The Empties of January 2015

Aside from two products, January has been the month of K-beauty item testing. I went on a huge Memebox binge in October and November, and because of the sloooow shipping from Korea, I didn't get most of them until December. The result is that I am now drowning in Korean cosmetics, and have been using them exclusively in order to test out what works best for my skin.

Julep Oxygen Smoothing Base Coat

Julep Oxygen Smoothing Base Coat: I discovered the Julep Maven subscription last summer and have loved everything I've received from them since then. This base coat is no exception. I learned early on that this base coat shouldn't be used with just any polish. It's quite thick and opaque, and works best under glitters. For those who adore glitter nail polish, this base coat is a miracle worker. I used to use white glue before applying anything with sparkles so that I could just peel it off in one coat, and not sit there fussing with each nail for ten minutes. This Julep product works almost the same way, except you can use regular polish remover. It has the added benefit of allowing oxygen to permeate the nails, so that they don't turn yellow. It retails on their website for $18 (nuts), but there is always a way to get Julep products cheaper. I usually wait for the items to appear in their Savvy Deals section, Secret Store, or as an add-on option to my monthly box. A ton of coupon codes are also floating around the internet on blogs and coupon websites like RetailMeNot. There is no reason anyone should be paying retail prices for Julep.

Make Up Forever HD Primer

Make Up Forever HD Primer: I have a confession to make. When I want to wear a full face of makeup, I use two primers. Underneath Benefit's POREfessional, I like to use Make Up Forever's HD Primer in Neutral. Up until a few months ago, I was obsessed with it and would have probably refused to use anything else to prime my face. Then I woke up and realized I was using $70 worth of makeup before applying my actual makeup. But that's a story for another day. If I'm spending $40 on a product, it better perform exceptionally well, and this does. I find that the MUF primer does a better job than the POREfessional at blurring fine lines and wrinkles, and doesn't leave my face feeling greasy or cake-y. It settles in nicely, and creates the perfect canvas for applying makeup. I'm hoping to find a hidden gem in my k-beauty pile or great drugstore dupe before I break down and just buy this again.

Purederm Tea-Tree Pore Freshener

Purederm Tea-Tree Pore Freshener: This did nothing for me. I think it may have actually made me break out, even though tea tree is supposed to be good at controlling oil and reducing 'troubles' (read: acne). It left a weird film on my face, like it never got fully absorbed by my skin. Most k-beauty aficionados are Purederm fangirls, but this toner was enough to turn me off the brand completely.

Skinfood Egg White Pore Meringue Foam

Skinfood Egg White Pore Meringue Foam: I hated this foaming cleanser until I learned how to use it properly. It actually made it into the trash can a month ago, until my niece came to visit and saw it and wanted to try it out. Gross, I know. I'm glad she fished it out though, because it ended up being a really great working face wash. The trick is to use it after an oil cleanser (it's called double cleansing) and to not leave it on the face for too long, because it is way too harsh on its own. Even the oiliest face would be at risk of drying out and flaking if this was used improperly on a regular basis. Once I wash off my facial oil, I do a quick cleanse with the foam to get rid of the residue, and it ends up leaving my face feeling the perfect kind of clean.

Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Liquid Nose Pack: I purchased this product on its own from TesterKorea because it was on sale. I need to use something to unclog my pores and this seemed like a good bet. It's liquid, so you can apply it to any part of your face with large pores. My issue was that I could never get the correct coverage. If I spread it too thick, it would never dry, and washing it off was a huge mess. Plus, my pores were still clogged. If I spread it too thin, it didn't grip on to the gunk properly, and peeling it off was a huge mess. Again, the pores were still clogged. I gave it five good tries until I gave up and tossed it. Goodbye $4.

Solucion 9 Aztec Therapy Shampoo: I need more of this shampoo, stat! I'm so sad I only received the tester in my Hair Salon Memebox and not the full size that they had sent out previously. It's a tiny tube, but lasted me a week because it cleansed my hair so well. I only needed to lather and rinse once. Forget the repeat. My scalp is also perpetually dry in the winter and the shampoo didn't exacerbate the issue like most of the others I've used before and after it. If anyone knows where I can get a bottle, please let me know!

La'dor Perfect Hair Filler: I also really liked the La'dor hair mask I received in the Hair Salon Memebox.  It left my hair shiny and feeling super soft, but also strong. I noticed I didn't suffer as much hair breakage during the styling process as I usually do. My hair still looked healthy after basically frying it with a flat iron. Yay for Korean hair care! The biggest downside of this hair treatment is that you need to mix it, 1 part solution to 1 part water, so you need to remember to have something on hand in the shower or bath to do that in.

