I never used to have a lot of issues with my skin growing up. But in the past year I’ve been consistently battling the one off pimples that would leave pigmentation on my skin. I realized that I’ve been trying out too many new skincare products which might be contributing to the problem. So I’m only testing out products one at a time and luckily, my skin been enjoying the Biotherm Life Plankton Elixir!
Biotherm Life Plankton Elixir
When I heard the claims about the Biotherm Life Plankton Elixir, I dismissed it as just general marketing fluff. This serum is being called a regenerative genie in a bottle and claims to renew and revitalize your skin in just 8 days! This products promotes the cell renewal process so it acts on many different skin conditions. The product comes in a 50mL bottle and retails for $94 which is pretty expensive for a drugstore product. But I am so happy with the visible results! The pigmentation from my acne marks were significantly lighter in just a few days!
Biotherm released the Life Plankton collection 4 years ago. The patent and name comes from discovering a microorganism in thermal water that contains 35 nutrients, proteins, and vitamins that mimics the skin. The Life Plankton Elixir is the newest release in 2019 and contains the highest concentration of the trademarked Life Plankton ingredient.
To dispense the product, you squeeze the dropper which is the lid of the product. The serum has a slightly bouncy texture but also spreads easily like water. It leaves a slightly tacky finish on the skin but after about a minute, everything gets absorbed. I have used the Bioderma Life Plankton Elixir in conjunction with my Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Cream and the This Works No Wrinkles Cream. It worked well in harmony with both creams! This product is meant to be a first step in skincare, so you will need to use a moisturizer on top of it.
What I find most interesting about this product is that everyone seems to have different results from it depending on skin concerns! I’ve read bloggers saying it decreased their redness, or their skin feels smoother. For me, the most noticeable difference is that the pigmentation from previous pimples faded dramatically!
The result was most noticeable in the first few days! I have a few pretty stubborn acne pigmentation, one from last October (left temple) and one from January (below left lip). They were both much lighter after using the Biotherm Life Plankton Elixir! The results did plateau after the first week though. But when I got a new cystic pimple (right between my brows) while using this elixir, I didn’t experience the acne pigmentation issue after it faded which was such a relief! Here’s a photo of me with absolutely no face makeup.
The only downside to this product for me is the scent. It has a nice skincare scent but also this organic scent. Almost as if you can smell the microorganism in the thermal water. The scent hasn’t stopped me from using this product although I wish it smelled different.
Overall, I really enjoyed this serum and the difference it’s made to my skin. I’ve been using pretty moisturizing creams in conjunction so my skin has been feeling hydrated and plump! Biotherm is available at most drugstores so it’s easily accessible!
Recently I went on an engagement photo shoot and decided to get my hair and makeup done! I thought I could kill two birds with one stone and make this my bridal hair and makeup trial too! Ashley and Sarah from Be Flawless Beauty Bar gave me a makeup over for this special occasion. If you are looking for a Vancouver bridal makeup artist, read on for the finished look!
About Be Flawless Beauty Bar
Ashley is the owner of Be Flawless Beauty Bar and is a graduate of Blanche Macdonald. As soon as she finished the bridal program, she started her business and quickly started gaining clientele. She has 17 other makeup artists and hairstylists on her team and service the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley area!
Their rates are super competitive and a full bridal package including hair and makeup trial and day of application is $350! If you just want makeup or hair on your wedding day, it is $125 each. The bridal party rates are really great too at $80 for either hair or makeup.
They do really beautiful work and aim to enhance the natural features of the bride. In general, most of their work has a romantic, soft glam vibe but it is definitely up to the bride to determine their own style.
Should I Do a Bridal Makeup Trial?
Weddings are crazy expensive and I know you’re probably looking for ways to save money. But I’d highly suggest you to do a bridal trial and here are a few reasons why.
Get to know your makeup artist: You’ll likely have to spend 3-5 hours with the makeup artist on your big day, so why not see if you will get along with them! This gives you a chance to see if you might have any personality issues with your hair and makeup artist
Better sense of timing: If I wanted to do full face of makeup, I usually like to give myself 1.5 hours to not feel rushed. If you budget your time like this on your wedding day, you may be sitting around as professionals are usually faster. Ashley finished my makeup look in about 30 minutes!
See how the products hold up: Professional makeup artists usually use high quality products but there’s always a chance it doesn’t react well with your skin. If that is the case, you can have a chance to find an alternative.
My Experience with Be Flawless Beauty Bar
My first impression of Ashley and Sarah is that they were well prepared and professional. Ashley has a full complete makeup kit filled with the best products in all shades. Sarah also uses salon quality hair products in styling the look.
I set up a chair near the window so we can have a good source of light. They are a mobile service so they bring everything with them and you do not need to provide any additional products.
