Empire Season my outlet for all things makeup, skincare and more! Here you’ll find reviews of some of my favourites, along with honest opinions about what hasn’t worked for me. From luxury to some of the most affordable brands – follow along as I explore the world of beauty!
Since suffering from extremely dry eyelids (thanks to the GrandeLash debacle), I went on a hunt for a new concealer that wouldn’t irritate my already sensitive under eyes or exaggerate my dry patches.
I had heard a lot of great things about the Glossier Stretch Concealer, and that’s for sure still on my wish list, but I was in a hurry to get something new and The Detox Market was having a sale, so RMS Beauty’s Un Cover-Up it was – and boy am I happy I made the move!
I’ve heard a lot of people say that the RMS concealer is like the happy middle between the NARS Soft Matte and Glossier’s Stretch, and although I still haven’t tried the Glossier concealer, I definitely get that impression.
While I still love NARS, especially for covering up blemishes, the RMS Un Cover-Up is much more creamy and natural looking under the eyes. It’s not quite glossy, but it’s definitely not matte, and it melts in with your skin perfectly. If you have oily skin, you may need to set this concealer, but for me – no powder necessary!
I picked up the shade 00 – there’s an even lighter shade as well – and it’s the perfect match for my skin tone. There isn’t the best shade range I’ve ever come across, but I’ve heard rumours of more shades being added which is great.
I think one of the best things about this product though is its ingredient list – all natural and formulated with raw, food grade and organic ingredients. It’s also hypoallergenic, gluten-free, cruelty-free and noncomedogenic. Perfect for sensitive-reactive makeup lovers like me.
On their website RMS Beauty describes the Un Cover-Up as a concealer AND foundation, and even though I haven’t tried it as a foundation, I think it could actually create a beautiful canvas on natural skin days.
I’m thinking of still picking up the Glossier concealer so that I can do a full comparison, but I’m absolutely loving this RMS concealer, and I can’t imagine anything better! A+ RMS Beauty!
Part of being a blogger means constantly trying out new products, but not every product works the way you want it to. In my years of testing beauty and skincare, very few products have caused me to react so poorly that I had to stop using them – but when one does you better believe I will tell you about it.
With my wedding day fast approaching, I’ve been looking for different beauty enhancements to help me look my best on the big day. I don’t typically wear false lashes, and I’m nervous about the idea of eyelash extensions – so before I explored those routes, I thought I’d give enhancing my natural lashes a try.
Like any other product, I did my research before making a purchase. I looked up all the top rated lash serums, read reviews and ultimately decided to test out the GrandeLash MD Lash Enhancing Serum by Grande Cosmetics.
I had read about all the risks – some people had complained of darkening of skin where the serum was applied, and others said they had experienced irritation. Either way I decided to give it a go – how bad could it be.
I’d like to caveat this by saying that some people LOVE this lash serum, and it works wonders on their eyelashes. In fact, I can honestly say that this serum worked for me too! Prior to using this I had been wearing the Trish McEvoy tubing mascara, and had accidentally pulled out some of my lashes in the removal process. After just a couple weeks of using the GrandeLash, I could tell my lashes were growing back faster and thicker. That was until around the 3 week mark, when I unexpectedly had a bad reaction.
I had been applying the serum, as directed, after cleansing my face and along the lash line. The first time I noticed the reaction was when I woke up one morning with a swollen eyelid. I decided to stop using the serum for a couple days to let it heal, but when I tried it again the same thing happened but this time worse.
It’s been about 2 weeks since I stopped wearing the serum and I’m still feeling the side effects. My upper eyelids are perpetually red, swollen and raw. I’m experiencing dry flakey skin, to the point of cracking, and nothing seems to be working. I’ve tried several creams, Aloe, rescue masks and even over-the-counter hydrocortisone. I’m able to get some slight relief with the right combination, but I’m still not healed. It’s so bad that I’ve actually made an appointment with my dermatologist to try to find a solution. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s just a really bad bout of eczema exacerbated by the serum.
Either way, I would not recommend using the GrandeLash serum if you have sensitive reactive skin like me – or if you do, do so with caution. I would be interested if you know if any other lash enhancing serums that don’t have these nasty side effects. I’ve heard some good things about Lash Food, but honestly I might be too traumatized to put that one to the test.
