Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Polish Strip Review

Happy Civic Holiday Weekend!  Summer is officially half way over and we are a little more than half way through the Olympics!  Time seems to be whizzing by.  I finally had the chance this weekend to try my Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips that I bought earlier last month on sale.  Each set of strips comes with a wooden stick, a mini file, and 2 packs of nail strips with 8 assorted sizes in each.

Basically, you choose the best fitting size for your nail, apply it to your finger and sand it down/cut it to your nail shape with the file.  It’s essentially a sticker with nail polish pre-applied.

Application


Although it sounds easy to apply (you just peel and stick right?), I personally found it quite difficult to line it to my nail.  Some of my problems included:

  • One chance: There is more or less one shot at putting it on – the glue became much less sticky when I tried to pull the nail strip off and reapply.  As such, I actually had to use one of my extra pieces to redo two fingers.
  • Size: As the strips are small and thin, it’s hard to see where you’re sticking the strip.  One of them ended up being crooked and going onto my skin.  I ended up chipping off the side as I tried to remove the excess.
  • Air Bubbles: I also had another one where as I was trying to smooth out the strip on my nail, the excess ended together, so I have a bit of a crease straight through the middle.
  • Ragged finish: As I sand off the excess polish, it sometimes leaving ragged edges of the polish strip off the ends of my nails.

As such, the entire nail polish application process took much longer than expected.  However, there are some pros:

  • No dry time required.  I don’t have to worry about ruining my manicure!
  • Minimal effort for an overall good finish.
  • Good variety of colours/patterns – 40 different ones to choose from (though most are not that appealing in my opinion).  The patterns at Sephora appeal to me more (found here, here and here)
  • No more chemical smells! You can do them anywhere and not have to worry about others complaining of a lack of ventilation!

Staying Power

I did them on Friday night and they’re looking pretty good so far for a Monday.  I have some chips on the tips (some larger others if you look closely), but they are generally not noticeable.  I admit that I typically chip faster than most people, so I would say it’s holding up pretty good so far. My friend had hers on last time for close to 2 weeks and they still looked great, so if you’re careful, I would trust Sally Hansen’s claims that they can last for up to 10 days.

Price
At around $10 on average, it’s cheaper than a salon manicure but a bit expensive for a one use product.  For the same price, you can get a bottle of OPI/Essie polish easily and it could be used more than once.  However, if you’re into making patterns, it can save a ton of time and potentially looks more polished than if you were to do it on your own.

The packaging states that unused strips should be thrown away.  As the strips are all packed in sealed foil packaging, I wonder if exposure to oxygen does anything to them.  All but 4 of my strips were at the end, and I’m debating whether the excess should be applied on my toes to make them stretch that extra mile.  During the application phase, I considered using the excess pieces on my toes after I’d sanded them off from my fingers, but I found that they had lose its stickiness by that time so it wouldn’t work.  If one plans properly though, I think it’s highly possible to use the strips to apply polish on both the fingers and toes.

Final Verdict
While I wouldn’t necessarily buy them at full price, I believe they are more worth it once they go on sale.   I would recommend them for those who:

  • Wouldn’t mind paying a bit more for a patterned manicure.
  • Doesn’t like the smell of nail polish.
  • A relatively quick manicure.
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Cyst Removal

I’ve had a whitehead like dot on the right side of my cheek near the nose for a while now, and no matter how much pimple cream I put on it, it doesn’t seem to go away. It normally gets covered up by makeup, so I’ve never bothered to get it checked.

A few months ago, I suddenly noticed a large white pimple-like dot on the inside corner of my left eye.  It doesn’t bother my vision and it generally gets covered up by makeup, however given it’s size, I looked into getting it removed.

I made an appointment at AvantDerm, a dermatology and cosmetic clinic located in the heart of the distillery district of downtown Toronto.

If I didn’t know the address, I probably would’ve passed it not knowing it was the fanciest doctor’s office I’ve seen in my life ever.  The interior was modern and looked like it came straight from a trendy hair salon or magazine publishing office.

After a short wait, I finally saw the doctor and he determined they were both cysts!  With some deliberation, I decided to get them removed on the same day in the fanciest surgical room I’ve ever seen.

My eyes were closed so I couldn’t see the procedure per say, but for the cyst close to the eye, I felt the doctor make a minor incision to squeeze the contents out.  My eye was sore, bruised and a little swollen, but the bump from the cyst was definitely removed.  For the other that was on my face, it was removed with an electrical needle which was a faster procedure.  There was just a few zaps and it was gone!  I did have a small scab that I took home with me.

