Perfecting your at-home manicure

Spring is coming and all the beautiful pastel and bright colors of polishes are coming out, and for the budget savvy readers out there who want to know how to perfect a manicure at home, please keep on reading!! When I was younger, I would like to treat myself to a manicure every so often (once every 2 months or so) because I thought that I wouldn't be able to do a good enough job at home by myself. However, at $30 a pop, it definitely adds up. I mean, if that is what you want to do - go for it, but this post is geared towards those who want to learn or read about how to give your nails some TLC at home, and how I've been doing it for the past few years. 

In the picture below, you will find the products I will use:
1. Hand Scrub (for exfoliating your hands and cuticles)
2. Nail Trimmer (either curved edge or straight edge - will explain more below)
3. Cuticle Trimmer
4. Nail File (electronic, nail filer or square buffer)
5. Base Coat (read more below on how to select the right one)
6. Your favorite polish
7. Top Coat
8. Cuticle Oil
9. Hand Lotion

1. Prepare your hands for your manicure - remove existing polish and take your favorite exfoliating scrub and use warm water and give your hands and cuticles a good scrub and rinse off, pat dry.

2. Trimming your nails doesn't have to be complicated - a way to simplify this is to determine what kind of nail shape you would like to achieve. With me, I like straight edge with rounded corners and the easiest way I have achieved this is by using a straight-edged nail clipper. If you want a round tip, use a curved nail clipper ;) simple as that!

3. Cuticles - if you do not feel comfortable trimming your cuticles, do not do it. I rarely do it because I've on occasion nicked myself and have caused the final result to look like I decided to mutilate them instead. The cuticle would get swollen and it just doesn't look attractive. You can use the cuticle trimmer however, to cut and trim off any hang nails, or splinters etc hanging on the side to make the nail look clean.

4. Filing your nails - I used to use the block nail buffers to buff and smooth my nail. However, I was recently sent the Emjoi Micro Nail*  to try out. It is a new nail care product that helps the user to buff, smooth and shine their nail effortlessly.

It comes with two attachments - the MICRO Smooth Roller which smooths out your nail, buffing away the natural ridges that form on your nail and then the MICRO Shine Roller, that helps to buff your nail at rapid speed to leave behind a glossy shine to your nail, making it look like you have a clear coat of polish on.

(see the video below from the MICRO NAIL site for an intro)

5. Now that you have a smooth nail, it's time to get some polish on - apply your base coat. Choose a base coat with some benefiting properties, I mean why not try to kill two birds with one stone. I usually opt for a nail fortifying base coat to help strengthen and protect the nail. It also helps your nail from splitting in the ends. 

6. Your color - pick your favorite polish and paint away. I find it easiest to start with a stripe down the middle, then another left and then another right. It helps to spread the polish easier. Do not attempt to do two coats immediately, apply your first layer to all your fingers first, then go for a second coat. It helps the polish to distribute evenly and not become patchy because of dragging. I have fallen in love with the CND Vinylux formula - I can always get a week's worth of wear without chipping, and the CND Vinylux comes with its own top coat. If I am not using CND, the top coat of choice is the Nails Inc 45 Second Top Coat - it is my favorite and holy grail. I have mentioned it in tons of favorites before and is what I recommend to everyone who asks.

7. When your polish is dry - follow up with your cuticle oil - my choice is the CND Solar Oil and a good hand lotion to wrap it all up. 

... and voila! the end result is below :) I'm ready for spring with this new color! It's called Lobster Roll, I just picked it up over the weekend ...

I hope that this post helps you out and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Until next time, XO - M

Indeed Laboratories vitamin c24 review*

Being a beauty blogger, I have the amazing chance to try out various brands and products that I would have never had either heard of, been exposed to or tried before. Therefore, when I was contacted to give this newly released product from Indeed Laboratories a try, my answer was yes. 

Indeed Laboratories is a brand that I have always heard about and seen, especially at Shoppers Drug Mart. Fun fact, I used to always pass by their head office and would always wonder if I would ever be lucky enough to try out their products. NO, I am not a weirdo stalker - my husband actually USED to work just next door to them in downtown Toronto (same floor even), but unfortunately, I had never had the opportunity to try it out as to be honest it is a pricier product then most at the drugstore, and I wasn't sure if I would like it. WELL, I'll be the first to admit what I fool I was .... because if their entire line is as good as this vitamin c24 product, then I NEED to get my hands on more products ASAP!

The vitamin c24 was just released this week on their website and at the drugstore and it was created to treat premature aging caused by daily exposure to the sun, pollution, free radicals and other environmental aggressors. It is derived from 22% Vitamin C L- Ascorbic Acid + 2% Hyaluronic Microspheres and is priced at $24.99 (one time purchase) or if you subscribe for auto-shipment of this product, you save 10% and it works out to be around $22.49.

