Friday, November 17, 2017

Quo Cosmetics 2017 Holiday Collection & Gift Guide

Shoppers Drug Mart is a one-stop-shop for the holiday season because they have a fantastic selection. My Husband (a chronic last minute shopper) used to scramble through the store frantically on Christmas Eve with no clue what he was doing. Luckily for him the expertly crafted makeup gifts were always a big hit and now I do all the shopping.

Quo has released a variety of gift sets to satisfy the beauty junkies on your list and I’ve picked a few favorites that you may want to include.

The Ultimate Color Vault ($65.00) would be my first pick from Santa’s bag this year. This set has everything you need to create a full-face of makeup with flattering colors for all complexions.
It includes: 48 eye shadows, 4 face powders, 4 color correctors, 4 blushes, 4 highlighters, 3 eyebrow powders, 3 eyebrow creams, 6 eyeliners and 12 lip glosses - quite impressive! 

Whether you’re a makeup expert or just starting out, this vault is very functional and makes an awesome gift for those looking to expand their collection. When you first open the shiny black case there are rows and rows of flattering eye shadows (it’s pretty exciting). I always recommend priming the lids to enhance vibrancy and intensity but the pigments have good color payoff and most can go from sheer to full-coverage with a few layers.

The first panel has a lot of neutrals - warm earthy tones and cool greys. You get everything you need to work your magic including shimmery gold, deep crease contours, blending shades and brow highlighters to create beautiful looks that last all day. The shadows apply smooth and vibrant without creasing and there is very little fall-out.

Underneath there are 2 lines of lip gloss with sheer, luminous finishes and a hint of juicy color. I love the berry tones, orchid and bright red but there are also a few soft nudes.

For a night out the second panel is a little more colorful. It contains deep blues, purples and greens. Each row is color coordinated to help you mix and match like a pro and there is a great range of mattes and mild shimmers for textural contrast.

Under this section you will find cream liners in all your basic shades – deep blue, black and grey plus some brow pigments in light, medium and deep.

Shadow swatches

When you slide the panels to the side – BAM! Even more awesomeness! Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better your eyes feast upon rows of blush and highlighters in coral, gold and pretty pinks with lilac undertones. These radiant shades brighten and enhance the skin for a healthy flush.

The correctors and face powders are a nice touch but the options are a bit limited. I would have liked an orange pigment for medium to deep skin tones and dark circles or a rich bronzer but for redness and other color discrepancies these may help.

When you open the palette you will notice that there are plastic dividers. Make sure to keep these because they separate the colors and prevent the shadows from getting into the gloss and cream formulas. The only thing missing from the vault is applicators, there are no brushes or sponge tips but it is still a spectacular gift and Quo has some amazing brush sets available.

Another one of my top picks is the Liquid Lipstick Bar ($20.00) not to be confused with the Lip Gloss Bar because these shades are creamy and matte. The formula is excellent - it glides on evenly and coats lips in intense full-coverage color in just one swipe. The mini tubes are perfect for travel and small bags but I would have liked a bit more color variation since there are a lot of neutrals.

Who doesn’t love a good advent calendar?! With the Quo by Orly 12 Days of Colorful Healthy Nails ($40.00) you get a cute surprise each day and a beautiful one-step manicure.

These mini bottles are perfect for travel and no base or top coat is required. Simply apply the polish and get a bonus nail treatment with a nourishing blend of Argan Oil, Vitamin B5 and C. There are a variety of trendy colors and the formulas have a glossy finish.

Skin looking a little drab this winter? The Lip & Cheek Tints ($14.00) will perk-up the complexion with a pop of sheer color and they make great stocking stuffers.

Quo is available exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart

Thursday, November 16, 2017

no!no! Pro Hair Removal System Review

I’m just going to come right out and say it – I hate shaving! We live in a hairless society where everyone (including men) have rigorous grooming rituals that include plucking, waxing, shaving, lasers, bleaching, electrolysis and threading. Despite all the hassle, money and pain one thing is certain - smooth skin is in and hairy legs are out so I decided that it was finally time to try no!no! - the #1 selling hair removal system in the world.

