Friday, March 9, 2012

Canada Sightings

Going with the theme of super backlogged posts, I`ll write about my impressions about Canadian drugstores when I visited Canada for the second time this past winter break (I realize it`s March now <-fail).

During the three weeks I stayed there, I visited approximately 20 drugstores probably a total of 40 times, so yeh, you could say I have some experience there. ;) I'm surprised my bf wanted to stay my bf after he accompanied me on all these trips. He did say it was the most times he's ever visited the drugstore in his life, lol.

The feature that really stood to me from regular American drugstore beauty aisles were the department store-like displays of higher-end makeup. There's usually a salesperson who works specifically in the beauty section, which is a little intimidating when you just want to browse in your sweats!

Jean Coutu Displays
Here are some of Jean Coutu's displays. Jean Coutu is a regional pharmacy chain in Quebec. Based on the layout and feel of the place, the American counterpart to Jean Coutu would be Rite Aid, which makes sense because Jean Coutu owns shares in Rite Aid.

Jean Coutu is probably my favorite drugstore there, because the prices are the lowest that I've ever seen (besides Walmart of course). Other pharmacies like Shoppers (Pharmaprix in Quebec) and Rexall have crazy markups. And Jean Coutu has great sales.

Look at all them sale tags *drools* Marcelle (seen below) is a homegrown Canadian beauty brand that gets a lotta love from beauty bloggers, especially for their lipstick line and their exciting new  BB cream release.

Holiday make gift set complete with sequined bag on clearance!

Felt really bad that I didn't wait for a sale to buy these awesome lippies. They usually retail $11.95, score!

A LE Marcelle collection (probably gone by the time I'm writing this :/ ) They have testers. JEALOUS


EcoTools Retractable Foundation Brush, have yet to see this in-person in the States
Jean Coutu had a house brand called Personnelle. Check out the shimmer atomizers in the back!

A close-up, so gorgeous!

A cool feature of Canadian drugstores is that some American brands like Revlon and Almay seem to release their new collections much earlier in Canada, by several weeks or months. It's like companies use Canada as their own test market!

I spotted this display a few weeks before it showed up in the US
Another feature I love about Canadian drugstores is their abundance of testers. Regular brands like Revlon and L'oreal actually have testers for their foundation and eye shadows, which is awesome, so you don't have to guess when you pick out foundations. US drugstores, are you paying attention?!

Pharmacies like Rexall and Shoppers have rows upon rows of high end skincare complete with testers. I notice they import a lot of French beauty brands. Once I went into a Shoppers and slathered dozens of expensive creams all over my face, because I forgot to moisturize. Free stuff is the best, I have no shame. :D

Hyaluronic acid serum display at Rexall, you best believe I took advantage of that tester!

Outside of drugstores, I was really interested in the Joe Fresh brand, which is a brand sold exclusively at Loblaws and Maxi grocery stores. Their new spring collection looks so amazing that I must find a way to get my hands on the orange lippies!

These grocery stores are huge, it's more like a Kmart with a bigger food section!

Yes, there's an extensive clothing section in a grocery store :O

Their large makeup aisle
 Some snaps of Joe Fresh cosmetics. I've read good things on their lipstick, blush, and nail polish.

Joe Fresh display

More displays, check out the customizable palettes and nail polish!

Cream blushes

Powder blushes

Cream highlighters

LE cream highlighter palette

A closer look. Yay, another tester!
I realize the prices are surprisingly expensive for a house brand. One unfortunate thing about Canadian drugstores is that the prices are noticeably higher for both their domestic and international beauty brands. I guess the prices would be ok if the US dollar wasn't so weak. But things being the way they are, Canadian hauls are a wee bit painful, not that it stopped me from indulging of course!

You can even get your dose of Asian beauty brands in Canada. There's a Asian grocery chain called T&T Supermarket with locations in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. It's like 99 Ranch Market on crack with an extensive bakery and deli section, which is an absolute necessity because Asian food in Ottawa is positively grim.

Burr, I forgot how cold it was!

This was the best Chinese restaurant I could find in the Ottawa area :/
Wait, what was I talking about? Oh right, beauty. Sorry about that!

The ubiquitous My Beauty Diary Masks

My Beauty Diary sleeping masks and eye masks at a crazy markup, of course
If you made it through all my rambling, congrats! You win a million brownie points (which is worth CAD $0, sorry).

Now that I've written this up, maybe I should finish up that Canadian haul post that I started in 2010. Yeh, I'm that bad.

