A Moving Hiatus

I know it hasn't been that long since my last break, but I'm taking another one so I can pack and move. Cue the fun parts (choosing new furniture, looking at home decor blogs--yippee!) and the not-so-fun stuff (shopping for insurance policies, bleh). Needless to say, there's a lot to do.

I'll be back the week after Canada Day. By then, I ought to have a slew of beauty product reviews, a glimpse into how we've decorated our new place, and maybe even an outfit post or two up my sleeve. Enjoy the next 1.5 weeks, dear readers, and thanks for bearing with me!

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Product Review: Curel Intensive Moisture Care

June-uary comes with its own set of skincare woes. Just when you think it's time to shed some layers, unusually autumnal weather can wreak havoc and leave skin feeling dry. To the rescue: Curel Intensive Moisture Care. Originally developed in Japan and now the top-selling sensitive skincare brand there, this offshoot of the well-known drugstore brand aims to restore the balance of ceramides, or lipid molecules, found in healthy skin. The moisturizing, fragrance-free hypoallergenic formulas are also supposed to be good for sensitive types.

A basket full of Curel Intensive Moisture Care products arrived on my desk a couple months ago and I've been dabbling with them ever since. While my skin isn't dry enough to require some of the heavier duty moisturizers and creams, I did appreciate the finer points of the products which sounded suitable for all skin types.

I previously featured the Body Milk ($15) in my Most Coveted List; two months later, I'm still a fan. Light, non-greasy, fast-absorbing but effective, it's a terrific summer moisturizer. Even though I use an SPF lotion during the day, I like applying the Body Milk before bed for an extra boost of softness.

The Body Wash ($15) has a rich, fragrance-free lather that left my skin feeling soft and rinsed away cleanly. One pump creates more than enough suds for a shower, which means the 440ml container will last ages.

Similarly, the Foaming Face Wash ($18) gently cleanses with a rich lather that feels moisturizing to the touch and leaves no residue.

If you're a makeup wearer, using the Foaming Face Wash ($18) in conjunction with the Make-up Cleansing Gel ($18) will give you the best results. As an admittedly low-maintenance beauty lover who wears minimal makeup, I initially didn't see the need for a face makeup remover that doesn't work on eye makeup and precedes cleansing. But after I got into the habit of massaging this soothing gel into my face and seeing it lift away all traces of concealer and tinted moisturizer, I became a convert.

The Curel Intensive Moisture Care line is available at select London Drugs locations in Vancouver.

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Stila Loves Vancouver

Oh, Stila. Not only do you make cult favourites like Smudge Pots and flattering-on-everyone 'Kitten' eyeshadow, you sure do know how to charm an entire city.

Last week, Stila landed in Vancouver and hosted a distinctly West Coast fete at OPUS to celebrate the launch of their newest products. Guests enjoyed sushi, succulent raw oysters and Vancouver-themed cocktails as they waited their turn for makeup touch-ups and checked out Stila's latest. Among other offerings, fans can expect an all-new 'In the Moment' eyeshadow palette containing 10 day-to-night shades and a waterproof eyeliner ($50), as well as an HD beauty balm ($49) that reduces pore size and minimizes fine lines. Ardell was also on-hand to provide faux lash applications--a flirty complement for the natural, lit-from-within glow for which Stila is known.

Vanessa Choot of Modern Mix Vancouver getting her makeup done.

The best part of the evening: getting our personalized "Stila girl" sketches done by Mei Yu. I was so tickled by my stylized portrait, I may have to frame it for our new den.

The star product of the launch, of course, was the limited edition 'Vibrant in Vancouver' palette ($21) featuring five eyeshadows and a convertible lip/cheek colour. I'm kind of in love with everything about the palette: the sleek compact size, so perfect for travel; the eyeshadow names inspired by Vancouver (Cypress, Coal Harbour, Granville, Sea Plane, English Bay); the palette art featuring a stylish Vancouver gal strolling around Canada Place with Harbour Centre and the city skyline in the background.