The Avène brand is fairly well known for their sunscreens – in fact they’re the number one sun care brand in Europe. One of the best things about this sunscreen, and most Avène products, is that it’s made with zero chemical filters, no fragrance, parabens or oil. That means it’s going to be gentle enough to use on all skin types.
The Complexion Correcting Shield also combines not just mineral broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 50+, but also vitamins C and E to protect against free radicals as well as ceramides, glycerin and sodium hyaluronate to give long-lasting hydration. This product really is both sunscreen, skincare and makeup.
Speaking of makeup, the major difference between Dr. Dennis Gross and Avène’s two products really comes down to the formula. Where the Instant Radiance Sun Defence is a glowy, barely-there tint, the Complexion Correcting Shield packs a coverage punch. You could 100% wear this sunscreen without any foundation on the day-to-day and be totally fine. It actually kind of reminds my of my holy grail Shiseido Sports BB Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Wetforce.
The formula is significantly thicker than both the Dr. Dennis Gross and Shiseido, and I recommend warming the product up between your fingers before applying it. But the coverage is decent, and it does an excellent job blurring pores.
The other great thing about this tinted sunscreen is that it comes in three different shades that range from light to fairly dark – something that its competitors really lack.
While this isn’t my favourite formula (I find it hard to get past the thickness of it), it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the market for a new SPF with tinted moisturizer. You can pick yours up at Shoppers Drug Mart or London Drugs for only $35.00. Great job Avène – That’s an A- for you!
Charlotte Tilbury is hands-down my favourite makeup brand right now. I’ve just never come across a product I didn’t love. Sure, it’s not the most affordable makeup in the market, but it’s definitely worth the price in my opinion. And Charlotte Tilbury’s latest releases are no different.
First lets start with the Legendary Lashes Volume 2. If you’ve reading my blog for a while now, you probably know about my love for the original Legendary Lashes (which is sadly now discontinued). Volume 2 is meant to be it’s bigger, better replacement. The main complaint about the original Legendary Lashes was that it was prone to smudging. I never had that big of a problem with smudging, in fact, I was willing to put up with any smudges because I loved the formula that much.
While the packaging and wand seem to have remained the same, Volume 2 is definitely a different formula. Where the original gave soft, fluttery lashes, this new formula creates a stiffer more voluminous look. The mascara is still absolutely beautiful, but It’s more natural than say the Lancome Monsieur Big. Overall I still love it – it’s a great everyday mascara. But now that the original has been replaced, I’m not sure I’ll be purchasing this one again. If you didn’t like the other formula, definitely give this one a try – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
The next new item I picked up was the Collagen Lip Bath – Charlotte Tilbury’s answer to a lip plumper. The collagen enhanced plumper uses mustard sprout extract to hydrate, plump, and enhance lip volume, with a blend of coconut oil and peppermint extract nourish, soften, and create a cool, fresh feeling directly after you apply.
The Lip Bath is an almost transparent, milky-pink gloss that leaves a beautiful sheen to the lips. But it’s not too gloppy or glossy – it actually feels more like a lip treatment. I actually love using this in the morning in place of lip balm while I get ready for the day.
My one issue with the Lip Bath is the applicator. Where you would usually see a doe-foot, Charlotte Tilbury uses an almost heart-shaped applicator. It’s not as precise as I’m used to so it means I have to be more aware of how I’m applying the gloss. It doesn’t seem to be making the application process any easier, so I’m not sure why the change – perhaps it’s just an aesthetic decision.
Either way, I still really love each of these products, and I’m actually looking into purchasing more from Tilbury’s Beauty Filters collections – the Exagger-Eyes Palette has my name written all over it! That’s an A for you Charlotte Tilbury! Loving your work!
This isn’t just your typical sunscreen – it’s also an illuminating, colour-correcting and skin-blending tinted moisturizer that can give you a fresh summer glow, while still protecting your skin against free radicals and UVA/UVB rays.
