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A $120 serum is a little too much to pay for but when I tried out the Dermalogica BioLumin-C Serum ($120, available here) thanks to the Sephora x ProSkin 30 experience back in October, I was instantly smitten. This vitamin c infused serum is meant to brighten and reduce the unevenness of the skin while reducing the appearance of loss of elasticity. Standard marketing-speak in my opinion, but after a few months of using this golden elixir, I almost see myself splurging on it again.

Vitamin C isn’t exactly a new ingredient in the world of skincare, nor is this the first time a brand has done something with that ingredient. I wasn’t expecting much from this product and was quite certain I’d be unimpressed at best.

The Dermalogica BioLumin-C Serum comes in a sturdy glass bottle with a dropper, similar to the packaging of The Ordinary line which I quite adore. I only use this in the evening given that Vitamin C tends to increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. I was surprised that I experienced no tingling or stinging sensation – of all the Vitamin C-based skincare product that I’ve tried, this is the only one I can remember being incredibly gentle and didn’t cause any sort of irritation whatsoever. There wasn’t any noticeable scent (citrus or otherwise) that I could detect.

There isn’t much to report after the first few times I’ve used it; it wasn’t until around 2 weeks later that I started noticing how much more glowy and radiant my skin looked. As in, I can skip the highlighter and dewy foundation. I didn’t notice a significant decrease in discolouration or saw much improvement in my skin texture. The serum sinks into the skin and doesn’t leave any greasy residue. It feels very refreshing and I’m happy to report that 3-4 weeks later, I don’t have any reactions to it!

For the price, I had expected a bigger bottle or something almost miraculous to happen to my skin. Unfortunately, beyond the a slightly more glowy and a tad more even texture, I didn’t notice much of a difference to justify a repurchase. There are plenty of Vitamin-C based serum and products in the market that does just as good of a job and less painful on the wallet.

Overall, this was a lovely product but one I won’t be repurchasing. Unless this product comes in a value set or something similar, I think there are plenty of drugstore and high-street options worth going for!

Have you tried the Dermalogica BioLumin-C Serum?

Disclaimer: This post features product(s) provided for editorial consideration. All opinions are my own. For more information about my review policy, please click here.

The post Dermalogica BioLumin-C Serum Review. appeared first on theFantasia.

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I thought the Netherlands was just the tulips, windmills, canals and museums, but it turns out Netherlands has so much more than that. The food. The snacks. The drinks. Come hungry friends, and come with an open mind because you will be indulged. Here are my top 5 Dutch food you have to try in the Netherlands if you’ve heading there in the future!

Where to go to Find the best Dutch food/snacks

I like visiting markets when I travel and Amsterdam’s Albert Cuyp Market is a place where you can find pretty much everything I’ve listed below and more for a fairly cheap price. Enjoy snacks of all sizes and flavour profiles!

1. Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx

AKA “the place where you can get triple-fried fries with 25 sauces to choose from“. Fries is a Belgian and Dutch creation and both countries vie to be known as home of the best fries makers. The mis-named French Fries is actually a Belgian invention and both the Netherlands and Belgium used to be one country, hence the shared love and history for this particular deliciousness!

At the Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx, a highly popular, must-try fries institution in Amsterdam, you can enjoy freshly triple-fried fries and 25 sauces to choose from. The fries as you can imagine, are ridiculously crunchy but still soft on the inside. Pick one sauce, or more for €0.50 each, and don’t be afraid to experiment. I picked garlic and satay sauce – the combination was like having the best of two worlds – Thai and Italian flavour profiles in one place was out of this world! It might be counter-intuitive to put two very strong flavours with each other but it was well worth trying!

If you aren’t feeling particularly adventurous, try the fries with mayo – it’s how most Dutch, French and Belgians enjoy their fries. Note that mayo sold on this side of the pond tends to be more tart and less sweet than the North American versions we’re used to, so it’s not as gross sounding as it seems!

