To be discussed in full then; for now I give it a major thumbs down.

Dermalogica Clean Start Wash Off Foaming Wash - This, too, is now in the empties bag. It's a part of a 3-piece travel size set for fighting acne. I will post a full review on the set within the next few weeks. For now I'll say that it's a pretty good cleanser as far as its anti-acne powers are concerned.

Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser - When it comes to facial cleansers, I'm probably always in the minority. Many people like Neutrogena facial products and even dermatologists swear by it. This never did much for me, and now it's a bit too old for me to be testing it out on my face. I use it as a brush shampoo and find that it works very well for that function.

DDF Brightening Cleanser - I was on the verge of tossing this but decided to give it one last chance this week. If used too frequently, it creates painfully dry patches on sensitive areas, so I shall be cautious and use it no more than two or three times a week. At the first sign of negative reaction, it will end up in the empties bag for good.

Recently Purchased Cleansers

Despite the six different products I listed above, sadly I needed new facial cleansers this month. Two are now finished, two are makeup removers and not cleansers (to me), and two are old cleansers that aren't any good. With summer's heat and sweat looming in the horizon, I needed an anti-acne cleanser to keep the zits at bay, but I really didn't feel like spending any more money on cleansers when there are six products already in rotation for one reason or another. So I browsed the clearance sections at drug stores and found two bargain basement deals that I feel quite optimistic about. The Clean & Clear Morning Burst In-Shower Facial contains glycolic acid and the Garnier Pure Unclogging Gel Scrub contains salicylic acid. I haven't used either of them yet as I've been waiting to finish up the Milk Tea and the Clean Start cleansers first. If they're worth raving about, they'll be featured again in a future post. I figure that with a good makeup removing routine, including the Clarisonic Mia, followed by toning and anti-acne treatment, cleansers don't really rank all that high in importance so long as they're not overly stripping or completely useless.

Travel Size Back-Ups

Then there are the endless number of samples and travel-size things that take up an entire drawer of my desk. Not featured are a couple of other cleansers and removers that I may or may not be putting up on the blog sale (samples from Sisley and Caudalie and a Bourjois Paris makeup remover). I was so looking forward to using up one of these travel sized cleansers this summer, but I'm not going anywhere anytime soon... so I may as well just dig in, right?

As always, the deal is I show you mine and you show me yours. :-) How many cleansers are in rotation in your bathroom right now? What's your rationale for buying new cleansers when you already have many in stock? Do you have a favourite facial cleanser? Am I crazy for not falling in love with the Bioderma cleansing water? To the comments!

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Bang and A Whimper

I came back to blogging frequently last week with great gusto... and then was promptly bedridden for the next 3-4 nights. I didn't go to work since Monday until today and my family doctor has no idea why I fall flat for three days every year around this time of year. He sure is good about writing notes, though. He'll write whatever I say.

The point is <focuses with trouble> I'm backed up on end of term stuff, home stuff, personal stuff, and health stuff. I did have a lot of stuff I wanted to talk about, but for now these pics are a promise of future posts to come. I'm always around on Twitter and Pinterest, however, since they are my main forms of procrastination. (Soon I'll have pinned the entire internet universe.) Just look at this stuff and await my return. I promise, cupcakes and moscato wine when I come back! It won't be too long.

*leaves you guys to the babysitter*

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil

L'Occitane intrigued me for the longest time. Its classiness seems so far above other similar companies that it rather intimidated me. It took a while to realize I've paid a lot (LOT) more to Sephora when buying just one item from L'Occitane to try wasn't out of reach. I've certainly paid more than CAD$24 for even nail polish at Chanel, so why not splurge for something beneficial for my entire body? It was the dead of winter when I made the venture, and the item I ended up with was their famous Almond Shower Oil, thanks to a sudden all-consuming preoccupation with oils spurred on by fellow blogger Beauty Huile.

I've gone on and on at length about my oily face, but my body is on the slightly dry side. If I moisturize well, my skin doesn't flake or feel itchy or dry at all, even in winter. But I figured the more soothing and moisturizing a product the better, right? This warm, sensuous-looking oil was welcoming in the cold and my beauty sensor just tingled at the sight of it. It's also encased in one of the most elegant looking plastic packaging ever.

I usually require the aid of a shower puff when using liquid or gel cleansers, but I love the feel of oil warming in my hands and decided to forget the puff. I massaged a quarter-sized drop of the shower oil on my palms and reveled in the feeling of the oil warming and transforming into fragrant froth. The scent is somehow both fresh yet decadently sweet. Usually I rush through showering for the sake of becoming clean, but slowly massaging the oil cleanser became an indulgent experience I could really get used to. By the end, I did require a few more drops of the cleansing oil to finish and while I wasn't uncomfortable without a mositurizer after, I could have used a lotion on top. Still, the shower oil is very soothing and cleanses without feeling like it has stripped the skin of all its moisture.


