Esoteric Aesthetic Eye Shadows Review and Swatches

Hey everybody! Today (or rather, tonight at the time I'm writing this) I have swatches from a newer indie company, Esoteric Aesthetic. Specializing in eyeshadows based on magic and faith, there are
currently 23 core shades to choose from and five limited editions.

Full-size shadows (1 gram in a 5 g jar) are $5 USD, and samples (1/8 tsp in a baggie) are $1 USD. EA ships worldwide (yay!)

I generously received samples of the core shades to review (thank you!) I didn't include the full listing descriptions in my post, because it's already quite long. I do recommend you read them though (by clicking the shade names) to learn more about each shade's namesake! Swatches below the cut:

Amie: Naturally Kind Skincare -- Morning Dew Matte-Finish Moisturizer, Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask, Morning Light Hydrating Daily Moisturizer, Radiant Dawn Exfoliating Daily Wash Review, Photos, Swatches

I'll be honest with you: I don't often find skincare very exciting. I find the products are often overhyped, overpriced, and underdeliver. Sure, there are plenty of exceptions, and what doesn't work for me may not work for you, and vice versa. Still, skincare products to me just aren't as exciting as, say, a new lipstick or sparkly eyeshadow. Here is an exception, my friends:

Released exclusively to Shoppers Drug Mart last August, Amie Skincare (which is French for "friend") is designed for all skin types, and crosses off many of the checkmarks of conscious consumers: at least 95% natural ingredients, on average, in all products; suitable for vegetarians and vegans; not tested on animals; and free of ingredients including parabens, petrochemicals, SLES and SLS, and animal extracts; and all products are made in the UK. Even better? None of the products cost over $12!

As soon as I read the press release, I knew I was in for something new and exciting. Look at those bottles! They are bright, cute, and could easily find space on the sink of people of all ages. The product inside also matches the bottle colour (adorable!) Opaque, airtight bottle packaging is also preferable to jar packaging, as it keeps important ingredients stable.

On to the reviews!

Morning Dew Matte-Finish Moisturizer ($12, 100ml) contains natural plant sugars to help hydrate skin, as well as rosehip and bilberry to nourish and soften. This moisturizer claims to control oil and mattify skin, while keeping it soft and hydrated. Out of the four products I'm reviewing today, this is the only one I lean more towards "like" than "love." It has a stronger fragrance than I like in a moisturizer, but it does leave my skin with a matte finish. Its moisturizing qualities are on the lower end of the spectrum, so would be more suitable for oily skin than dry (though I'd imagine if you have dry skin, you wouldn't need a matte-finish moisturizer!)

I don't tend to have a lot of shine breakthrough, especially in the cooler temperatures, so I can't speak for those with very oily skin on how well the moisturizer controls oil. I didn't notice any breakthrough, but that generally goes for any moisturizer I use. I would check out the Morning Dew Matte-Finish Moisturizer if you are looking for light moisture and shine control, but I wish it contained SPF -- include it and I'd definitely feel more enthusiastic about it!


Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask ($12, 100ml) contains peppermint extract and lime to purify and cool, and claims to combat oiliness and blemishes. I love kaolin clay-based masks, as this one is, as they really do work well to clean out pores and soften skin. This mask is no exception, and it has a refreshing mint/lime scent (though it is strong -- I don't put it on my under-eye area as the scent be irritating. I'd avoid this mask if you're very sensitive to smells, especially mint). The mask is simple to use -- put a thin layer on your face, leave it to dry for about ten minutes, and rinse off. The product's consistency is thinner than some kaolin masks I've tried, which I like a lot because it's much easier to rinse off.

The Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask leaves my pores cleaned and my skin soft. It can be used once or twice a week, and I've incorporated it into my skincare routine for that extra bit of pampering. This 100ml tube should last a while; I still have a lot of product left after using it maybe 10 or so times. A must-try!


Morning Light Hydrating Daily Moisturizer ($12, 100ml) contains rose extract, rose hip oil, and mallow to keep skin soft and hydrated. To cut to the chase: I love this. I've been using it at night and it may become my HG nighttime moisturizer! This has a light rose scent, a thin (but not watery) consistency, and it feels like the price tag should be double or more than it actually is. My combination skin loves the formula, and it adds the right amount of moisture, leaving my skin soft and happy. If you've ever tried The Body Shop's Vitamin E moisturizer, it reminds me a lot of that, except this has better packaging (the latter is in a jar) and is less expensive. 