The carefully chosen shades are pretty and wearable from day to night, and fit right in with this city's notoriously casual vibe. Although Stila has done city-inspired palettes in the past (Tokyo and Saluyita, Mexico), Vancouver is the first Canadian city to get one of its own. It's obvious that Stila loves us, and after seeing this city's media personnel and beauty lovers go gaga over their products, I'd say the feeling's mutual.

Look for the 'Vibrant in Vancouver' palette at Shopper's Drug Mart beauty boutiques and Murale.

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The "No Brush" Makeup Routine

Remember when I said that life was more than a little crazy in this post and that sartorial creativity had given way to a uniform of sailor stripes, jeans and ballet flats? Well, my beauty routine has succumbed to the same spirit of laziness in the past few weeks.

My "wash makeup brushes once a week" regimen has slipped with work, the homebuying stuff, and other priorities competing for my attention. Not wanting to apply makeup with dirty brushes, I've settled for using makeup that requires no brushes at all. Clean hands and a freshly washed face seem like a better alternative than a soiled brush.

So far the "no brush" regime seems to be working. (The only one I use is the brow brush for a more groomed look.) By washing my face and hands before I do my makeup, and by sticking to products that are meant to be smudged or applied with fingers, I've avoided blemishes and the hassle of brush-washing. Bonus: this whole routine takes less than 5 minutes.

The products in the routine:

Would you ever go brush-free?

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Solo Lisa Reads: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

Now that summer is upon us and TV shows have started rerunning, I thought it might be nice to revive the book reviews feature on this blog in case you're looking for your next great beach read. First up: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle.

Excuse for a moment the horridly cheesy cover and picture a YA novel reminiscent of 10 Things I Hate About You because it retells Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and is set in a picturesque modern-day California high school. Now imagine tackling the narrative from the point of view of Rosaline, Romeo's first love whom he abandons for Juliet.

That's pretty much the feel and premise of Serle's debut novel in a nutshell. In When You Were Mine, Rosaline has been in love with the boy-next-door and her best friend Rob her entire life. She's convinced that senior year will be the year they finally become a couple. But what she doesn't bargain for is her beautiful, wealthy, and emotionally unstable cousin Juliet moving back to town. Rob's deep, sudden infatuation with Juliet leaves Rosaline heartbroken. As she copes with heartbreak through the support of her friends and begins to heal, a social misfit named Len begins to pique her romantic interest.

Retelling Shakespeare effectively is not easy. (Nor, for that matter, is living down a comparison to 10 Things I Hate About You.) But Serle pulls off quite the balancing act by respecting her source material while making the story feel contemporary. The narrative moves along at a good pace and the characters are deftly drawn. Rosaline, Rob and Juliet feel like unfamiliar incarnations of people we thought we knew, and the supporting cast of friends is populated by quirky individuals. The prose is straightforward but heartfelt. (I'll admit, I even sniffled a little when Rob died and Rosaline was grieving.) All in all, a satisfying summer read.

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Lisa's Most Coveted List

A random round-up of five things I love right now.

1. Mary Kay limited edition Mint Blossom Pedicure Set ($30). I like turning home pedicures and manicures into a ritual which starts with a soothing soak and involves exfoliation and moisturization. Then I'll flip through magazines or watch a movie and relax while my nails are drying. Kits like Mary Kay's make this ritual that much more enjoyable. The tote bag contains mint fizzies (drop them into a basin of warm water and watch them melt into nothing), a cooling moisturizing gel, pumice stone, and emery board--all the essentials for pampering tired feet. For an extra icy cool boost, I put the foot gel in the freezer for 10 minutes beforehand.

