Empties: December 2019

24 empty beauty products featuring makeup, hair care, body care, and skin care from drugstore, natural, and department store/luxury brands

I skipped last month's Empties post, which means I have a whopping 24 empty beauty products to recap today as we say goodbye to the last year and the last decade!


3 Micellar Waters With A Twist

Derma E Vitamin C Micellar Cleansing Water featuring Probiotics and Rooibos, Avene Micellar Lotion, La Roche Posay Eau Micellaire Ultra

What did we beauty lovers do before micellar water? Oh, that's right. We settled for makeup removers that were at best ineffective and at worst would sting our eyes (unless we were savvy enough to buy those dual-phase blue-and-white ones that you had to shake, which were still kinda inconvenient to use). We used harsh cleansers in the mornings. We didn't have a Lazy Girl way of washing our faces after a sweaty workout, or on those nights when all we wanted to do was pass out in bed. I could go on like this, but you get the point: micellar water rocks. These days it seems like we're all loyal to one of the ubiquitous Pink Bottle Cap Micellar Waters (Bioderma or Garnier). If you're looking for a new one to try though, I've got three recommendations coming your way, all of which work just as well as the cult faves I just mentioned and feature an innovative twist on the classic formula.


Best Beauty & Wellness Items Of 2019

Round-up of beauty and lifestyle blogger Solo Lisa's favourite items from 2019

Happy holidays everyone! The past couple weeks have passed by in a blur of parties, work, and squeezing in a barre class whenever I can. At the same time, the slower pace of the season has been getting to me too—think sleeping in, eating shortbread, lounging in PJs, watching movies, and taking naps. Now that we are now officially in the twilight zone between Christmas and New Year's, I wanted to wrap up the year with a couple of final posts, including a look back at the beauty and wellness items that made the biggest difference to my 2019 routine. If I could sum up this year's beauty MO in one statement, it'd be "Makeup minimalist, skincare maximalist, and athleisure-y AF." Let's take a deep dive, shall we?


Solo Lisa Reads: Holiday 2019

In the midst of the busy holiday season, what better form of self care is there than curling up on the couch with a good book? Just picture it: A cozy throw, your favourite pajamas, fuzzy socks, a cup of tea or a yummy snack within reach, and a fresh new read to dive into and a fictional world to get lost in. I have six books to recommend if you're looking for just such an escape.


The Cozy Introvert Gift Guide

A shout-out to gorgeous blog/barre buddy Sheila, who commented on yesterday's post and inadvertently predicted the theme of today's gift guide! I'm the type of girl for whom "introvert" is a verb, and today's gift guide spotlights the items that have made my Cold Weather Cozy Indoors Time delightful. Bring on all the hot drinks, new books, and Netflix. If you have someone on your list who's the same way, all I can say is happy introverting!


$25 And Under Gift Guide

After over a decade of blogging, I have a love-hate relationship with holiday gift guides. After all, how many years in a row can I recommend some iteration of the same thing? Aren't all these tchotchkes wasteful and guilt-inducing, especially with concerns about climate change? Am I being hypocritical in trying to live a more minimalist and clutter-free life, but at the same time recommending stuff for gifts? In that spirit, I thought long and hard about the picks in this year's gift guides. The items that made the cut are admittedly eclectic, but they strike a fine balance between reducing waste, being practical, and sparking joy. And in most cases they're tried, tested, and true by moi. Enjoy!


Product Review: Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules in different formulas: Vitamin C, Retinol, Advanced Daily Youth Restoring Serum, Advanced Daily Youth Restoring Eye Serum

Here in Vancouver the weather has been crisp, cold, and sunny with temperatures hovering around freezing. Great for putting me in the holiday spirit (I just started Christmas shopping last weekend!), but not exactly stellar for my skin. My face can get so dehydrated in dry cold that my cheeks and forehead become red and sensitive. Serums and moisturizers that are normally fine begin to sting and itch. That's when I turn to ceramides like the Elizabeth Arden ceramide capsules, which I received for review from past and current #LDBeauty events. So what do ceramides do? Why capsules? And what's the difference between all of the Elizabeth Arden ceramide capsules pictured above? All the answers after the jump!


