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Sample Killah 2014

This past year, I have been trying to cut back on my beauty obsession.  It started when I purchased the Alex9 drawer unit from Ikea, and set it up in my office.  I intended to use several drawers for makeup, and the rest for office supplies.  As I began to fill the drawers, I realized I was in trouble.  One drawer full of lip products.  Another eyeshadows and palettes.  A third with foundation and primers.  An entire drawers of blushes, bronzers and face powders.  One full of targeted face care items (serums, eye creams, etc) and another of face cleansers, eye makeup removers and sunscreens.  It wasn’t long before I had filled 8 of the 9 drawers.  Drawer 9 was full of empty makeup subscription bags.

I panicked a bit – how had my love for cosmetics gotten so out of control?  I had enough makeup to last me a lifetime, and it was just getting worse with each Sephora order, Shopper’s points event, and trip to the US to visit Ulta.  I started going through drawer by drawer, throwing away items that were past their prime, or just not for me.  I separated brand new items, passing them off to friends and family.  I found the world of online swapping/selling, and created a Pinterest board.  I would package any orders in Ipsy bags at no extra charge, and usually threw in some extra samples or full size products.

I have only allowed myself to purchase an item if I absolutely run out.  This means using up any samples and nearly empty products before opening a new one.  Being more selective has actually been refreshing – when I used up every last drop of concealer, I was able to read and watch reviews, wait for a good sale and purchase what I felt was the best option for my needs.  I don’t have five backup concealers – I have one, and when I run out, I will purchase another.  I’m nearly out of dry shampoo, and look forward to the process of narrowing down my selection and finding a good sale/price when I repurchase.

Purchasing a new item feels so much better when you have waited for it, worked to use up other products first, and when you get to use it regularly because it is the only one you own.

A little bit of a long intro, but this brings me to Kalyn Lords Sample Killah 2014.  Although I don’t interact much with the Canadian blogging scene, I try to add every new Canadian beauty blog I find to my feedly.  I find the content much more relevant.  I  first saw the Sample Killah post several days ago – a bit late, but still early enough that I could participate.

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My progress for week 1 – 15 samples.  Some self tanner, facial masks, whitening strips, conditioner, and lots of skin care.  I figure my skin is either going to love me for the extra attention, or start to revolt from the sudden barrage of new products.  Time will tell.

It’s not too late to sign up yourself – the deadline for your first update it today.  If you don’t have a blog, you can update via your other social media channels.  There’s also $50 on the line for a randomly drawn participant, so if you are interested, sign up here.

p.s. I really enjoyed the Nivea lotion. Fast absorbing, light, very moisturizing.  I have a few other lotions to get through, but I plan to purchase the full size version of this.  I used to use the small tub of Nivea, but found it too thick.  This is a perfect alternative.

Broadway Nails ImPRESS Press-On Manicure Influenster Box

Influenster selected me for a recent Canadian Vox-Box, this time focusing solely on Broadway Nails ImPRESS Press-On Manicure.  I’ve previously received a sample of ImPRESS nails in the Maple Vox Box, for which you can read my review here.  I won’t bore you by repeating the same details, but rather, will give an updated account of my experience with ImPRESS.

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I’ve had pretty good luck with ImPRESS nails, with them sticking for about 5 days before some of the nails begin to come a little loose at the edges.  This time around, however, I happen to be on placement for school in a place that requires hand washing upward of 40 plus times a day as well as personal care for others numbering around the same.  For this reason, I was not able to use the ImPRESS nails while I am in placement, and will have to try them out when I am done in July.

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I tried to take some pictures to model what the nails would look like had I of been able to wear them, bu it just doesn’t do them justice.  I’ve heard others say that the nails are too wide, or too short for their nails, but they perfectly fit my nails.  One of my common complains with press on nails is that they are too long and too narrow for my stubby hands!

Application is as easy as ever.  Just prep your nails with the included cleansing pad, peel the clear backing from the nails to expose the glue, stick it onto your nail, press for a few seconds, and you are done!

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I do like the designs on the nails, but they definitely limit the occasions to which I could wear them.  I would love to see some more subtly, classy designs added to the collection.  Something I could actually wear to work without drawing too much attention.