2. Cushions from IKEA's new MYRLILJA textile collection (in stores now). Who would've thought that IKEA's design team could be capable of coming up with something so twee? The MYRLILJA series is the brainchild of Lycke von Schantz, who looked to eclectic sources of inspiration to create a sense of whimsy and nostalgia in her designs. Expect graphic stripes and Pucci-esque colour swirls. But my favourite motifs are embodied by the cushions shown above: bright colours, polka dots, cameos, typography. If I weren't afraid these patterns would be too feminine for the boy's tastes, I'd be so tempted to buy a cushion or two for our new home.

3. Parliament Interiors. Speaking of home decor, consider me obsessed with this gem of a Gastown store. Shopping at Parliament is a bit like seeing a Pinterest board come to life. Chevron stripes and Greek keys on cushions, throws, and rugs. Tufted headboards and couches. Beautiful little white hexagonal side tables and glass coffee tables. Owls on everything. What's more, the owners do a great job stocking pieces that reflect the colour trends of the season. (Right now it's shades of blue, gray, and mustard yellow.) Seriously, check this place out.

4. Geisha Ink liquid eyeliner in brown ($30 at Noir Lash Lounge). Geisha Ink is my favourite liquid eyeliner of all time for good reason. It stays put all day without running or smudging, but comes off easily with a swipe of eye makeup remover. While black is a classic staple and ideal for dramatic cat-eyes, I like their new espresso brown shade during the day because it subtly defines the lash line without looking too harsh.

5. Joe Fresh marine boat neck tee ($24). Quite frankly, life is a little crazy right now and it hasn't left me much energy to focus on getting creative with outfits. Until I get my sartorial groove back, it's going to be easy no-brainer outfits like sailor stripes, jeans and ballet flats. The folks at Joe Fresh generously gifted me this tee when I attended their media preview a while ago and I can't stop wearing it. The heavyweight cotton is just warm enough for these autumnal-feeling summer days we've been having without feeling too heavy.

What are you coveting lately?

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Banana Republic x Trina Turk Collection Hits Stores This Month

Even if Vancouver's weather persists in doing a mean impression of autumn, at least inside Banana Republic stores they're already dreaming of California cool. Banana Republic's limited edition collaboration with Trina Turk hits stores this month. Filled with bright colours and patterns, the collection features 60-odd pieces of clothing and accessories and effortlessly evokes Palm Springs cocktail hour. Think maxi dresses, shorts, breezy tunics, and bathing suits that would look as good by the pool as they would at your next patio party. Some of the more conservative pieces like the knee-length skirts are even appropriate for the office.

My favourites: the costume jewelry (hello, bright baubles), the extremely versatile flat sandals, and the little shorts. Looks like I'll be doing a little California dreaming of my own.

Look for Banana Republic x Trina Turk pieces in stores and online.

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Product Review: SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50

I'm a big believer in wearing SPF daily and I don't like heavy foundations, so naturally a product like SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 ($39) is right up my alley. SkinCeuticals's latest product is a sheer coverage tinted SPF formula. Its mineral-based sun blockers titanium dioxide and zinc oxide shield skin from broad spectrum protection UVA/UVB rays. (Bonus: Mineral sunscreens are often better for sensitive skin than chemical ones!) When used in conjunction with SkinCeuticals's other antioxidant products, Physical Fusion UV Defense also protects against infrared radiation, which creates free radicals that attack the skin and cause accelerated skin aging. What's more, Physical Fusion UV Defense is paraben-free and water and sweat-resistant.

I've been trying this product for the last few weeks and have nothing but good things to say about it. The sunscreen feels light and non-greasy on my skin and blends in well without leaving an ashy cast behind--always a concern with mineral-based sunscreens. I love the high SPF and the mineral formula: it makes me feel a lot less guilty about forgetting to reapply. It's too liquidy to moisturize well, so I usually apply a lightweight moisturizer beforehand. Some blush, concealer and mascara, and I have a low-maintenance makeup routine that takes fewer than 5 minutes. All in all, perfect for those mornings when I'm rushing to leave the house.

Do you have a favourite tinted sunscreen?

Check out the SkinCeuticals website for a list of retailers across Canada.

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