Note: Memebox has notified it's international customers that they will no longer be shipping to countries outside of Korea, China, and the USA. For anyone who is k-beauty curious, I recommend heading over to the blog Fanserviced-b for reviews on a lot of great products and information on where to buy them.


A Small Break From Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Keep Calm and Dance Parent On

Now that dance is back in session, and full-throttle at that, I find that I have less and less time for myself. When you're carting around a child to activities almost 7 days a week, your evening is no longer your own. Sure, after homework is done, everyone is washed up, read to, and tucked in bed, I might have an hour or so to pay attention to my PVR before I pass out myself. Otherwise, the only free time that I have is at the studio while the little girl is in class, or at the library while she's being tutored, or at the gym while she's working on walk-overs.

There aren't many activities available to parents who choose not to, or are unable to leave for those few hours of dance a day. In my case, I live too far from the studio to make going back and forth an option. Also, I try not to leave for the mall or any other store, because I'm technically already spending money. Sure, chatting with the other parents is an option, some of them have become great friends. The best part about great friends though, is that you don't have to spend every second talking to them. You can catch up, have a laugh, sip your coffee, and then just relax. How to relax is the issue. It's not like you can break out the spa tools and give yourself a mani/pedi. So, how can a parent spend quality 'me' time at the studio?

1. Catch up on work: My least favourite option. This totally defeats the purpose of 'me' time. I get that some people are always on the clock, but if this is the only break you're going to get that day, just take it!

2. Knit/Crochet: This is the best artistic endeavor I've come across. You need minimal space for supplies and movement, and most people find it incredibly relaxing. There is always a feeling of accomplishment after because there's visible progress in an hour or two, and most of what you make can be useful (especially in Canadian winters). It also has the upside of being a quiet activity. Really, any hobby along these lines will do. Perhaps you can take up needlepoint?

3: Become a Netflix junkie: My choice activity for a while, but it only works if the studio gives their guests access to wi-fi. This may be the only way you have time to enjoy a film. This does require the purchase of costly device though - iPad, laptop, smartphone, and don't forget the headphones!

4. Planning: Bring a notebook. It may seem like this is also being done for other people, but honestly, it alleviates a lot of the work load from the coming days/evenings. Budgeting, meal planning, vacation itineraries - these are all valuable endeavors that will save you time and stress. You will actually create more free space in your day for yourself by taking this up.

5. Reading: I've been a voracious reader since before I could remember. I will read anything really, but found myself lacking any time to. This is obviously my choice studio activity. Sometimes it gets a bit loud, but along with getting to check a book off you're 'must-read' list, there is also the benefit of improved concentration and focus. I couldn't sit still during activities until I started bringing a book with me to all of them.

I'd love to know how other people spend their time during activities. Maybe there is something totally awesome I'm missing out on!


December Empties (only a week late!)

Hair+ Velvet Nutri-Injection

HAIR+ Velvet Nutri-Injection:
My niece got this in her Memebox #70 Thumb's Up! Bloggers' Picks box a while back. She has no interested in anything Memebox sends her besides cutesy makeup and therefore, it ended up in my stash. Memebox claims the value of this little tube is somewhere around $5. I'm pretty wary about trying new things in my hair because I haven't had much luck in the treatment/leave-in department in a while. This little baby changed all that. I applied the treatment after towel drying and then blasted my hair with a blow-dryer. It felt baby soft, but not weighed down or greasy, even after being subjected to about 10 minutes of hot air on the highest setting. I got about three uses out of the tiny tube, even though Memebox claims it's one time use. My hair is also pretty long, so if I can stretch it that far, this could possibly last someone with shorter hair about 2 weeks. A+ HAIR+.

HolikaHolika Baby Silky Foot Mask Sheet

 HolikaHolika Baby Silky Foot Mask Sheet: Another Memebox item, this time from #77 Foot Therapy. I love foot peeling masks and prefer to use those, so this sat around for a while. I'm not sure if I left it alone for too long, but the essence was almost completely dried up when I actually decided to put my feet inside the mask booties. Because of that, the treatment basically did nothing for my feet. Even if it the product was all there, I feel like I could have gotten a better result by using foot cream, putting on some socks, and then going about my regular business. They're not worth the discomfort of keeping them on, even if the cost is only $3.

Tonymoly Panda's Dream Eye Patch

Tonymoly Panda's Dream Eye Patch: I used about 8 of these last month. They came in really handy when I was running out of eye cream. There is so much essence in these packages, that even if the eye masks are one time use, the remainder can be stored and used at another time. They also work way better on my fine lines and brightening up my dark circles than any eye cream or treatment I used before them and better than the one I'm currently using. I really need to invest in another economy pack from BeautynetKorea. You get 10 sets for $7, which is a pretty sweet deal. I'm pretty sure they're $2 a pair at Pacific Mall.