Two weeks later, and my eye is back to normal as if I never had a cyst to begin with.  The doctor assured that the scab on my face would fall off in a few days.  It was closer to a week and a half when it finally did come off.  I have a small red scar from it, but it’s slowly healing and I’m confident that it will go away with time.

Although it was $200, in my opinion it was well worth it.  You gain more confidence as you feel better about yourself and how you look.  Thanks Avantderm!  Maybe I will come back in 20 years for botox!

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Auberge du Pommier Review

Last Monday, my girlfriends and I went for our annual Summerlicious dinner in Toronto – this time at Auberge du Pommier, part of the Oliver and Bonnacini restaurant group.  Auberge du Pommier is located north of York Mills on Yonge St, serving french cuisine.

I’ve been to Auberge once back in 2010 for Winterlicious and it was one of the best “licious” I’ve had ever.  The “licious” tends to be a hit and miss, but mostly a miss in my opinion, as half the time I’m not overly impressed with the food and dishes that friends ordered from the regular menu end up tasting better.

The only other place where I’ve had really good food from a “licious” was at North 44, but when I went back for another “licious”, the quality was a bit disappointing.  As such, I didn’t really have high hopes for my Auberge return.

Auberge du Pommier on the outside

Once inside, there was a short wait before the server was able to seat us.  Interestingly, there were 3 greeters that directed guests to their tables, but one of them simply stays at the front to greet other guests when they come in.  My friend and I contemplated on what a nice job that would be…

The entrance waiting area

A look at their entrance, and one can see why Auberge du Pommier has been consistently rated as Toronto’s most romantic restaurants.

There is a special summerlicious drink menu alongside the food menu.  From my research, the only menu items that are different between the lunch and dinner Summerlicious menus were the shrimp in the appetizer and the filet mignon for the main, but it costs $20 more for dinner!

Dinner started with complimentary olives followed by a bread plate.  The olives were surprisingly yummy (considering I don’t normally like eating olives), and warm to taste upon arrival.  There were two flavours, with varying degrees of olive flavour.

The bread was freshly heated and hot upon arrival.  It came with a light green vegetable spread (I can’t remember the vegetable).  I wouldn’t say this was my favorite spread, but it was again complimentary and the hot bread was a nice touch.

Shrimp Brochette appetizer

For my appetizer, I chose to have the shrimp brochette, which was basically a skewer of shrimp (4), on top of a bed with marinated cucumber, a little greens on top, and flavoured with roasted red pepper, salt cured black olives and mint vinaigrette.  The combination of the shrimp with the cucumber was delicious, as the flavours of the grilled shrimp balanced the fresh refreshing taste of cucumbers.

The super soft filet mignon!

Next came the filet mignon.  It was probably one of the better steaks I’ve had in my life.  I was debating between this and the Mediterranean sea bass, but I wasn’t really in a mood for saffron sauce.  My friend got the sea bass, but I preferred the steak better – the sea bass was a bit dry and had a hint of an Indian twist.

First, the steak was a perfect medium rare that sat on top of mashed potatoes and baby bok choys.  To top it off was a yummy sauce and some baby tomatoes.  The steak was so tender that all  you need (and all that the restaurant provides) is a butter knife to cut it.  I’m not a huge meat eater, so it’s very rare for me to actually like eating a steak! All I can say is wow!  Kudos to the chef.

The ice cream sandwich that did not look like one

For my dessert, I was debating between the strawberry shortcake and the ice cream sandwich.  When I thought of ice cream sandwich, the above was not what had immediately came to mind.  It’s actually quite the fancy ice cream sandwich no?  The ice cream sits on top of a thin layer of chocolate cake, topped with cocoa nibs and caramel chunks on the side.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t very sweet and for some reason, the ice cream wasn’t very creamy.  I enjoyed it, but I would have preferred if it was a little less on the darker bitter chocolate side.

My friend's poppy seed shortcake

I sampled my friend’s poppy seed shortcake, and it was actually really good!  The poppy seeds weren’t overly evident in the cake, and the marinated fruits were just right.  Funny enough, it was sweeter than even the ice cream sandwich!  My friend’s one complaint was that she couldn’t get over the red celery-like fruit (rhubarb) in it.