Don’t expect much coverage with this tinted moisturizer, which I guess works in the products favourite given the shade range available (there’s only two). But it can still add a sheer amount coverage while simultaneously hydrating. It does have a slight sheen to it (though nothing overly shimmery), and blurs out your pores nicely for a dewy radiant look.
I expect this is the kind of product you’re most likely to use while on a beach vacation. It’s a perfect facial SPF but it will still give you some coverage if you’re self conscious about your skin in public. Overall I would give this a B… now to find a version you can actually purchase in Canada!
I’m always on the hunt for the most innovative makeup and skincare. When it comes to innovation though, it seems like foundation is stuck in the dark ages. Dior really tried pushing the boundaries with their Airflash Spray Foundation, but does it actually work? I put it to the test.
I suppose the point of the Airflash foundation is to mimic airbrushing without the need of electrical tools and pigment refills. The concept is there, but the execution simply didn’t work for me.
Don’t get me wrong, the formulation of this foundation is exceptional. It reminds me a lot of the Diorskin Nude Air Serum Foundation – both feel weightless and give the skin a beautiful natural glow.
Airflash is slightly more matte than the Serum foundation, and can be applied either by spraying directly on your face, or on the back of your hand and blending out with a brush or beauty blender.
A caution if you decide to spray this directly on your face – this stuff will get everywhere. I’m talking in your hair, on your clothes – everywhere – if you’re not careful. I found that spraying direct from the can delivered fuller coverage, despite some things I’ve read to the contrary. But I also felt like spraying directly on my face made my skin feel dry and also oddly cakey at the same time. A very strange sensation indeed.
When it comes to application, I definitely prefer putting it on the back of the hand first. But even still, there’s just so much faff it doesn’t feel worth it. Not to mention, like a lot of Dior foundations, the shade range just isn’t quite right for my skin tone. Even the lightest shade is still too pink for me, and there’s certainly not a lot of options for darker skin tones.
One other weird thing that bothered me, and I’m sure that it’s specific to Canadian labeling standards, but when I received my can it had been wrapped with a sticker label that had a bunch of air bubbles underneath it. Not a huge deal, but for the price tag I expected better.
Overall I’d rate this foundation a C, the formulation and concept is there, but the execution just didn’t come together properly. Better luck next time, Dior!
Lydia Elise Millen, one of my favourite YouTubers, collaborated with Cult Beauty to create an exclusive box full of her beauty favourites. While I missed the box, one of her favourites did catch my eye, and luckily I was already in the market for a new toner.
I still love my Darphin Intral toner, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted to change things up especially with summer just around the corner, so I picked up the Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner one of the product’s featured in Lydia’s Cult Beauty box.
CoQ-10, a powerful antioxidant, is the key ingredient in this alcohol free skin-balancing toner. It works to help promote elastin and collagen production, while Aloe Vera and Hyaluronic Acid hydrate skin while minimizing pores and balancing pH levels.
The toner also helps to remove excess oil and shine throughout the day, making it perfect for normal to dry skin types.
I use this toner day and night right after cleansing – soaking a cotton pad and swiping it across my clean skin, avoiding my eye area. After using, my skin feels hydrated and balanced and the perfect base for applying the rest of my skincare routine.
While CoQ-10 doesn’t smell as nice as the Darphin toner (someone needs to make that into a fragrance), the scent is still light and subtle and doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin.
All in all, if you’re looking to try out a new toner, definitely give this one a go! A+ Indie Lee, once again I’m blown away with your products.
Tom Ford creates probably some of the most luxurious eyeshadow palettes on the market, but at $102 (CAD) a pop are they actually worth the investment?
When I say investment, I mean it. If you’re looking for beautiful shadows that don’t break the bank, there are a lot out there. But when you buy Tom Ford, you’re buying the designer. It’s not just the name though, you’re buying the commitment to quality, and a carefully curated look. Tom Ford eyeshadow palettes are more than beautiful pigments. They’re designed with complimentary shades and finishes to help you achieve the ultimate Tom Ford eye look.
The Palette I picked up is one of Tom Ford’s most popular – Nude Dip. It consists of four sheer, shimmery shadows – a pale gold, a soft pink, a light taupey grey and an rich brown. Each shade applies with a slight sheen, but nothing sparkly or glittery, so it’s easy to transform from day to night with this palette.