If you watch TV then you’ve probably seen the infomercial for this device – it promises quick, painless results in the privacy of your own home. Instead of razors or lasers, no!no! uses Pulse Thermicon Technology – gentle heat that glides over the skin and into the follicles to crystallize and remove unwanted hair. With repeated treatments, hair growth is supposed be slower, finer and less frequent.

The sensation is actually quite pleasant - very warm and soothing (I didn’t experience any burns). The smell of singed hair however isn’t so great but in return I get no cuts, nicks or scrapes which also means no scarring or bruising. It is important to remember that the smell is normal and part of the treatment.

The device comes in 3 shades (blue, black and pink) and the kit includes a user manual, charger, cleaning brush, 2 thermicon tips of different sizes and a large buffer for $249.99 USD or $311.99 CAD. I did not receive the travel case but the website does make reference to it.

no!no!, thermicon tips and buffing pad

no! no! can be used on the face, arms, legs, torso and back - anywhere except your private parts. Treatment is safe for all skin tones and hair types but it is recommended that you do a patch test on a small area (an arm or leg works best) to make sure there are no adverse reactions or sensitivity. I also suggest using it on clean, dry skin for best results and follow-up with a moisturizing cream or oil. There are 3 intensity/treatment levels that can be adjusted for different areas of the body. I began with level 1 and soon moved onto level 3 which works best for me.

Using the device is very simple - just glide the no!no! towards your body and against the grain in a smooth, steady motion and avoid going over the same area excessively (just to be safe). You must follow-up with the buffing pad to remove lingering strands and it is also a great way to gently exfoliate for soft, silky skin. I do not use the device on my face but it is important to read the manual carefully before proceeding.

After going through the entire treatment process there were still a few spiky hairs poking up just above the skin (similar to new growth but not as stubbly) and several strands wouldn’t budge because the hair is cut off at the surface instead of being removed at the root. Essentially the device seems to be shortening hair instead of eradicating it while treating the follicles to slow growth. There is some hair left behind but you’d have to look very closely to notice. My skin looks smooth and almost hairless - good enough for me but not perfect. I was expecting a cleaner finish and more effective removal but my arm hair is thinner and less noticeable which is great. The best method for me is to start with 2-3 passes, buff, then do another 2-3 passes and buff some more. It is not a quick process nor does it eliminate every strand but with a little persistence the no!no! does seem to help reduce the appearance of body hair overtime.

To experience long-term benefits you really have to stick with it for a few months. If you have thin, sparse hair then the no!no! can be great for touch-ups but for thick, long hair this may not be the most effective method. It really depends on your individual needs and growth pattern.

I definitely notice a difference when I use the device. My hair isn’t as dark or abundant (although some of it is still there) and since I despise waxing I make it work for me.

For more information visit the website at

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick Review

So you’re at the drugstore looking for an awesome new lipstick. Maybe you have a hot date, holiday party or girls night but you need something that makes a statement without breaking the bank. Before jetting off in frustration (because there are like a million lipsticks to choose from) head over to the Maybelline display and swatch one of the new Super Stay Matte Inks – trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

These colourful Inks ($11.99) are super pigmented, bold, rich, bright and show-stopping. They are also very on-trend with the new lip paint craze that has taken over the beauty scene and there are 10 hyper-intense matte shades to chose from.

The pigment glides on smooth and creamy which makes them easy to spread and the pointed applicator helps trace the lip contour to create a sharp, defined pout. One swipe was all it took for me to become totally hooked – the saturated color drenches lips before it dries, sets and stays put for hours of wear (it lasted through an entire work day). Since the color adheres so well, the texture is a bit tacky and I definitely notice the stickiness on my lips.

