Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Oil Review

Recently I've been using the new Tinted Lip Oils from Burt's Bee's to eradicate dryness and keep my skin protected. The smooth, healing formula is 100% natural and available in 6 universal shades loaded with a nutrient-rich blend of Meadowfoam Extract, Coconut Oil, Sunflower and Shea Butter to hydrate, blur fine lines and strengthen. The nourishing texture also drenches lips in lightweight, non-greasy color that looks pretty and feels comfortable with no stickiness.


The brush applicator works well for sweeping on the glistening shine and generously coating rough, peeling areas that need more attention. When you first use the oil, it takes a lot of twisting to pull the color down into the brush (about 15 or more clicks) but after that it dispenses easily.


I love how silky and soft my lips feel as the oil absorbs and conditions my skin plus the luminous finish makes them look healthy. Although there is a subtle tint, the color blends out transparently while slightly enhancing your natural lip color. The saturation isn't vibrant but the emollients keep my lips chap-free, moisturized and plush.


You can layer the oils under your favorite gloss but they may affect the adhesion and wear of matte or cream products. For light, summery radiance they look great and before bed use them as a healing treatment to help prepare your pout for the day ahead.  


Burt’s Bees is available at pharmacies, grocery and health food stores nationwide or you can visit the website at burtsbees.ca.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Long-Lasting Lipstick Review

Whether or not you have voluminous lips, creating the illusion of a full pout is totally on-trend and solid, matte pigments are great for dramatic, sensual effects.

The Matte Revolution Luminous Long-Lasting Lipsticks are elegant and stylish with reflective gold tubes that remind me of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. What’s inside is even better because the 3D glowing pigments are designed to make lips look “lit from within” which is a trick often used on photo shoots to create fullness. The buildable formula is enriched with Tree and Orchid extracts to protect, soften and hydrate so you get beautiful matte color without flaking or dryness.


A nourishing blend of oils and waxes create a luxurious creamy texture that glides on effortlessly and coats lips in lightweight color without accentuating rough areas or lines. The lipsticks smell and feel wonderful with full-coverage saturation and great longevity. Unlike many matte formulas, these shades don’t dry down into a flat finish. Instead they retain a supple layer of moisture that glistens in the light creating the appearance of plump, youthful lips.


The angled, square tip is designed to mimic the shape of a lip brush for precise application and the edges seem to help shape and define the lip contours. Lost Cherry has pretty pink undertones that are vibrant but not too bold, Red Carpet is a classic, bombshell red that stands out beautifully on all skin tones and Amazing Grace is a muted pink with fresh peachy tones ideal for summer.



The lipsticks retail for $39.99 each and Charlotte Tilbury is available at Holt Renfrew, Nordsrtom and online at charlottetilbury.com/ca.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Tresor Rare Ultimate Pearl Protecting and Defending Cream Review

I love traveling but I hate what it does to my complexion. My recent trip to Budapest and Vienna was fantastic but the long, skin-drying flight, drastic temperature change, environmental elements and jet lag definitely took a toll. I spent time in the sun which caused tanning and heat rash plus the change in time zone and fatigue led to irritation and dullness. After the trip I needed skincare that was potent, advanced and effective so I started using the Ultimate Pearl Cream by Tresor. This product is definitely a luxury item with a price tag of $399.00 but the complex blend of nourishing ingredients and pure pearl powder sourced from deep waters have incredible rejuvenating benefits.


Pure pearl powder is an ancient Chinese beauty secret that has been used for over 3,000 years for bright, luminous skin and is considered a “magic cure” for eliminating unwanted conditions. Infused with rose hip, jojoba, sweet almond, diamond powder, Dead Sea salt, dandelion, beta carotene, oat, ginkgo biloba, plant stem cells, aloe and minerals sourced from around the world, the cream stimulates natural anti-oxidant defenses, detoxifies and protects. 

It also has amazing anti-aging benefits to firm, tone, reduce wrinkles, fill-in lines and enhance elasticity while fighting free-radicals and daily pollutants. Within a week I began to notice smoother skin texture, softness and smaller pores. The heat rash and sun damage began to fade along with my tan as impurities were removed and my skin started to clear up and regain its youthful radiance.