One thing that really took me by surprise is how fast they worked. I definitely thought a bridal makeup would take at least 1 hour to do but we were done in about 30 minutes. If you have a big bridal party, it’s a huge plus to have makeup and hair stylists that can be fast.
Before a bridal trial, they’ll get the brides to send inspirational photos before so they have an idea of the finished look. Then they’ll spend time at the trial with the bride to pick the perfect look. My process went really fast and there was not too much back and forth as it wasn’t really a “trial” but more so a makeup and hair session for an engagement shoot. I sent Ashley and Sarah my ideas beforehand and they were quick to respond which helped me feel at ease.
They want to make sure every bride is extremely happy with their look so don’t be afraid to tell them if there’s something you’d like to change.
For my makeup, Ashley started with primer, prep spray, foundation, concealer and then powder. She then worked on the eyes. She used products from: Makeup Forever, MAC, Too Faced, Becca, Anastasia Beverly Hills etc. The final step is to set everything with the Too Faced Hangover spray. The application was very professional and she used palettes and trays to apply liquid products.
I was really happy with my skin makeup especially the cheek contour. It’s smoothly blended but obvious enough to show up in photography. I also really like the way she did the my eyeliner which was done using eyeshadow and followed the natural contours of my eyelid.
The eye makeup however is not how I would normally do it and I was a bit unused to how it looked. I should have brought it up during my appointment but I figured it would photograph differently so I didn’t say anything. So make sure you talk to your makeup artist because they won’t be able to read your mind. They want you to be happy so make sure to bring up any concerns during the trial or even on the big day.
Since I frequently do full faces of makeup myself, here are a few good tips to mention to your makeup artist to enhance Asian features (first photo is right after the appointment and second photo is after I made these small adjustments to my makeup):
Double eyelid tape: I added double eyelid tape so my eyes can look rounder and more lid space will show
Move the crease down: Instead of having dark colors above the lid, move the dark colors towards the lash line. This will help deepen the small lid space.
Contour the nose: This helps to make a more slender appearance and also the contour near the eye area can help create more dimensions as well
For my hair, I wanted to try a sleek low bun. I honestly never looked good in pony tails or up dos but I wanted to try something new. Sarah added volume at the roots, clipped the bun in place with bobby pin, and placed the hair pin. She did a good job executing the style I sent her as inspiration! I still don’t think I look great in a bun but that’s why I’m glad I did a trial to know what works and what doesn’t work for me. I will probably just go with a voluminous hair down look for my actual wedding.
Here are a few photos from the engagement shoot! I like the side profile created by the bun in the first photo and I like how my cheek bones look so sculpted in the second photo!
I hope you will consider Be Flawless Beauty Bar for your wedding makeup and hair needs! Make sure to check out their gallery and Instagram, they have some amazing before and afters.
I was provided a complimentary session by Be Flawless Beauty Bar
The YSL Touche Eclat may be one of original cult beauty favorites, but it’s my first time trying this product 7 years into my beauty blogging career. The product is a powerhorse multitasker blending together a concealer, highlighter, and can even be used as an eyeshadow primer. I have tried quite a few different YSL lip products (my favorites are the liquid color balm and the tatouage couture matte)
Name: YSL Touche Eclat Heart & Arrow Collector
Shades: 3 shades, I have 2 Ivoire Lumiere
Size: 2.5 mL
Available at Sephora and YSL
YSL Touche Eclat is a hybrid of highlighter and brightener. The original product comes in an all gold design with black font while I have the limited edition Heart & Arrow Collector. The price remains the same at a hefty $52 but the charming hearts would make this such an amazing luxury beauty gift.
In terms of shade selection, the limited edition version has 3 to choose from while the original Touche Eclat comes in 14 shades. I believe the 3 shades choosen for the Heart & Arrow Collector are the 3 best selling shades. You may think the glittery hearts will become a messy disaster, but I’m happy to report that the glitter does not rub off!
While the YSL Touche Eclat can wear many hats, a full coverage concealer is not one of them. This is not an issue for me as I’m not looking for heavy duty coverage. The formula is very thin but at the same time hydrating. There’s no shimmer whatsoever but there is a pretty velvet finish with a slight sheen. I absolutely love the undertone of 02 Ivoire Lumiere as it has a yellow and brightening finish.
I am a big fan of the formula especially the brightening effect but the brush also deserves recognition. It’s soft, flexible but tightly bound so that it’s easy to control. The bristles were also built to disperse the perfect amount of product so there’s not a heavy layer on your skin.
The YSL Touche Eclat was made to add radiance and highlight as well so it’s not just a concealer. I have tried putting it on the tip of my nose and my cupids bow with a nice subtle effect.
02 Ivoire Lumiere YSL Touche Eclat
Here is the color swatched and blended for 02 Ivoire Lumiere. It is a light shade with yellow undertone. It almost reminds me of the shade of banana powder.