Indulging in some freshly fried fries at Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx; I had the peanut satay sauce and garlic sauce – a ridiculously heavenly combination when mixed together!
Try It: Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx // Voetboogstraat 33, 1012 XK Amsterdam, Netherlands // Prices: €2.30 (S), €2.90 (M), €4.50 (L), Sauce €0.70 each 2. Rudi’s Original Stroopwafels at Albert Cuyp Market

There are plenty of imitiations, but make an effort to visit the original, still run by a father-son team in the middle of the Albert Cuyp Market. If you see line-ups and a father/son team with a totally unassuming stall, that’s your spot. Seriously, don’t get distracted by the other stalls which is admittedly easier said than done. You know you’re at the right place when you see a trailer-like stall located towards the middle of the road. If you see the ones close to the ends of the street, you’re likely in the wrong place.

Freshly made stroopwafels is to die for! This version is coated in dark chocolate, and the waffle is divinely crunchy and the caramel (it was hot, and oozing out of the waffle like that – sticky and messy treat) was not too sweet!

Enjoy these freshly baked waffles with a taste of delicious caramel in the middle. The waffle is so thin, I’m surprised you could actually slice through it. Then a layer of caramel is added. Surprisingly the caramel is not as sweet as the ones you get in North America! It’s then coated with a layer of dark chocolate ganache. This treat might sound like sweetness overload but I didn’t find it overly sweet at all, and this is coming from someone who always orders her Starbucks at “half sweet”!

Be careful though! Sometimes the ganache or caramel can leak and it is a messy and very hot mess to clean up!

Would you try option #3?
Try It: Rudi’s Original Stroopwafels // Albert Cuyp Straat t/o 182, Stand 134, 1073 BL Amsterdam, Netherlands // Prices: €1.50-3.50 (freshly made), to-go bags are available for €5-10 3. Pickled Herring

Another popular Dutch delicacy is picked herring topped with onions (don’t have your first date here) which you can find at various stalls throughout the city. Try it in a sandwich to get used to the taste if you can’t bear the idea of eating a raw fish like that. The Albert Cuyp Market has a few stalls dedicated to it so you can enjoy it and wash it down with something else if you can’t bear the lingering taste.

Herring is a popular hangover cure (I can imagine, with that smell and taste!) as what’s considered to be a “good” herring is that it has to have >15% fat, and salty. It’s usually served with onions and pickles; the fish is meant to be eaten whole but you can always ask the seller to chop it up.

Traditional Dutch picked herring is typically served without the buns, only with onions and pickles. But if it helps with the taste, you can also get it as a sandwich!

The most popular and easily accessible spot in town is at Stubbe’s haring, located near Amsterdam Centraal.

Try It: Stubbe’s haring // Singel Haarlingersluis, 1013 // Prices: €3.50 4. Poffertjes

The poffertjes are another classic Dutch dessert – small bite-sized, round pancakes served with icing sugar and oodles of Nuttela or enjoyed with just a dusting of icing sugar. Options for toppings can go as far as M&M candies, melted white chocolate, maple syrup and many more sweet, savoury or fruity options to choose from!


The pancakes are light and fluffy on the inside and since they’re so small, they make for the perfect bite-sized snacks as you wander through the streets of Amsterdam! I always find North American pancakes to be a little too sweet and big for my liking so these poffertjes are the perfect alternative. The poffertjes base is not very sweet so having it dressed up with Nutella and other toppings won’t be too much to enjoy!

The best ones according to Google and TripAdvisor is the poffertjes at De Vier Pilaren (plates can cost between €11-20) but the one in Albert Cuyp market is a little more accessible and cheaper (each serving costs €5.50)!

Try It: De Vier Pilaren // Stadhouderskade 11, 1054 ES Amsterdam, Netherlands // Prices: €11-20 5. Bitterballen

Bitterballen is essentially fried mashed potatoes and traditionally stuffed with meat. It’s really the perfect late-night and on-the-go snack for in between meals. The filling is usually beef or veal-based and the dish is traditionally served with beer (what else?!) and a side of spicy mustard to dip these delicious hot treats in.

There are tons of places to get your fix of bitterballen but a popular one for this classic is the Café de Tuin in the Jordaan neighbourhood. This particular area is very popular with tourists as it is very picturesque and is considered one of the must-see destination in the Amsterdam so the cafe is a relaxing place to stop at if you’re in need of a break.

Try It: Café de Tuin // Tweede Tuindwarsstraat 13 // Prices: €10

Now it’s over to you! Do you have any favourite Dutch treats to try out the next time we’re there?

Pin it for Later!

The post Street Food in Amsterdam: 5 Things You Need to Try! appeared first on theFantasia.