Although the lipsticks don’t cause peeling or discomfort (not for me at least) you might need a little more moisture during the winter months. I like to prep my lips with a hydrating primer for more suppleness.

Through eating, drinking and partying, the formula resists fading and transfer requiring only minor touch-ups throughout the day. You can also transform the Inks and change the finish by adding a clear gloss on top - the pigment retains its intensity and you get a pop of shine.

I received 4 shades (all pretty) but my favorite is Pioneer – a deep, sexy red that puts me in a festive mood and looks fabulous with sparking gold shadow. The Inks all have vivid packaging but the actual pigment may not match the outside so make use of the testers (FYI- they do stain). Overall I think Maybelline did a fantastic job with this formula. The brand is available at drugstores nationwide. 

Swatches (prior to drying) bottom to top: 30 Romantic, 20 Pioneer, 35 Creator and 25 Heroine

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Victoria Beckham - Estee Lauder Collection Review

Victoria Beckham is a fashion icon and since her Spice Girl days she’s exuded style and posh sophistication that is very Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Being in front of the camera has taught her that the right light can create the perfect skin tone and give definition to bone structure which was the inspiration behind her new makeup line with Estee Lauder.

The collection is quite extensive and already in high-demand so I only managed to get my hands on a few pieces. The packaging is exactly what you’d expect from Victoria – sleek, elegant and trendy with shiny gold compacts and faux leather detail.

The Eye Matte Duo ($78.00) in Bleu Électrique/Nude creates graphic eye looks and stunning contrast. With only 2 colors (and no applicator) you really have to get creative with this little palette. The neutral hue is more of a base or blending shade so it's all up to the blue.

I apply the cobalt heavier on the lids to make the color pop and fade it lighter into the crease for a nice gradient. Wearing it this way creates the illusion of 2 different blues and the velvety shadows blend seamlessly. You can also use it accentuate the lower lash line and smoke it out for a bold effect. I always recommend using a good primer for longevity and saturation but the pigmentation is buildable and the blue appears deep and distinctive. The texture is smooth and easy to work with but since the camel shade blends into my skin tone, it would be nice to have another statement color instead – something with a little more intensity.

The Skin perfecting Powder ($110.00) is a universal shade that brightens and awakens all complexions. The formula is also ideal for photos because it blurs pores, smooths the skin, diminishes the look of imperfections and sets makeup for a flawless airbrushed effect. Victoria fashioned the compact after a vintage cigarette case she found in London so it looks and feels luxurious.

The powder mattifies to control shine and visibly evens skin texture to minimize lines and roughness. The consistency is lightweight and long-wear plus it does not build-up or get cakey so you can use it for touch-ups throughout the day. As a finishing product it works well but the compact should come with an applicator.

The Matte Lipstick in the Shade Victoria ($65.00) is a new take on the nude lip – cool toned and suitable for all complexions. On me, the medium brown looks like a deep cocoa-beige and helps balance the blue shadow. The tube is quite small but the lipstick seems to be of average size and the color glides on effortlessly and creamy for great coverage and comfort. I don’t usually wear monotone neutrals but I like this shade.

Shadow & lipstick swatches

Every woman needs a good liquid liner and the Eye Ink ($58.00) has a wonderful formula for drawing jet black, graphic lines. The color applies totally opaque for one-swipe application and the intense pigment shapes and defines the eyes for precision and neatness. The flexible tip manoeuvres around the eye contour and deposits the right amount of color from corner-to-corner. It also creates a sharp wing for the perfect cat-eye.

This collection is available at Estee Lauder Counters nationwide including The Bay, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sephora and online at and

Monday, November 13, 2017

Eos Holiday Collection & New Lip Balms

There is frost on the ground, a chill in the air and holiday memorabilia everywhere you look. It is finally time to start shopping for gifts and trimming the tree but amidst all the excitement don’t forget to protect your pout from harsh winter winds. As I always say – all the beautiful lipstick in the world can’t hide chapped lips and there is nothing worse than a pretty matte pigment on dry, peeling skin.