You guys know how I'm kind of big on packaging design and functionality of a product? I can find no fault with this. Like I said, it's plastic and lightweight but somehow elegant and pretty. The cap is both sturdy and simple without weird pumps or extra gimmicky gadgetry involved to make it seem fancier. The product simply speaks for itself and I enjoy not having to go through a wrestling match with my cleanser in the shower.

For CAD$24 for 250ml, it is quite the splurge, but it's one that I'm glad to have made when I was able to do so. If it helps, L'Occitane also offers a 500ml eco-refill, which I was thrilled to learn about. I've been thinking lately with all the empties I've been tossing that relying on a quality product with refill capabilities would make things much simpler. I've purchased two other L'Occitane products during the course of the winter season and discovered that they frequently offer free shipping or bonuses with purchases that eases the pain of paying more for their products. But having tried the brand at last, I can see why it's so popular. The ability to transform a humble shower experience to something more relaxing and indulgent is no easy feat.



Have you tried L'Occitane before? What's your favourite L'Occitane product? What would it take for you to splurge on bath products?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The week in review

I really really want to be this woman in the photo, running around on a beautiful beach in what looks to be a nightgown and not caring what's left behind.

Image from Club Monaco

It's not quite that scenic around here but at least the sky is blue, the sun is shining and trees are green.

After months of living frugally, I decided a small break was in order and that a NARS x Thakoon nail polish needed to be in my life. I used a Sephora gift card to get Koliary (see review/comparison by Polish Police), a gorgeous vivid blue not unlike the sky in the pic above. Unfortunately I didn't swatch it at the store and discovered at home that it stains the nail horribly. Honestly, I expected better from NARS or Thakoon or whomever is responsible for this in the end. I never really had a great experience with NARS polish in the first place and should have stuck to my guns. Well, I won't be tricked by them again. Koliary is going back and I'm done with NARS nail polishes for good.

On Saturday I went to brunch at The Kennedy Public House in Bloor West Village where I enjoyed a fantastic 3-egg omelette stuffed with a pulled pork sandwich and topped with onion ring slivers. I wish I had taken a picture of it but was starving and wolfed it down before thinking to take a pic. I'd recommend going to Kennedy for the food rather than drinks as there are much better bar selections to be had from real bars and pubs. It's in a fantastic location, and the restaurant is wide and spacious with a decent patio. I plan on going back eventually!

Then I stopped at Indigo where I picked up a set of watercolour-print notebooks as a gift to a poet friend.

And I couldn't resist picking up a pretty mug in the exact same shade as Essie Mint Candle Apple.

I also picked up this book on a whim. I haven't read David Sedaris before though I've heard he's hilarious. The title and cover are giving me a tickle already so I hope that it's worth the bargain basement price I paid.

And then there is The Pie. I bought a lemon meringue pie for dessert on Wednesday and no one would help me eat it. So I ate a quarter or a slice every night until I finally finished it today. (Yes, I even play "empties" with food - what of it???)



And today is the day I finally started a plan that's been brewing for a few weeks. I've been looking for ways to squeeze in an activity that has nothing to do with work, school, family or even blogging. And since I'm looking for ways to cut down on expenses, I figured doing some more cooking/baking from scratch would be a great way to save money and learn some new skills. Each week I'll strive to make at least one thing that I haven't before. I outdid myself by making four things this weekend. I'm not going to keep track of all of them here, but for anyone who's interested, I'm marking the progress on my Pinterest board called "Baked It; Cooked It." The two that I really liked the result of are shown below with a link to the recipe.

Best Blueberry Pancakes via Food and Family

I've made pancakes before of course but never with blueberries. I don't know why. It's so good!

Creamy Garlic Pasta via The Cheese Pusher

The beauty of this pasta dish is in its simplicity. I hate draining the pasta and having to wash the strainer after dinner. In this case, you boil the spaghetti in chicken stock and any leftover liquid turns into the sauce. Brilliant! I used basil instead of parsley because I hate keeping parsley in the fridge and love basil and throw it in almost every dish.

I also took a chance on a new wine and its light, fruity but not too sweet taste was the perfect complement to the pasta on this warm summer night. It's apparently called a "frizzante" and I equate it to what an eau fraiche is to perfume!

Overall, it was a pretty good weekend. It's always nice to see old friends, eat great food and get your hands dirty with something other than mundane tasks. I'm heading to bed earlier than usual tonight in order to wake up early to bake cinnamon buns for breakfast. Hope everyone had a great weekend and have a great week!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Inventory #11.1C - Eyeshadow Primers

*in the voice of Bob Saget aka older Ted Mosby* Kids, it was December of 2010 when Auntie Lizzie realized she had a huge problem. She had become an eyeshadow primer whore. A few years before that, no one had even heard of shadow primers, but that winter she ended up with six despite hardly ever wearing eye makeup. Luckily, she got a handle on this problem fairly quickly, and a year and a half later, she only had three to deal with. The end.