Did any products pique your interest? Any Canadian experiences of your own to share? Your thoughts!

Happy Friday!

Let's end with this.

In Canada, cardboard Justin Beiber is always watching you. Always

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Empties Review Express!

These empties have been collecting dust for a while (see: over a year, ooops). I've been dying to recycle them so I'll give these a quick and dirty review before I toss them goodbye!

Here goes: 

Kings & Queens Sultan of Granada Lemon Flower Body Butter
Made in Greece

Ingredients: aqua, glyceryl stearate, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), beeswax, PEG-100 Stearate, shorea robusta seed butter, behenyl alcohol, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, isodecyl neopentanoate, glycerin, hydrogenated myristyl olive esters, C12-13 alkyl lactate, hydrogenated polyisobutene, PPG-3 benyl ether myristate, triethylhexanoin, allantoin, asorbic acid, asorbyl palmitate, benzyl alcohol, butylene glycol, butylphenyl methylprpional, carthamus tictorius (safflower) seed oil, citral, citric acid, geraniol, glycyrrhetinic acid, hexyl cinnamal, limonene, linalool, linoleic acid, malachite extract, nymphaea coerulea flower extract, panthenol, parfum, PEG-8, phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, punica granatum fruit extract, sodium cetearyl sulfate, tocopherol, tocopheryl acetate, urea, xanthan gum

Rundown: I was excited to try Kings & Queens since I found out they were the sister company of Korres. The price point is sweeter than Korres. $15 for 200mL ( I paid $4.99 at TJ Maxx) verses Korres' $29 for 235mL. I also prefer Kings & Queens' formula. It's thicker and hydrating, Korres' was not moisturizing enough for me. I'm not a fan of lemon scents in general, but they also offer it in mango and honey scents, yum. I'd love to repurchase, but it's hard to find it anywhere. The brand used to be sold at Target and Nordstrom, but have since stopped being carried. I saw it last year at the Duane Reade drugstores in New York. Give it a try if you come across it, especially if you can get it on clearance like I did. :)

Neutrogena Deep Clean Gentle Scrub, Oil Free
Made in USA

Ingredients: water, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, polyethylene, glycerin, cocamidopropyl bentaine, glycol distearate, stearic acid, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, linoleamidopropyl PG-dimonium chloride phosphate, neopentyl glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate, salicylic acid, disodium EDTA, xanthan gum, manesium aluminum silicate, sodium hydroxide, cetyl alcohol, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, agar, mica, titanium dioxide, iron oxide, red 30 lake, fragrance

Rundown: This was my gentler scrub option when I weaned myself off from St. Ives Apricot scrub. I am a fan of Neutrogena skincare and this is a solid but not life-changing pick. It's gentle but effective enough to buff off the rough dead skin on my nose. Smells like orange tics tacs if you're into that. It's available at most drugstores have costs $6-$7.

Kose Softymo Airy Whip
Made in Japan

Ingredients (translated): water, butylene glycol, TEA-cocoate, liquefied petroleum gas, cocamide DEA, lauryl betaine, horsetail extract, hops extract, pine extract, lemon extract, rosemary extract, disodium EDTA, PEG-6 cocamide, polyquaternium-39, sodium chloride, phenoxyethanol, propylparaben, methylparaben, fragrance

Rundown: Ordered it from Sasa after Kathi's comparison of foam cleansers and it came out on top. Indeed, it's as gentle and non-drying and has a delightful tea-like scent as Kathi described. But beyond that, it's not a must-have. Certainly not worth tracking down in the US. I paid around $6 for 180g. 

Kirkland Signature Borghese Age-Defying Protective Eye Cream
Made in USA

Ingredients: water, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, cetearyl alcohol, yeast extract, hydrolyzed rice bran protein, stearyl ethylhexanoate, butylene glycol, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, octyldodecyl erucate, ceteareth-20, sweet almond seed extract, soybean seed extract, camellia oleifera leaf extract, wheat bran extract, menyanthes trifoliata leaf extract, ceramide-3, panthenol, allantoin, propylene glycol, squalane, carbomer, bisabolol, glycyrrhetinic acid, glyceryl polymethacrylate, trisodium EDTA, cholesterol, lecithin, triethanolomine, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben

Rundown: Again, like but not love. Non-irritating and moisturizing but didn't do much to reduce the fine lines in my undereyes. Was sold exclusively at Costco in a night cream/eye cream combo. Sold in .5oz pots, wish it came in tube form. It's discontinued now and has been replaced by Borghese's intensive eye serum which is more silicone-y and comes in an airless pump (yay, sanitary factor).

