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!
I’ve been eyeing the Kaja brand for quite some time now but because their full line of products aren’t stocked at any Sephora’s near me I’ve been hesitant to pick anything up… until now!
I know, I know! ‘You can order online’ – I hear you! But I’m a traditional shopper and when it comes to introducing myself to new brands I like to experience them first hand before committing to purchase.
Kaja is one of those brands that have the odd item stocked at my local Sephora, but never the full line. I had never been drawn to any of the items I had seen in-store before, but last time I visited I had the chance to test out the Kaja Heart Melter Lip Gloss Stick, and I instantly knew I had to have it.
First, LOOK AT THAT PACKAGING. Like – can you BE any cuter? A heart-shaped applicator? YES PLEASE! But that’s not why I chose to add this to my collection. It’s the formula all the way!
If you know me at all, you know that I have an addiction to glossy, balmy lip colours in pinks and berries. Well, this Gloss Stick in 04 Be Mine checks all those boxes.
This lip colour is perfect for an every day, slap on and go look. The shade is the most perfect berry punch colour – and the formula feels incredibly hydrating and nourishing on the lips (which is due to the Argan and Plum Seed oils). I also love that this looks like a gloss but goes on like a lipstick (my preferred application method).
The heart shaped applicator isn’t there only for the cute factor either. It’s actually the perfect shape to hug your lips and cupids bow for a quick, precise application.
Now that I’ve tried a product from the line that I absolutely love, I’m even more excited than ever to test out more. I already have my eyes on the Kaja Moon Crystal Sparkling Eye Pigment in 03 Tiger’s Eye, but please let me know if you have any recommendations! A+ Kaja, can’t wait to try more!
I first fell in love with the original bronzer shade (light bronzer was just too light for me), but over the years I’ve become more and more obsessed with bronze skin so this time around I decided to pick up the shade Deep Bronzer, and I have to say, I still prefer the original!
Don’t get me wrong, Deep Bronzer is absolutely gorgeous, and will look beautiful on deeper skin tones, but for my colouring it’s just a little too orangey-red. The original Bronzer shade was much more cool-toned, which is why I think I loved it so much – it could work as a hybrid contour and bronzer.
It’s still spring here in Canada so I may love this more once I get more sun on my skin, but in the mean time it’s going to stay put in my collection. Butter Bronzers are still the best in my book for giving you that natural sun-kissed glow. They have the most subtle satin sheen to them, so you don’t have to worry about looking like you have dirty, muddy matte cheeks.
The brand also recently came out with two other shades which I have yet to try – Brazillian Bronze Glow and Endless Summer – but online they appear to have more of a shimmer than their satin counterparts.
Speaking of satin bronzers, I mentioned a while back that I was looking at getting the Too Faced Natural Lust Satin Bronzer. Well I opted for this instead and now I’m worried I might need to go back and pick up both? What do you think? Do I need another bronzer? Haha! Let me know in the comments below!
I’ve got to thank my sister for this one. Usually I’m the one giving beauty advice but she recently suggested I try the Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara (she uses the waterproof formula) and I’m super pleased with the recommendation!
I’ve tried a lot of Bobbi Brown products in the past but it’s not a brand I typically purchase. There’s no reason for that exactly, I just find that I’m drawn to other brands more.
Mascara is one of those things that I like to experiment with, whether it’s drug store or high-end. I’m not particularly loyal to any one brand, but I know what I want, and that’s a mascara that will give me soft fluttery lashes.
While this mascara isn’t what I would call soft, or fluttery, it goes give me a beautiful natural look. In fact, I think this is an excellent everyday mascara – nothing too dramatic. I also love that the tube is simple, small and sleek. I really hate bulky packaging especially when it comes to travel (like, I’m sorry Nars Climax, you cute, but your packaging is wack).
I still prefer the Charlotte Tilbury original Legendary Lashes (RIP), but this is nice in the interim. If you’re like me and just love switching up your mascaras, certainly give this one a go. That’s an A for you Bobbi Brown, but the hunt for my perfect mascara continues…
Korean beauty is known for being innovative, and the VDL brand is no exception. So when Influenster said they were going to be sending me a complimentary bottle of the new Perfect-Lasting Foundation, I had high expectations. I also didn’t expect to get a whole variety of products to review, but that’s Influenster for you.
