Lip Service: NARS Audacious "Charlotte" & "Barbara"

(c) JuleChu Lifestyle

(c) JuleChu Lifestyle

I’ve always been more of a lipgloss girl than a lipstick lady. For some reason, I’ve always associated lipstick with being, umm, more mature. When I graduated from university and entered my profession, I decided it was time to overhaul my make-up bag and find a more “grown-up” look. To me that meant finding a good lipstick, and I wanted a red one.

Being of mixed heritage, it was challenging to find a red lipstick or even a nude that worked well with my skin tone. After buying nine drugstore lipsticks, it seemed as though having my own Gwen Stefani-inspired lip was out of reach. It wasn’t until I stumbled across a picture on Pinterest that I saw what would be my ideal shade of red. It was a deep burgundy/oxblood colour. A little more hunting led me to NARS Audacious in “Charlotte”. I purchased it at Hudson’s Bay ($39CDN) because it is often sold out at Sephora.  And it’s been love ever since.

With a single-stroke, I’m able to get all the coverage I need. And what surprises me the most is that I don’t miss my lipgloss when I’m wearing it. My lips feel nourished and the colour is long-lasting. I barely have to reapply. The quality over quantity mantra definitely applies to this luxury lipstick. To me, the nine drugstore lipsticks were the real waste of my money.

When the spring came around and I was ready for a nude lip, I knew I had to find a shade amongst the NARS Audacious collection. And I did! I found “Barbara”, a tan rose, was the perfect nude for me. It’s wearable every day with a natural eye look or a smoky eye.  I like wearing it with a small dab of Origins “You’re Golden” lipgloss in the centre of my bottom to give my lips more dimension.

I haven’t even used up half of these lipsticks yet and I’ve already repurchased them so I can have a back-up stash. I hope this collection sticks around for a lifetime!

This is not a sponsored post. The thoughts expressed are honest and my own.

How to get luxury beauty samples in Canada (without buying a subscription box)

(c) 2015 JuleChu Lifestyle

(c) 2015 JuleChu Lifestyle

I love being able to try new beauty products, but I hate having an excess of products that I never use. I’m a paperbag princess. I’ve learnt that my money is better in the bank than on my vanity (shout outs to Gail Vaz-Oxlade). Instead of wasting money on products I would barely use, I look to samples a way to try luxury beauty brands before committing.  For example, I went through two 5 ml samples of Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Serum before buying the full-sized product. That way I’m more certain that the product is worth the price and that there isn’t a drugstore brand equivalent. By doing so, I’ve actually saved. For example, I’ve been using the same bottle of a luxury-brand facial cleanser for 6 months (expiries at 12 months) and still have plenty left. In the past, I would have spent more money replenishing a drugstore-brand every month. You can have nice things; you just have to be smart about it.

I always have a stash of samples to pass on to friends or to carry a little bit of luxury with me when I’m travelling. But finding luxury beauty samples in Canada can be a challenge. And I find that the subscription beauty boxes we have access to do not have the selection of samples that I would want to try.  So here are my tips for finding the luxury beauty samples you actually want.

  1. Join Sephora Beauty Insider 

    Most of my deluxe-sized samples are from Sephora’s Beauty Insider program. In my humble opinion, it is the best beauty loyalty program on the planet. I’ve obtained samples from brands like Glam Glow, Origins, Fresh, Becca and Bobbi Brown. Plus, a handful of miniature perfumes just by redeeming points. Deluxe product samples are usually 100 points and perfume miniatures are usually 250 points . On top of redeeming points you earn from purchases, you also receive a free birthday gift (this year it’s two NARS mini lip pencils) and you also have access to exclusive offers online and at in-store events. The online offers usually require a minimum purchase amount, so I save items on my wish list and checkout only if the offers are worth it. And all orders come with 3 free samples. Sephora is particularly generous with samples at product launch events. At an Atelier Cologne event, for example, I received a full 85 ml bottle of their Magnolia Sud fragrance along with a monogrammed leather case with my purchase.


