Biotherm Aquasource - Deep Hydration Replenishing Gel, Nuit High Density Hydrating Jelly and Deep Serum

A few months back I was able to attend a presentation from Biotherm about their Aquasource line - which was actually one of my first experiences with the brand, with the exception of a BB cream I had sampled previously. (If you follow my Instagram, I posted some pictured from the event.) Since I had not previously used anything from Biotherm, I wanted to give myself several weeks of testing time with the new products to get a better gauge of how they performed for my combination, leaning-to-dry-because-of-this-damn-winter-that-will-not-end skin.

If you're a skin-care geek, you'll note that the formulations contain some unique ingredients and sophisticated formulations.


Biotherm Aquasource

The Aquasource - Deep Hydration Replenishing Gel for Normal or Combination Skin (47$ CAD - 39$ USD) features:

Mannose - a natural sugar derived from tree pulp, it increases skin thickness by 25% and helps it further retain moisture over a 48 hour period. Tested on reconstructed skin, it has the ability to encourage skin regeneration.

Life Plankton™ Cellular Water - a blend of minerals, including potassium, phosphor, calcium, iron, Zinc, copper and manganese, as well as b2 (riboflavin), b6 (pyridoxine), b8 (biotin) and b3 (pp). It is also rich in 23 amino acids ranging from aspartic acid to lysine. This fluid aids in preventing moisture loss and stimulates skin regeneration.

Biotherm Aquasource
Jelly!
The texture of this is really neat, something in between a cream and a gel. It goes on light and cool-feeling, like a gel would, but once smoothed in it feels the same as a an oil-based moisturizer would, only without that heavy, greasy feeling. It does contain shea butter and silicone oils in addition to the unique ingredients, as well as alcohol to keep that lightweight, airy feel in the formulation. (I was told that the potential drying effects of the alcohol are negated by the hydrating factors, but if your skin is  particularly dry or sensitive, you might want to take that into consideration.)

On my skin type, I found it was perfect for when my skin was optimal (slightly oily in the t-zone, dehydrated everywhere), but wasn't quite enough for when the central air was turning me into an extra from The Mummy. (Not unexpectedly, as it is geared to normal/combination skin.)

The Aquasource Nuit - High Density Hydrating Jelly for All Types of Skin (50$ CAD - 42$ USD) contains:

P. Antarctica - sourced from a newly discovered micro-organism that produces a glycoprotein enabling it to maintain its internal water levels even in the frozen climate of Antarctica. The extract derived from this extreme weather survivor increases the production of new keratinocytes (new, fresh cells in the skin)by up to 25% after just 48 hours, boosting the skin’s overall capacity to hold water.

This has an even cooler texture than the moisturizer. Basically an oil-in-gel formula, it contains micro-droplets of oil that are 10 to 20 times smaller than those found in the usual moisturizers or oil-in-water emulsions. Despite the jelly-like texture, I could feel it transforming into a light balm as I massaged it into my skin. That super-light film took about a minute or two to absorb completely, and my skin afterward felt incredibly soft and supple, with a velvety smoothness. The Aquasource Nuit is my favourite out of the three products, and one I continue to use on a nightly basis. If you have dry skin, you may need to layer something richer over it, but so far I haven't needed to, even on my drier days. It doesn't have anti-aging ingredients as such, though, so if that is a concern you will definitely need to add an appropriate product to address those needs.

The Aquasource Deep Serum - Deep Moisture and Light Concentrate (60$ CAD)contains the same Mannose and Life Plankton™ Cellular Water as the moisturizer, but in a 3x greater concentration. It also has a micro-pearl formulation (essentially fine mica), for an extra light-boosting effect that lends a beautifully unified finish to the complexion.

Again, the feeling on the skin is fresh, lightweight, and it sinks in immediately. The combination of the hydrating ingredients with the luminous finish makes for a flattering complexion boost. If you're not inclined to wear much makeup, this by itself does a lot to create the look of smooth, glowing skin.

Overall, I think this is an elegantly designed line with ingredients and textures that are unusual enough to stand out from the usual counter offerings, and effective enough to merit some serious attention. Though it's not ideal for those with drier skin or anti-aging concerns, the lightweight formulations should be especially appealing to those with normal-to-slightly-oily skin who need that boost of hydration but who cannot tolerate a greasy feeling.