I had definitely heard of VDL before receiving the package – a friend of mine actually gave me a sample of their Lumilayer Primer, but I never ended up using it because the packaging didn’t come with a pump and it was pretty much impossible to get out.
I can certainly see why the Lumilayer Primer and Primer Fresh are such popular items. They both create the most subtle illumination to the skin. My favourite way to apply them is by mixing them directly in with the foundation. While the original Lumilayer has a white base, the Primer Fresh has more of a rose tone. I like to interchange between the two, depending on what foundation I’m mixing them with. The original white version is lovely to add with a foundation thats slightly too dark for me, because it seems to lighten it just a hair. Both of these primers do have a slight glitter to them, so if you hate the look of a subtle sparkle to the skin, you might want to pass on these.
One other thing to note about the primers, and well, every product from the line – they are heavily fragranced. So if you have sensitivities, you’ve been warned.
The Perfect-Lasting Foundation is what I would call a medium to full coverage foundation, and while that’s not typically what I would go for I am impressed that it tends to last through most of the day. I have the shade A02, which is a little bit light for my skin tone, but if I add some bronzer you can barely notice. The foundation is a fairly thin liquid and I do notice that it can sometimes cling to dry patches on the face. After a full day of wear I will also sometimes notice it breaking up around the centre of my face, where I get a bit more oily.
Keeping with the theme of face products, the Expert Radiance Face Mist is up next. Again I’ll bring up the fragrance here, because this can sometimes feel like you’re spraying perfume right on your face. It also leaves a slight tacky feeling to the skin, which may be a turn off for some, but I tend to like it because it makes it feel like my makeup is going to stay in place.
The Creamy Stick Jelly is probably the most unique produce I’ve tried from the brand. It has a very strange, almost oily texture, despite coming in stick form. Don’t be frightened by the colour Alice, while it looks like a vibrant purple-pink, it’s actually very subtle once applied. I personally like to rub the stick between two fingers and then pat on to my cheeks. One thing to note, this product tends to move around whatever is underneath, so it’s likely better suited for those ‘no-makeup makeup’ days.
The Expert Color Lip Cube Fluid Velvet in 103 Make Me Lodge is a brick orange-red colour, and leaves a thin velvet finish to the lips. Neither this colour nor texture was really for me. If you’ve been following my blog for a while now you know that I prefer balmy or glossy lipsticks in a more cool or neutral-toned pink/berry shade. This liquid lip dries down more matte, but the applicator is lovely and precise and the formula gives an almost stain-like appearance to the lip.
The Expert Deepmatt Liquid Liner is pretty standard for a liquid liner. It has a felt tip and the nib is very precise. Like the name implies, you can expect a deep, matte look from this liner, and while I haven’t noticed much smudging for flaking I do get a little bit of bleed when I first apply it, so be careful about that.
Finally we have the Expert Color Eye Book Mono’s – these might be my favourite products that I’ve tried (along with the primers), in particular the shade Organza. Organza is a beautiful shimmery champaign colour. And while the texture is more of a pressed pigment, the way it looks on the lid kind of reminds me of one of my favourite pot shadows from Dior – the Diorshow Fusion Mono‘s (I love the shade Chimére). Organza gives the most stunning etherial shimmer to the lids, whereas Sharkskin is slightly darker and has more of a subtle shimmer. Sharkskin is actually the perfect name for it, because it looks like the colour of a shark glistening in the water. Cherrywood is a little too red and dark for my taste, but would be a beautiful layering piece to a smokey eye.
Overall the VDL packaging is all really simple and beautiful. I can appreciate the luxe weight of each item and I’m thrilled that the full-size primers come with pumps. While not all of these products were a hit for me, the brand has certainly peaked my interested. They have a flagship store here in Toronto which I’ll definitely be needing to check out in the future.
Have you tried anything from VDL? What are some of your favourites? Let me know in the comments below!