Demo of YSL Touche Eclat
For normal usage, I would usually click the bottom twice and it produces enough product for both eyes. I’ll use the brush and create an upside down triangle from my inner corners. I also used a little in between my brows to cover up redness from a left over pimple.
Then, I’ll lightly tap the product in with my ring finger. If you have time, you can also use the brush keep going over the areas until everything is absorbed. Doing it that way defintiely makes me feel like a professional makeup artist, but it does take a lot longer!
Here is a before and after! I’m not particularly picky about my undereye area but I love the brightening effect by using the YSL Touche Eclat. For the photos, I did my eye make up but am not wearing any face products. As you can see, the second photo has a brighter finish underneath the eyes, and it even covered up the top half of my pores.
Color Match: 10/10
Feel on the skin: 10/10
Total: 47/50 A
Overall I’m a huge fan of this product but can still only give 8 as value because $52 is a lot of money to pay for a concealer. I gave 9 as the coverage because it is not marketed to be a full coverage concealer so I think it lives up to its claims as a light weight concealer.
I am going to Greece in two weeks and the search for the best summer vacation bag is on! I feel like ever since Cult Gaia released their straw bag, there has been such an interest in iconic summer vacation bag designs. There’s the Bali rattan bag that’s been popular for a few years now. Whether you’re headed to the beach or doing a staycation at home, I’ll be sharing a few new trends and where you can find them!
This first trend can be used in the city as well as on summer vacation and this is the beaded bag. Often in the shape of a rectangle, this bag can be a simple neutral color to fun pop art. If you are actually using it to store items, make sure to look for one with a lining inside. There is no specific designer that dominates this design and there are many options at mass retailers! For a designer touch, I have selected the Cult Gaia Cora and the Ganni Hand Beaded Bag
Clear Bag with Pouch Inside
I believe the original design of this bag is Staud with the Shirley Bag. When the clear PVC bag trend first came out, I really disliked it! But I think for a summer vacation, this is a really fun bag! Usually the zip pouch inside can be a more fun color/print than what a handbag normally is. You can also DIY this trend by buying any transparent bag, and tossing one of your makeup pouches in!
Straw Rattan Bag
The round Bali rattan bag is one of the classic summer vacation bag trends! The most classic color is the beige straw shade but now designers have them in a variety of colors. I still prefer the neutral shade in this design though as it gives off the most authentic vibe. I also like when it’s more structured on the sides. I actually haven’t found a super cheap version of this anywhere so expect to pay $60-$100 for a good quality one even if it’s not from a designer.
Here is another trend that is so perfect for beach vacations! The net is reminensnce of a fisherman’s net and that already evokes images of the sea. It also gives off such a casual vibe while staying looking super stylish. The Staud Moreau bag is a netted bag with a leather bucket inside. I also love drapey net bags as well. There’s a ton of designer options so if you’ve ever wanted to own a Celine for $200, you can buy a net (not saying that you should). Honestly there’s so many options for less than $20, and that’s the price range I would stay around.
Tortoise Shell Handle
This kind of ties in with the other styles as well but essentially tortoise shell handles are very in! Try to find one that has the statement handles but also a shoulder strap so it’s practical to carry! You can carry it in your hands or around your elbow. I’m a big fan of the print and the summer vibe it adds to any design.
So there you have my top picks for the best summer vacation bag! I’ve never really done a shopping post like this before and I had tons of fun finding different retailers and brands. I hope you guys discovered a new style that you love!
I’ve been engaged for about 9 months now and wedding planning is well underway. One of the things I was most excited about in the wedding process are the photos! We recently gout our Vancouver engagement photos taken by Out of Step Productions at Vanier Park. I am so excited to share with you our beautiful photos. Also, I will list out some of the best engagement photos spots in Vancouver as well as what to bring to an engagement photo shoot!
About Out of Step Productions
Out of Step Productions is run by Sara and Chris and they are a full service team covering photography and videography. Our photos were taken by Sara but Chris came along for the ride as well.
Where to Take Vancouver Engagement Photos
Vancouver is such a scenic city and there are a variety of spots to take engagement photos depending on the type of feel and background you want. After doing research, we settled on Vanier Park as there’s a good mix of city, beach and nature views. When selecting your location, think about where you and your fiancee are the happiest. Also think about where your wedding will be as you may want a contrasting style. So if you’re going to have your wedding in the woods, you may want to do engagement photos in the city instead. I personally love the beach, but since we are getting married in Los Cabos, I wanted to capture more than just beach scenery in our engagement photos.
Here are some of my ideas for engagement photo locations in Vancouver!