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It has been a hot minute since I last posted on the blog. I thought, why not come back with a bang and a haul with that too? MAC recently had one of its (Annual? Semi-annual? Quarterly? I can’t really tell) 25% off for its MAC Lovers loyalty members and I thought I’d splurge a little bit on myself since it’s been a stressful few months. A nice 25% from a brand that used to rarely do sales is always a welcomed!

And yes, I went all out with this haul, because retail therapy

A sale is the best time to repurchase staples and value sets. Fortunately, my two recent value set purchases were still in stock (and hopefully you were able to snag them while the sale was happening!) but getting an additional 25% off on top of the already-super-discounted-price for these MAC Hyper Real Prep Set ($56, available here) was almost too good to be true! It was such a good deal ($42 for two full-sized products and a mini!?) that I was ready to purchase several of these sets, but I’ve only got one face and a few other things I wanted to try out.

I wanted to repurchase a powder foundation from MAC as we’re getting closer to the summer season and that means wearing lighter makeup. I’ve slowly been transitioning to non-liquid foundation as we’ve had really amazing weather recently and the combination of concealer and foundation works very well on my skin these days.

The MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation ($38, available here) which has a bit more coverage than the Select Sheer powder foundation I brought with me to Southeast Asia.

I thought about stocking up in a few lip products for the Spring season. Sticking with the regular nude colour theme, I repurchased Velvet Teddy and the Boldly Bare lip pencil; I’m adding Twig to my collection as it’s a colour I have had a chance to try in the past. The MAC Versicolour Stain in Shock it to me is one I decided to give a try after trying the limited edition “Long Live the Night” from a previous kit. Finally, I decided to grab the All That Glitters eyeshadow to round up my massive haul!

Have you purchased anything from MAC recently?

The post MAC Haul 2019. appeared first on theFantasia.

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NARS is a brand that I have a love-hate relationship with – no matter how many people love and adore their products, I haven’t come across too many that have made its way to my routine. A few NARS beauty favourites are slowly making their into my routine so I thought I’d share a few of my favourites of the moment!

I like to highlight a few products that are usually not part of everyone’s top / most-loved products because I think they miss some of the hidden gems in the entire collection. Most of the below products probably haven’t been featured so frequently that you’ll click X out of this blog post before reading through the entirety of the post. If you have any favourites I haven’t mentioned, do leave me a comment or @ me on social media – I’d love to try out new things as well.

A brand’s foundation/complexion products often is my benchmark test whether that brand is worth exploring further or not. If it’s a brand that only has 6 shades in their foundation range, you’ll find me skipping it completely because their other products probably cater to one skintone only. The NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation ($60, available here) is my favourite from the ones I’ve tried from the brand. It wears better than Sheer Glow and gives you more natural-looking skin compared to the Velvet Matte foundation. I personally find it overpriced compared to other equally high-performing foundation and for me that would be the biggest drawback (aside from the grass bottle) about this product.

Next up is the NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment ($32, available here) which I’ve raved about before. This gorgeous liquid lipstick formula is so lightweight, budge-proof and long-lasting. I was expecting myself to be as impressed but I was really, really stoked about discovering this product and subsequently getting to know this formula. My favourite colour “Le Freak” is not available in the full-siuzed format.

Finally, the latest launch from the brand is its NARS Climax Mascara ($30, available here) which comes in the sexiest red tube. Billing itself as a volumizing mascara, I was expecting it to be pretty average, pretty much on par with every other high-end mascara in the market for the most part. The wand looks nothing like out of the ordinary and usually high-end mascaras deliver on one or two things at most. This mascara helps lengthen my lashes though it doesn’t hold up curls nor does it stay on long enough. I like that my lashes look more noticeable and is passable enough for everyday use, but probably not one I’d be relying on for those really long days.

Now it’s over to you! Do you have any favourite NARS products I should be checking out next?

The post NARS | A Few Beauty Faves. appeared first on theFantasia.

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I’ve written a lot about my travel makeup bag, and things I keep at the office, but I’ve never really written about my work travel makeup bag. Since I travel quite a bit for work, I have a pretty streamlined process and trusted favourites that I will keep with me. Most of the products you see here would be similar to what I would wear on a daily basis but there are a few items that are new in this routine.