*blank kids stare*

Haha, no way!

*back to my regular voice* It's been a while since the last inventory post and I thought of doing away with the whole thing since the plan going forward was to reduce my stash to a minimum. Well, reducing is a lot harder than you think. The first round of blog sale was quite successful, after a few kinks at the beginning, and I do have more things to add to it eventually (mostly nail polish that I don't use). I also gave away a lot of makeup to friends and sisters, and as you know I'm doing my damnest to finish using up old things and posting the progress via the empties posts. But the number of things I managed to rack up even while I was taking up the mantle of the Reductionista is astounding. The only way they will stop accruing is if I stop buying new things completely. But that's another topic for another day. Today we are here to discuss eye shadow primers.

As Future Ted narrated earlier, I had about six products that I was using as shadow primers, whether that was the products' purpose or not. This problem actually grew to a stash of eight when (1) I purchased (and subsequently returned) the Naked Palette and obtained the mini size of the UDPP, (2) then the professional size of the UDPP, and (3) this happened.

Since then, I gave/swapped away the Clinique, Benefit, original UDPP and Smashbox and sold the Bobbi Brown. All that remains from the original stash is good old MAC Paint Pot in Soft Ochre. I tried to take a shot that would show the progress I've made with it. The concave is so difficult to capture! I suppose it's not very impressive since 80% of the product still remains in the pot, but I have about 1/5 left in both the mini UDPP and Clinique Pore Minimizer.

I know... you're wondering what the heck a pore minimizer is doing in this pile. I'm having a bit of a WTF moment here, too. I saw that I had it in last year's inventory post but didn't include in any of my new inventories. Then it occurred to me that it might work well as a shadow primer because I frequently use it as a foundation primer.

Here are swatches of each of the three items and I'll describe them briefly further down below:

INDOOR SHOT: Clinique Pore Minimizer (left), MAC Soft Ochre (middle), UDPP (right)

UNDER DIRECT SUNLIGHT: Clinique Pore Minimizer (left), MAC Soft Ochre (middle), UDPP (right)

WITH FLASH: Clinique Pore Minimizer (left), MAC Soft Ochre (middle), UDPP (right)

MAC Paint Pot in Soft Ochre - Technically a cream but one that's on rather dry side. It makes a good base for layering other cream shadows or powder shadows over it. Before the advent of real shadow primers, a lot of people (hi, YouTube "gurus") were using this to set their shadows and that's where I got the notion that a real makeup kit just wasn't complete without a goddamn Paint Pot. People with pale, cool tones prefer Painterly while the yellowish folk like me prefer Soft Ochre. I wish Soft Ochre was a touch darker and yellower, as you can see by the pictures that it ends up looking a little chalky. I only use it when I'm layering other products on top of it as I despise the crusty pale lid look it gives on its own.

Urban Decay Primer Potion (Original) - One of the firsts of the shadow primers, it originally came in the curvy potion packaging with a twisted doe foot wand that gave a lot of grief to a lot of people. It's liquid cream in texture that you pat over the eye and intensifies the colour of eye shadows and effectively locks the shadow in place and keep from creasing. I'm no eye makeup expert and find that it works just fine. But I do have major issues with their packaging. They're poorly made and I find the brand in general to be gimmicky and even a little tacky. That's not to mention the business in China stuff that made the news this week (let's not talk about that here - I don't really care). I decided that I was done with Urban Decay after the packaging bust and so it is. I'm actually in the middle of compiling a list of brands that I don't purchase from for various reasons. UD is now on it.

Clinique Pore Minimizer Instant Perfector in 02 Invisible Deep - I originally got this to use as a pore perfector, when I was convinced that pores needed to be eviscerated or completely covered up. Now I avoid stuff that promises to do stuff to or for your pores. Why are we hating on our pores? We need them! Anyway, this has a matte gel/cream texture that ends up feeling slightly waxy, but it forms a pretty good base to mattify T-zones and is good for spreading all over the face to secure the foundation. I'll probably end up finishing it as a regular primer but tomorrow I'll test it out as a shadow primer as well. It looks like a small tube but it's taking forever to empty!

So, that's my shadow primer stash. How many eyeshadow primers do you have? In the battle of the shadow primers, which would you say is the best of the best?

And speaking of How I Met Your Mother (which I gave up on watching because they are never going to show us the freaking mother), this is the version of Les Miserables that I want to see. I feel like Hollywood missed a golden opportunity here.