Sana Uruotaishi Moisture Gel
Made in Japan

Ingredients (translated): water, glycerin, cyclopentasiloxane, alcohol, PEG-400, dimethicone, butylene glycol, (hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate), hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, hydroxypropyltrimonium hyaluronate, hydrolyzed collagen, vinyl dimethicone/methicone silsesquioxane crosspolymer,dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, arginine, silica dimethyl silylate, ethylhexyl palmitate, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben

Rundown: Bought it because of Muse's positive review. I hated it and couldn't figure out why. It was not hydrating enough and pilled when I applied too much. It wasn't until I look at the ingredients and realized why it felt drying (alcohol) and pilled (silicone OD). Warning, ladies. Cute packaging may be deceiving! I bought it on Sasa for around $8 for 25g, which is pricey for so little amount of basic moisturizer. I've seen it for $12-$13 at Marina Foods as well. There is better products to be found though. 

The Body Shop Watermelon Body Lotion
Made in UK

Ingredients: aqua, ethylhexyl palmitate, ceteareth-20, glycerin, steareth-2, bertholletia excelsa seed oil, sesamum indicum seed oil, propylene glycol, dimethicone, phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate, butyrospermum parkii, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, dipropylene glycol, allantoin, bisabool, disodium EDTA, citrullus lanatus (watermelon) fruit extract, sodium hydroxide, citric acid, red 4, yellow 6

Rundown: Picked it up January of last year during The Body Shop's annual winter clearance sales for $3. The scent really appealed to me. The salesperson described it perfectly as Jolly Ranchers. Unfortunately, the formula was way too light to properly moisturize my skin, to the extent my legs got cracked and scaly. No bueno. Give it a try if you don't need heavy hydration like I do. It seems to be discontinued in the US but can be found on the UK and Australian Body Shop sites. 

Clearly, the mini-reviews are a little useless since most of the products are either discontinued or hard to find. But that's my fault for waiting a year to write about them. I'm glad to finally toss these into the recycling bin after holding onto them for so long. Ah, hoarding trash. Beauty blogging makes you do some crazy things. ;)

Any thoughts to share on these products? Happy weekend!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Nivea Creme: The Saga Continues

After I got hooked on Nivea Creme, I checked out what kind of Nivea Canada had to offer. It seems like Canada imports much more Nivea products. I saw skincare ranges that hadn't graced the US market.
But of course, I was only interested in the Creme. Canada has the same blue plastic tubs of Nivea Creme made in Mexico, so I assumed they contained the same formula. But hey! What's this?

The US Nivea Creme contains petrolatum, which the Canadian one does not. Here's a comparison between Canadian Nivea and German Nivea.

I drew arrows between ingredients that were the same or equivalent. Darn it, Spellcheck! That's how it's supposed to be spelled.

The Canadian formula looks awfully similar to the German one, eh? Although the Canadian formula is missing limonene, geraniol, hydroxycitronellol, linalool, citronellol, benzyl benzoate, cinnamyl alcohol, these are just fragrance ingredients and can be recategorized under parfum, as Rae explains, which make sense.

The Canadian Nivea appears have the German formula with preservatives. After reading May's post, I learned this formula is most similar to the German version and the same as the Thai version.

I thought that was the end of my exciting revelation, but there's more!

I picked up a tube of Nivea instead of a tub. And even those ingredients differed! Check it out.

Again, arrows between the same or equivalent ingredients

It contains the tub ingredients sans preservatives, which I suspect is due to the Creme not being as exposed to airborne bacteria in a tube vs. a tub. 

For some reason, there is more Magnesium Sulfate in Candian Nivea. This might be a labelling mistake. However, I doubt it really affects the formula, as I suspect Magnesium Sulfate is used to give Nivea a creamy white appearance. Googling it, I found:
"Magnesium Sulfate is a non-reactive, solid ingredient that is used to dilute other solids, or to increase the volume of a product."
Overall, the Canadian tube formula is very similar to the German one. All this time, I never suspected our neighbors to the north would be so lucky as to get the German formula. This means you can purchase "German" Nivea in Canada. Lol, I searched frantically for it in the States, when it is widely available across the border.  If you find yourself in The Great White North, grab yourself a tube!

I was in Montreal this weekend visiting family. There's been a snow storm, so I am really missing Cali weather. I'm returning tomorrow, time goes by so fast. Hope y'all are having a lovely new year!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: Drinking the Nivea Creme Koolaid

Just a few weeks ago, I was completely ignorant to the wonders  of (German) Nivea Creme. 