Let me walk you though a few of my favourite products that I trust explicitly for work trips!

The Makeup Bits

My foundation of choice for these trips is something that is low-maintenance, doesn’t require any sort of touch-ups during the day and has a great colour match for my skin. Although I normally would gravitate towards the Laura Mercier Silk Creme Photo Ready Foundation ($60, available here), my skin is paler due to the winter so I’ve been using the NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation ($60, available here). It’s a pleasant enough foundation and I like that it dries well without needing a setting powder.

For the cheeks, I haven’t been able to stray from Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer ($38, available here) which is something I’ve kept repurchasing as it is the perfect matte brown that provides that defined look on the cheeks. As backup and for a quick change if I want to lighten my makeup up, I also brought along this sample of the Bobby Brown Bronzer in #2 Medium ($55, available here). This bronzer is light enough to wear as a blush or if I want to wear a lighter contour powder, this would be what I’d go for.

For the eye makeup, I’m sticking with my favourite Clarins Ombre Iridescente in Rose Silver ($26, available here) which is absolutely perfect for everyday wear that can be dressed up or down. I love how versatile this product is and it’s so easy to apply with or without a brush!

Finally, I’ve been obsessed with using the NARS Climax Mascara ($30, available here) – it’s a decent enough mascara that elongates my straight lashes. I don’t really care for curls as much because of the work nature of these trips.

For the lips, I cannot go without my Nivea lipbalm – it’s just a staple for every trip and makes anything I layer on top less difficult to work with. I decided to bring a liquid lipstick for this trip, and surprise surprise, the one I chose is from NARS. The NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment in “Le Freak” ($30, available here) is the perfect everyday colour to work with.

The Skincare

I chose to keep the skincare incredibly simplistic; to keep my skin hydrated I brought along my Clarins Repair Booster ($40, available here) which I like to mix with my moisturizer before I go to bed or if I want to add a bit of glow to my morning routine. Given how dry my skin gets while flying, I much prefer using my all-time favourite Bioderma Micellar Water.

What do you usually pack in your travel makeup bag?

The post Work Travel Makeup Bag. appeared first on theFantasia.

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NARS is a brand that I have a love-hate relationship with – no matter how many people love and adore their products, I haven’t come across too many that have made its way to my routine. A few NARS beauty favourites are slowly making their into my routine so I thought I’d share a few of my favourites of the moment!

I like to highlight a few products that are usually not part of everyone’s top / most-loved products because I think they miss some of the hidden gems in the entire collection. Most of the below products probably haven’t been featured so frequently that you’ll click X out of this blog post before reading through the entirety of the post. If you have any favourites I haven’t mentioned, do leave me a comment or @ me on social media – I’d love to try out new things as well.

A brand’s foundation/complexion products often is my benchmark test whether that brand is worth exploring further or not. If it’s a brand that only has 6 shades in their foundation range, you’ll find me skipping it completely because their other products probably cater to one skintone only. The NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation ($60, available here) is my favourite from the ones I’ve tried from the brand. It wears better than Sheer Glow and gives you more natural-looking skin compared to the Velvet Matte foundation. I personally find it overpriced compared to other equally high-performing foundation and for me that would be the biggest drawback (aside from the grass bottle) about this product.

Next up is the NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment ($32, available here) which I’ve raved about before. This gorgeous liquid lipstick formula is so lightweight, budge-proof and long-lasting. I was expecting myself to be as impressed but I was really, really stoked about discovering this product and subsequently getting to know this formula. My favourite colour “Le Freak” is not available in the full-siuzed format.

Finally, the latest launch from the brand is its NARS Climax Mascara ($30, available here) which comes in the sexiest red tube. Billing itself as a volumizing mascara, I was expecting it to be pretty average, pretty much on par with every other high-end mascara in the market for the most part. The wand looks nothing like out of the ordinary and usually high-end mascaras deliver on one or two things at most. This mascara helps lengthen my lashes though it doesn’t hold up curls nor does it stay on long enough. I like that my lashes look more noticeable and is passable enough for everyday use, but probably not one I’d be relying on for those really long days.

Now it’s over to you! Do you have any favourite NARS products I should be checking out next?

The post NARS | A Few Beauty Faves. appeared first on theFantasia.