Below you will find the benefits of this product as stated from their website:
  • Protects from free radicals and environmental aggressors
  • Builds collagen – L-Ascorbic acid is essential for cross-linking collagen molecules
  • Restores skin’s youthful appearance
  • Reduces the appearance of premature aging – early appearance of lines and wrinkles
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces skin discoloration
  • Vitamin C (L-absorbic Acid): This is Vitamin C in its purest form. At a concentration of 22%, this stable and waterless ingredient delivers protection against environmental aggressors, like free-radicals, that speed up the aging process.
  • Micro-spheres of Hyaluronic Acid: 2% Hyaluronic Micro-spheres. The technology of the Filling Sphere™ is based on the use of hygroscopic material to make a sphere. These spheres are dehydrated at first, and fill up with water within the skin. This hydration process ensures the maximum absorption, stability and delivery of Vitamin C while leaving the face feeling smooth and moisturized.
Full ingredient list: dimethicone, ascorbic acid, polysilicone-11, ethylhexyl palmitate, peg-10 dimethicone, silica silylate, silica dimethyl silylate, butylene glycol, sodium hyaluronate

Directions: Apply a pea-sized amount to face and neck in the evening. Apply in the morning followed with SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. Below you will find one of the ways I have been incorporating the vitamin c24 to my day-time skincare routine. 

What I absolutely love about this product is that because of the dimethicone proponent to this, it actually acts as a primer for me as well. It has replaced my coveted Smashbox Pore Minimizing Primer as this has evened out my pores and skin texture (and just like the Smashbox Primer, it is not greasy at all). I LOVE multi-purpose products! Also, it is very important to note that after my return from my vacation to the Dominican, even though I had applied SPF 50 to my face, I still had alot of sun damage and it was evident with the large amount of peeling I was experiencing from my face. Even upon the first application, I could notice that by the next day my skin appeared smoother and without fail by the 3rd day I had completely stopped peeling and in fact my face looked like I had recently come back from the spa. It was plump, smooth and I even noticed a brightness to my complexion. I didn't have to combine a liquid hilighter to my foundation anymore and I still had that "lit from within glow". I have to say that even though this was sent to me as a PR sample, I will definitely be repurchasing this when I am done using it. This product will probably last me at least 3-4 months as you only need the smallest amount each time. I really encourage you to give this product a go asap! P.S - did I mention that this product is also Canadian? Woo!

                  Until next time, XO - M

                  What I've been using to help my hair grow*

                  I've been contemplating sharing with my readers something that I have been struggling with since University. When I was studying at Western, at the particular residence I was staying, the water was really hard causing alot of damage to my hair. In addition to the water, the stress from being away from home and from studying constantly, having a bad diet and pulling all nighters really took a toll to my body, especially my hair. At one point, I actually had alot of hair falling out, sometimes chunks (gross I know, sorry) and I actually suffered from having bald spots and hair loss especially in the crown area. 

                  Obviously, learning to de-stress mentally was something I had to do, but also I was on a hunt of finding something I could actually use/take to help promote the hair growth and repairing process. Therefore I decided to share with you some products I have been using for the past few years (and some as of recent) that have helped me tremendously. 

                  1. Thikk Wash Shampoo
                  My best friend introduced this shampoo to me and got it for me for my birthday. You can purchase it at specialty hair or beauty stores.  It contains pea sprout extract and ginseng that helps promote hair growth and fuller looking hair. It is also salt, PABA, Paraben, Gluten, DEA free. 

                  2. Lush Solid Shampoo
                  - New! - I have been using this shampoo bar for at least 3 years (and on and off the past year after I regained most of my hair and the bald spots disappeared). In the image below, it was actually another shampoo bar they had that helped with hair growth, however they discontinued it. It smells like cinnamon and cloves and has a peppermint like feeling on the scalp. You wet the bar under water, and rub it directly into your scalp and then let it sit for a few minutes before washing it off. I typically just wash my body in the mean time and then just rinse it all off together. The one thing to note though, is that it does dry out your hair a bit. Therefore, I recommend investing or getting a very good hair mask, and using that 2-3x a week. 

                  This product has really helped alot of people I have recommended it to. I had an old coworker who lost alot of hair due to stress and a thyroid problem and this had helped her grow back at east 70-80% of her hair.

                  Graydon Clinical Luxury - Hair Smoothie

                  This isn't the first time I've mentioned this product, and it won't be the last time I'm sure - p.s. it being made by a Canadian company also makes it that much more amazing. Just a little pump of this product can condition and detangle your hair. However, what I mainly like to do with this is apply it and massage it directly to my scalp. It is filled with phyto-nutrient ingredients that include broccoli seed oil and different essential oils like parsley, sage rosemary and thyme which stimulates healthy hair growth. It does not weigh down your hair and leaves a refreshing and lingering scent. 