I did not know that Nivea's German formula was compared to that of (in)famous Creme de La Mer (CdLM), nor was I interested then. Because, you see, both Nivea Creme and CdLM contained mineral oil. Although I'm aware that mineral oil is noncomedogenic (doesn't clog pores) and is actually quite suitable for sensitive skin, I was interested in products that used natural moisturizers  that do cool things like treat ageing skin or acne (i.e. rosehip oil, squalane, etc). I'm kinda hippie that way. ;)

But while packing for my Canada trip, I quickly realized that it wouldn't matter what anti-aging magical moisturizer I slap on my face if it was a dry, flaky mess. I suspected none of the moisturizers in my arsenal were suited to the task. Being a Californian, I have never bought a winter moisturizer before. People who own winter moisturizers are those who probably experience seasons and know how to layer (But do they know how to pair all their outfits with flip-flops? I think not). 

Being the total amateur that I am, I literally googled "Winter moisturizer" and "Canada winter moisturizer." After picking through some of the search results, I came across an entry of Rae's from 2010 that sang the moisturizing virtues of Nivea Creme. She sold it to me better than Rhianna!

From Rae, I learned:
  • The American formula was different from the German one. The American formula contains petrolatum and preservatives. The German one does not. 
  • The German formula is superior. 
  • The German one is hard to find in North America. Damn!
And just like that, I joined the German Nivea cult. I was a woman on a mission. I probably did hundreds of searches for German Nivea. I searched for local suppliers. I didn't want to buy it online after hearing reports that people who paid for the German Nivea actually received the Thai Nivea (yet another different formula!) While on the other side of the continent, I sent my partner on a Nivea-finding mission. 

"Make sure the label says 'Made in Germany.' They're not all the same," I nagged. Poor lad drove to three different drugstore chains before realizing I gave him an impossible task.

The night before my flight to Ottawa, I finally located German Nivea Creme at a German beer garden with an attached gift shop selling imported German goods. Unsuprisingly, I was beaming all night.

Ingredients: Aqua, paraffinum liquidum, cera microcristalline, glycerin, lanolin alcohol (Eucerit), paraffin, panthenol, decyl oleate, octyldodecanol, aluminum stearates, citric acid, magnesium sulfate, magnesium stearate, parfum, limonene, geraniol, hydroxycitronellol, linalool, citronellol, benzyl benzoate, cinnamyl alcohol

Experience: It is a thick white cream with a ubiquitous scent (you'll know it when you smell it). A lot of reviewers suggest warming the Creme between the fingers before patting it on. But I do not find the cream difficult to spread, so instead I squeeze out a pea-sized dollop on my finger and dot it all over my face like chicken pox and then rub it in. I usually apply the Creme after my serum,which is quite liquidy. I find that I have to wait until the serum is dried or else it takes more effort to spread the cream into the skin. It spreads most easily on a dry surface, which makes this awesome for dry skin sufferers! I agree with Rae's claim that the product "liquifies" upon contact. In fact, when I spread it out, the cream even feels watery. 

For my combination skin, I find it takes about 20 minutes for the cream to settle into the skin. It leaves my skin baby-soft, even in the face of the dry winter air. I enjoy using it under my sunscreen during day and as a night cream. I even got my partner in on the routine! It also helps alleviate my dry peeling hands (ew). It's a multi-tasker, this one. But I like it best as a face cream. I prefer greasier moisturizers for my body.

I believe that it would be an awesome day cream for normal to dry skin types and a night cream for all skin types, especially in the winter. The ingredients seem suitable for sensitive skin, though lanolin is comedogenic. As always, excercise caution when testing products (what works for me might not be good for you).
I don't expect to continue using it when I return to the States, as my regular routine will suffice (as will sweatshirts instead of puffy coats). I'll probably pass it onto my partner, he enjoys using it (and even likes the smell). But if I move to a chilly place next year, I definitely see myself whipping it out again as a skincare staple. 

Cost-effectiveness: I paid $5.55 (plus tax) for an 100mL tube, which is a bargain for a face moisturizer. 

Availability: I purchased German Nivea Creme at Gourmet Haus Staudt Gifts & Cafe in Redwood City. They also sold a larger sized tin for around $6, but I purchased a tube for hygienic reasons. The Brit Shoppe in San Francisco sells larger tins, but it seems the mark-up is higher. Non-Bay Area people can look to Smallflower to purchase the German version online. If you're insistent on the German one, avoid Amazon as it seems (from the reviews) that some shops that advertise German Nivea could ship you something else. Likely, shops that import German products would have Nivea. Check these places first if you want to buy this at a retail location.

