A shade of the dramatic, where different is all there is.


KIKO Make Up Milano (Introduction and Review)

So, Saturday night we safely arrived back home in Ottawa.  After two flights and a very long day, we were in a word “exhausted”.  I’ve got to say, it felt very amazing to sleep in our own bed!

I’m so far behind with things I want to post about on here, so I will do my best to get caught up.  I’ll try to mix in trip photos over the next couple of weeks amidst everything else.  While in Europe I ran into a couple of make up brands that I’d never heard of before and to the best of my knowledge, aren’t available anywhere in North America, so I was sure to pick up a few items so I could share them with you.  And hopefully learn more about them from my European readers who have likely had a much wider experience with them.

Kiko Cosmetics, Venice Italy

The first one I wanted to post about is KIKO Make Up Milano.  Available online at their website for residents of Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and the UK…KIKO Cosmetics is currently only available for sale in Europe.

KIKO’s identity is rooted in “Made in Italy” values and the world of the capital for fashion, art and design. The research into original textures and colours is combined with research into quality formulas with guaranteed performance, for a perfect fusion of quality and creativity.


KIKO Makeup

We ran into this stand alone cosmetics store in the shopping district of Venice.  They had every makeup and skincare product under the sun and tonnes of nail polishes too.  And as you can see, it was packed!  They had so much product in this little shop, I really wasn’t sure where to start.  Because I had no idea of if there were any “must-haves” for this brand, I just snooped around and picked out a few things I thought I would enjoy giving a try.

I ended up opting for two eye pencils, an eyeshadow palette containing 4 shades and a nail polish.

KIKO Make Up Milano

The Color Fever Eyeshadow Palette I decided on was the one called Hyperreal Green Wood (no shocker there!).

Hyperreal Green Wood - Color Fever quad

Inside the box the palette comes inside a small velvet pouch for safe keeping.  And you’ll be happy to know the lid offers a full size mirror with no wasted space.

"Hyperreal Green Wood" Color Fever swatches

The Hyperreal Green Wood palette features 4 gorgeous shades that are easily paired together and are all shimmery baked eyeshadows so they can easily be used dry or wet, depending on how intense you want the look to be.

Color Fever Eyeshadow swatches - "Hyperreal Green Wood"

Left to Right: Top Row, Bottom Row

The look I’ve created here is using a dry brush.  And I found them to be very vibrant with lovely pigmentation and great blendability.  After several hours of wear I experienced no creasing, fading or patchy wear of any kind.  I was very happy with this palette and the overall quality of the eye shadows.  I paid 12,90 Euro for this palette in store (that is equivalent to about $17 or $18 US dollars).

Hyperreal Green Wood makeup look by Kiko

I also purchased Nail Lacquer 298 (no cute names, only numbers) for 3,90 Euro (which is about $5-$6 USD).  The nail lacquer was not at all like I expected.  It was a very sheer shimmer and after trying it out, I would think this is best used as a top coat if you wanted to add some shimmer to a matte or creme blue, green or black polish.

298 Nail Lacquer by Kiko

298 Nail Lacquer by KIKO Make Up Milano

This picture here is showing 3 coats.  I did 5 and still had a visible nail line, so you’d have to do at least 6 for an opaque/close to opaque look.  Not sure who has time for that?

swatch of 298 nail lacquer by Kiko

Unfortunately I only picked up the one shade, so I have no idea of whether this is just the case with their shimmer formulas and if an experience with a creme would’ve been different.  I imagine it would be.  Perhaps if anyone has tried out more than one of their nail lacquers you can leave a note below??  I’m really curious!

As mentioned earlier, I picked out 2 eye pencils while at KIKO.  The first one was from their “Glamorous Eye Pencil” line and was number 404.  It was only 2,90 Euro which is equal to about $4 USD.

Plum eye pencil by Kiko (404 Glamorous)

It is a nice rich plum shade in a waterproof formula that starts out blendable and then sets into place.

swatch of Glamorous Eye Pencil by Kiko - 404

For this swatch, I did a single fine  line on the left which is just the width of the tip and then did a thicker swatch so you could see the true colour a little bit better.