I would like to thank Influenster for sending me Broadway’s ImPRESS Press-On Nails for testing purposes.  I hope to give them a full trial at the end of my placement.

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Montagne Jeunesse Influenster Prize Pack

This past Tuesday, I recovered from my head cold.  This past Thursday, I was awoken rudely by the flu at 2 am.  It decided to stay and keep me company until early this morning.  In the midst of all things the flu entails, a knock came at my door.  The poor delivery man gave me a double take, and without me acknowledging how sick I was, he said “Don’t worry, I’ve got three kids at home, I know how it is”.   I’m not sure if he meant the fly bug had visited his home as well, or that I looked like I had just wrangled three kids off to school, but either way, it’s been rough!

I opened up the box, and inside was a lovely mix of products from Montagne Jeunesse.  Upon visiting their website, I’ve found that Farley Co is actually host to a number of other well known brands, including some of of my personal favourites, Real Techniques, Batiste, and Eco Tools.

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Body Smoothies and Scrub  – $9.99 for 200 ml

First up is a selection of the new Body Smoothie’s.  I received Buriti, Acai, and Goji Berry Smoothies, and the Black Raspberry Scrub.  I love the scent of the Smoothie’s, they are strongly scented, and quite tropical.  The Black Raspberry scrub smells a little … off to me, similar to other raspberry scents but something in the mix just isn’t right.  The formula seems to be thick like body butters from The Body Shop and Bath and Body Works, but is actually more of a gel texture.

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Foot Tottle Bottle’s – $5.99 for 80 ml

   I also received four of the foot care tottle bottles (a cross between a tube and a bottle).  These include a Foot Scrub, Foot Lotion, Cooling Lotion, and Tired Leg Gel.  I haven’t seen these available locally.

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Montagne Jeunesse Face Masks – $1.87 each at Walmart.ca

   These face masks will be coming to work with me, and given to my lovely coworkers who have been covering for me while I’ve been away sick.  I’m sure they will love the opportunity to pamper themselves a bit!  None of Montagne Jeunesse’s chocolate options made it in the gift package, which I was looking forward to trying, but I can’t complain.  I’ll have to add them on to my next online order, as I’ve yet to find a place locally that carries the line.

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   Lastly was a selection of items meant to help me have my own spa day at home, including some Eco Tools items (yay!), Scottish Fine Soaps Au Lait Milk Bath (I’ve already dipped into these), and a hair wrap and eye mask.  My husband took the Montagne Jeunesse tshirt that isn’t pictured, it had a pop art inspired comic on the front.

   I received the above items courtesy of Montagne Jeunesse and Influenster.  They required no review or blog post on my behalf, but I would like to say THANK YOU! for the wonderful pampering supplies.  They were very much needed this week, and the milk baths have been lovely in relieving my cold and flu symptoms!  I will be sharing with family, friends and coworkers, so I’m sure they will be thankful as well.  Influenster has only recently started offering Canadian Vox Boxes, but I can’t wait to be part of many more.

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Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser Review

I write to you today from the comfort of my bed.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  It was on Monday, but after a week in bed with the flu, I would absolutely LOVE to leave the confines of my home and venture out into the snow.  To make matters worse, I have an assignment worth 30% due Sunday, so I have been doing little bits of that whenever my stomach settles long enough for me to think straight.

I seem to be on the tail end of whichever bug I caught, so what better time to write a review on the new hair products I have been using.  You may remember several weeks ago, I was trying out a new L’oreal hair care line sent to me courtesy of Influenster.  Last week, the follow up box ended up on my doorstep.  It was a little late, likely due to the blast of cold air that decided to blow through the area (reaching under -40 C!).  I don’t blame the postal workers from not wanting to go out to deliver packages!

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   The package contained full sizes of the Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser Shampoo, Conditioner, Split Ends Bandage and Strength Reconstructing Butter.  The line contains Phyto-Keratin Complex with plant based proteins and fruit concentrate, Cupuaçu Butter, and natural lipids, which work together to repair dry and damaged hair.