Best Engagement Photo Location for Multiple Scenery
Best Engagement Photo Location for Flowers
Queen Elizabeth Park
Best Engagement Photo Location for Beaches
My Photos with Out of Step Productions
We spent about 1.5 hours shooting around Vanier Park at the end of April and here are my beautiful photos shot and edited by Out of Step Productions! I have previously been to Vanier Park before and liked how it has a view of downtown and also a small beach. I suggested the venue to Sara and she went to scope out the area to come up with some great compositions for our shoot.
Museum of Vancouver
We started off at the Museum of Vancouver with a futuristic sculpture and water fountain.
Rocks + City
We then made our way towards the north side of the park where the rocks meet the inlet for a gorgeous water and city view.
Walk in the Park
After that, Sara suggested several walking photos as there was a curve in the sidewalk that looks beautiful in photos. Sara also suggested leaning against the tree which at first I was skeptical about but these turned out to be my favorites!
Then we did an outfit change to do the shot in front of the geometric wall. I was really excited about this background and we took some candid dancing photos.
Lastly, we used the props I brought and sat on the beach. I absolutely love how many different “feels” we were able to achieve in such a small area and time! I really appreciate that Sara took the time to scope out the area and suggested some great compositions while letting me suggest ideas I wanted as well.
Engagement Photo Shoot Packing List
Your outfit + change of clothes if applicable
Heels for photos
Shoes for walking around (especially if your shoes are uncomfortable)
Bouquet (I find this adds glamour and also gives your hands something to do)
Bridal hair pin (You can find this on Amazon for $15! Don’t buy it at bridal stores)
Props (We brought a sign that says Welcome to Our Happily Ever After)
Shared Interest (If time permitting, it’s also fun to do a common pastime for example, blanket + picnic basket)
Ideas for Engagement Photo Dress
I spent quite a bit of time searching for the perfect dress! You can’t go wrong with a maxi white dress as it exudes bridal vibes. You may also go for a casual look with sweater and jeans in which case this part may not be applicable. Here are some of my suggestions on where to buy dresses for engagement photos!
Lulus: Shipping is a bit hard to Vancouver but there’s so many gorgeous styles and lots go on sale too! The quality is great!
Ted Baker: I bought my dress (the one shoulder gold glitter/black dress) at the Ted Baker Warehouse Sale at a good deal but Ted Baker at Pacific Center has a lot of options as well!
Ever New: My university grad dress was from Ever New and this is a great spot for occasion dresses
Reformation: For more trendy or boho brides, Reformation has amazing dresses although a tad pricey
Facebook Marketplace: Since most people buy a dress and wear it once, there are usually a lot for sale at a good price on Facebook!
I hope this post was helpful if you are planning on taking engagement photos in Vancouver! Make sure to look and save inspiration but also add your own twist to it. After all, you’ll want the photos to reflect what’s special about your relationship.
We received a complimentary engagement photo shoot from Out of Step Productions.
I used to avoid applying sunscreen unless I was going to be sitting under the direct sunlight. But now that I’m getting older, I see the importance of finding the best facial sunscreen to wear every day. Not only does sun rays have the potential to cause skin cancer, it also causes wrinkles, dark spots, and reduce elasticity. I dislike the scent and feel of traditional sunscreens but technology has advanced and today I’ll be sharing the best facial sunscreens to use on a daily basis.
How Does Sunscreen Work?
There are two main kinds of sunscreen: chemical and physical. Both kinds protect from UV radiation. UV-A causes wrinkles and age spots while UV-B is the light that normally causes sunburns. When you see SPF on a sunscreen package, it actually only measures how effective it is against UV-B rays. So you’ll want to look for packaging that says broad-spectrum which means protection against UV-A and UV-B rays.
Should I Buy Chemical Sunscreen?
In a nutshell, chemical sunscreens are usually thinner in texture, easier to spread and better for every day wear. However, it can clog pores or cause irritation to sensitive skin. The ingredients in a chemical sunscreen absorbs the sun’s rays like a sponge. Common ingredients you’ll see are: oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate. These don’t leave a white residue, so if you need to apply makeup or be photographed, this would be the best bet.
After comparing a few research websites, Oxybenzone and octinoxate are the two more concerning ingredients. While octocrylene, avobenzone, and Mexoryl are the least concerning ingredients.
Should I Buy Physical Sunscreen?
The other type of sunscreen is physical sunscreen and usually contains zinc oxide or titanium oxide. These two ingredients act as a shield and reflect UV radiation. It is recommended for those who have sensitivity to sunscreen because these ingredients only sit on top of your skin and does not get absorbed. The downside is that it usually leaves a white cast, it’s heavier and more difficult to rub in.
However, while chemical sunscreen needs time to absorb, physical sunscreen is effective as soon as it is applied.
What SPF should I buy?