These swatches suggest the kind of jelly/gel texture these products have:

Biotherm Aquasource
Left to right: Aquasource Moisturizer, Aquasource Nuit, Aquasource Deep Serum

Availability: At Biotherm counters at Hudson's Bay and Pharmaprix/Shoppers Drug Mart locations, as well as online at www.biotherm.ca and www.lancome-usa.com.

Have you guys tried anything from the Biotherm line? I have a couple of products from their dry/mature skin line to test next, and I'm really curious to see how they stack up. :)

(These items were provided by the brand/PR to be considered for review. All opinions are my own, this post is not sponsored or compensated.)

Giorgio Armani Belladonna Palette Highlighter

I'm not generally a makeup conservationist, but there are a few products that I have in my collection that I have yet to touch - their sheer gorgeousness will not be despoiled. The Giorgio Armani Belladonna Palette almost joined those ranks, were it not for the fact that it was a press sample and the desire to do some Gollum-worthy hoarding didn't seem like the thing to do.

But I mean seriously.

Giorgio Armani Belladonna Palette Highlighter

This is a stunner, no doubt about it. Named after the Belladonna flower (poisonous and psychotropic, yes, but also used in cosmetics and medicine), it also bears the bas-relief imprint of the self-same bloom.

I have to give GA some love here, for choosing this dual-natured flower as opposed to something more prosaic. It takes a certain appreciation of history and horticulture to base the centrepiece of the angelic-toned Spring collection on a plant that evokes the "beautiful woman" with its name, yet also possesses a murky history and a strong association with the darker arts.

Giorgio Armani Belladonna Palette Highlighter

The packaging is classic Armani, sleek and elegant and somehow practical, with a heavy plastic compact that flips open to reveal the mirrored pan and a storage compartment beneath for the circular fan brush. (This brush would be  just "meh" in a blush palette, but actually works well when it comes to applying a highlighter like this along the cheekbone.)

Giorgio Armani Belladonna Palette Highlighter

The product itself....GAH. Pardon me while I wipe the drool. It's a gorgeous champagne shimmer that looks incredibly reflective, even metallic, when viewed in the sunlight.

Now, if you've tried the MAC Extra Dimension line, or the Gelée textured products from Estée Lauder, then you're familiar with the type of formulation that this has - a hybrid of powder, cream and liquid. It has the same bewilderingly complex texture, and feels dense, without any powdery kickback or that touch of dryness that these kinds of products tend to have. It also feels smoother and more finely-milled, and blends more easily.

It can be used wet or dry for varying intensity, and built up for greater opacity. Applied with a fluffy brush, it leaves a soft, sparkling glimmer, like fairy dust. The sparkle is incredibly fine and ethereal, the polar opposite of club-y.

With a firmer, synthetic brush, it can be applied for stronger shimmer highlight, and over eye primer it builds up to a wet-look gleam. The latter is super beautiful when paired with a simple, lash-heavy eye look.

Lasting power is great when worn as a highlighter, maintaining a nice sparkle and sheen over 8 hours (though I would welcome the excuse to take the compact out in public for touch-ups). As eyeshadow, it does best over a primer, otherwise starting to crease after about 4-5 hours.

Giorgio Armani Belladonna Palette Highlighter

In the swatch below you can see it applied straight on the left, and buffed out with a fluffy brush on the right.

Giorgio Armani Belladonna Palette Highlighter swatches review

Although I have a lot of highlighters in my collection, I actually had a hard time finding a dupe for this. The closest is the lighter shade in the MAC Definitely Defined Skinfinish, and even at that it is cooler and more pink-toned, and doesn't quite buff out to that same fairy-lit finish.

Giorgio Armani Belladonna Palette Highlighter MAC Definitely Defined

Here you can see the Belladonna Highlighter on the left, and Definitely Defined on the right.

Giorgio Armani Belladonna Palette Highlighter MAC Definitely Defined swatches review

I was quite surprised to see that this is that rare luxury beauty product that is actually less expensive in Canada than it is in the United States: it's 70$ at Holt Renfrew, compared to 88$ on the Giorgio Armani website. I KNOW. It's not a steal by any means, and like I said, you can find a similar formulation from other brands - but the gorgeous design, the finer texture, and the particular way it reflects light and sits on the skin is truly unique. It is the luxury version in more ways than one.