                  Although I have used Biotin in the past, I found that it took a VERY long time to see results. I was actually given the opportunity to try out Vivisacal for three months and immediately jumped at the opportunity. I had seen this product around various stores in Toronto, however I have to admit, the price is rather steep. A one month supply (60 tablets) is $59.99 and a three-month supply (180 tablets) is $179.97. 

                  A bit of information about Viviscal as mentioned on their site: "it is a 100% drug-free supplement, formulated with the exclusive AminoMar C Marine Complex, silica and fortified Vitamin C to supply vital nutrients to nourish hair and promote thicker, fuller and healthier looking hair."

                  It is important to note that you should consult with your pharmacist or doctor before taking any supplement. I had consulted both my doctor and pharmacist and both of them said that it was perfectly fine. With that being said, I was excited to get trying on this product and let me tell you, the density and thickness I started seeing in my crown area was immense. As my best friend and I both suffer from thin hair, I had immediately suggested she try it as well. 

                  Before using this product, I couldn't go a day without washing my hair. The natural oiliness as the day passes, in conjunction with my thin hair made it look even worse than it really was. Ever since I started taking Viviscal I am now able to go 2-3 days without washing my hair and am able to leave the house with a simple spritz of some dry shampoo and have it still look great (no bald spots peeking through). 

                  Hair Styling Tools
                  The final thing that I recommend you keep in mind, if you are trying to protect your hair and repair it (whether it be because your hair is damaged or you feel like you're loosing density), is to think of how you are styling your hair. 

                  Some things to think about - are you using heat protecting sprays if you are using hot styling tools? are you straightening or curling your hair too much? what type of brush are you using - anything too dense may actually be damaging to your scalp because you may be ripping out your hair from the roots. I would suggest a Tangle Teaser, or using a detangling spray and a wid tooth comb. Finally, blow drying your hair vs. air drying - if you are to blow dry, and you do it frequently, it may be a good investment for you to actually invest in a good hair dryer. My hubby bought me a pretty high quality one, that is so powerful  I can blowdry my entire head in less than 2-3 minutes. That's alot less exposure to high levels of heat.

                  I hope you find these tips helpful! If you have any further questions or have any products to recommend to me, don't hesitate to contact me! :)

                  Until next time, XO - M.

                  Make Up For Ever - Pro Sculpting Collection Demo & Review*

                  Make Up For Ever has been on a serious roll the past year with their new launches. Everything I have tried out, I have loved - and their products are always so innovative. For e.g. their Pro Bronze Fusion Bronzer - it's almost a gel-like texture, but it's hard. It's sheer, buildable and gives you a wonderful glow without the cakiness or powder build up. Therefore, this time when they released their Pro Sculpting Collection, I knew I had to give it a go and get my hands on it ASAP. 

                  Here's a closer look at the palette itself. It is a cream based formula and comes in four tones - hilight, contour, shimmer and color. The creams blend beautifully and effortlessly on the skin, and the contour shade doesn't cast an orange shadow on you (so there is no oompa-loompa vibes here at all). While they look super concentrated in the palette, they do blend out very well and look very natural on your skin. I found the best application to use a synthetic fiber brush to apply the product to your skin, and then use a make-up sponge to blend out the product for a seamless look.

                  The palette comes packaged with a fold-out pamphlet that teaches the user how to use the palette which can best compliment their own face shape. As I am a mix of oval and round - I decided to use a combination of those two to create my demo below. 

                  It is also important to note that the Color section of the palette, actually acts as a blush color, vs. an under-eye corrector. 

                  Attached here are swatches of the pro sculpting face palette in 30 ($54 cad) and pro sculpting lip in 10.

                  Below is my demo of the sculpting palette in use - please note that I am opting to create a more natural contour here as that would be my everyday use - vs. a dramatic chiseled cheek look most beauty gurus go for these days in social media. 

                  1. Bare face with just moisturizer 
                  2. Foundation, eyebrows and concealer applied
                  3. Hi-Light and Contour applied with a synthetic flat brush
                  4. Blended out with the RT Makeup Sponge - instant cheekbones!
                  5. Shimmer and Color added to the cheeks.
                  6. Blended out again with the makeup sponge and the pro lip sculpting (10) applied for the final touch (a nice pouty lip).  

                  I highly recommend purchasing the Pro Sculpting Face Palette as it is a versatile and complete, yet sleek palette that provides you with all your sculpting needs! Even someone like me, who rarely contours because I don't want it to look overly dramatic, found this palette a good balance and simple enough to use to be incorporated into my daily routine. 

                  Until next time, XO - M.