I really recommend trying out the Morning Light Hydrating Daily Moisturizer! I'm not sure how well it will play with drier skin types -- it might work better as a morning moisturizer, but I will definitely be testing this (and buying it) in the winter when my skin is dry. 


Radiant Dawn Exfoliating Daily Wash ($10, 150ml) contains blueberry seeds to exfoliate, and green apple and lemon extracts to refine and tone skin. It's also 100% soap-free. First, I am very happy this cleanser uses seeds to exfoliate instead of plastic microbeads which are terrible for fish. Second, I haven't been using this daily, as I think it would be overkill for my skin; instead, I've been using it every other or every two days. It has a light, perfume-y and slightly green apple scent, and the exfoliating seeds are well-dispersed to give the skin a good scrub. I wouldn't scrub too hard as they can be a bit harsh, but light, smoothing motions work well.

The Radiant Dawn Exfoliating Wash leaves my skin smooth without it being dry or tight. The every other or every two days schedule works for my skin, but you could try using it daily if your skin needs more exfoliation. Another win from Amie, and thank you to them for not putting those terrible microbeads in the formula!


Product swatches, from left to right: 
Morning Dew Matte-Finish Moisturizer, Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask, Morning Light Hydrating Daily Moisturizer, Radiant Dawn Exfoliation Daily Wash

I am so excited about Amie's launch here in Canada! It's refreshing to have affordable skincare that performs well. There are four more products in the Canadian launch as well: Morning Clear Purifying Facial Wash ($10, 150ml -- I will have a review of this soon!), Petal Perfect 2-in-1 Cleansing Toner ($8, 200ml), Bright Eyes Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover ($8, 125ml), and New Bloom Gentle Cleansing Wipes ($6.50, 25 wipes). I want to try them all, especially the toner which is alcohol-free! 

Have you checked out Amie? Any of these products catch your eye? 

Products sent for consideration. No monetary compensation given. All opinions are my own.

The Stayfree Challenge: How Do Stayfree Ultra Thin Pads Compare?

(I'm baaaaaaaaaack! I apologize for my lengthy absence; I don't really have a great excuse for it other than head crazy and a terrible sleep schedule snowballing and causing me to lose my stride. BUT, I have many upcoming posts and I'm very happy to be back! I missed you all!)

Ah, pads. There's nothing very glamorous about them, is there? Yet periods are a reality for most pre-menopausal women, and if we have to dedicate 3-5 days a month to wearing a "women's hygiene" product, we should really go for what's comfortable and effective, shouldn't we?

Such is the idea behind the Stayfree Challenge. Stayfree contacted me to see if I wanted to take the challenge, which involved the ubiquitous blue liquid test. You know those commercials where a company pours blue liquid on their pad and those from rival companies? Well, I got to try it myself, and it sure was fun! (Full disclosure: I did read earlier posts from other bloggers who took the challenge, but I wanted to try it myself to see if my results were the same; and also, experiments are awesome.)

(Apologies in advance for the shoddy lighting in these photos -- the testing area was too big for my lightbox!)

First we have a mat which is our challenge area, and pretty straight-forward.

In the kit were a pack of Stayfree Ultra Thin Pads, competitor number one and two pads, blotting sheets, three 5ml vials of blue liquid, and three 5lb weights.

The pads in their wrappers, side by side. I have to say I do prefer Stayfree's packaging -- blue is one of my favourite colours, and it's also soothing (helpful for periods!) Can you guess the brands of the competitors? ;)

Pads unwrapped and stuck to the mat.

I then poured one bottle each of the blue liquid onto the pads. You can see that Competitor #2's liquid spread pretty far down. Then it was time to wait 30 seconds for the liquid to absorb, using my handy phone as a stopwatch!

After thirty seconds had passed, it was time to put a blotting sheet and 5lb weight on each pad for 5 seconds.

Five seconds later... voila! There was only a small bit of transfer on Stayfree's blotting sheet, with more on Competitor #2's, and Competitor #1's faring the worst -- it actually stuck to the weight when I lifted it, as you can see.

A closer look at Stayfree. I'm impressed! It's clear that the pad absorbed most of the liquid, which is amazing because who wants stains on their underwear?!

Without the blotting sheets. Competitor #2 wasn't terrible, but I don't like the way it spread the liquid up and down. Competitor #2 looks like an underwear disaster! Stayfree is the clear winner here!