The other eye pencil I decided to pick up was from the Smoky Eye(s) Pencil line in shade 03 (Violet Indigo).  This one retailed for 6,90 Euro which equates to about $9 or $10 USD.

KIKO Smoky Eye Pencil in "03"


When I saw this product, I knew I just had to give this a whirl because it was the first time I’d ever seen a brush on the end of an eye pencil opposed to a smudger.

"03" Smoky Eyes Pencil by Kiko Cosmetics

For the above swatch, on the left again I did the single fine line to show the width of the tip and on the right, I’ve lightly blended it out using the brush on the other end.

Both eye pencils had an extremely creamy texture and slid across my lids gently with ease.  Below, you can see I tried pairing the blue one with some brown crushed pigments to add a pop of colour to my look which created a nice alternative to brown or black.

"03" Smoky Eyes Pencil by Kiko


Overall I was really happy with the quality of products and given the price, you really can’t go wrong.  The brand is quite affordable and offers an absolutely massive range of colours and options for people, no matter their age.  The prices make it easy to try out multiple products right away unlike some high end brands that add up so quickly.  Now all I wish is that I’d grabbed a lip product to test drive too…and honestly, some of everything would be nice!  So, I can definitely say that I would buy KIKO products again if I’m ever back in Europe.  Hopefully someday they will expand their on-line store and make shipping to North America possible!

So, for all my North American readers, keep your eyes peeled for KIKO Make Up Milano on your next trip overseas and for my European readers, I’m really curious if any of you are fans of KIKO Cosmetics and if there are any “must-have’s” people should know about?!?

Thanks for reading!







Quick Venice Photo BOMB

I currently still have internet access and wanted to drop a quick bomb of photos on all of you from our time in Venice.  I know this isn’t the typical definition of “photo bomb”…but I’ve always been a little weird.

***click any photo to enlarge***

The Grand Canal in Venice Italy

The Grand Canal

Gondolas of Venice

Gondolas of Venice

Venice Canals


Venice waterways

One of the most picturesque canals in Venice

Venice sidestreet


San Marco Gondolas, Venice

Gondolas across from Piazza San Marco

St. Mark's Basilica

Basilica di San Marco

We are boarding our cruise ship tomorrow and will have very limited internet access until we are back in Ottawa middle of January.  So I hope you enjoy these pictures from the few days we spent in Venice, Italy!   Most of them were taken by my ever talented husband.

Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and I’m wishing you all an exciting and prosperous 2013!



Venice Italy, canals and sidestreets

Collage Overlay by Seche

My wishful thinking led me into my third Sally Beauty Supply in hopes of finding a couple of rare colours from the China Glaze Cirque du Soleil Nail Polish Collection…and although they were sold out in the specific shades I was looking for, just like everywhere else…I saw something I didn’t even know existed.

Seche Collage Overlay Nail Polish topcoat
Seche came out with a limited edition topcoat called “Collage Overlay”.  It’s made up of medium and large sized hexagon glitters and string glitters.  Almost all of the glitter chunks are mainly rose in colour, but there is also the odd large white hexagons as well.  All of them are hugely reflective and make for a very fun and flashy manicure.

Seche Collage Overlay

It’s so unique looking, I knew I had to add this to my collection.  If you feel the same way, you can pick this up at your local Sally Beauty Supply for $8.99 CAD or $6.49 US, it is currently not available on their website.

Collage Overlay topcoat by Seche

Application was easy and you don’t have to worry about getting a good variety of glitter on each nail.  Here you can see one coat of “Collage Overlay” layered over top of “Liquid Vinyl”, a basic black nail polish by Orly.

Collage Overlay over top of black nail polish

I’ve absolutely loved this mani ever since I first did it.  It’s so reflective and flashy I can’t help but constantly check out my nails!  What do you think of this new topcoat “Collage Overlay” from Seche?  I think it is perfect for ringing in the New Year!  What will you be wearing on your nails when the ball drops?