Post dessert cookies

After the desserts, we received a plate of complimentary almond cookies that came with our bill.  They were quite delicious and reminded me of the Chinese style almond cookies I used to eat while growing up as a kid.
With a drink and the summerlicious 3 course dinner, my bill totaled $70 with tip and tax.  I think this is reasonable given all the extra complimentary courses we got and the impeccable service we received throughout our meal.  The servers are very attentive.  Not only do your meals come together, but clean plates are cleared at the same time. Each time you get up from your seat, the table napkin will be refolded placed before your return. I do appreciate the little details!
I never felt once that we were inferior customers became I came for a “licious”.  If I had the money, I’d love to come here for the regular dinners, but until then, I’ll stick with the “licious” for now.  I loved my second visit, and I’d definitely recommend it for those who haven’t been!
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Citadines Sukhumvit 11 Review

The hotel! I forgot to take my own picture of it!

We stayed at Citadines Sukhumvit 11, which if you haven’t guessed it yet is located on Soi 11, a quaint street with street vendors by day and lively crowds by night.  It’s a 2 minute walk to the Nana BTS station, a 10-15 minute walk to Terminal 21 (a relatively higher end Thai mall)/Asoke BTS/Sukhumvit BTS, and close to the red light districts of Soi Cowboy and Nana Entertainment Complex.

As you can see from the to picture, the front where it faces the street looks very modern with the window slits, but the actual room windows are pretty normal, as seen from the side of the hotel.

The front of the hotel

The hotel location was surprisingly convenient as there’s also a ton of restaurants, banks, spas, a bakery, and even a supermarket along the street.  When dusk begins, the seemingly quiet street becomes party central, with road side bars would pop up operating out of old VW vans, complete with music and flashing neon lights (see picture below).  The bars and clubs start to come alive as the night goes on.  Did I mention the hotel is located on the same street and Bed Club and within walking distance of Q bar?

A view of Soi 11, busy but quaint at the same time

I almost stayed in a hostel (lubd – which had great reviews) in Siam Square, but I am really glad I didn’t!  In my opinion Siam Square is great, but it’s busy and can be overwhelming over  time.  I figured why not pay a little more (since we were going for the hostel room with private bath anyways) and get more space?

The sitting area of our room

The Citadines Sukhumvit 11 hotel was honestly so much better than expected.  The photos online were digitalized, so I couldn’t tell how it really was until I saw it in person.

The cute kitchen... with utensils!!

Citadines Sukhumvit is a small apartment style boutique hotel, so the room came complete with a sofa/lounge area, a gallery kitchen, and a separate bedroom area.  Although we got the cheapest room available, it was quite large, spacious, modern and clean!

A view of the washroom

Breakfast at the hotel was available at a cost by the bar downstairs, but a ton of delicious street food options can be found just outside the hotel along Soi 11, including iced coffee/tea, French toast, and even a hot dog wrapped in an egg roll (which was delicious by the way)!  Alternatively, with a fridge and microwave, we sometimes bought bread or other groceries for breakfast from the supermarket.

Another look at the room

A complimentary tuktuk was also available for those who want a ride around the immediate area!

The hotel had an outdoor rooftop pool which I didn’t use, though it looks pretty small and shallow so don’t think I would’ve done much swimming anyways!

Rooftop pool

Overall, I’d highly recommend staying at Citadines Sukhumvit 11.  It’s a very nice, modern and most importantly clean 3/4 star hotel, in a relatively convenient location.  Free and relatively fast wifi was available throughout our stay.  The room came with a flat screen TV and a variety of channels could be found on it.  There was also an in room safe in the closet for all your belongings. No complaints on service either, as our room was cleaned every day and towels replaced.

A note of warning:  Local calls on the hotel phone are not free! It’s not too expensive, but if we’d known, we probably wouldn’t have used it.

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Bangkok Thailand Day 1

The next few posts will be a series of my travels the past May to Southeast Asia, starting with Bangkok…

The past May, I went to Bangkok for a 6 day 5 night stop, as part of my South-East Asia Tour.  I took Air Asia from Hong Kong and it arrived at 12 pm, which I figured would be sufficient to have the afternoon for exploration.  What I did not anticipate was the afternoon traffic within the city (it literally does not move – I was tempted to get out and walk with my suitcase), so by the time we checked in at our hotel Citadines Sukhumvit 11, and got settled down it was almost 3 pm!!