                  February 2016 Favorites

                  The last few weeks have been so busy in my life - not only personally but with work as well, so apologies on the delay in the posting of my February favorites - I thought, well better late than never? I usually have tons of favorites to share, but this month I've reduced it to 10 things. Maybe I should actually do that from now on - list my top 10 favorites or top 5 favorites, versus listing out EVERYTHING.

                  Favorite items this month, in no particular order include:
                  1. G.M. Collin - Bota - Peptide Eye Contour*
                  2. Make Up For Ever - Pro Bronze Fusion
                  3. Estee Lauder - Pure Color Envy Liquid Lip Volumizer*
                  4. Anastasia Beverly Hills - Brow Pomade - Chocolate
                  5. Make Up For Ever - Ultra HD Concealer - Y31
                  6. First Aid Beauty - Ultra Repair Lip Therapy
                  7. Tom Ford - Bronzer Brush
                  8. Bourjois - Aqua Blush
                  9. Paw Palette
                  10. Garnier Whole Blends - Honey Treasures*

                  Until next time, XO - M.

                  Influenster: Essie VoxBox Review*

                  I was recently selected to participate in the Influenster Essie VoxBox review. I was sent 2 polishes, a top coat and a base coat to try, and to give my honest opinions on what I thought of the products. I have been a user of Essie polishes ever since I was a teen. I still remembered my favorite pink was Fiji - it was the perfect amount of light pink and cream - like a lighter version of pepto bismol. While Essie is a very popular brand and the color selection is huge, I would have to say that I have a very hard time with the color formulas sticking to my nails for longer than 3 days. Usually by day 2 or 3, I would have a chip, and then the next day another would chip and so on and so forth. The red polish - A-List, is a classic red. Very similar to a red polish that I own by Chanel, but this one is half the cost. I personally prefer the other color that was sent to me, the nude one - Topless and Barefoot - That is my perfect everyday neutral shade. Looks great with any skin tone. I think that I would still continue to purchase Essie polishes (only the unique color ones because they have some colors that are not offered by any other brand). I think that if you find the perfect quick dry top coat, you can overlook the need to have to reapply your polish every 3-4 days.

                  I loved the base coat that was sent to me though - the grow stronger one. It is a light nude shade, which you could easily just wear on its own without having to apply another polish on top. It did harden my nails after a few uses, and I would repurchase this product for sure.

                  As for the top coat, while it worked, I still cannot say that it was better than my holy grail top coat, which is the Nails Inc Caviar top coat. Therefore, I will not be repurchasing this specific top coat again.

                  My Ranking of Essie Polishes:
                  Color Selection = 5/5
                  Quality = 2/5 (chipping after 2-3 days)
                  Brush Applicator = 3/5 (I find the brush too narrow)
                  Overall = 3.3/5

                  What are your thoughts on Essie Polishes? If you're interested in seeing what other reviewers thought of this product, you can always search #essienailedin on various social media platforms.

                  Until next time, XO-M.

                  Make Up For Ever - ULTRA HD CONCEALER Review and Demo *

                  For those of you who have been following Make Up For Ever, you will know that they recently came out with an Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation and the Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation. Both of these foundations were created for use in the very latest high-definition technologies of the film + TV industry. The Ultra HD advanced formulas look invisible on 4k camera and to the naked eye, leaving you with an utterly flawless complexion that looks airbrushed.

                  It should be no surprise, that they would follow up with the release of the Ultra HD Concealer, which is created to cover dark circles, unifies the eye contour and hides signs of fatigue while leaving behind a smooth, luminous and flawless finish. Like the foundation, the exclusive 4k Complex guarantees invisible, natural and comfortable makeup on your skin. It is easy to blend and has a long-wearing formula that illuminates the eye area for a fresh look. It is a Medium coverage and suitable for all skin types.

                  This product retails for $32 cad and is available in two ranges - R and Y.
                  R = Color Correcting / Y = Concealing.
                  R is peach toned, which neutralizes the dark circles, while Y brightens and awakens the under eye.

                  The concealer is dispensed through a hole in the center of the tip - although it is quite small, you still have to be careful when squeezing it out because a lot can come out at once and you only need a small drop to cover both eyes.

                   Picture below features a demo of the concealer - Left : with the concealer, Right: without. As you can see, it significantly hides the under eye panda dark circles as well as the discoloration on the outer corners of the eye. I also put a bit of it on the lid and around the nose to even everything out. For reference, my shade is Y33.

                  I think that I'm going to go and purchase one of the R shades for correcting. I love salmon-toned concealers so I want to try it out and see if it can be equally as good as this Y toned one.

                  I found myself not having to fuss over creasing when a thin layer is applied and then set with a finishing powder under the eye. I had a full day's of wear (my day starts at around 7:30am and lasts til about 5-6pm).

                  Until next time, XO - M.