The palette itself is fairly large and weighty, with .21 oz of product. It also has a magnetic closure, a large mirror and two small sponges/brushes for application on the go.
The shadows can be applied either wet or dry, depending on your preference. My favourite way to apply them is dry, for a more subtle, every day look. I use the taupe shade in the outer corner of my crease, with a blend of the pink and gold all over the lid. I also like applying the gold to my inner corner. If I’m looking to smoke out the look I’ll deepen my crease with more of the taupe colour and accent my outer corner with the brown shade.
Tom Ford describes his shadows as multidimensional and opulent, and that’s exactly what they are. Are they worth the huge price tag? Listen, if you have the money to spend and want to treat yourself on a beautiful, quality product, I say go for it! A+ Tom Ford – you’ve recruited a new fan in me!
Tom Ford Nude Dip: dry finger-swatched from lightest to darkest
A review that’s long over due – I’m now on my second bottle of the Kypris Antioxidant Dew, and I’m not looking back.
For some reason serums are one of those things that I tend to cycle through. I’m not particularly sure why – it’s definitely one of the most important pieces to a skincare routine. But I’m always finding my self testing out a million different brands and formulas. In fact, I think that this is the first serum repurchase that I’ve made in probably two years.
I actually first tried the Kypris Antioxidant Dew around when I started this blog, but never ended up writing a review. Kypris is a US-based brand that uses only organic and sustainably grown botanicals in their wide range of 100% natural skincare products.
The Antioxidant Dew is probably one of Kypris’ most popular products, and is unlike most serums I’ve used. It comes in a beautiful blue bottle with white and gold detailing, and the serum inside has a luxurious, lightweight, milky texture.
The Antioxidant Dew is formulated to restore hydration, vitality, and radiance to skin. It uses ocean extracts and herb derived antioxidants to shield skin from the ageing effects of pollutants – fighting off free radicals and neutralizing the effects of everyday exposure to environmental aggressors.
I like to apply a few drops to my face right after cleansing and toning. It sinks in to the skin quickly without leaving behind a greasy residue, and instantly hydrates without irritating my sensitive-reactive skin. Bonus for all you health nuts out there, Antioxidant dew is also Gluten Free.
If you’re looking for a beautiful, hydrating, clean serum to add in to your everyday skincare routine. Look no further – this one can’t be beat! A+ Kypris!
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now you already know how much care I put in to my skin. I’m always on the hunt for new and innovative formulas to give me the freshest, most youthful glow, so when b.liv reached out to send me some of their masks to test out, I couldn’t say no.
I hadn’t heard of the b.liv brand before this experience, so if you’re like me, let’s start with a little backgrounder. The brand, which is pronounced believe, started back in 2009 when it launched in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau. It’s most well-known for their hassle-free, salon-tested “pore management” solutions. Their whole motto is “Healthy Pores. Healthy Skin.” which is a sentiment I can definitely get behind.
The cleansing brush was a nice little bonus, which is great because I actually just read an article in Allure about using softer, more gentle brushes as part of your cleansing routine.
But on to the masks… which are not your typical sheet masks. Yes, each mask comes in its own individual pouch, but the mask itself is protected by two layers of fabric to ensure no tears. The mask is actually thicker than most sheet masks I’ve used, and absolutely soaked with serum. Because the masks are so thick, it makes unfolding and applying them a cinch. The bio-cellulose is actually what makes this mask special. It’s a nano scale fiber structure that fits perfectly to your skin, holding in moisture while simultaneously allowing your skin to breathe.
You leave the mask on for 15-20, then massage in the remaining serum in to your face, then BOOM. Instant results.
Each mask is made up of its own unique properties to help deliver the best results possible. The Soothe Me Now mask uses organic immortelle flower extract to restore and repair. Hydrate Away uses organic spirulina (algae), minerals and amino acids to moisturize and protect. And the Age Eraser uses a unique formulation of multipeptides to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
I think my favourite of the three masks is the Soothe Me Now, but there’s definitely something for everyone in this line. What are your favourite sheet masks? Let me know in the comments below!
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