A bunch of Bangkok’s streets perpendicular to Thanon Rama/Thanon Sukhumvit (a main road) are numbered, so it’s actually really easy to navigate where you are.  In case you were wondering, we obviously lived on street (called soi in Thai) 11.

Terminal 21

We walked to Terminal 21, the closest mall to the hotel in search of lunch.  Along the way, the sidewalks were cluttered with vendors selling all sorts of merchandise, including toys, t-shirts, and counterfeit handbags which were right alongside Viagra and related products!

The different floors of Terminal 21

Terminal 21 is a relatively new multi-level mall, neatly categorized starting with a large supermarket on the bottom level, and separate levels for men’s fashion, women’s fashion, restaurants, and a food court on the very top level.  The mall is modeled like an airport terminal for departures to exotic locations around the word.  Each floor is decorated and themed of different cities, including Kyoto, London and San Francisco.

I found London!

I found the restaurants to be expensive, so I headed upstairs to the food court.

The food court is actually one of the best I’ve been to – clean, cheap and a large variety.  As if intentionally not to compete with one another, no two stands sold the same dishes.  It is also efficient as diners simply load up a money card, and vendors swipe the card to deduct the balance.  In one meal that costs maybe $3 CAD, I got noodle soup, mango sticky rice, and a juice!  I actually liked the food court so much that I went back for dinner another day and got pad thai, a thai sago dessert and a drink for about the same cost.

Mango sticky rice and Thai noodles! What a good combination!

The supermarket on the bottom level is  worth a visit as well.  There are food stands in front of the market, selling everything from grilled meat skewers, to sushi, to a bakery, flavoured milk, and of course Thai food.  The supermarket is likely higher end, so it was clean and order.  It was also quite large so there was a lot of variety to choose from.

After lunch, we decided to hunt for a spa around the area.  Sadly, all the ones I wanted to go to were booked full for the day!  Instead, we made appointments for the upcoming days and found a quaint mani-pedi spot at one of the malls around Siam Square that did quite a good job for a reasonable price.  I think I paid $10 for a pedicure?  I’d really wanted to go through the night market through the lanes behind Siam Square, but by the time my pedicure was done, the stores were all closing!  What kind of night market closes by 9 pm?

A little bit of everything that was the most touristy I had while in Bangkok

Instead, we headed for dinner at a Thai restaurant in the Siam Square area which turned out to be full of tourists, bland and not very good.  Next, we found a shady looking massage place full of people, so we figured why not.  I think I paid $10 for an hour and a half of foot/neck and shoulder massage.  I’d really wanted a Thai massage, but those were booked full!

My first tuk tuk ride! You can see the street vendors on bottom left.

After the massage, we decided to walk along the main road and what a sight to see – endless stalls and throngs of local Thais packed the streets, mostly selling women’s clothes, shoes and jewelery.  It was overwhelming after a while, so we ended up taking a tuk tuk back to the hotel to end the day.

This particular tuk tuk driver ripped us off though.  We paid $150 Baht for a short ride back to our hotel (2 Skytrain stops from Chit Lom to Nana), when it should’ve really been $50!!!  We learned our lesson for next time though!

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Garnier Face Cleansing Cloths Review

The disposable face cleansing cloths are great for people on the go, as they are already pre-moist, you simply have wipe to clean your face and you’re done, with no additional steps to wash off any residues.  Sounds good in theory, but do they work like they intend?

Most recently, I’ve been using Garnier’s Refreshing Remover Cleansing Towelettes with mixed results.  It is advertised as an oil-free cleansing cloth that instantly removes makeup, even mascara, and no rinse is required afterwards.

The main problem I find with it is that it’s not effective enough in removing all the dirt and makeup residue that remains.

Case in point, I used toner after the Garnier cleansing cloth, and there was still quite a bit of makeup on my face as you can see from the cotton! The one below is even worse!

The above is the eye makeup cleansing.  Pretty dark as well.

Good thing I bought the Garnier wipes from a garage sale, so it does make me feel better!