The texture of the cream is rich and silky to immediately relieve dryness and sensitivity with no stickiness. As it absorbs you can feel the suppleness and a little goes a long way to hydrate and plump. It also seems to unblocked pores, reduce acne breakouts and improve the overall health of your skin for daily maintenance, balance and restoration. Tresor Ultimate Pearl is ideal for busy women who want to simplify their beauty routine with one effective product instead of various steps and formulas. 

You can use the cream during the day (although it doesn’t contain SPF) but I prefer to apply it at night to boost the reparative benefits as I get my beauty rest. The effects are increasingly evident with prolonged use so I’m hopeful that in another week my skin will be completely back to normal. You can visit the website and make purchases at tresor-rare.com.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Budapest Hungary - Travel & Tourism Guide

Budapest is one of the picturesque cities often advertised on the front of travel magazines and luxury river cruise brochures. It is an enticing destination that has been on my bucket list for years as I dreamed about exploring the sights along the Danube and finally seeing the iconic Hungarian Parliament Building that first peaked my curiosity about the city’s grand architecture.


No matter how often I travel, flying makes me nervous but the comfort of a first class pod and sleeping under a fluffy duvet definitely made the journey more enjoyable and helped reduce jet lag. After seven and a half hours we touched down in Budapest and I began exploring the bustling streets as the flower fuzz of spring wafted through the air.

Accommodations

From the airport you can book a shuttle service directly to your hotel - prices are based on drop-off location so rates shouldn't vary. As you exit the baggage area there are also taxi and car companies offering their services but getting a fair price can be tricky.

The city is divided into 2 sides connected by bridges – Pest (where I stayed) has flatter landscape, more tourists and an abundance of hotels while Buda is hilly with banks that showcase the royal palace.

Since Budapest (pronounced Buda-Pesht) is a very walkable city, staying in or near the city center puts you in close proximity to many of the main attractions, shopping and dining areas. I decided to book at the 4 star Boutique Hotel because of the amazing location, positive ratings and modern decor. The hotel is just steps away from Central Market Hall, the famous pedestrian shopping street Váci Utca and the Danube River. 

(Photo from hotel website: boutiquehotelbudapest.com)

Although the suites are quite small (which is common in Europe) the room was rather cozy and came with breakfast buffet and wifi. The bed was too low and firm for my comfort but the open lobby and large skylight above the lounge/bar area is a nice place to relax in the evening after an exhausting day touring. The front desk staff were friendly and very helpful but the maid service failed to clear dirty dishes on a daily basis and the weak AC didn’t do very much to cool the room. In terms of TV channels there were only about 3 or 4 in English but overall I definitely recommend this hotel based on cleanliness, style convenience and service.

(Photo from hotel website: boutiquehotelbudapest.com)

You can visit the hotel website by clicking HERE but I booked the room online via expedia.ca which is priced in Canadian dollars. 

**Travelers Tip: before booking a hotel read traveler reviews on sites like Trip Advisor and Expedia

City Tours
There are a few great tour companies in Budapest with buses that take you throughout the city. After doing some research I booked the Big Bus Tour (hop-on-hop-off) which I have also used in other cities including Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, San Francisco and Chicago. This double decker bus tour is a great way to see many of the major attractions without having to walk everywhere or take public transit and there is historical guided commentary in various languages. You can reserve tickets online before departure but I recommend talking to a tour operator in the city as they often give you additional discounts. I booked the 2 day/48 hr deluxe tour which cost €29 and was discounted to €23 per person.


The tour also includes:
-Walking tours of the city
- Unlimited use of the river cruise tour boat (day and night).
-One hour night tour on the bus
-City Map with bus routes and stops
It does not include entrance to any of the museums or attractions but often stops in front or nearby.



** Travelers Tip: be sure to take both river tours – the day cruise is great for photo opportunities and at night you can enjoy the city lights. I also recommend doing the night bus tour but make sure to arrive at the stop at least 30 mins early for good seats.  