ALERT, THIS IS NOT A DRILL! This Sephora Spring Sale is upon us and this year VIB Rouge is getting 20% off! Here’s what’s on my wish list…
Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb: This is a repurchase for me – but there really is no better time to stock up on the staples like now. I love this cream because it’s super lightweight while being incredibly hydrating.
Too Faced Natural Lust Satin Bronzer: I don’t think I have any Too Faced in my collection at the moment, so this will be a nice addition. I’ve already tried this in-store – it’s super pigmented and has a beautiful satin finish. Plus the packaging is cute as hell.
Kaja Moon Crystal Sparkling Eye Pigment: This looks absolutely incredible. I’ve seen some swatches online and I’m super keen to put this to the test. I love the shades 02 Luminary and 03 Tiger’s Eye.
Laneige Lip Glowy Balm in Berry: This is currently out of stock right now but I’m praying it will come back in time for the sale. I’ve seen a number of beauty bloggers singing this balm’s praises, and I already know that I love Laneige so I’m super excited to get my hands on this!
Yes, VIB and Beauty Insiders will also be getting a discount, at 15% and 10% respectively, but if you’re Rouge status, you’ll notice that this is a bump up from last year! The sale runs from April 26 to May 6 for Rouge, and May 2 to 6 for VIB and Beauty Insiders! What’s on your list?
Move over Glossier Boy Brow, there’s a new HG brow gel in my life and it goes by the name of Dipbrow Gel.
Don’t get me wrong, the Glossier Boy Brow is still pretty epic, and no other brow gels have come close to touching it (I’ve already put to test the Hourglass Arch Brow and Milk Kush Fiber Brow Gel), until now that is.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that it was Anastasia Beverly Hills whose brow gel has now taken the top spot in my makeup routine, after all she is the queen of brows. It’s just a wonder it’s taken this long.
Now I bet you’re wondering what exactly makes this brow gel better than the others. First, the formula – if you’ve tried any of Anastasia’s other brow gels before than you already know it’s basically like coating your eyebrows in glue. While this brow gel might not make your hairs as stiff as some of her other gels (which I know some people hate), it certainly keeps them in place longer than any other brow gel I’ve tried.
The shade range too is something to be rivalled. The Dipbrow Gel comes in 11 shades – my perfect match, Taupe, which is the same shade I used in the pencils and pots.
Finally, when it comes to wand shape, this one blows all the others out of the water. It’s still very small and thin so you can get a precise application, but for some reason I find that product doesn’t clump on the end, the same way it does with so many other brow gels. Not only are you not wasting product, but you don’t have to worry about getting a huge blob on your brows.
I can’t imagine a better brow gel than this – if you’re on the hunt for something new, look no further! A+ Anastasia, you’ve done it again!
I first learned about the cleanser through one of my favourite UK bloggers, The Anna Edit – I’ve always loved her recommendations and thought I’d give it a go. Before this I was using the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, which to be honest, is still probably my holy grail.
What really peaked my interest is that the Kiehl’s cleanser is specifically formulated for those with sensitive skin, and in particular, those suffering from redness and dryness (i.e. ME)
The cleanser is formulated with centella asiatica extract, which gently removes dirt and oil while strengthening the skin’s barrier. The formula is both mild and pH-balanced, and leaves the skin feeling super moisturized.
Moisturized is the key word here. In fact, some mornings, when I’m half asleep, I wonder if I’ve mistakenly used a lotion to clean my face. Usually with a cleanser as rich as this I would be afraid of breakouts, but I’ve had no such reaction. It’s just a beautiful, gentle, face wash that I can feel confident cleansing my sensitive skin with.
Well done Kiehl’s, A+! If you’re like me and have sensitive-reactive skin, this is a cleanser definitely worth checking out!
Dry and sensitive skin pretty much describes me exactly, so it’s no wonder that this line has taken the number one spot when it comes to Caudalie’s offerings. In addition to the Intense Moisturizing Cream, the brand also has their S.O.S. Thirst-Quenching Serum.
Application is pretty straight forward. Apply the serum on a clean face, and follow with the cream. While the cream is called “Intense”, it’s actually fairly lightweight. I’ve been using it primarily at night, but you certainly could apply this as a daily moisturizer as well.