Generally, SPF 30 provides sufficient protection as long as you reapply. A higher SPF lasts the same amount of time so it doesn’t mean you can reapply less often. An SPF 30 offers 97% protection against UV-B rays. The CDC actually limits labeling to SPF 50 so no need to hunt down the SPF 60 or SPF 100 sunscreens.
This is the worst sunscreen I’ve ever tried. Don’t get tricked by cute packaging! I bought this in Curacao when we ran out of sunscreen!
Try a sunscreen with different chemicals if your skin reacts badly to the one that you are using. Not all sunscreens have the same ingredients.
Shiseido Ultra Sun Protection Lotion
Shiseido is well known for their skincare products and especially sunscreen. The Ultra Sun Protection Lotion Wetforce is a new addition to the brand and is suppose to be more effective when exposed to water. This is ideal if you are traveling, being very active, or doing water sports!
This formula is very liquidy and light but sets into a powdery finish. It would be good for oily skin as it gives more of a matte feel. It dries down instantly although it makes the sound of dry skin which I don’t like (tell me you know what I’m talking about!). Unfortunately it gave me 2.5 pimples on the first day of use and a few smaller ones the next day of use as well. I’d say this is probably better to use on the body if you’re doing active sports. For an everyday sunscreen, their original Urban Environment sunscreen is probably a better choice!
Based on cross referencing with the other products, I think it is Octinoxate that does not work well with my skin. Which makes sense as it is one of the more concerning ingredients.
Amorepacific Moisture Sun Protector
I cannot believe I’m reviewing an $82 sunscreen but this is by far my favorite formula that I’ve ever tried! This luxurious formula includes bamboo sap, lotus flower, and green tea to protect the skin.
First of all, the Amorepacific Moisture Sun Protector is in such an elegant package with a simple white plastic top but a rubberized pink and rose gold cap. There is a strong fragrance to this but luckily it smells like skincare and not sunscreen. The texture is similar to a night cream and I actually really love the hydrated feel it leaves on the skin. My skin feels plump and moisturized!
The formula of this sunscreen also avoids both octinoxate and oxybenzone! Definitely give this a try if you have issues with sensitivity to sunscreen!
La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion
La Roche Posay dominates the mid market sunscreen game with their Anthelios collection. I’ve actually been using this sunscreen all of last year and have only about 15% of this bottle left. The Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF60 is their best seller but they also have a physical (mineral) version and about 9 other textures!
The formula is extremely liquidy and rubs into the skin like a serum. It does feel a tiny bit greasy at first but sinks into the skin pretty quickly. Also, while the scent is not super strong, it does still smell like sunscreen. I really like this when I travel because the packaging is so compact and it’s a breeze to rub into the skin.
Vichy Ideal Soleil Ultra-Light Lotion
The other brand at the drugstore popular for sunscreen is Vichy. The Ideal Soleil line is extensive featuring different textures and different SPF protections. Honestly, I used to get the two brands mixed up because the packaging is similar colors and both are French pharmceutical brands!
I’ve always thought these two sunscreens were very similar and guess what, the active ingredients list is EXACTLY the same, even down to the percentage! Both the Vichy and La Roche Posay have very runny, liquidy textures. They even have similar smells as well. The only difference is that the Vichy one has more of a white color although neither leaves a white cast. Both are fantastic options for tossing in your bag when traveling.
Missha Essence Sun Milk
Anything Korean has my trust when it comes to skin care! Missha is one of the most well known brands in Korea and the Sun Milk is a very highly rated product. It’s a bit hard to find Korean products in Canada especially with shipping and duty costs. But recently I found out about Seoul Sunday which is a Vancouver based business selling very curated Korean beauty products!
The Essence Sun Milk is best for dry skin according to Missha. They also have options for oily skin, sensitive skin, and normal skin. What is really unique is the watery consistency in this sunscreen! When you first squirt it out, it looks like it’ll be similar to a light face cream but it turns into a liquid consistency and even has a cooling feeling on the skin! After it absorbs, it leaves the skin plump similar to the Amorepacific I reviewed above.
Best Facial Sunscreens Recommendations
So overall, I would highly recommend the Amorepacific Moisture Sun Protector if you are able to splurge as they use better quality ingredients and a wonderful formulation. However, for most of us on the go, it is the easiest to pick up the La Roche Posay or Vichy at your local drugstore!
I’m sad that the Shiseido did not work for me as I’ve heard so many great things about their original sunscreen. The Missha Essence Sun Milk is amazing too but it s a bit more difficult to find.
I hope you learned something new in this post and have more knowledge to find the best facial sunscreen for your skin!
When I do travel research, I really get into it! While some people book the first hotel they see, I like to cross reference Tripadvisor, Booking.com, and also look on Google Maps to find the best deal! Today, I’ll be sharing a Santorini hotel guide featuring the best Oia hotels.