Drugstore Delight: Burt's Bees Conditioning Lip Scrub & Overnight Intensive Lip Treatment

Burt's Bees Conditioning Lip Scrub & Overnight Intensive Lip Treatment

Cold temperatures, indoor heating, drying long-wear lip colours...fall and winter are a harsh time for lips prone to chapping, so what better time than now to show them some TLC? Especially when affordable, effective, and 100% natural products like the Burt's Bees Conditioning Lip Scrub ($9.99 on sale for $7.99 at London Drugs) and Overnight Intensive Lip Treatment ($9.99 on sale for $7.99 at London Drugs) exist. These new-to-me lip goodies were among the products I was most excited to try at this year's #LDBeauty event and they did not disappoint.


Lazy Girl Approved: Hot Tools Signature Series One-Step Blowout Volumizer

Lazy Girl Approved highlights long-lasting, goof-proof, fuss-free products that can fit into the most minimalist of regimens. If you consider yourself a low-maintenance beauty lover, these product reviews are for you!

Vancouver beauty, life and style blogger Solo Lisa tests the Hot Tools Signature Series Hair Styler (exclusive to London Drugs) on her shoulder-length Asian hair to determine how this hair styling tool measures up to the much loved Revlon One-Step styling brush.

Has anyone else noticed changes to their hair texture as they've gotten older? My hair used to be a lot straighter and smoother in my 20s, but these days it seems curlier and frizzier all over. That's why a couple months ago I purchased the Revlon Pro Collection Salon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer ($64.99 on sale for $51.99 at London Drugs) after reading hundreds of rave reviews online. I LOVED how fast and easy the Revlon brush was and how much it cut down on frizz, but then at the recent #LDBeauty event I was introduced to the near-identical Hot Tools Signature Series One-Step Blowout Volumizer ($89.99 exclusively at London Drugs). How did this new tool stack up against the OG Revlon styling brush? Is the Hot Tools version worth the higher price tag? All the details after the jump!


Empties: October 2019

Empty skincare, body care, hair care, and beauty and makeup products

Skipping last month's empties post means there are a whopping 29 products to look back on this month, so let's get to it, shall we?


Solo Lisa Reads: October 2019

Round-up of recommended books

I finally got around to reactivating my defunct library card recently and ever since then my reading rate has skyrocketed. In fact, I'm expanding this post to include 6 books instead of the usual 4—and I'm not even including everything I've read lately! Here are the books I couldn't stop talking about to Lawrence and anyone willing to listen. What are you reading these days?


Paris Shopping Haul

Vancouver-based beauty and lifestyle blogger Solo Lisa's purchases from her April 2019 trip to Paris

I didn't go too crazy shopping in Paris because I wanted to stick to a budget, we were traveling with carry-on only, and some of our luggage space was devoted to gifts for friends and family. What's photographed above represents the remaining 75-80% of my purchases, 6 months after our trip. The gourmet treats have been consumed and a lot of my Saeve purchases have been used up, but I still wanted to do a shopping haul post. Better late than never, right?


Product Review: Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant

Meow Meow Tweet grapefruit deodorant

When I first began testing natural deodorants three years ago, I didn't anticipate saying goodbye to conventional antiperspirants for good. As concerns rise about controversial ingredients like aluminum, parabens, and artificial fragrance, new brands have emerged to meet the growing demand for natural deodorants, which means there's always a new one to try. I've already reviewed five of them (see here, here, and here) and racked up a few reliable standbys (Schmidt's, LaVanila, and Agent Nateur FTW). The latest one to take up valuable real estate in my medicine cabinet? Meow Meow Tweet Grapefruit Baking Soda Free Deodorant Stick ($13.99), which I spotted at Target during our last cross-border shopping trip.


Spa-Inspired Natural Body Care

MIFA And Co Eucalyptus Coco Body Wash and Woodlot Recharge Body Lotion

Lately our tiny condo bathroom has taken on a spa-like ambiance thanks to two new body care finds (both PR samples) which have landed on my beauty blogging desk. Together they've elevated a small space with their spa-like scents, stylish packaging, and all-natural formulations. Oh, and did I mention they're local brands?


Things I Bought That I Love: Porter Mug

W+P Blush Porter Ceramic Travel Mug

We're lucky enough to live within walking distance of the best cappuccinos in Vancouver—so good, in fact, they rival the ones we had in Italy. The espresso is so well balanced it doesn't need any sugar, the milk rich and frothy and not too hot. I love getting coffees to go from this place on the weekends, but I don't love the disposable cups that will spend decades in the landfill just so we can enjoy a 30-minute caffeine fix. This is where the ceramic Porter travel mug by W&P Design ($34.50) comes in.