I also wanted to let you guys all know that my husband and I are heading out today on our much belated honeymoon and will be gone until the middle of January.  So you won’t see any posts around here for the next couple of weeks, but I look forward to getting caught up with all of you soon.  🙂

So please have a Safe and Happy New Years Eve!



Being a BzzAgent gets you FREE stuff! And in this case, that’s Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration!

I think it is safe to say that everybody loves getting free stuff.  I’ve personally made it very clear that I’m a sucker for a good “gift with purchase” and constantly want to buy value packs and sampler kits because they are a better deal.  So when a fellow blogger and friend of mine, Rebecca over at The Lipstick Gal, turned me on to BzzAgent several months ago, I thought it sounded like a great idea!  At the time she was reviewing a set of Gucci perfumes she had received for free for simply signing up to be a BzzAgent.  The company BzzAgent puts a great deal of value in word of mouth advertising and they believe that people who have sampled certain products or know someone who has tried it out, are more likely to branch out and try something new.  With a whackload of clients, www.bzzagent.com is looking for more and more people all the time who are interested in trying out a variety of free products.  Their campaigns involve everything from household items, to pet food, beauty and skincare products, or even food for your family.  So no matter what your interests, hobbies or daily grind involves BzzAgent has something for you to try out.  All they ask is for feedback and for you to share coupons and samples with your friends.

To get started, all you have to do is sign up!  It doesn’t cost you anything, other than a few minutes of your time to fill out a few surveys.  The surveys help them match up future campaigns that might suit you.  If you don’t have pets, they won’t send you dog food, etc.  I had signed up several months back and had practically forgotten all about it, until I received an email inviting me to a BzzCampaign for Burt’s Bees.  They wanted to send me some brand new, full-size products from their Intense Hydration line for absolutely FREE!  Naturally, I accepted and within a week I had about $45 of free product arriving at my door.

Getting free products with BzzAgent

I received a full sized Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream with Clary Sage, a full sized Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Cream Cleanser with Clary Sage…as well as a mountain of Night Cream samples to give away to friends, family, co-workers, etc.

Getting free stuff with BzzAgent

I’d never tried anything from Burt’s Bees skincare line before.  I’d dabbled in their lip products, like most everyone I think…but that was where my experimentation had ended until very recently.  I was excited to try out some new skin care products as I didn’t have much of a routine that I was dedicated to.

But before I talk about the individual products I got to try, I want to talk a bit about Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration products being 99% natural and the part “Clary Sage” plays in their line of Intense Hydration products.

Burt’s Bees is a product line very dedicated to making  natural products that are GOOD FOR YOU.  They pride themselves on using the best natural ingredients available and processing them in the simplest way possible.  Every package they have for sale states clearly on it, what percentage of natural ingredients are inside so you always know exactly what you are putting on your skin or lips.  Burt’s Bees doesn’t test on animals and they do their best to limit their environmental footprint by using innovative packaging and ensuring zero waste goes to landfills from their facilities.  They are certainly a company you can feel good about supporting with products you can feel good about putting onto your body.

The Intense Hydration line is made with Clary Sage and I found the story behind this crucial ingredient particularly interesting.

Deep in the windswept hills of the Mediterranean, a lone plant fights for its life against the elements.  Clary Sage survives and thrives in spite of its harsh surroundings, thanks to the plant’s fierce will and exceptional ability to adapt and retain moisture.  This remarkable botanical is the inspiration behind Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Face Care line – the brand’s natural ode to soft, supple and revitalized skin.

In clinical studies, 100% of women tested said their skin felt hydrated after using Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration products.  That is a stat that is hard to argue with.