Why Stay in Oia
The two main areas that tourists stay in are Oia and Fira. Fira has more nightlife but is also very busy. Oia is popular for couples, honeymooners and those wanting to experience the famous Santorini sunset. There are some wonderful cliffside restaurants and many trendy boutiques.
The Criteria I Used to Select the Best Oia Hotels
I focused on finding hotels that provided good value, eye catching interiors, and also private outdoor space. Hotels in Oia are very expensive and if you have the money to spend, you can stay in the most luxurious room. But knowing that most of us can’t spend $1,000 per night, I tried to select the best value based on the cost. Unfortunately, Santorini and especially Oia is very expensive so there are few options less than $200 per night. I used a one night stay rate in mid week September to compare the pricing for all of these hotels. Traveling during July/August will mean your rate can be much higher.
Best for Groups
For groups of 4, the Katharos Villa is a really nice option if you enjoy private pools. Each unit comes with your own pool to enjoy against the gorgeous white buildings. The indoor furnishing is pretty basic but the bathroom is in the traditional cave style! It’s about a 15 minute walk into Oia though so it’s best if you want some serenity. The nightly rates are around $550 USD.
This Suite Patari at Aris Caves can accomodate 6 adults and run about $505 USD a night. What really caught my eye was the large private terrace with a private hot tub. The suite contains a living area with a kitchenette. It is right by the water so you’ll have unobstructed views. The location also can’t be beat as it’s smack in the middle of Oia! Their cheapest room type for 2 people is $285 USD and is actually quite beautiful too!
If you want to splurge, Santorini is the place to do it. With so many hotels over $1,000 per night, it’s hard to choose. I picked Lava Caves to be on this list because of the unique indoor-outdoor jacuzzi. I also love the history of the building as it was around in 1875 but has been completely renovated to create the luxurious Lava Caves. Located in Oia towards the left side, this hotel is in an excellent location! The beautiful room is available for $560 USD but almost all of September is booked out and the summer is booked solid!
Canaves is a popular luxurious hotel brand with several top rated properties and Epitome is one of their newest establishments! I can’t pick what’s my favorite thing about this hotel. There’s the infinity pool looking out over the famous Santorini sunset, the magazine chic interior design, and to top it off, private pools with each unit! This hotel is located to the west of Oia about a 10 minute walk away. These suites are $960 USD per night! For those honeymooners wanting to splurge, this is it!
Brand new hotels are always great places to stay as they usually have lower rates to attract customers. Also, they’ll have brand new furnishing and amenities. View Hotel by Secret is about 10 minutes away from Oia in the district of Foinkia. The pool area is gorgeous with bamboo shades and wicker sun chairs. Rates are around $300 USD per night.
What makes Santorini special is the cave houses so why not stay in one! The interior keeps the traditional cave feel but with clean and modern furnishing. You also have your own terrace to enjoy the sunset. There are two hotels in front of you but since it’s on a cliff, you’ll still have a pretty decent view. The nightly rate is around $420 USD for the One Bedroom Cave House with an Outdoor Hot Tub. Kaleidoscope Santorini is located in Oia towards the right side.
This is the hotel we actually originally booked to stay in for Santorini! But then we decided to be in the hustle and bustle of Fira as we’ll get to experience serenity and charm in Folegandros. Aplai Dome is just north of Oia and is about an 8 minute walk into town. This makes my list because it’s one of the most affordable options while still maintaining a modern decor. The furnishing is on the simple side but the overall ambience is very pleasant! You can book a stay for around $240 USD per night.
The concept of hotel pricing on Oia is really quite skewed and I tried my best to find an affordable hotel on an absolute value. Ether Studios is honestly pretty lowly rated but it is the cheapest hotel AND relatively close to Oia’s city center. If you don’t mind minimal furnishing and a dated bathroom, you can stay in beautiful Oia for only $95 USD per night.
For the best bang for your buck, check out Laokasti Santorini. It is located just on the edge of Oia and offers unbeatable prices. The furnishing is very simple but the washrooms have the traditional cave shower which is amazing for their rate. Also, the hotel has a pool which is a nice amenity. This place is available for $140 USD per night and is my recommendation if you are on a budget!
One of Santorini’s iconic landmarks is the windmills in Oia. Here’s your chance to actually stay in one! This hotel opened in 2015 and costs around $315 USD per night. Lioyerma Windmill Apartments has pretty basic furnishing but you’re paying for the unique experience of sleeping in a windmill! It is located in the western edge of Oia and is attached to a pool bar for the perfect spot to enjoy sunsets.