To help keep your pout mistletoe-ready, eos has created a delicious variety of new products that hydrate and heal. I’ve tried and tested countless balms, oils, butters and tints but eos has remained my absolute favorite. These little globes are totally trendy! The smooth buttery texture lasts for hours and the spherical shape makes them easy to locate in my chaotic purse.

The balms are organic and loaded with nourishing Jojoba, Shea Butter, Vitamin E and antioxidants for a blast of rich moisture that instantly relieves parched skin. The formula is also free of gluten, parabens, petroleum and phthalates with a rich texture that lasts for hours.

When lips are dehydrated, sore and peeling, the new Medicated Lip Balm ($4.17) comes to the rescue. Infused with cooling menthol and soothing chamomile, it alleviates pain, sensitivity, dryness and chapping. The texture isn’t as creamy as the other balms but it treats and restores effectively so lips appear soft and healthy.

The limited edition Peppermint Cream eos ($4.17) smells like Christmas and happiness. This is probably my favorite scent the brand has ever created (I’m currently trying not to eat it). If you love delicious candy canes then this is the balm for you – it feels refreshing, rejuvenating and wonderful so stock-up before it’s gone and drop one in everyone’s stocking!

I’ve never described a lip balm as beautiful before but the new Crystal Collection is. The unique translucent design looks like a snow globe and the sweet formula revives, softens and hydrates with tropical coconut and creamy avocado. A nutritive blend of oils provides luminous shine and the balms are vegan and wax-free. They retail for $6.96 each.

The limited edition holiday 3-pack ($11.39) comes with three delicious flavors – Peppermint Mocha, Organic Vanilla Bean and Natural Sparkling Ginger.

I love the striped packaging of the Peppermint Mocha and although the scent isn’t as strong as Peppermint Cream, it smells yummy and makes lips supple and plush.

The Ginger eos reminds me of gingerbread cookies yet it isn’t overpowering. This scrumptious spice helps correct skin tone, improve elasticity and protect against free radical damage with a powerful cocktail of antioxidants.

Vanilla Bean is a delightful aroma everyone seems to enjoy and this little snowball makes my pout feel luscious and smooth.

No matter what the season, UV protection is important so eos has created a balm with SPF 15 ($4.17). The zesty lemon scent is refreshing and the antioxidant-rich formula is water and sweat resistant for 80 minutes. If you’re escaping to the tropics this winter, don’t forget to shield your lips – it will help prevent fine lines, discoloration and skin aging.

Don’t let dull lips put a damper on your holiday party. When that cute lipstick starts to dry out and you need a pretty blast of moisture, simply smear on the Shimmer Balm ($6.96). Available in 3 luminous shades it provides lovely shine and a little glam. 

eos is available at drugstores nationwide

Friday, November 10, 2017

Shu Uemura X Super Mario Brothers Holiday Collection – Review & Swatches

Super Mario Brothers was one of the first video games I played as a kid. I can still remember my family gathered in the living room with the Christmas tree glowing in the background as we took turns manoeuvring the joystick to rescue Princess Peach. This season Shu Uemura and Mario will take you on a beauty adventure to fight off the evil Bowser with powerful cleansing oils and colorful makeup.

The limited edition Cleansing Oil Shampoo ($56.00) is suitable for all hair types (including color treated) and cleans thoroughly with a light, paraben-free lather. It balances the scalp by eliminating build-up, greasiness, and impurities while boosting radiance for a “unique airy touch.”  The nourishing blend of botanicals, oils and fruit extracts seem to counteract the sulfates so hair feels sleek and fresh without brittleness. I personally like the strong fragrance because it makes my hair smell amazing for days!