  2. Follow Your Favourite Brands on Social Media and Join Their Mailing Lists

    Now that more brands are embracing social media as part of their promotional plans, you can find links to product sample giveaways directly from the brand (but you have to move quickly). L’Occitane Canada is a good example. In the spring, they offered a duo of mini hand creams to Twitter followers who filled out a short online form and tweeted the hashtag #loveloccitane. After doing so, followers could pick up their deluxe samples in-store and receive an offer of % off an item from the line if they decided to make a purchase. I’ve also been able to get free samples from brands like Chanel and Eve Lom simply by being on their mailing list. Retailers like Hudson’s Bay, Holt Renfrew and Shopper’s Drug Mart also send out emails about samples when they are preparing for a new product launch. Being on a brand’s mailing list also gives you access to promo codes for exclusive gifts with purchase. Brands like Bobbi Brown and NARS are very generous, sometimes giving miniature eyeshadow palettes or 3-piece miniature sets.


  3. Visit Brand Websites Often

    Shopping through the beauty brand’s online store can get you access to exclusive samples or gift sets that include “free” miniatures that you can’t find in-stores. Some brands also have travel-sized products available for purchase as an introduction to their products. The Japanese beauty brand, Tatcha offers both. With my first Tatcha purchase, for example, I was given a generous 25 ml sample of their Pure Camellia Cleansing oil for free. Tatcha also sells travel-size options of signature products like the Polished Rice Enzyme Powder ($15US) and Indigo hand cream ($8US). Other luxury beauty brands who offer samples or travel-sizes for sale online are Codage Paris and Atelier Cologne . And according to Instagram May Lindstrom’s eco-beauty brand will also offer travel sizes in the near future.


  4.  Attend Beauty Events

    From what I’ve seen Hudson’s Bay Queen Street flagship puts on the best beauty events in Toronto. In addition to the mocktails and hor d’oeuvre, there are generous gifts with purchases and sometimes even 10% discounts. With this in mind, I usually wait for an event or the holidays to make bigger beauty purchases like perfumes so I can get the most for my money. It also helps to get to know your beauty counter staff well so they can keep you informed of up-coming events. According to my source at the beauty counter, Hudson’s Bay Queen Street’s next beauty event will be held September 17th, 2015. It will be a “Giving Back” event meaning, those who make a donation to the charity of the night will receive 10% off purchases. I haven’t seen any emails or signage to confirm this yet. So it’s best to follow Hudson’s Bay on Twitter for the details directly.

  5. Just Ask.

    At Sephora, you can usually have the staff make you a sample of any product that you want to try before buying. And at L’Occitane, you can usually get a few samples at the cashier with your purchases. Holt Renfrew does offer samples without you having to make a purchase but samples aren’t always available. Right now, Holt Renfrew does not give refunds on beauty purchase so it’s best to ask for a sample to take home before buying anything there just in case. Each season, Holt Renfrew also offers a beauty bag filled with luxury beauty samples for about $45. In addition to the samples you receive a voucher for $10 off your next beauty purchase.   I’ve purchased two so far and the best samples in those bags were from Hermes (miniature Terre d’Hermes cologne and shower gel set), Erno Laszlo (Timeless Serum) and Chantecaille (Jasmine & Lily Healing Mask).

If you'll like to stay updated on sample offers, feel free to follow me on  Twitter or look out for more "A Little Bit in Love" posts here on the blog.

This is not a sponsored post. The thoughts expressed are honest and my own.





Summer Love: My Favourite Finds of Summer 2015

(C) 2015 JuleChu Lifestyle

(C) 2015 JuleChu Lifestyle

The CNE is open, temperatures are dropping and back-to-school sales are everywhere. To me, the last days of summer are for reminiscing about the sunny days and setting goals for the rest of year.  I also take some time to re-evaluate my beauty regimen and sort through my make-up (because 7 month old mascara is gross).  Here are my favourite finds of the summer, a few of which can carry into the fall and beyond.   

I. Porter Magazine

I’ve been eying Porter magazine at the newsstands at my local Wholefoods for a while, but I never thought to pick up a copy. I assumed that it would be crammed with ads and not enough reading material because it’s published by an online store (mag snob, I know). Thankfully this summer’s issue, the one with the history-making Joan Smalls cover, proved me wrong. My favourite article is an exerpt from Christina McDowell’s book, “After Perfect: A Daughters Memoir” and is titled, “Can losing everything be a blessing?” It describes the loss of her privileged life and her rise to a new beginning. The best quotes from the article are “Loss changes you. It stares you down in the face of disaster and it is paralyzing, taunting you with the question of whether or not you’re strong enough to handle it” and “Today, I have found depth of character and limitless gratitude”.  The fall issue of Porter is already on newsstands. You can subscribe to Porter Magazine here or purchase Christina McDowell’s memoir here.

II. NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer

My best beauty find of the summer was NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer. I used it nearly every day this summer. And considering I’m not a huge foundation wearer that is saying a lot. In my line of work, I don’t have a lot of time to get ready in the morning. But with this, I was able to have an everyday makeup look done in about five minutes (along with a neutral eyeshadow, lipstick and brow pencil). Applying the tinted moisturizer was quick and easy. I dabbed pea sized amounts on my cheeks, chin and forehead, then blended the product in with my fingers. The colour and coverage was perfect for my skin (NARS and MAC seem to be the only brands that I can find a match in my tone). But I was more impressed with the condition the moisturizer left my skin in.  I have dry, sensitive skin but this moisturizer left my skin dewy and soft. And I did not experience any break-outs from the product.  I purchased it for $54/tube and it has lasted me about 5 months so far.  The only negative thing I have to say about this product is that it does smudge and transfer unto clothing easily. But this is an easy problem to fix with a bit of setting powder. 

III. Rise Up x Liz Loughrey

I absolutely love this song by Toronto songstress, Liz Loughrey. I came across this song last week and must have played it over 20 times already. It was the musical motivation I needed to finally get this blog up and running on time. It has an empowering message and a roots vibe. If you love it too, you can buy the single on bandcamp.

VI. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Or

This shimmering body oil is next on my list of favourites. I decided to pick this up after seeing it in my twitter feed and reading up on a few reviews. I was already interested in trying similar products by either Tom Ford or NARS. So, I thought this would be a good introduction. After some searching, I found the product at Shopper’s Drug Mart for around $40 (50 ml bottle). What I really like about the Nuxe version is that the label reads “95% ingredients of natural origin and preservative free.”  This alone convinced me that I don’t really have the need to try out the other brands anymore. This oil is a blend of borage, camellia, sweet almond, St. John’s Wort, hazelnut and macadamia oils that are nourishing to the skin and smell delicious. The oil is a “dry oil” so I found my skin absorbed it quickly and it did not leave me with any greasy residue. Plus the gold shimmer is subtle. If you’re looking for a body-oil without the shimmer, the original Huile Prodigieuse is also available as an alternative.

V. L’ Occitane Jasmin and Bergamot Body Wash

My first introduction to this body wash was as a gift with purchase. Since then I’ve been through 5 bottles (the rest courtesy of their summer sale in July). It left my skin clean, without stripping it dry or leaving a residue behind. But my favourite thing about this product is the scent. Part of la collection de Grasse the fragrance is light and fresh. It smells like you’re sipping a cup of Earl Grey tea on the patio of La Palette with a basket of freshly-cut jasmine flowers at your feet. Très romantique!

VI. Cuyana Leather Travel Case Set (Monogrammed)

My final favourite is also one I pinned on Pinterest for a while before making my purchase. It is the Cuyana Leather Travel Case set which comes with a small 5 x 8 x 2.5 inch case and a large 7 x 12 x 3.5 inch case. Cuyana adds limited-edition colours each season. So when I saw that a grey set was finally available, I knew it was time to buy. The cases are made of genuine Argentine pebbled leather and feature gold-toned hardware. The smaller case makes a great everyday makeup bag. I haven’t used the larger case yet, but it is large enough to carry my flatiron and a wide-tooth comb.  I had my cases monogrammed because I knew this set would become one of my signature items. The cases are hand-crafted and great quality pieces that I think will last for years.  I also love Cuyana’s philosophy of quality over quantity, “fewer, better things lead to a fuller, better life.” I find this to be true. As much as I love Cuyana, I have to give my Canadian readers this warning: the customs duty on this set was hefty and came as a surprise to me. I found out about the charges when the courier delivered the items. If I remember correctly, the duties came up to about $60CDN. The travel set cost me $95US plus $15US to add monogram to both cases. Shipping was extra as well. I am pleased with my purchase, but will definitely do a bit of math before making another purchase.  If you are interested in a case of your own, you can check out Cuyana here. They design clothing and other leather goods as well.

This is not a sponsored post. The thoughts expressed are honest and my own.