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   I’ve been using the line for about three weeks now.  I was my hair daily at this time, since I’ve been going to the gym before work.  The scent isn’t too strong – I’m horrible with scents but my best description of it is a light floral/citrus mix.  I’m going on three months without a trim and haven’t felt the urge to call my hairdresser yet, which must mean it’s doing something.

   The Fortifying Shampoo (384 ml) lathers well and leaves my hair feeling clean but not stripped.

   The Fortifying Conditioner (384 ml) is wonderful – I apply it from midway down my hair to the ends, and let it soak in while I wash my face and body.  It is quite thick, and it allows me to de-tangle my hair with a quick run through of my fingers.  It doesn’t seem to build up over time, and my hair doesn’t feel weighed down after the shower.  My curls still show through if I let my hair air dry, which a lot of conditioners don’t allow for.

   The Split Ends Bandage (125 ml) did a fair job of repairing my split ends (or at least masking them until the next washing).    I don’t find the serum to do anything amazing in terms of softness, shine, or decreasing drying time, as my other serums do.  However, the packaging says it is meant to preserve your hairs strength, so maybe I will see improvements with time.  I do love the twist and lock cap, which means I can throw this into my gym bag without worrying about a sticky mess.

   The Strength Reconstructing Butter (250 ml) is very thick, meant to be used in place of the Fortifying Conditioner as needed.  I found it to be very moisturizing.  As with the Fortifying Conditioner, my hair was not weighed down, and it didn’t have any product buildup after several uses.

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  The most notable products in this line definitely has to be the conditioners.  I was surprised with the brand reveal, as the conditioners are quite effective, and to be able to purchase them at drug store prices is quite a steal.

The Split Ends Bandage left a little to be desired, and I found myself mixing it 50/50 with argan oil each time I applied to get all the qualities I look for in a hair serum.  I appreciated that it is working to strengthen my hair, but I would also like to see more shine and quicker drying time.  My hair wasn’t as soft and silky as it has been with other brands in the past, but for a drug store brand, the Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser line holds its own.

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   I haven’t been able to find the line in town yet, but the American Walmart site sells them for $2.97-5.97 each.  I’d imagine Canadian prices will be within the same range, if not a bit higher.

   I was sent the above products from Influenster for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

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L’Oreal Canada Mystery VoxBox

Last week, a surprise package arrived at my doorstep from Influenster.  Inside were three tiny bottles of a mystery L’Oreal line, promising to strengthen my hair, repair the damage that has been done, and prevent further damage.  The credit for these claims is given to the Phyto-Keratin Complex and Cupuaco Butter the line contains.

I received 50 ml each of Shampoo, Conditioner and a Split-End Serum.

photo 2I found the shampoo to smell nice, not too fruity or floral.  It didn’t stand out as amazing, but lathered nicely and left my hair clean without feeling stripped.  It was a pretty standard shampoo consistency, and was a pale yellow with a bit of sheen.

The conditioner was nice and thick, more-so than the usual drug-store conditioner that isn’t marketed as a “deep repair mask”.  I found it really moisturized my hair, leaving it tangle free.

The split end serum was quite thin, but still effective.  I used about a quarter sized amount from about mid length to the ends while my hair was damp, and tried both blowdrying and air drying.  While I usually use a hair oil, I skipped it this week to try to get the full effect of this mystery line.

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The results?  I thought my hair looked fine before, shiny yet a bit dry at the ends.  As I was editing the before and after pictures, my husband said aloud “Wow, what a difference!”.  While I think that my hair is definitely shinier before thanks to the hair oil, it also has quite a few split ends and flyaways.  After using the line for one week, my hair looks more nourished.

I’d be interested to see what the long term impact would be, as usually when I switch to a new product my hair behaves nicely for awhile.  While my hair feels clean and soft, it doesn’t have as much shine as I would like, and I’ve had to mix a hair oil with the split end serum.  I also found that the split end serum didn’t cut down on drying time like my hair oil does.  When I’m getting ready at the gym in the morning, any minutes spared with the blow dryer are much appreciated!