Have you tried Nivea before? Love it, hate it, or curious? Your thoughts!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Winter Travel Skincare

When I packed (last-minute, of course) for Canada, I really had select what I consider to be winter essentials to cram into a teeny suitcase.

I recalled my spring break in New York and realized how fricking dry my skin gets in the chilly weather. So of course, my travel stash has a strong emphasis on moisture-retention and hydration.

Starting with cleansing, I chosen a cream cleanser, because cream cleansers are known to be richer than other face washes. I picked up Salma Hayek's Nuance Chamomile Facial Cream Cleanser in hopes that it won't overstrip my skin's oil, which is my body's natural way of maintaining moisture.

Next up is exfoliation. I find that daily exfoliation has a larger role in skin clarity for me than even cleansing. I have oily/combination skin and my skin regenerates quickly. I find that if I even skip a day or two of exfoliation, my skin gets scaly quick (especially my nose) from dead skin cell buildup and bam! Clogged pores galore. :(

If you live by daily exfoliation too, try to look for a gentle physical scrub, meaning fine grains. I'm
using up my St. Ives Green Tea Scrub, which works pretty well.

Before I left, I was sure that a hydrating serum would be my savior in the weeks to come. I was dead wrong.

Serums always end up costing more than the rest of my skincare, sometimes combined. Eeek! I always figured they were worth it. But sometimes, I wonder if serums are some sort of marketing ploy to convince us it was worth paying an obscene amount of money for a tiny bottle with a glass dropper.

There's a weird glorification of serums, and we expect some magical transformation from it like it's a potion from Harry Potter. I'm not saying serums don't work, but they aren't the ones doing your heavy lifting. It would be like saying toners clean better than face wash or that Garfunkel is more important than Simon. It's moisturizers FTW, baby.

I'm using Genie in a Bottle Hyaluronic Acid Moisture Serum. It's pretty cheap for a serum, only around $8 for a set of four 1-oz bottles and I got it in a BOGOF sale. Score. It offers a boost of hydration. But I'm fine if I hadn't brought it with me.

Before I left, I picked up a tube of German-made Nivea Creme to try because of the raves I read online, especially, Rae's. I was after an uber rich moisturizer that would work in sub-zero (seriously) conditions. The stuff I used in California just wasn't going to cut it. I'll write more about it soon but it's an amazing moisturizer. Because I'm traveling, it doubles as a day and night face cream. It keeps my wind-chapped face supple. My face is cold and numb here, but it sure ain't dry!

Most importantly, I brought sunscreen with me. Even though I only see the sun every three days (never thought I would miss it), I want to practice constant vigilance against sun damage wherever I go. Plus, the Badger SPF 30+ Baby Sunscreen is super rich and thus functions as an additional moisturizer. I would never use this in California, but it works perfectly here.

Lastly, I brought along an eye cream, because the skin around your eyes is extra delicate and prone to damage. I usually use anything my mom gives me. Currently I have RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream.

Sorry for my serum rant, I don't know what came over me, lol.

Do you have any skincare travel staples or recommendations? Your thoughts!

ByTowne Cinema

We went to this theater last night to watch Shame. Man, is that so not a date movie! Hope you all have had a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Where in the world is Angelica?

I have been MIA for a while (understatement) due to the usual reasons: grad applications, classes, stress over applications and classes, sigh.

At first, I thought I might be over blogging. But truthfully, I missed it terribly. When I went about my skincare routine, I thought about how I would write about the products I use. When I saw new stands at drugstores, I took pictures, but they stayed stagnant on my phone. :/ I love the makeup blogosphere and am eager to be a more active participant once again!

Here's a snapshot of my current daily life.

Isn't San Francisco just gorgeous!

Lol, I've actually been chilling (literally) in the Ottawa, Ontario region in eastern Canada. I have been here since Christmas Eve to spend some time with my partner and his family. I will be in Canada until mid-Janurary when school starts again.

Snowshoeing. The snow is soo fluffy! Like walking in cornstarch.

I'm trying to enjoy myself and just relax. Physicially being thousands of miles from school helps a bit. But I still need to work on some app stuff, so I still have to be on top of some school things!

Here's some snapshots of Canada (mostly food-related).

I'll be back very soon with more posts. I hope you have had a wonderful holiday! :D

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