Essence Absolu is infused with Camellia Oil ($69.00) and can be used as a pre-shampoo moisture treatment or a rejuvenating leave-in to help reduce frizz, flyaways, dryness and UV damage. The texture feels very glossy and creates shine but a little goes a long way so don’t overdo it. I usually apply the oil to damp hair prior to heat styling for extra softness and manageability. It also helps repair and improve the look of damaged ends.

The Super Mario Master Wax ($42.00) is a styling paste that offers powerful hold with no greasiness. The formula is very thick (similar to a deep conditioner) and the gummy texture binds hair together to retain shape. I prefer to use it when my hair is curly rather than straight to keep my spirals well formed and frizz-free.

The Cleansing Oil Conditioner ($65.00) is gentle and formulated for all hair types. The smooth gel texture creates nice slip which makes it easy to comb through and detangle. It coats each strand in quenching moisture and makes my tresses feel sleek and soft. Sometimes I mix it into my deep conditioner because the aroma is fabulous!

After a long, hectic day, the first thing I do is remove my makeup to de-clog my pores and prevent breakouts. The Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil ($49.00) is composed of 8 botanicals that deliver amazing skin benefits. It also loosens and emulsifies stubborn makeup while moisturizing and eliminating impurities. You can massage it in with your fingers and simply remove the residue with a cotton pad but since I wear a lot of makeup, I usually apply some to a cleansing cloth and wipe clean before using a face wash.

The Peach’s Eye & Cheek Palette ($125.00) is super cute! You get 6 shimmery shadows in a range of pretty shades and each color trio compliments the blush underneath.

I love how the pigments are coordinated and grouped. The pinks and purples are soft and illuminating while the vibrant orange looks amazing against the deep bronzy plum. I don’t care much for the yellow since the finish is quite sheer and a little more glittery than the others but overall the pigmentation is buildable and silky (especially with a good primer). The blushes are a little too basic for my taste. I like the orange but both shades could use a stronger punch of color and saturation. Something in the berry and deep coral range would have been nice.

The Fresh Cushion Blush ($45.00) is available in 2 shades – Dreamy Mauve and Brave Amber (the color below). I can’t decide how I feel about cushion blushes, they feel a bit wet and the sponge doesn’t seem to have as much actual product as pressed formulas but this texture is light and easy to apply. Unfortunately the pigment blends right into my skin tone and completely disappears so it may work better on fair complexions.

There are a few great lip products in this collection but the Tint In Balm ($36.00) drenches skin in buttery moisture and rich color for comfort, dryness protection and extra poutiness.  Although the pigment is classified as a “tint” the beautiful berry tone is highly saturated with a touch of juicy shine. The consistency feels like a gloss - balm - lipstick combo, very smooth and nourishing but once you click it up in the tube you can’t retract it back in (bit of a bummer).

The Drawing Pencils ($28.00) are described as multipurpose eye shadow liners inspired by Princess Peach’s iconic dress. You can apply the soft, creamy crayons all over the lids or along the lash lines and the long-wear formula resists fading extremely well. My favorite shade is Light Orange which is actually more of a shimmery gold. Unlike many loose or pressed shadows these shades don’t transfer from lid to crease, they stay put all day and have great color payoff. The pencils are also very easy to work with, simply swipe the color on (they actually look more like shadows than eyeliner) and blend for fantastic coverage.

Shu Uemura always has the cutest packaging and the Rouge Unlimited Supreme Matte Lipsticks ($36.00) are adorable! The sheer pink tubes display different characters from the video game and the colors are very stylish.

If you need a statement red for upcoming holiday parties, 187 is luscious and very Hollywood glam. For neutral lovers, 375 is a subtle nude-mauve-pink that looks great on everyone! The formula is hydrating, light and supple to prevent dryness and the color glides on smooth and ultra pigmented – pretty much everything you could want in a good matte lipstick.

Swatches: Lipstick & Tint In Balm

Shu Uemura is available at Sephora, Hudson’s Bay and online at
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