Well, I'm convinced! I used to buy whatever was cheap or on sale, but I think I'll be sticking with Stayfree now! I really enjoyed performing this experiment, and it's nice to have been able to see my own results as opposed to advertising (because you never know if it's truly accurate). Thanks Stayfree for the opportunity, and also:


Stayfree Ultra Thin pads are available at most mass market stores and drugstores! Will you be trying them? Or are you already a fan?

Stayfree Challenge pads and kit sent for review. No monetary compensation was given. All opinions are my own. 

MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua Smoky Extravagant Mascara Review, Photos

Hey everybody! Sorry for the radio silence! I visited St. Andrews, NB, last week and totally underestimated how much traveling wipes me out. I'll have my final #SampleKillah count up tomorrow, as well as more in the week!

Today, I bring you a review of MAKE UP FOR EVER's latest mascara, Aqua Smoky Extravagant ($28 CAD). The waterproof take on Smoky Extravagant, it's supposed to add "volume, length, curl, and precision to lashes" and deliver "longwearing color without clumping." So, how does it hold up?

First off, I love the packaging -- the curved tube with the aqua band is very sleek; definitely something I'm happy to see from a $28 mascara! I have no issues holding it in my hand or applying.

The wand's brush is large and made of fibre. I usually dislike large mascara brushes, but MUFE was smart and gave it a conical shape, allowing the inner lashes to be reached without smearing mascara all over. I really like the brush's design and find it so much easier to use than other mascaras with large brushes!

In the picture above, I'm wearing two coats of Aqua Smoky Extravagant on both eyes. Note my left (right in-person) lashes are perma-wonky, no matter the mascara. My right (left in-person) are a much better representation.

I found the mascara very easy to use, using the thicker side for the outer lashes and the tip for the inner lashes. There's very little clumping and I like the amount of length and volume it adds.

I think you can get a better idea of how the mascara looks with a full-face photo! I think the mascara is good for both day and night looks; you can amp it up by adding more layers without risking it getting too clumpy (though a metal lash comb is always good to have just in case!) or play it down with one or two layers.

As for the waterproof aspect: I wouldn't say it's 100%. It will smudge if you take a nap, are sweating a lot (high humidity for the win!), and it won't last a shower. But it's still a good formula and does last all day if it doesn't come in contact with the oils of your body or a lot of water. It holds curl too, which is good for my wonky eye that never want to stay curled. It also needs a good makeup remover like Bioderma Sensibio to completely remove.

Is MUFE's Aqua Smoky Extravagant Mascara worth $28? I'd say so, even just to try it. I really like the way it makes my lashes look, as well as the longevity. I wouldn't buy this looking for something that will last a dip in the pool or a long workout session, but for a well-performing mascara that can be dressed up or down, Aqua Smoky Extravagant is definitely worth a look.

Sephora's running a deal now through August 10th where you can get extra points for each purchase -- 2x for Beauty Insiders, 3x for VIBs, and 4x for VIB Rouges. Good time to pick this up if you're fancying it!

Product provided for review. No monetary compensation given. All opinions are my own.

Sample Killah Week 3

Can you believe it's Week 3 of Sample Killah already? And once again, my count is a bit low. Here's what I've killed:


shu uemura Full Shimmer Illuminating Shampoo: I believe I received this in my very first Topbox from December 2011! Way past overdue, huh? This is an alright shampoo... I can't say I noticed more shine than normal, plus it's way more expensive than my usual mass market brand of shampoos.

Nexxus Humectress Ultimate Hydrating Conditioner: Also a good conditioner, but I think I get comparable results from cheaper brands!

L'Oreal Professionnel Mythic Oil: Same comments as last time -- a nice, light oil that doesn't weigh down my hair or leave it looking greasy. I'm considering buying a full-size unless I find a cheaper alternative. (I'm obviously not good at splurging on haircare!)


Satin Care with a Touch of Olay Shave Gel: I don't think I've ever used a Satin Care shave gel that hasn't done its job and left my legs feeling smooth, and this is no exception. I'm just not keen on shave gels in general though, as I always end up wasting a lot as the gel tends to fall off my legs. I've been using conditioner as shave gel lately and it seems to "stick" better.

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Sunscreen Lotion: (Not pictured, as I don't have the bottle anymore.) I really like this sunscreen! It has a nice scent and is moisturizing. I reviewed it a while ago here. I'm thinking about buying a full-size version!


Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser: I liked this scrub, but I'm not sure I like it enough to buy a full-size at $36.

Clinique All About Eyes: I liked this as an all-over face cream, and it's got me interested in trying other Clinique moisturizers.