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Seeing the newly launched Sephora Collection Rubber Mask ($8, available here) was a pleasant surprise – it’s a type of face mask I’ve always wanted to try but not necessarily spend tons of money on. It’s a big deal in the world of K-beauty and now every brand has some version of it but with a single-use mask starting at $15? No thank you!

So I turned to one of my favourite brands when it comes to trying out some innovative launch at a fraction of the price.

One of the most underrated affordable beauty brand has got to be the Sephora Collection, which I have written about and reviewed many times throughout the last few years. With products starting at as little as $4 and a bunch of dupes for their higher-end counterparts, the Sephora Collection range is my little splurge when I want to try out something new but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on it or when I want a little pick me up without going out to do a full haul. Plus, at the rate they’re churning out new products, there’s always something to try out for everyone!

Sephora Collection Rubber Mask – The Details

There are two versions of the Sephora Collection Rubber Mask available: Goji Berry and Coconut. They come in this little pail packaging, but don’t let the size in the photos or website fool you – the pail itself isn’t any taller than a credit card.

The mask comes in a powder form, and the idea is that you use a bit of water to make a paste and apply it on your face. It can get messy pretty quickly but I’ve learned a few things over trying this out that will hopefully save you from the mess and grief of having to throw out the unused product.

Firstly, I like the idea of this pail packaging – it’s great that you can use it as a container to make the mix and there’s even a helpful measuring chart on the side to help you measure out how much water to add. That means, you don’t need any additional tools or cleaning up – very convenient! I like that the pail is also easily recyclable but can be repurposed if necessary if you like decanting products! There is a little spoon included on the inside of the lid that you can use to mix the product.

Here is the Sephora Collection Rubber Mask when you open the pail – it comes with a little spoon to mix the mixture; the one I’m using is the Coconut scented one.

Here are the additional tools I recommend having when using the Sephora Collection Rubber Mask – a mask applicator and a smaller container to mix the product!
How to use the Sephora Collection Rubber Mask

But before you get excited and start with this mask-making, please read on to read my experience because this ended up being on of those products I wouldn’t recommend to use per instruction!

Before you go further, do yourself a favour and get a small container (I like to repurpose old mask jars so I went ahead and used the Fresh Rose Mask container I had saved) and if you have one, a mask applicator ($7, available here). I got my mask applicator from Amazon for $7 and it comes in a set of 3. It’s a fantastic tool to have if you like to use face masks on a regular basis – it makes the experience more luxurious, hygienic and waste less product in the long run.

I recommend scooping out about half to start out with into a smaller container. Then add a bit of water to make a paste. Add the water slowly, and keep mixing until you get a runny paste – almost cake batter-like in mixture but not too runny. Ideally it should be quite thick as well otherwise, you’ll end up with a very runny liquid mask on the skin. I’ve taken a picture of the consistency I went with to show you.

The consistency of the Sephora Collection Rubber Mask I used; I mixed it in a separate container so I can get two uses out of it

Use the mask applicator to apply the mixture on your face. The coconut was very cooling on the skin and I really enjoyed that cooling sensation. You want to layer the mixture that it’s thick enough to eventually peel – so I recommend making sure the mixture is opaque on your skin. The mask will harden as it dries, and my coconut one changed into this skin-like prosthetic skin colour which looked kind of creepy. Here’s a shot of it!

Tips for Using the Sephora Collection Rubber Mask

There is a little bit more powder than necessary to make the mask for the full-face. I think Sephora intended for this to be a one-use mask but many reviews indicated they ended up with a lot more than anticipated and not knowing it ahead of time, meant they had to throw out the unused portion as the mask hardens as it dries, meaning that you can’t save it for later use.

The mask smells fantastic too – can’t go wrong with coconut or goji berry. I didn’t end up using the spoon as it was too small to apply with – parts of my skin got dry before I finished applying to the other side which is why having the mask applicator helped. I didn’t apply this with my fingers as I imagine it’s going to be fairly messy. Once you have it on the face, leave it on for 5 minutes or until it hardens. Don’t leave it for too long otherwise it dries out and get cracky as you can see in the above image where I applied it over the lips and the neck.