Attractions: Things to do
There are many amazing things to see and do in Budapest so do your research and make plans based on what your interests are. Some of the top sights and places I visited include:

St. Stephens’ Basilica
(A Roman Catholic Basilica named after the first king of Hungary)
Entrance to the church is free but donations are customary upon entry (usually about HUF 200 or €1). The colors inside the church are stunning and I highly recommend paying the HUF 600 or $2.95 CAD to take the elevator up to the dome for an amazing view of the city!
*Note: HUF is the currency symbol for the Hungarian Forint





Fisherman’s Bastion
(A beautiful terrace on the Buda bank of the Danube)
Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most popular attractions in Budapest for its panoramic city views and it is free to explore! The Big Bus Tour does not stop there during the day so you can take a taxi up (which is a good idea in the summer) or commit to the long walk uphill with many stairs and paths (it was a good workout!).




Once you reach the top of Fisherman's Bastion you are rewarded with a fabulous birdseye view of the river, parliament building and surrounding landscape with cool breezes and a small cafe if you'd like a drink or gelato. 

**Travelers Tip: Make sure to pack comfortable walking shoes because you'll need them!

Matthias Church
(Roman Catholic Church)
At the top of Fisherman’s Bastion you will also find Matthias Church. You can purchase tickets for entry (HUF 1 500 / $7.38 CAD) and the mosaic tiles on the roof are just as colorful as the eccentric pillars and arches inside.



Váci Utca
(One of the main pedestrian streets and perhaps the most famous in central Budapest)
Since this street was just steps from my hotel I spent a great deal of time shopping, having dinner at the outdoor patios and sitting by the monument at night enjoying the atmosphere with a gelato or Kürtőskalác in-hand.
Andrássay Avenue
(An elegant boulevard with restaurants, cafes and high-end shops)
Andrássay Avenue is on the way to Hero Square so you can hop off the tour bus and stroll up the street which is shaded by large trees.

Thermal Baths
Budapest is well known for warm thermal baths supplied with water from underground springs that are said to have healing properties. Soaking in a public bath/pool with a large number of near naked travelers from all over the world is not my cup-of-tea but many people do enjoy the experience.

Hungarian Parliament Building/ Parliament of Budapest
Although I didn’t have time to see the inside of the building, tours can be booked in advance.


**Travelers Tip: The best panoramic view of the Parliament Building is from Fisherman’s Bastion but the best close-up photos can be taken from a river boat with an open deck. At night the building is beautifully illuminated which also makes for a great photo.

Danube Cruise and Promenade
Along the river there are restaurants, patio bars and many places to sit and relax. As mentioned earlier, the Big Bus Tour includes a sightseeing cruise but lunch and dinner cruises can be booked separately.


**Travelers Tip: look for dinner cruises online before your trip to compare traveler reviews, food quality and menus. Booking in advance can also save you some money.

Buda Castle
You can take the funicular up to Buda Castle for about HUF 1 800 / $8.86 CAD. The buildings themselves house beautiful art galleries (which you can enjoy for an additional fee) while the outer grounds and gardens offer spectacular views and a small souvenir shop where I found some unique scarves.





           Hero Square
(Monument featuring the Magyars and other important national leaders)


City Park




**Travelers Tip: Make note of the hours of operations for the sites/attractions you want to visit since many museums are closed on Monday.

Food
I didn’t try much Hungarian food like Goulash Soup or Paprika Chicken but I did have the Chimney Cake or Kürtőskalács which is a light dough (similar to pretzel bread but not as dense) cooked over hot coals and rolled in your choice of toppings like chocolate, cinnamon and nuts.



Curry House serves traditional Indian cuisine and savory dishes like biryani with creamy butter chicken and naan.
*Address: Budapest Bródy Sándor u. 21 1085 Hungary


Bangkok Thai Restaurant is located just steps away from Boutique Hotel (directly across the small street) and the food is delicious! I recommend the Pad Thai and make a reservation if you’d like a table during the evening rush.

Gelarto Rosa (close to St. Stephan’s Basilica) is very popular with tourists for their signature rose designs but the scoops are small and the gelato is mediocre. If you want a cool Instagram photo go for it, otherwise there are better gelato shops around.


Central Market is a great place to find local produce and delicious pastries, I picked up some local honey.        

There are many types of cuisine in Budapest including Greek, Italian, Middle Eastern and American chains like KFC, Burger King and Soul Food.