Product Review: Maybelline Tattoo Brow Long Lasting Tint

Maybelline Tattoo Brow Long Lasting Tint

When I first read the packaging for Maybelline Tattoo Brow Long Lasting Tint after plucking it out of my #LDBeauty PR sample stash, visions of having microbladed brows without the microblading danced in my head. This paint-on, peel-off brow tint promises natural-looking results that last up to 3 days. I got very excited about being able to do my brows at night twice weekly while I was masking or watching Netflix and then being able to skip this step during mornings. What's more, these brows would stay put through exercise classes, showers, and facial cleansing. I mean, this product practically has Lazy Girl Approved written all over it! Alas, reality did not quite live up to fantasy in this case.


Drugstore Delight: Maybelline Lash Sensational Boosting Serum

Maybelline Lash Sensational Boosting Serum

A drugstore lash serum that actually works?! It sounds too good to be true, but that's exactly what Maybelline Lash Sensational Boosting Serum ($10.99 at London Drugs) is. I've been dying to write about this serum (which I received as a PR sample during last year's #LDBeauty event) for ages now, but I needed to wait the minimum 4 weeks to assess the results, and then wait a little longer to see if the serum would help my lashes survive the end-of-growth-cycle fallout.


Empties: August 2019

Empty hair, body, skin care and makeup products from Hair Food, Rocky Mountain Soap Company, BV Spa, Scentuals, Riversol, Dermalogica, Caudalie, Saeve, Iope, Dior, Nude by Nature, Biore

This month's empties round-up is unusual in that the majority of empties haven't been featured on the blog before, and this will be the first time I'm reviewing them. Many were basic grooming and skincare essentials I pulled out of my sample stash or purchased to fill gaps in my routine. As I was using them, I was looking to form a strong opinion one way or another, but for the most part, these previously unfeatured products didn't seem compelling enough to warrant their own product reviews. Here's a look back at what I used up during August and, well, the summer.


Drugstore Delight: Cover Girl Lash Blast Active Mascara

Cover Girl Lash Blast Active Mascara

Athleisure beauty is a growing category as more people look for high-performance products that allow them to sweat and look good at the same time. Personally, I avoid makeup during my workouts because I don't want to clog pores and trigger breakouts, but if I'm going to a barre class right after work I'll leave my brow makeup and mascara on. For the latter, I've been hooked on the new Cover Girl Lash Blast Active Mascara ($9.99 at London Drugs) lately, which supposedly stays put without smudging or flaking for up to 24 hours, no matter how much of a sweat you work up.


Solo Lisa Reads: August 2019

Book review round-up

I can't believe it's almost September! Summer has passed by much too quickly, but at least I have one more lazy long weekend with lots of down time to read. If you're looking forward to doing the same this Labour Day weekend, here are 4 books you'll want to add to your reading list.


Product Review: Rocky Mountain Soap Company Sport Massage Butter

Rocky Mountain Soap Company Sport Massage Butter

I've been hitting Bar Method often since returning from Paris and eating all the food. This uptick in exercise has been great (yay muscle tone!) and not so great (hello pain, particularly in my left tricep and elbow). Thankfully the new and improved Rocky Mountain Soap Company Sport Massage Butter ($17), which I received as a PR sample in June to test and review, promises to be the perfect remedy for all my body's aches.


Our Fave Food Highlights Of Paris

brunch at Cafe St. Regis in Paris

Ah Paris, home of beautiful breads, buttery pastries, Michelin-starred restaurants, cozy bistros...the list of culinary highlights that the city of lights can lay claim to is endless! We always make a point to seek out memorable dining experiences wherever we travel, but the food in Paris was so good that it deserved its own post separate from the photo-heavy travel recap. If you're planning a trip there soon, be sure to add these spots to your itinerary!


Product Review: Milk Shake Leave In Conditioner

Milkshake Leave-In Conditioner

My summer thus far has been work, barre and lazy weekends on repeat, which kind of shows in the beauty reviews I'm planning for this month; all of August's product picks are low-key and fit into an athleisure-y niche. First up? Milk Shake Leave In Conditioner, which costs a little less than $20 a pop.


Paris Travel Diary

selfie in front of Notre Dame

In April we were lucky enough to spend almost two weeks in Paris thanks to a great airfare deal I found online; it was my second time in the city of lights, my husband's first. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous (what if people were rude? what if it didn't live up to expectations? what if Lawrence hated it?). But this holiday turned out to be one of the most magical vacations we'd ever taken—exactly the right mix of activities, leisure time, and amazing food. What a way to recharge and rediscover our zest for life!