Have you guys tried the Belladonna Highlighter yet? What do you think of it? How does it compare for you?

(This item was provided by the band/PR to be considered for review. This post is not compensated, all opinions are my own.)

Sephora VIB Rouge In-Store Event

It's no secret that the Sephora VIB Rouge program has had some hiccups. (My faves are the inconsistent treatment and non-existent or irrelevant perks - really, does anyone jump at the chance for free makeovers with germ-laden testers?) Whether you think people had overly high expectations or Sephora just under-delivered on its promises, the grumblings on the interwebs made it clear - this is a program that needs to be revamped, ASAP, or risk alienating those high spenders they were courting.

I've generally been pleased with what is the biggest (and arguably, only) perk for me - the unlimited free shipping. When few US companies and even fewer Canadian companies offer free shipping to Canada, being able to make a 20$ order on a whim is deliriously freeing. (I had no trouble making the 75$ minimum before, but it's SO nice not to have to - especially in conjunction with those 25$ minimum purchase promo codes. As a side benefit, orders under 20$ also ship duty and tax free! Win on all sides.)

That said, there's always room for improvement. If this weekend's Spring Social Rouge events are anything to go by, it might be a case of one step forward, one step back. Early access to chic week and an exclusive event is nice, but there's still a fair bit of dismay on chat forums about the discount amount (same as what BIs and VIBs will presumably get during Chic Week) and the stinginess of foil samples in the free bag.

I'm a cheap wily shopper, so when it comes to Sephora I tend to shop online, where I can combine the free shipping, promo codes and Ebates cash backs to the best advantage. Knowing the discount would barely account for the taxes and having heard about the minimal samples in the goodie bag, I went to this event with a small list and low expectations.

I was pleasantly surprised.

I should mention that I had to drive 30 minutes through a snowstorm, so being greeted personally by the Store Director was nice (she knew my name without asking) and I very much enjoyed the good coffee, chocolate croissants and the deluxe sample bar (3 samples per Rouge, from a great selection).


The service was spot-on - all the SAs were friendly and cheerful, and they had a nice selection of reps across makeup and skincare. I wandered idly by Caudalie, where the fabulous rep took me in hand and somehow convinced me to buy that 100$ eye cream that I had been contemplating not at all. Seriously, she used sorcery of some kind. She then placed some amazing GWPs into my bag, which amounted to a 70$ value!


I also got two sets that are not available on-line (the Fresh Skin Superstars), or at least not on Canadian orders (the Sephora X system), as well as a staple I didn't want to wait for (Josie Maran Cleansing Oil) and the lone Hourglass Ambiant blush missing from my collection and out of stock online (Dim Infusion). No worries about sacrificing my Ebates cash back, and then I still received my deluxe samples and the Rouge bag o' samples.

Overall, I was very happy with this event and felt like it was well-organized and fun, and a good value for the amount of money I dropped.

But it appears like that experience was uneven across the stores in the Montreal area, and that is perhaps the biggest issue with Rouge at the moment - the lack of consistency. Some people get to experience awesome events because they're in NYC or SF (I would have enjoyed meeting Marc Jacobs and receiving a free MJ palette as well, not gonna lie). Others get full-sized products included in orders. (Only a handful of people, it seems, but this one has fostered whale-sized resentment.)

What do you guys think about the program and/or this event in particular? If you're Rouge, are you feeling it? If you're not Rouge, are you enticed to try to qualify?

Pantone Color of the Year "Radiant Orchid" - featuring Lancome, YSL, Tarte and Elizabeth Arden

Oh, the Pantone Color. I feel like by the year's end we are all well and done with whatever the shade is. (I'm looking at you, Emerald. Not even Once Upon A Time will make me love you again.)

With the freshness and bright promise of spring lurking (possibly hiding) around the corner, though, I am MASSIVELY feeling the Radiant Orchid. I love pink, and I adore purple, so this not-quite-pastel lovechild of the two is right up my alley, trend or no.