When you get tired of walking, simply sit back on a park bench or relax on the open deck of a tour bus and take a moment to appreciate the sights, smells and sounds of daily life in Budapest. It’s not uncommon to unexpectedly come across a local craft market or festival. The city is energetic and lively with astounding beauty and rich culture




Stay tuned for my article on Vienna Austria! 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Dior Addict Lip Tattoo Review & NEW 5 Color Eye Shadow Palette

The new Dior Lip Tattoos may have been inspired by the trends and techniques of experts backstage at the hottest runway shows but the durable pigments are also perfect for modern woman tackling their hectic schedules with style.


This new generation of ink provides an ephemeral lip tattoo in a variety of trendy colors ranging from pale nude, universal cherry and bubbly gum pink with luminous finishes. Once applied the formula (which is 50% water) evaporates leaving behind vibrant color and a nourishing dose of emollients that provide light moisture, softness and a refreshing hint of menthol. The texture is so weightless that it doesn’t feel like lipstick at all and the tinted ink transparently fuses with the lips to boost their natural color.


Because of the moisturizing blend of water and oil, the liquid glides on cool and soothing with a juicy wash of color. The more you apply, the longer it takes to dry, but once it does the effect is similar to a pretty stain. The red is most vivid but all of the shades start out quite sheer and can be slightly enhanced for more saturation. Although they aren’t full-coverage, the tints accentuate the lips and provide brightness and comfort with little transfer. I don’t quite get a full 10 hours of wear but they do hold up well and fade nicely. The Lip Tattoos retail for $36.00 each and are available exclusively at Nordstrom.


The Dior 5 Color Eye Shadow Palettes are classic and the new color collections have been reinvented to deliver stronger pigment and richer effects. 357 Electrify has a unique intermingling of color designed to play up the eyes with silky summer hues. The shimmery pink with peachy undertones contrasts beautifully with the range of glistening blues while the silver adds a sheer wash of glittery sparkle to the areas you’d like to enhance. Although I still recommend a good primer to amp-up the pigment, I definitely notice an improvement in color pay-off and the texture is incredibly smooth, lightweight and satiny with no creasing. The palette retails for $72.00 available at Sephora and all other Dior retailers.



I love glamorous lashes but I don’t usually have the time or patience to glue on flasies. When it comes to mascara, it seems like there is a new product launched every week so it takes a lot to impress me and most of the time I don’t even review them. That being said, the Diordshow Pump’N’ Volume Mascara is fabulous! Instead of a traditional brush (which all seem to do the same thing), this one has short, spindly bristles that grab each hair to effectively lengthen and thicken. Squeezing the flexible outer tube makes the high-density formula ideally fluid so the brush receives a load of product to generously coat the hairs without clumping. The effect is thick, voluminous lashes that look stunning! The mascara retails for $37.00 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

L’Oreal Paris Color Riche Lipstick Review

Today I’m in the mood for simple elegance with classic pigments that can get you through any event or occasion with a ravishing wash of color. The iconic Color Rich Lipsticks have been around for a while and the complexion flattering shades add a hint of glam to everyday looks with brilliant shimmer, confidence boosting reds and satiny shine.


These 4 hues are within a color spectrum that compliments most skin tones and the powdery sweet scent smells delicious! I like the stylish packaging, traditional shape and sharp point which helps define the lip contour. No matter what finish you choose, application is smooth and effortless with comfortable glide.

From left to right: 315 True Red is exactly what the name suggests with a lightweight satin texture that drenches lips in supple hydration. 752 Classic Wine is actually a light, frosty pink with muted metallic shine. 762 Divine Wine is quite neutral with a brown undertone and sheer to medium coverage. My favorite shade - 364 Place Vendome makes a bold statement with deep ruby pigment.


The formula is creamy, smooth and luxurious - enriched with an ultra-nourishing blend of Omega 3, Vitamin E and Argan Oil to condition, soften, soothe and prevent dryness. The deeper shades tend to last longer and although there is some transfer I still manage to get a few hours of wear before having to reapply.



With 44 pretty shades to choose from there is definitely something for everyone in this collection and who knows, you may even find your signature shade!

L’Oreal is available at drugstores nationwide and the lipstick retail for about $8.96 each
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