Sign me up to be in the Gucci Gang! It’s been about two years since Gucci has climbed to the top of the designer charts and I’ll admit that I’m obsessed with their designs. It seems that every fashion Instagrammer slaps on this Gucci leather belt to their outfits. But to be honest, I think it looks pretty damn good. I’ve had mine for more than a year now, so I thought I’d do a Gucci Leather Belt review to help you decide if it’s worth the money!
Shortage of the Gucci Leather Belt
I was interested in the black Gucci leather belt back in fall 2017 but there was a worldwide shortage (like what? just take my money). I couldn’t find it in Vancouver, Sydney or Tokyo. Luckily, in February 2018, I received a call that more stock came in! The style that I’m reviewing is the medium width in 75cm. This would be good for anyone that is an XS-S in clothing.
The Gucci Leather Belt features the prominent double Gs seen in their marmont family of bags. It comes in 3 widths with the smallest one ($350 USD) similar to a normal skinny belt. The medium width as seen here ($460 USD). As well as a large width ($1,050 USD) which would be similar to those thick waist belts.
The design of the belt is actually quite clever. You slide the belt behind the double Gs and then press the knob into one of the holes. This allows the logo to look like it’s floating in front.
Another detail that I like on the belt is that the belt loop is attached so it can’t slide too far away from the center. I’ve definitely had belts before where the loop slides all over the place. But with the “string” holding it in place, it never slides very far away.
Quality of the Gucci Leather Belt
I am quite happy with the quality of the Gucci Leather belt. The leather feels very smooth and supple. It has a beautiful sheen to it and has retained that healthy looking sheen for over a year! All of the stitching is even and I do not notice any fraying. I usually wear my belt once every 1 or 2 weeks. The rest of the times, I curl it up and put it in a dust bag in my drawer. I’ve had it for about 15 months now and it’s still looking great!
The only sign of wear is on the hardwear. If you look in the inner corners, there’s quite a bit of tarnish. However, the hardware is called “antique gold” so I wonder if that was there from the beginning and I never noticed? I don’t have any scratches on my hardware so maybe the tarnish is the look Gucci was going for.
Is the Gucci Belt Worth It?
In my opinion, yes. It may seem like an absurd amount to spend for a belt but it totally elevates any basic outfit. Also, you can’t really buy any designer pieces for less than $500 so if you want to add a bit of luxury to your wardrobe, this is the most cost efficient way. I thought this would be more of a fad but it’s starting to look like an iconic piece.
Where to Find Gucci Belts
Read More Designer One Year Reviews
If you have issues with redness on your skin, I’m excited to introduce you to Bioderma Sensibio AR! I’ve had issues with redness on my skin for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I would turn into a tomato whenever I do sports! The redness on my cheeks have actually gotten better in the years or maybe I’m more skilled with applying foundation. Either way, it’s still a feature I try to minimize when I do makeup.
About the Bioderma Sensibio AR Collection
The Bioderma Sensibio range is made for sensitive skin and has been around for quite a while. However, they recently introduced two new products with “AR” in the name and this stands for anti-redness. The main technology is the “Rosactive” patent which reduces the inflammation related to redness. The active ingredients in this patent includes Green Tea, Soya Bean and Ginko.
Redness on the skin is caused by dilated capillaries and triggers can be as common as extreme hot or cold weather. It can also be aggravated by eating hot and spicy food, and exposure to UV. So if you have redness that flares up, try to keep a log on what triggers your skin.
Bioderma Sensibio AR CC Cream
I was really excited to see a CC Cream ($25.90 at Shoppers Drug Mart) as part of the anti-redness collection. On a daily basis, I usually wear just primer with a dab of concealer or a very light coverage foundation. I have dry skin so I prefer liquid and cream formulas as opposed to powder. This product is especially perfect in terms of timing because it has SPF 30 and it’s almost summer time! There is only one shade though so it’s not going to be for every one.
The shade was a lot darker than I expected. Although it’s a light coverage product, it will be hard for fair skinned individuals to wear this as it gives off a warm, bronze color. For me, it is a tad darker than my skintone but once blended, it still looks natural and as if I got a bit of a tan.
To combat redness, this product has the Rosactiv compound to reduce the sources of redness. It also contains a few soothing agents which instantly reduces heating sensations on the skin. Since Bioderma is mainly a skincare brand, they made sure to also include moisturizing ingredients in this CC cream.
I’m really impressed by how this formula sits on the skin. It has an interesting velvety texture and provides a satin finish. There is a light fresh scent that is only faintly reminiscent of sunscreen. Usually I like to apply this with a stippling brush (I’ve been using this ELF one that I’ve had for ages). The finish is so beautiful and natural. I find that this does even out my skin tone and enhances my natural radiance.
Bioderma Sensibio AR CC Cream Demo
Here is a before and after photo of my chin area. I’ve been dealing with a lot of small brown marks, acne pigmentation, and small redness bumps as well. As you can see, it has a pretty good smoothing effect but still a light coverage.