SecretKey Color Recipe The PINK Cream

SecretKey Color Recipe The PINK Cream: Hands down, this is the best cream for fine lines and wrinkles that Memebox has sent so far. I wouldn't have even known about this beauty if my niece hadn't tossed me her extra Thumb's Up! Bloggers' Picks products. At first, I wasn't really happy with the texture of the cream because it felt like the gel and cream capsules were leaving a sticky film on my face. That did go away after a little bit though, and it ended up plumping up the lines in my forehead, while leaving my face looking matte and fresh. That's no small feat considering I suffer from a constantly shiny t-zone and resting b*tch face (those anger lines are always there!). I've got about 6 or 7 more face creams to use up before I can justify purchasing another tub, but when I do get around to buying it, it won't be from Memebox. They feel that they can charge $34 for this. BeautynetKorea will sell it and ship it to me for $11.

Harvey Prince Hello Body Cream

Harvey Prince Hello Body Cream: Ugh. Just thinking about this cream makes me nauseous. I received the sample size in my first Birchbox and I was pretty pleased. It's winter. One can never have enough body/hand cream during Canadian winter. Then I opened it. This cream REEKS. It's supposed to be infused with the 'best selling' Harvey Prince Hello perfume, but they added way way way too much. I wasn't even able to discern whether the product did a good job at moisturizing because as soon as I applied it after my shower, I had to jump back in and wash it off. I have nothing against fragranced creams, but this is more of a cream-style perfume, and the scent was not appealing to me at all.

amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo  

amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo: Obsessed!!! When I got this in my Birchbox I actually jumped for joy, because I had just finished another sample package of this that my hairdresser had given me. I've tried so many different kinds of dry shampoo, and none of them have worked this well for me. Batiste looked like it was stripping the colour from my hair, LUSH No Drought made my scalp itchy, and TRESemme was just all-around caca. I have black hair, and the amika blends well, adds volume, and smells pretty. As soon as I finished this, I bought the full size from the Birchbox website. All of the items they feature in their boxes have free shipping for the month, plus they give you points for product reviews, which can be applied to purchases from their store. I had 200 points, so the 5.3 oz can cost me a total of $6.50 CDN. YAY Birchbox!


ColourPop Holiday Haul

Colourpop Haul

I am not a makeup junkie. My skincare routine is as elaborate as possible to ensure that I don't have to spend hours on makeup. Usually I just slap on a layer of Benefit's Porefessional, some concealer under my eyes and a layer of mascara and I'm good to go. Unfortunately, this doesn't work for the holidays. One is expected to look better than the everyday at parties and other outings.

I did a massive makeup purge earlier in the fall, so I was basically left with nothing to put on my face in December. After securing the basics, I started researching online for the cheapest, but most attractive makeup items to complete my holiday looks. Enter ColourPop. At $5 per shadow, lip liner, and lip stick, how can you go wrong? After putting enough items in your shopping cart, the $14.95 international shipping fee seems almost reasonable.

ColourPop Frida Lumiere Brink Swatches

I decided to purchase the Lip Pencils rather than the Lippie Stix because one of the constant opinions expressed in the online reviews is that the matte Lippie Stix have more of a satin finish. Regardless, I ended up hating these, but that's my own fault. I keep trying to pull off the perfect nude lip and failing. My natural lip colour is almost an exact match to Lumiere, so that was a wash. Brink and Frida made my lips look barely a shade darker and lighter. They're beautiful, just not on me. Maybe I'll take the hint, slap on some lip chap and call it a day on the neutrals. Or maybe I'll forget all about my failure and go back and buy the Brink/Frida/Lumiere Lippie Stix and fool myself into thinking I'll get a different result.

ColourPop Down With Decorum Swatches

My shopping cart originally had every metallic shade that ColourPop offered, but I managed to reign myself in and just purchase their metallic holiday set, Down With Decorum. Most of their holiday sets are contain limited edition products, but I chose this one because Game Face, Liberty, and Mooning are part of their standard collection and I could repurchase them when I ran out. I love love LOVE these shadows. Even Glitterati, which is significantly less pigmented than the others. ColourPop recommends applying these with your finger to get the best coverage, but I am way too heavy-handed for that. The first time I tried the shadows using my fingers, I ended up looking like I smeared mud all over my eyelid. I now use a stiff shadow brush and achieve the same pigmentation by layering the product. I'm officially obsessed!

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