Empties: July 2019

Round-up of 18 empty personal grooming, skincare, body and hair care and beauty products

This month's post contains a whopping 18 products since I skipped last month. As I keep doing these empties round-ups, a few truths are becoming self-evident. One, I use up a lot more skin, body and hair care than makeup, which is understandable since these days I'm all about little or no makeup. Two, the products I'm using are shifting towards natural picks. And three, not all packaging is designed to be good to the last drop. There were a lot of pump dispensers I had to flip upside-down and plastic squeeze tubes I had to cut open, just so I could get every last drop out and clean the container properly for recycling. So, on that note, let's get started!


Solo Lisa Reads: July 2019

Book recommendations round-up for July 2019 featuring On The Come Up by Angie Thomas, The Bride Test by Helen Hoang, A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler, and The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

It's been a while since I've done a book review round-up, but this month I'm back with 4 recommendations that are sure to engage and delight you as you head for the beach, park or cabin!


3 Natural & Mineral Sunscreens To Try This Summer

Natural and mineral sunscreens from NeoStrata, Saeve and Consonant

You scream, I scream, we all scream for sunscreen! Daily SPF is as much of a summertime essential as iced coffee or and my favourite pair of cat-eye shades. I never leave the condo without it; here are the three formulas I'm rotating between right now.


Product Review: Lavanila Natural Deodorant

Lavanila Deodorant in Vanilla Grapefruit

With so many natural deodorant options on the market and more introduced every day, isn't it time to ditch your conventional deodorant or antiperspirant and give natural deodorants a whirl? Even mainstream companies like Procter & Gamble (who owns Secret) and Unilever (who owns Dove) have jumped on the bandwagon by launching aluminum-free formulas. I myself am no stranger to natural deodorants, having reviewed different ones here, here, and here. However, this was my first time trying Lavanila Deodorant in Vanilla Grapefruit ($14). Lavanila is a natural deodorant much loved by its devotees for its long-lasting and effective odor protection and I was eager to see how it measured up to its competitors.


Summer Skincare Round-up

Summer 2019 skincare picks featuring moisturizers with gel and jelly textures and lightweight face mists

Swapping winter-appropriate skincare for alternatives better suited to summer has been an absolute game-changer. I didn't realize how weighed down I felt—literally and figuratively—until I cleaned out my medicine cabinet. So long, heavy moisturizing creams. Goodbye, thick serums. See you later, rich cleansers. Instead I'm relying on hydrating mists and lightweight gel textures, which have the added bonus of feeling extra refreshing if you store them in the fridge. Full disclaimer: Some of these products were provided to me as samples, while some of them were purchased. Now that that's out of the way, read on for the summer skincare essentials I'll be rocking for the next couple of months!


Drugstore Delight: Pixi DetoxifEYE Depuffing Eye Patches

Pixi DetoxifEYE Depuffing Eye Patches with spatula

Deadlines, study sessions, kids, insomnia, Netflix binges...whatever the reason may be, we've all probably had late nights and woken up with puffy eyes and dark circles at least once, yes? That's what makes a product like Pixi DetoxifEYE Depuffing Eye Patches so universally appealing. Soothing eye patches and masks are nothing new under the sun, but most of the time they're sold one pair at a time and cost $5-10+ a pop depending on the brand. By contrast, Pixi has packaged 30 pairs of hydrogel eye masks in a single jar that retails for $28 USD. The resulting product is more affordable and minimizes packaging and plastic waste. It also makes me more inclined to use eye patches regularly because I know there's a jar full of them just waiting for me whenever I need a pair—so convenient!


Introducing Saeve Skincare

Saeve beauty products from Paris France including antioxidant serum and SPF 30 moisturizer, hand creams, micellar water, soothing emulsion, and purifying gel cleanser

Between the museums and the tourist attractions, the long walks and leisurely hours spent in Parisian parks and at sidewalk cafes, I made sure to check out French beauty and skincare whenever possible. Why? There are some brands and products you just can't find at home, of which Saeve is a prime example. I stumbled on Saeve while browsing in the mall downstairs from the Louvre and ended up chatting with the sales assistant for over an hour, learning more about the brand's philosophy and hero products. If you've never heard of it, well, most French people haven't either—Saeve only launched in France last year and isn't available widely. However, with naturals-heavy formulas, wallet-friendly price points, a fun and lighthearted brand aeshetic, and serums that are already scooping up awards from French beauty editors, you can expect the buzz around Saeve to keep building and hit North America soon.