While the serum provides an ultra-concentrated shot of hydration, the rich cream helps to restore moisture and radiance. You can even use the cream as a mask to help repair damage caused by external factors.
Even though I agree that these formulas a great for sensitive skin, I do have to warn that like most Caudalie products, this does have a light fragrance. The cream and serum both contain organic grape water, grape seed polyphenols, Vinolevure®, and olive squalane (you know how much I love squalane). And where the serum uses hydration powerhouse hyaluronic acid, the cream seeks to comfort with its borage oil.
Best of all, both formulas are tested as non-comedogenic – so that means you get the moisture of a thick cream without worrying about breakouts!
If you think you have a similar skin type to me and are looking to add a little luxury to your routine, look no further. A+ Caudalie! Great addition to the family!
It’s been a minute since I reviewed some makeup on here (I’ve been on a real skincare kick lately). But my recent purchase of the Kosas Tinted Face Oil Foundation is cause for some new content.
I’ve actually heard a lot about this foundation over the past few months. There have been rave reviews about this in the beauty community – claiming a natural yet glowy looking finish that sinks right in to your skin.
The Tinted Face Oil Foundation is exactly what it sounds like – it combines Jojoba Seed, Avocado and Red Raspberry Seed Oil to sooth, hydrate and tone skin, while lightweight coverage masks imperfections.
As with any Oil Foundation, this is probably best suited for dry skin types. But even on my sensitive-dehydrated skin, this foundation doesn’t actually sink into the skin as much as I thought it would. In fact, I think that the oil causes the foundation to sit on top of the skin more-so than other foundations I’ve tried.
That said, I still love this foundation. It wears beautifully and Tone 2 is an almost perfect match for me. The foundation comes in 10 shades, so not the greatest selection, but claims to work for 30 skin tones, and supposedly only to only take 10 seconds to apply.
I personally like to take my time with this foundation, using a damp beauty blender to really push it into my skin. And I don’t have to feel bad for layering it on, because the oils actually do wonders for my skin’s texture and hydration. You could probably even apply this foundation almost as a tinted moisturizer, in lieu of a cream or lotion.
If you love clean beauty, have dry skin, or are generally looking for a product that actually lives up to the hype, look no further. A+ Kosas – this is the first product I’ve tried from the brand but it has me excited to try more!
I love trying out new moisturizers. That’s probably one of my favourite skincare items to put to the test, mostly because I can almost instantly tell if I like it or not. The Biotherm Blue Therapy Red Alae Uplift Cream is the latest moisturizer I’m putting to the test, and I’ll be honest – the verdict is still out on this one.
I haven’t had the opportunity to try any Biotherm products in the past, but it’s certainly a brand I’m familiar with. I actually received the cream complimentary from Topbox Circle – a review program similar to that of Influenster. My initial impression of the cream was excitement – tightening and lifting properties from Red Algae Extract, sounds good to me! The cream claims to instantly soften and hydrate, while illuminating with a subtle rosy radiance. After using the cream several times I do feel sufficiently hydrated, and maybe even a little softer, but it’s the rosy radiance that causes me pause.
At first I thought I was going crazy, but I can confirm that this cream has a very subtle sparkle to it. While it may actually make my skin look more healthy and radiant (I have to say, I DO feel like I’m having a good skin day when I use this cream). I really really don’t like it when my skincare products have any sort of sparkle to them. No reason in particular why, other than it just seems unnatural to me. That combined with a pretty heavy (although pleasant) fragrance has me hesitating to call this a product worth purchasing.
I’ve been applying it in the morning as part of my AM ritual. I prefer an oil most nights, but you can also use the cream as part of your evening routine. The colour is absolutely stunning – like I would love to decorate my house in its rosy pink hues – and the texture is a lightweight gel-like formula that sinks in instantly and feels like it smooths out pores.
I’ll certainly keep putting this cream to the test, but are there any Biotherm products out there that you love that don’t contain sparkles? Let your girl know! B- for you Biotherm, let’s see what else ya got!