Bioderma Sensibio H20 AR
If you wear makeup, you are probably familiar with micellar water. I usually associate Bioderma as the original producers of micellar water. On a side note, they also make the most adorable travel sized micellar waters that I always use when I’m on vacation. I love using micellar water as it removes my makeup effortlessly and I don’t have water dripping down to my elbows.
You may already be familiar with the regular H20 but this version has the Rosactiv patent which reduces redness.
Another Bioderma collection that I love is the Bioderma Hydrabio collection. This is one of my holy grails in the winter time and gets rid of my flaky dry skin. I’ll have to use these two Bioderma AR products on a more long term basis to see if it actually reduces redness. But I enjoy using the CC Cream as a light weight every day foundation either way.
Do blondes have more fun? I’m not sure but I’m getting closer there with the lightest hair color I’ve ever had! I recently got my first balayage at Suki’s Hair salon and I love the dimension that it gives my hair!
Okay I’m going to get right to it and show you the before and after! When I first saw my after photo, my reaction was that it wasn’t a lot of color. It wasn’t until when I compared to my before photo that I realized how much lighter and more dimension my new color gives my hair!
Here’s my black hair. I’ve had it colored once in a salon before about 5 years ago in Hong Kong, but honestly I barely had any color. I’ve also used box dye twice and never had any luck with color showing in my hair. To say that it’s stubborn would be an understatement.
My inspiration is an ashy brown hair color but through research, your hair needs to be quite light to be toned to that shade. So I trusted my colorist, Ashley, to see where she can get me in one session. In this after photo, the color looks a lot warmer than how I see it in person. However, I definitely see some of the ashy tone and medium brown especially the hairs framing my face. I love that when I braid or curl my hair now, there’s much more interest and dimension and I’m excited to go even lighter in the future!
Suki’s Hair Salon is one of the most well regarded hair salons in Vancouver. There are five locations (Downtown, Kitsilano, South Granville, Richmond and South Surrey) across the lower mainland. What sets them apart is that all of the stylists and colourists are trained inhouse through Suki’s Academy.
I visited the Downtown location and was blown away by how upscale the facility is. The reception area is bright, spacious, and filled with salon products. The salon area is broken up into a few sections. The cut/style area are the typical chair and mirror set up. Then the middle section is for coloring. Clients have a selection of magazines to choose from and the seats are around a table or by the mirror.
As I mentioned above, all the colorists and stylist working at Suki’s must have graduated from the prestigeous Suki’s Academy. From talking to the staff, they all take it seriously as a career and not just as a job. The pass the final exam, the stylist has to prepare 12 different looks in 3 weeks to show the judges!
Rule of the 3 Levels
I did a bit of research on hair color before going in. Before you start fantasizing about your platinum blonde hair, you should learn about the 3 levels. Your hair color is on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the darkest. To keep your hair healthy, the recommendation from hair stylist is that you should stay within 3 levels. Since I started with black hair, the lightest I can go is a medium brown.
However, you can usually go back to the salon in about 3 months time to move up another 3 levels!
I was pleasantly surprised that my coloring session only took about 2 and a half hours. I know some people spend 5-6 hours at the salon for a full hair color.
The technique that my colorist used is called foilage. It’s similar to painting on color like balayage, but then it is wrapped in tin foil. Since my hair is so dark, this is the best method. The foil helps to amplify the effect of the bleach by trapping the heat and allowing it to reach all sides of the hair surface! The product being used was the Blond Studio lightener by L’Oreal Professional. This process took just under 1 hour for my whole head.
Next, I sat around and waited for about 50 minutes while the lightener worked itself in my hair. There are magazines around the salon. You also have a space with a table surface so you can easily bring a laptop if you needed to get work done.
Once the time is up, I was taken to the Spa room which is where all the wash stations are. The room was large, spacious and very clean! I’ve never seen so many wash stations in one salon before! I had an assistant to the colorist undo the foils and apply the toner. In order to counteract any unwanted colors, a toner is essential especially if you want a cool tone look. This process took about 30 minutes.
How to Care for Your Colored Hair
I’ve never really had my hair colored before so I had no idea what I can or can’t do. From what I read online, it is best to wait 72 hours before you wash your hair. But I don’t think that’s actually necessary so check with your stylist. Also, I thought I should avoid hot tools right after I got my hair colored. But I received a hair cut and style right after which included blow drys and curling irons. So I think it’s safe to use hot tools right after getting your hair colored!
I am so so happy with how everything turned out! If you want a stress free hair color experience from people who know the craft, I’d highly recommend checking out Sukis. I’ve heard of so many horror stories that I didn’t want to take any chances. I have a beautiful lighter brown color in my hair now and it still feels healthy and soft.
I received a complimentary service from Suki’s Salon.