Intense Hydration Cream Cleanser 

Intense Hydration Cream Cleanser with Clary Sage by Burt's Bees

Cream Cleanser with Clary Sage by Burt's Bees

Burt’s Bees Description states:

  • Provides intense hydration and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Leaves skin feeling soft, supple and revitalized
  • Removes dirt, oil and makeup
  • Rinses easily without leaving a residue

Intense Hydration Night Cream

Burt's Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream with Clary Sage (for dry skin)

Burt's Bees night cream for dry skin

Burt’s Bees Description states:

  • Replenishes moisture while you sleep – wake up to skin that feels soft, supple and revitalized
  • Provides intense hydration and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Absorbs quickly thanks to a rich, non-greasy formula

My thoughts after 3 weeks of testing:

I suffer from dry skin mainly throughout the Winter months.  Winter in Canada can be quite drying to all of my skin, but my face always seems to suffer the most, or at least I worry about it more than anything else.  I have combination skin that lends itself to being quite dry from November through March.  It’s especially bad this time of year because when it is really cold outside, I tend to engage in extremely hot showers, which further dry out my skin.  It is near impossible to keep my skin hydrated.

Once I received this set, I really wanted to give the products a fair shake and created a routine where I would remove my eye makeup and use this cleanser and night cream before bed each evening.  The first thing I noticed about this facial cleanser is the amazing scent.  It smells clean and refreshing…almost like what you’d expect a a fresh, mountain meadow to smell like.  This cleanser is not an exfoliant, so the formula is very soft and not too thick.  It spreads easily onto a wet face and a little goes a long way.  It feels extremely gentle and truly does rinse off easily with no hassle.  What I noticed immediately was after I finished washing, my face wasn’t tight and dry feeling.   I’ve experienced several cleansers that although they left me feeling clean, they also left me with an immediate need for face cream, this thankfully wasn’t one of them.  I proceeded to apply my overnight eye cream and then the Burt’s Bees night cream all over my face.  So every night I’ve been going to bed with soft and supple skin that feels very refreshed and clean.  Over the course of the past few weeks, there have been a couple of nights where I didn’t make time for my new routine and I went straight to bed.  Each time, I paid for it the next morning and woke up feeling dry, tight and even experienced some flaky, dry skin across my forehead.  With Burt’s Bees I’m able to wake up feeling hydrated, instead of feeling like I need to go straight into “damage control” mode and play catch up.  The night cream isn’t greasy at all and I end up feeling hydrated for about a 24 hour period after each use.  So it isn’t until the following evening when I start feeling like my skin could use some more nourishment.

So if you suffer from dry skin in winter, or any time, you should really consider giving Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration a try and see if it is right for you!

Do you suffer from dry skin?  What do you use to keep your skin feeling soft and hydrated?

Thanks for reading everyone and Merry Christmas to you and yours!



Color Club’s “Winter Affair” set of mini nail lacquers

If you are still in need of stocking stuffers for that beauty lover on your list then this Color Club “Winter Affair” set of mini nail lacquers may be just what you need.

Winter Affair Color Club set

The Winter Affair nail lacquer set is made up of 3 beautiful shimmery polishes and a flakie top coat….and yes as the label suggests, they are scented!  This was the first time I’d ever noticed the brand “Color Club” at Sally Beauty Supply but had heard a lot about them on-line, so I was excited to pick up this set and give them a try.

Color Club 2012 Christmas Set

This set of minis from Color Club is currently available in stores for $6.99 US or $8.99 CAD.

These mini nail polishes didn’t state the actual shades on them anywhere, so I had to look them up on-line and found the following information.

"Winter Affair" Nail polish swatches by Color Club

“Berry and Bright” is the shimmering red and smells like…well…berries!  The scent could also be compared to sugar plums.  It is a very festive berry scent.

The green you see is “Ho-Ho-Holly” and to me, smelled exactly the way a pine or mistletoe candle would.

The shimmering blue nail polish is called “Gift of Sparkle”.  For some reason, depending on where you purchase this set “Gift of Sparkle” is actually a different colour.  Sally Beauty offers the blue and at other locations you might find a glitzy purple with the same name.  I can’t speak for the scent of the purple one, but the blue one smells like vanilla…but a very strong vanilla.