The conditioner is what I am the most curious about.  If this is a drug-store brand, I’m hoping it will be an affordable choice for winter conditioning.  I find regular conditioners just don’t cut it in Northern Ontario winters, especially when I have to wash my hair daily after sweaty gym workouts.  Spending upwards of $40 for a tub of deep conditioner isn’t ideal, but neither is having to chop off my hair due to dry ends.

My guess for the brand?  L’Oreal has many different brands under them, and this entire campaign is set up to be super mysterious.  My first through was something from an international market, such as L’Oreal Elvive.  After doing a bit of googling for the Phyto-Keratin Complex and Cupuacu Butter, I found many links to the Garnier Damage Eraser line (mostly from other bloggers who were quicker to the draw than I was!).  While not new to the US, this line hasn’t yet released in Canada.

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Looking forward to the big reveal!  As always, thank you to L’Oreal and Influenster for providing me with these products for testing purposes.

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Recent Reads

Late 2013, in an effort to curb my insomnia and limit my time spent in front of the television, I started trying to find ways to add literature to my daily habits.  I’ve always loved to read – when I was a child, I would take out the maximum limit of books from the library, finishing 20-30 short stories within the week and returning the following Saturday to choose another pile.

I’m not the biggest fan of “fluff” reads, if a book doesn’t have me wanting to read more after the first 100 pages or so, I move on to something else.  I’ll usually try the book again in a few months in case my interests have changed.

Fitting reading into my daily life is somewhat of a challenge.  I don’t have the time to spend entire weekends with a good book anymore, but a well stocked iPad on my night table allows me to sneak in 20 minutes before I drift off to sleep.  If I wake in the middle of the night, I read some more from a dimly lit screen.  My troubles with insomnia seem to be improving, and I no longer go 2-3 nights without sleep.

I purchased my mothers seldom used Kobo from her for $35, and stocked it with even more books.  It lives in my glove box, and I pull it out during my hour long lunch breaks.  I’ve started looking forward to a good 40 minutes of reading with the windows of my car open, overlooking a lake and watching runners and cyclists go by.

In the latter part of 2013, I read more books than I had the entirety of 2012.  I seem to be continuing this habit, having finished three books December 2013 and the first ten days of January 2014 alone.  My current interests seem to be fiction with some historical relevance, or

0385346859The Dinner – Herman Koch

“The Dinner” was on the wishlist of the person I drew for Secret Santa this year. I was intrigued by the hype, and dowloaded the ebook. I hope the recipient isn’t as dissapointed as I was. I found the book to be a very slow read, and it didn’t draw me in to the characters. Where the writer tried to create suspense by limiting the details, it created frustration as I didn’t want to read through 10 pages to get what could have been written in 5. The books content was drawn out and interspersed with a lot of filler, and just wasn’t a good match for me.

Had I of not read all the hype beforehand, I would have just thought this was a mediocre story, but I had high expectations and was left wanting more.

0385494785Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer

My late 2013 interest with Everest started with clicking on a documentary on Netflix that was intriguing and left me wanting to know more. After reading countless articles online about various Everest expeditions, “Into Thin Air” kept emerging as the leading must have read. I purchased a copy from Chapters, and was done in three days.

Into Thin Air gives an in depth, albeit biased, account of the May 1996 summits in which many lives were lost. I would love to read more about the other climbers perspectives, but find that the author has done an excellent job providing the reader a far greater account of what an Everest expedition is like than any documentary or news article will.

Krakauer provides many details about the the various climbers on the mountain, the circumstances of each day, and decisions that were made. He touches on errors he made himself, both on the mountain and after his descent.

A highly recommended read.

0307718964  Five Days at Memorial – Sheri Fink

I’m just finishing the last hundred pages, and have really enjoyed this book. The level of detail and research the author has put into the book is remarkable. Fink provides an account of the circumstances leading up the the hurricane, many perspectives of the days at Memorial, the aftermath, and even a current look at more recent disasters and changes to legislation.

Five Days provides many details about the health professionals, patients, families, rescuers, and legal professionals who had a role (or were refused a role) in the events at Memorial, allowing the reader to understand the people behind the decisions that were made.