Spring Style: Wide Leg Pants

Vancouver beauty, life and style blogger Solo Lisa wears wide leg light blue linen pants from the Gap with a Madewell striped tee, cognac leather handbag from Tila March, and platform white Vans sneakers.

It's hard to believe outfit posts used to be a mainstay on this blog. I don't post my outfits as much anymore because, quite simply, I don't have a lot of variety in my wardrobe. But the flip side of that is when I do purchase something it's usually a thoughtful addition that goes into heavy rotation and has a big impact on the rest of my wardrobe and updating my overall look. For this spring, the new additions comprise white platform sneakers, tees with a slightly retro vibe (like this one with its 70s-inspired stripes), a new crossbody bag from Paris and wide leg pants.


Empties: May 2019

Round-up of empty beauty, hair, body and skin care products for May 2019

This month's empties round-up features a lot of trial sizes, some makeup empties (a rarity for me!), and a new-to-me French natural skincare brand I'll be testing a lot more of in the coming weeks.


Drugstore Delight: Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum

Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum

This Drugstore Delight post has been a long time coming. In fact, the next time you see Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum ($34 at London Drugs) featured on this blog it might very well be in an empties round-up because that's how well-used my sample bottle from last fall's #LDBeauty event has been! Vitamin C is not new in skincare, but it has been getting a lot of buzz lately as brands release new products featuring it as a hero ingredient. And rightfully so, because vitamin C can benefit everyone and every skin type.


Drugstore Delight: Avene Couvrance High Tolerance Mascara

Avene Couvrance High Tolerance Mascara

Who knew I'd find my Holy Grail mascara from a brand best known for sunscreens and skincare for sensitive skin? But Avene Couvrance High Tolerance Mascara ($19 at Shoppers Drug Mart) is just that. It ticks all the boxes when it comes to what I require of a mascara. I first tried this after getting a small sample as a gift with purchase when I bought an Avene SPF moisturizer; I loved it so much I stocked up and bought two full-size tubes while in Paris (Monoprix sale ftw!). In Paris it was available in black and brown, although based on my local Shoppers it seems to only be stocked in black here.


Product Review: Kocostar Foot Therapy

Kocostar Foot Therapy

Spring has sprung in Vancouver and I couldn't be happier about it! I've packed away my winter boots and am wearing sneakers on the daily while daydreaming about the start of sandal season, which makes this the ideal time of year to do a foot peel mask like Kocostar Foot Therapy ($10).


Solo Lisa Tries: Biologique Recherche Facial

Vancouver beauty, life and style blogger Solo Lisa lounges in the outdoor area of Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Pacific Rim

Oh hello there! Somehow a whole 6 weeks have passed by without me posting once. Between our spring trip to Paris, some busy days at work, attending as many classes as possible for the Bar Method Fitness Challenge, and #adulting stuff like meal prep, I simply haven't been in a beauty blogging state of mind. In spite of all that, I did manage to carve out some time to try one of the new Biologique Recherche facials at the Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Pacific Rim. Biologique Recherche is a cult-fave French brand best known for their P50 Lotion, an exfoliating toner that's often touted as a miracle worker for problematic skin. Although I've never used their products before, the preview event I attended at the Fairmont Pacific Rim definitely piqued my curiosity. I went ahead and booked an appointment, armed with a $50 GC to apply towards a VIP O2 facial ($219).


Empties: March 2019

Empty skin, body, hair care and beauty products

It seems as though the universe must have a sixth sense for when I'm going on vacation. All week as I've been heads down trying to wrap things up at work, emails with random requests kept popping up out of the blue. This is why I'm writing this post on the morning before we depart for Paris(!). There are a whopping 21 products in this month's empties round-up, which includes all the rich and moisturizing products that helped me get through the long winter. Let's get to it, shall we? I have a plane to catch.


Solo Lisa Reads: March 2019

Round-up of books for March 2019

This month's book review round-up was brought to you by a new e-reader. Hubs bought me a Kobo Clara HD as a gift after many months of me hesitating over buying it for myself and it's perfect. You ever have a situation where you didn't know how bad it was until things became good? Well, I'd been reading ebooks on my iPad and I didn't realize how disruptive and harsh the blue light was (even in night mode), or how heavy the iPad felt when I held it for long periods of time (hello, wrist strain). The Kobo Clara HD is much easier on the eyes when I'm reading in the dark and less disruptive to my and Hubs's sleep, and it's so small and lightweight. Giddy with joy, I went on an ebook shopping spree which included the four books featured here.

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