The flakie polish on the end is called “Snow-flakes” and is the only one from the set that isn’t scented.  When I saw this in the bottle, I was actually hoping it was  similar to Make a Spectacle from China Glaze’s Halloween collection, but it wasn’t anything like it.  The reflective nature of this polish is very subtle on the nail and much more pronounced in the bottle.  At certain angles you can’t see it at all, but if the light hits it just right, then you will see multiple shades reflected in these flakes.  I think next time I will actually try out this top coat with more than one coat and see how that changes things.  Regardless of my high hopes and slight disappointment, it is still pretty!

Snow-Flakes swatch by Color Club

The formula of these polishes was fantastic, not too thick and not to thin.  These pictures are actually all with just one coat if you can believe it!  So these polishes are perfect for when you are in a hurry and don’t have time to wait for 2-3 coats to dry.

Please note: I don’t recommend using multiple polishes for a manicure like I did here.  The mixing aromas was a little overpowering for me and I had to change this mani over to a single color mani.  But when I had on only “Berry and Bright” it was just a nice soft scent and very manageable.  If you have a sensitive nose though, these might be too much for you.

This was my first adventure into the world of scented nail polish and I haven’t made up my mind yet as to how I feel about it.  How about you?  Do you like scented nail polish and have a brand you turn to?

Thanks for reading!  Happy shopping for those of you that still have some left!


Mini Nail Lacquer gift set "Winter Affair" by Color Club

Tarte’s LipSurgence Collector’s Set (complete set of indoor and outdoor swatches)

I was shocked to see this set back in Sephora store’s and just had to grab it!

tarte 5 piece LipSurgence collector's set

This 5-piece LipSurgence Collector’s Set from Tarte called “Statement Lips” sold out earlier in the season and I was lucky enough that they replenished those empty shelves!  I was wandering through Sephora and when I saw it, I was just plain thrilled. 🙂  I was actually in store returning the Cinderella Moonlit Kiss Lipstick Set and was stoked to be able to replace them with a product I know isn’t drying and always feels great on my lips.

Tarte 5 piece LipSurgence set for holidays 2012

This set is made up of a variety of LipSurgence types and all of them are full size products (which retail for $31 CAD individually or $24US).  It has one matte (“exposed”), two lip lusters (“escape” and “sweet”) and two lip tints (“enchanted” and “elite”).  This Statement Lips set of 5 LipSurgence products by tarte retails for $44 CAD or $34US.

tarte 2012 christmas value lip set

Although you can’t find this on-line any more, be sure to check your local Sephora for stock, mine still had a bunch of them when I picked this one up.

And remember, no need to sharpen these babies, they are twist-up’s so there is no fuss and no mess.

tarte LipSurgence Collector's Set, swatches and review

Here is a look at this 5-piece Collector’s Set swatched on my hand:

swatches of tarte LipSurgence set 2012

I thought these swatches didn’t really fully encompass these shades, so I wanted to be sure to do full lip swatches as well, both outdoors in natural light and indoors with flash.  Hope you find these helpful when deciding if this set is right for you, or perhaps the perfect gift!

escape LipSurgence Natural Lip Luster

“escape” is a shimmering pink and reminded me of “My Moment” from the Cinderella set I recently returned.  This one just has slightly less glitter, but a far better formula.   So for those of you that were in love with that shade, this is a good alternative….and won’t require the layering of clear gloss around it to make it bearable.

"escape" lipsurgence natural lip tint review and swatch

"escape" tarte lip swatch

enchanted LipSurgence Natural Lip Tint

“enchanted” is a sheer rose shade and what is particularly awesome about the sheer tints, is because they are sheer, they really play off the colour of your natural lips, so they will look different on everyone and compliment everyone.