Makeup brands are obviously feeling it as well, and have pulled out several offerings from their permanent lineups to cater to the demand. I was sent a few different ones to try out, and I shopped my stash for another item to cover all aspects of my face. (In retrospect, the Benefit Lollitint would have been perfectly appropriate as a cheek option.)

From Lancôme, we have the Artliner 24H in Amethyst, the Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color Eyeshadow in Golden Orchid, the YSL Vernis à Lèvres Rebel Nudes in #108 Violine Out of Control, and the Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Fantastic (limited edition from a past holiday set).


This was my first time trying out an Elizabeth Arden eyeshadow, though I've been lemming them for a while now. From what I recall from my obsessive swatching, they seem to vary a bit - some are dense, creamy and more opaque, some are softer in texture and payoff. Golden Orchid is one of the latter, and works very nicely as a wash over the eye. The shade itself is a warmer, more neutral play on the Orchid theme. It's not a faithful interpretation, but probably a more wearable one for a lot of people.

Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color Eyeshadow Golden Orchid
Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color Eyeshadow Golden Orchid
This was also my first experience with the Artliner, and I loved both the formula and the application. This has the same kind of applicator as the Stila and Make Up For Ever waterproof liquid liners, and the same kind of shellac-like finish. Intensely liquid, setting to a vinyl shine and holding on for dear life in the face of oil, sweat and tears (and most makeup removers). It did crackle a bit in the folds of my eyelid after several hours, but that's the norm for me when it comes to this kind of formula.

Application was super smooth and easy to control, with really great pigmentation on one pass. The colour is a blue-toned, almost eggplant purple, with a bit of shimmer. It's lovely with brown eyes, and should be stunning with green eyes.

Lancome Artliner in Amethyst
I'm already a fan of the YSL Vernis à Lèvres, and this had the expected feel and performance. Long-wearing and glossy (though it did not make it through a meal), it also seemed to plump my lips slightly, which was an unexpected bonus. (The copy claims a Euphoric Pearl technology that creates a 3-D luminous effect, so perhaps that's it?)

Probably the truest interpretation of Radiant Orchid, this is a lilac tone with subtle shimmer. I don't think this pulls the yellow in my teeth nearly as much as others in this colour family do, but it's not brightening either. If you have concerns, layering it over a trusted lipstick might also be a (subtle) option for getting a bit of that orchid tone.

YSL Vernis à Lèvres in Violine out of Control
The mini Tarte blush was one I pulled out on a whim. I wanted a fairly cool, bright pink to keep in tune with the rest of the face, but one that would be a supporting player. As with all the other Amazonian Clay blushes, it's ultra-smooth, long-lasting and pigmented, so I used a light hand to add just the faintest hint of colour.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Fantastic
And, of course, the comparison swatches:

Pantone Color of the Year "Radiant Orchid"  Lancome art liner Amethyst, YSL glossy lips violin out of control, Tarte blush fantastic and Elizabeth Arden golden orchid
Left to right: Elizabeth Arden Golden Orchid eyeshadow, Lancome Artliner in Amethyst,
YSL Vernis à Lèvres in Violine out of Control, Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Fantastic
This is the look I put together, which is what I actually wore to my birthday supper. (The big 3-6. I'm not traumatized or anything.)

I used Golden Orchid all over my lid, with some added definition in the crease and lightly in the lower lash line with some brown and taupe shades from the Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette. Then I did a simple wing with the Artliner, keeping the flick fairly straight. (Eyebrows au naturel, because I'm lazy.) I used the new Benefit BB Cream as my foundation and concealer (no powder), and a veeeeeery light dab of the Tarte blush. The finishing touch was a single coat of the Violine Out of Control.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out. I generally love purple tones, and the various incarnations of Radiant Orchid seem to work nicely for me. 

Pantone Color of the Year "Radiant Orchid"  Lancome art liner Amethyst, YSL glossy lips violin out of control, Tarte blush fantastic and Elizabeth Arden golden orchid

Pantone Color of the Year "Radiant Orchid"  Lancome art liner Amethyst, YSL glossy lips violin out of control, Tarte blush fantastic and Elizabeth Arden golden orchid

Are you guys feeling the Pantone colour this year, or is it a miss for you?

(Some of the items featured were provided by the brands/PR. This post is not sponsored or compensated, all opinions are my own.)