Unfortunately, my mask didn’t peel off cleanly – parts of it got really dry and even the rubbery part peeled off in flakes. I couldn’t get the mask to peel in one even layer so I ended up washing my face completely. It’s unfortunate that this seems to be a common experience, despite the fact that I had layered the mask thick enough for it to harden. At the end, instead of having one clean mask, I ended up washing down much of it which I then had to clean up to prevent the sink from clogging up.

The Sephora Collection Rubber Mask is a great way to try out the rubber mask trend even it didn’t work out completely. I think I’m changing up the water/powder ratio next time to see if I can get a better result. Ultimately, it was fun to do, but not so much fun after the application. I definitely want to play around some more with this product and see if I can get a better result next time. I’ll keep you updated if it ends up being a success!

Have you tried rubber masks before? What would you suggest I do differently?

The post Sephora Collection Rubber Mask Review. appeared first on theFantasia.

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Every once in a while, a visit to the Sephora Value Set page or What’s New section will result in an order that will make breaking my no-buy or low-buy worth the while. This time around, it was the MAC Hyper Real Prep Set ($56, sephora.ca) that got my attention and actually made me break my makeup no-buy 28 days into the year, because it was such a fantastic deal!

The MAC Hyper Real Prep Set is a limited-edition value set featuring two full-sized, highly popular MAC products as well as a mini, all for a grand total of $56. Purchased together, the two full-sized items will set you back $71. When I purchased this set online at Sephora, they had two versions available, the Pink (featuring the Pinklite “shades” of the strobe cream and Fix+) and the Gold (featuring the Goldlite shares). The purpose of having these two different options available, I would assume, is to make it wearable for different skintones.

I picked up both versions to show you here; I think the Pink will be easiest to incorporate into my routine – pink-based products tend to be focused on the brightening and if they were too cool-toned for my skin, I can mix it into my complexion product to make it workable with my foundation shade. I can do separate reviews on each product if that would be helpful!

What’s included in the MAC Hyper Real Prep Set?
  1. MAC Prep+Prime Fix+ in Pinklite or Goldlite ($31, available here) – full-sized
  2. MAC Strobe Cream in Pinklite or Goldlite ($40, available here) – full-sized
  3. MAC Prep+Prime Natural Radiance in Radiant Pink or Radiant Yellow ($49, available here) – mini

Admittedly, I’ve been fairly ignorant of the the Hyper Real range, which upon further research, seemed to be more focused on the highlighting products and tools. I do know that I love the original Fix+ and I’ve tried a sample of the Strobe Cream before and really liked the glow it gives on the more matte foundation so this set looked very, very promising.

The MAC Prep+Prime Fix+ in Pinklite and Goldlite are new in my collection given its recent launch by the brand. The product is the glowed-up version or the original Fix+ with a bit of shimmer in it and can be worn on the body in addition to the face. The brand mentions that this product immediately illuminates, and adds radiance, improves wear of makeup for 12 hours which are all fairly straight-forward claims, and not at all anything too grand or different than what I would normally expect.

MAC Hyper Real Prep Set in Pinklite

Having long been a fan of the original Fix+, I can see either the Pinklite or Goldlite being a great addition to the collection, especially for the days when my skin is looking dull or sallow and need a bit of that perk. If you wear foundations that are matte, so formula’s like the Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation or MAC’s very own Studio Fix Fluid foundation, I can see this being the perfect finish to add a bit of dewiness and natural glow. The Fix+ works well under or over your makeup and perfect for that extra something on the shoulders, or décolletage.

It’s worth keeping in mind this shimmery Fix+ is not a highlighter so you won’t have to worry about looking clowny with all that shimmers on your face. The beauty about this product is that it features the same original formula we loved about the Fix+ – it helps lock your makeup in place during the day.

MAC Hyper Real Prep Set in Goldlite

The MAC Strobe Cream is a somewhat familiar item in my vanity; I’ve tried a sample of this product before and felt it was worth investing in. The cream is meant to improve the look of your skin giving it a natural glow. Similar to Fix+, it’s meant to enhance your complexion product; the beauty of this cream is that you can mix it with your foundation / bb cream or moisturizer, or simply apply it under. I like pairing this cream with the two foundations I mentioned earlier which tend to feel and veer on the heavier side so having something to “lighten” it up and add some glow to the skin.