"enchanted" by tarte, review and swatches

"enchanted" lip swatch by tarte

exposed LipSurgence Natural Matte Lip Tint

“exposed” is described as the perfect nude.  It really is a gorgeous lipstick and I’m SO glad it was in this collection.  I wasn’t sure at first if it would be too dark for me, but I actually love that it has a darker pigmentation than I am used to with my nude lipsticks.  Instead of washing me out, it defines my lips in a natural way.  Definitely one of my favourites from this tarte collector’s set.  

exposed matte lip tint by tarte, review and swatches

"exposed" lip swatch by tarte

sweet LipSurgence Lip Luster

“sweet” is a shimmering peachy pink.  It’s not as glittery as you might expect from tarte’s line of lip lusters, but it has a very pretty gloss-like finish that isn’t over the top.  I see myself getting a lot of use out of this shade, because it is subtle, yet soft and pretty.

sweet lip luster by tarte, review and swatches

"sweet" lip swatch on lips, tarte LipSurgence set

elite LipSurgence Lip Tint

“elite” is the other sheer one in the collection, described best as a sheer melon shade.  This is my other favourite from this set.  It is sheer, so will again play off of your natural lip colour, but for me, I found the amount of pigmentation just right.  I also have a lot of “rose” shades already, so to have something with a slightly more tropical feel is awesome.  I’m very happy to have added this one to my collection.  I see it getting steady use year round, but especially in Spring.

"elite" lip tint review and swatches

"elite" lip swatch on lips, tarte's statement lips set

I personally can’t wait for next year’s 5-piece set of Tarte LipSurgence products!  Every year they change the colours and these sets are such fantastic value!  I hope you are able to get one before the 2012 stock is sold out.

Statement Lips set of LipSurgence by tarte (Christmas 2012)

Let me know if you have this set already and what you think of it!

Thanks for reading!



China Glaze’s Cirque du Soleil Collection feat. “It’s a Trap-Eze!”

China Glaze’s Cirque du Soleil collection has been available in the US for a little while, but just recently hit the shelves in Canada.

Cirque du Soleil nail polish collection 2012

There are a lot of beautiful colours in this collection and they aren’t limiting this winter collection to muted or classic winter shades.  They’ve really gone out of their way to add some very fun and bright shades to help you cure the winter blues.

It’s A Trap-Eze!

Whirled Away

Escaping Reality

Surreal Appeal

Def Defying

Running In Circles

Hanging In The Balance

Water You Waiting For

Creative Fantasy

Bend Over Backwards

Igniting Love

Get Carried Away

Colour Palette courtesy of www.chinaglaze.com

I was hoping to get my hands on Creative Fantasy, Running in Circles and It’s a Trap-Eze!  But out of the two Sally Beauty Supply stores I went to, neither of them had any of the three shades out on display.  Only when I asked, was I lucky enough to find out that they had some “It’s a Trap-Eze!” tucked away in the back.  Not sure why that was the case, but I was glad I asked nonetheless.

So,  I wanted to share with you this very unique nail polish that I’ve just added to my collection.

Its a trapeze nail polish by China Glaze/confetti nail polish by China Glaze

It’s a Trap-Eze! reminds me of confetti, frosting and angel food cake all at the same time.  This nail polish truly looks delicious!

China Glaze confetti nail polish

It is made up of medium and small sized hexagon shaped glitters in a variety of fun, bright colours that are floating in a creamy, milky base.

China Glaze nail lacquer "It's a Trap-Eze!"

This is what two coats looks like:

swatch of Its a Trapeze nail polish by China Glaze

The creamy soft coloured base makes this mani perfect for winter and the holidays!

If my experience is any indication, this polish might be a hard polish to get in store and you might need to order it on-line if you want to ensure you don’t miss out.  If any one knows of any dupes to this, please be sure to comment below!

As for the formula, It’s a Trap-Eze! glides on very easily and you don’t have to fuss with the glitter at all to get an even distribution.  My only complaint with this polish is that I experienced minor chips along my tips after just a day and a half.  Within 3 days, almost every nail showed signs of wear.  So although, I love the polish, I wish it held up to the elements better.  That won’t stop me from wearing this unique polish though, it is just too fun to keep on a shelf.

Did you pick up any of these limited edition polishes from the China Glaze Cirque du Soleil collection?