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Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips

I think seeing all those advertisements everywhere finally did it.  I picked up a pack of Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips, on sale from the local pharmacy the other day for $6.99.  I’m pretty excited for them because my friend did them and aside from lasting a full 2 weeks, they’re pretty!  Plus, it would probably take a lot of effort to do a leopard print on my own…

A full review to come…

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The Face Shop Face it Power Perfection BB Cream Review

Face It is the BB cream line from the Face Shop.  The Face Shop actually carries a good range of BB creams suitable for a variety of different skin types and complexions.  I was looking for something with good coverage, so the sales girl recommended that I get the Face It Power Perfection BB Cream in Natural Beige.  It also comes in a lighter “Light Beige” (which apparently would only work for people with really light skin).

The Power Perfection line contains the best coverage of all their BB Creams, offering anti-wrinkle, whitening, and SPF 37 protection from the sun.

This particular BB cream works great to cover blemishes, comes off matte, isn’t sticky, and blends into the skin quite well.  As it provides better coverage for blemishes, it does feel a bit heavier than other BB creams I’ve used.  However, when comparing this product to Missha, I don’t breakout with this one and it does provide all day protection.   I think Dr. Jart’s colour matches my skin tone better, but that’s a personal preference that would vary from person to person.

Upon application, my skin is immediately visibly clearer, brighter, and the colour is more even.

Before (left) and after (right)

Upon closer inspection, you can visibly see less pores and the larger ones are less noticeable.

Overall. I think the Face Shop Face It’s Power Perfection BB Cream is an excellent BB Cream which works well on a day-to-day basis.  Compared to other BBs that I’ve used, it provides great coverage even though it’s a bit on the heavy side, and I’d probably buy it again!

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Dr. Jart Black Label BB Cream Review

Dr. Jart Black Label

One of my new favourite BB creams is currently Dr. Jart’s Black Label Detox Healing BB Cream.  As per Dr. Jart’s website, makes your skin look natural, smooth and perfect!  It gets pretty close to be honest.  The Black Label BB cream contains multiple functions, with SPF25, whitening, anti aging and moisturizing properties.

Colour-wise, it contains pinkish undertones compared to the other Dr. Jart BB products.

What I particularly like about this particular BB is that it offers a good amount of coverage, without causing breakouts and oily skin, especially now that I’ve been using it while out on the hot summer streets.  Like other BB creams, I only need a little product to cover the entire face and it blends nicely with my skin tone.  It feels a bit sticky initially, but the feeling quickly goes away.

The product stays very well throughout the whole day.

After using Dr Jart’s Black Label BB cream, my face looks immediately clearer and the skin tone is more even.  My blemishes are better covered!

Here’s a before (on the left) and after (on the right):

I know it may be hard to tell, but if you look carefully at the closeup of the before and after shot, my pores are visibly concealed and the skin appears much smoother after applying the BB cream.

I believe BB cream is an awesome lighter alternative to foundation, and with all the bonus properties, it’s almost an all in one moisturizer/makeup/sunscreen!  I know there are a tone of other brands in the market right now for BBs, but give Dr. Jart’s Black label a try.  It’s currently my go-to can’t live without item in my daily beauty routine!

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Muji Travel Organizers

I’ve always been a fan of Muji – a Japanese “no brand” company that sells unbranded household supplies and clothes.  However, though their products are simple and plain, I find they tend to be more expensive than your average similar “unbranded” products.

From my last trip to Muji, I was drooling over the travel bags.  They were so well designed and would be perfect for someone like me to organize and fit all the skincare and cosmetics I need for small trips.

As a souvenir, my boyfriend got me the zipper travel bags complete with the Muji branded plastic bottles to match!  They have other styles, but this was my preferred design.

The Muji Travel Bags

So I’ll start with the smaller bag first.  My set came with 4 tall bottles and one short screw cap one, along with tools to insert and extract my various creams and liquids into the bottles.  The bag has four compartments, one on the outside back (not shown), two zipper compartments and one large hold-all complete with elastics to hold those bottles firmly in place.  There is a hook at the end so the bag can be hung up if you so preferred.

Next, is the bigger bag which is more or less the same as the smaller with some additional features.  There is an extra zipper compartment (top left picture) for one to hold small nick knacks.  My boyfriend got me the larger bottles to match the larger case, and an elastic exists in the upper meshed compartment to hold things firmly in place.  There is also mesh pockets on either side of the large general section (as seen from top right picture)

Overall, the little plastic bottles and the bag seem to be well made, and I’m sure to use the travel set in years to come.  I was honestly surprised the bf got me the matching little bottles too as they are sold individually and don’t come cheap!  Can you blame me if I want to go on a trip right now and try my new stuff out? Exciting times are ahead!

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