Finally, we’ve got the MAC Prep+Prime Natural Radiance in Radiant Pink or Radiant Yellow – the sample size is really too small to finalize my thoughts on this product but I wasn’t immediately impressed by it. Once I applied the primer, I left it for a few seconds before applying my foundation. It didn’t really change the finish of my complexion product in any way and felt almost underwhelming compared to the Strobe Cream. Given how much more expensive this product is, I would recommend trying out the Strobe Cream instead if you are in the market for a new brightening product.

Where to Buy the MAC Hyper Real Prep Set

Have I convinced you to get the MAC Hyper Real Prep Set yet?

At the time of writing, the set is available at sephora.ca and MAC Cosmetics online sites. The MAC Hyper Real Prep set is a really fantastic deal – the two full-sized items will set you back $71 and getting a $15 (20% off if buying separately) discount! If you spot this on your next shopping trip, online or in-store, I think it’s worth picking up!

The post MAC Hyper Real Prep Set Review. appeared first on theFantasia.

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When it comes to an affordable hotel in the right area that has a high-end hotel feel but without the price tag, Bankerhan Hotel near the Galatea Tower (Galatea Kulesi) checks all the boxes and more.

Coming as no surprise to anyone, finding a budget hotel in Istanbul was tougher than I anticipated and perhaps coming at the tail-end of the peak season meant that availabilities were somewhat spotty. I was thrilled to discover that Bankerhan had availabilities for the dates I was staying at, and their double-room was discounted to just a little over CAD$75/night.

Read More: Hermes Cave Hotel Review | Cave Hotel Experience In Cappadocia.

Travelling to Istanbul, most tourists/travelers tend to stay in the “Old Town” (Sultanahmet) or the newer European side, near Taksim Square. Although the options in either of these locations are more plentiful, I wasn’t too impressed by the price for the value I would be getting. Furthermore, I enjoy walking so I don’t mind the occasional extra walk and taking the public transit in between my sightseeing.

If you enjoy this post, discover more of my travels in Turkey!

Bankerhan Hotel: Amenities & What’s Around

The hotel offers 24-hour reception, complimentary water bottles for your first night, toiletries, a minibar, a safe and can arrange transfers/taxi’s at the front desk or during booking. Breakfast is available for an additional €10 per day although passing by it for 3 days, it didn’t look very impressive for the price, and there are tons of street food vendors/juice stands/cafe’s and coffee shops nearby that costs far less than €10. There are 2 Mipro Jet grocery stores, one a 1-minute walk, another, about 5-minute walk from the hotel.

Location & Public Transit

Bankerhan Hotel is conveniently located about 5 minutes’ walk away from Galata Towers which offers the famous panoramic postcard view of Istanbul that you’ve probably seen on Lonely Planet or Discovery Channel.

Tram line 1 (T1) is located about 600m or a 5-minute walk; there are a number of banks / ATMs nearby so it’s easy and convenient to withdraw cash. If you’re taking the tram, T1 goes to all the major tourist sites in Sultanahmet (Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Spice Market, Galata Tower/Galata Bridge). The sites are also walkable distance from each other, but in case you are travelling with children, or prefer to save the walking, having a tram so accessible is helpful.

View of the Deluxe Room at Bankerhan Hotel (C$75/night)

I don’t really recommend taxis in this area just because the traffic is atrocious. You will likely be sitting in traffic much longer than it actually takes to travel on the tram or to walk.

I found Karakoy/Beyoglu area had a better balance of locals and tourists, so I felt much safer than being in a totally tourist-heavy area which often make me wary of the restaurants (will it be overpriced?) and the ATMs (has it been tampered with?) while still being able to see how the day-to-day unfolds here.

Bankerhan Hotel: The Deluxe Room

I had the double deluxe room on the second floor, and it overlooked the one-way street. There’s no view from the hotel but the location is nice and quiet, ensuring a good night’s sleep after all that walking and visiting museums all day. The bathroom is very small and there’s really no counter-space – something to consider if you’re travelling as a couple. The rooms are also on the smaller side, but you do get used to it after a while.

The bed is super comfy and the blankets were just perfect for a good night’s sleep. I love the rainhead showers (I have a thing for rainhead showers and get stupidly excited about them). The TV has plenty of English channels so if you get bored in the evening. The hotel is quite new and has a really modern design so it’s all very hip, boutique-like and has that high-end vibe despite the price tag.