I found myself engaged, but only able to read so much at once. I found the book repeating itself at times, and that many details in this nearly 1 200 page novel could have been written more succinctly to make reading the book more enjoyable to the reader.

Please let me know if you have  read any great books lately!  I have a few on the go right now but haven’t found one yet that really engages me.

All books were purchased by myself, and all opinions are my own.

Influenster Canada Maple VoxBox

Influenster had been hinting at a Canadian program for much of 2013, without giving an actual launch date.  Early December, this package arrived on my doorstep without warning:

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Contents include:

80caa94274e711e3a8d4123012349bc2_8Skinny Cow Milk Chocolate Heavenly Crisp and Dreamy Clusters: $4.29/4 pack or $1.29 each

  • Skinny Cow Heavenly Crisp bars bring you layers of wafer with delicious chocolate creme flavoured in a milk chocolatey coating.  At 100 calories per 19g bar, say yes to delicious!
  • These bite sized crunchy crisps and creamy caramel drenched in milk chocolate are only 120 calories per 28g pouch. 
  • I usually don’t like 100 calorie type snacks – I’d prefer to have an apple or asian pear with some almond butter to better allocate my calories each day (I’m a shortie, and only get 1200-1500 daily).  I wasn’t a huge fan of the Dreamy Clusters as they were very sweet, but I did like the Heavenly Crisp Bar. It was pretty light, and was a nice alternative to having a piece of chocolate as the wafers gave a satisfying crunch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANYC New York Color Big Bold Curl Mascara:
$4.99

  • Big Bold Curl Mascara’s oversized curved brush is he ultimate way to get outrageosly thick and super sexy lashes.  One stroke gives your lashes up to 12x more volume and 99% more lift.
  • I’ve used NYC bronzers in the past, and love them for being ridiculously cheap but still looking great.  Influenster sent me a couple $1.00 NYC coupons as well, which was generous considering they are already cheap enough!
  • I really liked the giant brush on this mascara, and that it had actual bristles instead of those rubber bristles that most brushes have now.  It gave a lot of volume and curl, and was a nice dark black.  My only complaint would be that it was hard to get the very outer lashes with the giant brush.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANYC New York Color Big Bold Plumping Lip Gloss: $4.99

  • Big Bold Plumping Lip Gloss makes lips look up to 50% fuller with a high gloss shine that lasts up to 4 hours.  The ultra-soft, mega applicator gives full and even coverage for beautiful, perfectly plump lips.
  • The applicator for this gloss is HUGE!  I found the effect t be a bit much for me – a lot of shine and shimmer, but at the same time not sticky.  I didn’t find the gloss to be plumping, but it does make your lips look bigger since they are so shiny!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABroadway Nails ImPRESS Press-On Manicure: $8.99-$10.99

  • imPRESS Press-On Manicure by Broadway Nails is the revolutionary way to apply polish! Get a salon perfect manicure in seconds – simply peel off, press on, and you’re done (No glue needed!).  There’s no drying, a killer shine and a manicure that lasts up to a week. 
  • I’ve already posted about these nails, but I will repeat that I am a fan.  No more nail glue for this girl!

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Montagne Jeunesse Clay Spas: $2.49

  • Join the revolution and start a new weekly skincare regime with the Clay Spas from Montagne Jeunesse.  These natural bamboo fabric masks are infused with clay for a cleansing experience that is better, quicker and easier than ever before.
  • I’ve already reviewed this mask, but I will say that apparently I’m not one for change and I actually prefer a regular old clay mask.  I do still like the variety of other masks Montagne Jeunesse offers, more so than any other brand I have seen!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIce Breakers DUO: $1.99

  • New Ice Breakers DUO combines sweet fruity taste with refreshing cooling crystals.  Ice Breakers DUO is a two sided mint with a fruity flavoured, textured side and a minty, smooth side that cools and freshens your breath.
  • These were delicious, and lasted only two days in my house.  I made the mistake of leaving the container on my kitchen counter, and my husband and I would each take one or two each time we passed by.

I’ve had a lot of fun trying everything out.  I love being able to try out new products, so the Maple VoxBox is right up my alley.

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.  All opinions are my own.

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