Dermalogica Clean Start Ready, Set, Scrub: This is a mask scrub which is pretty cool. I wish I had more of these packets to help decide if I want to buy it!


Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm: This was an alright product, but there's something in it (smelled like peppermint?) that made my eyes sting and water when applying on my undereyes. No bueno.

Benefit Fine-One-One: I think I might have had this sample too long (received in last year's Benefit-themed Topbox) because it kind of hardened on the paper. It still looked nice on, but I'd need to try the full-size to compare textures.

shu uemura Lightbulb Foundation: (Also not pictured because I forgot. I'm good at this!) This was too yellowy for me but it had nice coverage.


Crest Whitestrips (1): I've still got five of these left... I don't know if my teeth can handle that!


We're down to the crunch! I've still got about 32 samples to finish off... eep. If you want to keep track of the coverage, be sure to follow the hashtag #SampleKillah on social media and check out Kalyn Lord's original post! I'll be back here reporting on the 31st!

Siren Song Cosmetics: Siren Collection and The Fayth Eye Shadow Review, Photos, Swatches

Hey everybody! I have a review for you today featuring a new vegan indie cosmetics company: Siren Song Cosmetics! I was recently sent a few loose shadows to try, and I'll tell you right now this is definitely a company to check out. This is a bit of a pic-heavy post, so click the below to read more.

Pure Body Naturals Vitamin C Serum Review, Photos

Hello everyone! Back to reviews this week! A few weeks ago I applied to review the Pure Body Naturals Vitamin C Serum at (a site where you can apply and be invited for various review opportunities). I've been interested in trying vitamin C in my skincare, but either balked at the price or was skeptical of how much of the good stuff was actually in the product. Luckily, Pure Body Naturals Vitamin C is currently $27.95 CAD for 1 fl oz on Amazon (with free shipping!) and contains 20% vitamin C, along with hyaluronic acid and vitamin E.

The serum is housed in an amber bottle and come with a separate dropper cap (shown on the bottle above). Packaging is very important when it comes to antioxidants, as they deteriorate when they come into contact with light and air. The amber bottle will help keep out the light, though I do have some concern about the dropper -- I recommend capping the bottle during use. An airless pump would have been better, but at least it's not jar packaging.

Packaging quips aside, I have been enjoying this serum. It has a water-like consistency, and absorbs into the skin within a minute or so. I've been using it most mornings for the past month under my usual moisturizer/sunscreen, and I do notice my skin has been looking smoother and perhaps more radiant. I never really know what "radiant" skin looks like, but I can say I'm happy with the overall appearance of my face lately. I also haven't had any breakouts or irritation during my use of the serum, and I actually haven't had my usual time of the month breakout. I can't say if that's due to the serum or not, but it's a nice coincidence. I have also noticed a dark spot from a previous zit has been fading faster than usual. I use 2-3 drops which covers my face and neck.

The formula is comprised of 98% naturally-derived ingredients, 72% of which are organic. It's made in the USA and is cruelty- and GMO-free. What's interesting is that there are very similar products on Amazon with near-identical ingredients lists and claims, which makes me think this formula is private label. I'm sometimes wary of private label products as occasionally they are marked up quite higher than they should be, but every similar "Vitamin C Serum" I've found on Amazon is on sale for around $27.95-$32, albeit with much higher "list prices." I'm guessing you'll never have to pay "regular price" for these, and I do recommend checking out the Pure Body Naturals version as I have no issues with it, consumer- or formula-wise. The ingredients list still impressive and the product is still cheaper than most other Vitamin C products on the mainstream market.

Ingredients: Deionized Aqua (Water), Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Cassia Augustifolia Seed Polysaccharide (Botanical Hyaluronic Acid), Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Carbomer, Arginine, Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Oil), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Phenoxyethanol, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe Vera Extract), Organic Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola Extract), Organic Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail Plant Extract), Organic Pelagonium Gravoleons (Geranium), Organic Taraxacum Officinale (Dandelion Extract).

(I noticed there were a couple errors on the ingredients label, which I'm guessing was simply a formatting goof -- Kosher Vegetable Glycerin was listed twice, and "Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Hexyl Glycerin" was listed, which isn't a real ingredient.)

Overall, if you're looking to add a high-potency Vitamin C serum to your skincare routine, I recommend trying out Pure Body Naturals Vitamin C Serum. There's a 100% money back guarantee if you are not satisfied!

Have you tried vitamin C in your skincare?

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.