Bankerhan Hotel rooms are on the smaller side, and the deluxe room is perfect for 2 people, though you’ll likely have to squeeze between each other! Here is a view of the modern (albeit small) bathroom

The hotel’s location, and having a room tucked away meant that I had a very relaxing stay, and very good night’s sleep. I enjoyed the ridiculously comfortable bed so much so that I regretted leaving so much! The bathroom is tiny, but if you’re not spending much time at the hotel, it’s not a deal-breaker.

Bankerhan Hotel – The Not So Good

I booked a 1-way transfer from the Ataturk Airport (IST) for €30 (yes, way overpriced for what it was) but discovered it is a service that gets outsourced. The worst part was that there were so much confusion about my pickup that i ended up being stranded at the airport for 2 hours, after arriving at 3:30AM (Fun, I know). Keep in mind, the Ataturk Airport doesn’t have free wifi so I had to buy a SIM card and call the front desk to figure out what the hell was happening.

After I got to the hotel, they compensated the delay/confusion by checking me early (at 6AM, 8 hours early) and I was able to check out 2 hours later with no additional fee.

I wished I had known how cheap it was to book a taxi instead of the transfer. The one-way taxi fee to go to the airport was only TL70 (€9) and it arrived promptly too.

The area around Bankerhan Hotel is very steep and hilly so be prepared to do a bit of a hike up and down.
Barring the poor experience I had after landing, I loved Bankerhan Hotel for a brief stay in Istanbul. Given its proximity to the tram line and inexpensive food options, it’s a hotel that really gives a great bang for your bucks. The hotel was quiet despite the fact that it was booked almost to full capacity.

Have you been to Istanbul before?

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The post Bankerhan Hotel – Istanbul’s Up and Coming Hotel ​ appeared first on theFantasia.

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For Christmas, I gifted myself a package of facials and microdermabrasion treatments as I want to fix the base / skin, to make my skincare routine more effective. In the past, I’ve popped in to do facials only every once in a while. A facial treatment at the Miraj Hammam Spa at Toronto’s luxurious Shangri-La hotel was one of the rare times I allowed myself to “treat yo self”.

While my skin is generally not very sensitive to new treatments or products, I was surprised to find my skin feeling irritated and red post-treatment. Similar to the times when I introduce a strong acid on my skin (AHA and other strong exfoliants), my skin typically gets that stinging sensation and turns a little lobster red. I’ve discovered a couple of accessible and affordable skincare products to keep my skin happy that I wanted to share with you! Since it is also winter, I’ve thrown in my favourite hydration mask of the moment here as well.


The La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 ($15.99, available here) is an effective all-purpose must-have beauty staple for many bloggers. I had a chance to pick the larger size of this in Paris but it is readily available at Well.ca or Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty Boutique for under $15.

The balm has a vaseline-like gel texture, but none of the stickiness or greasy feel upon application. It absorbs easily into the skin so much so you can add a second layer or a moisturizer on top without feeling like you’ve over done it. The balm is unscented and has a light-blue tint to it and is meant to be an all-purpose balm for irritated skin, burns, dryness, rashes, and cuts. It’s gentle enough to use on the specific areas, under the eye, lips and all over the skin.

The next item I’ve loved is the Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Balm ($17, available here). This incredibly nourishing unscented lotion is perfect for the body and face and what makes this particular lotion unique is its soothing and anti-itch properties in addition to being unscented making it perfect for those with sensitive skin or dealing with irritation or redness. Most of Bioderma’s products are gentle enough to use on adults, children and babies alike. A little of this lotion does go a long way, and a 500ml pump bottle lasts me a good 3 months of daily wear on the body and face.

Finally, my favourite hydration mask of the moment is the Clarins HydraQuench Mask ($34, available here) which was transitioned to the new HydraEssentiel range. I love this thirst-quenching mask so much that I’ve been using it so sparingly because I wasn’t sure if the reformulated mask will be as good. I use this mask most frequently during the winter/colder seasons as it leaves your skin feeling less dehydrated and more nourished and plump after! I love the smell of it as well!

So there you go, a few of my favourite skincare staples for irrirated, post-treatment skin that might need a bit more pick me up than usual! What are your go-to products?

The post 3 Affordable Staples for Post Cosmetic Treatment. appeared first on theFantasia.

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