Aveeno Skin Relief Gentle Scent Body Wash, Lotion review, photos

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Aveeno Gentle Scent body wash lotion review

The products: Aveeno Skin Relief Gentle Scent Body Wash and Lotion in Chamomile and Coconut

This spring marked a pretty monumental step in Aveeno history, which is to say: Aveeno launched their very first line of scented lotions and washes this March.

Designed specifically for sensitive skin, these two scents have been formulated to be just as gentle on sensitive skin as fragrance-free products. Having used them myself, I’d have to agree.

Aveeno Skin Relief Gentle Scent body wash coconut review

The scents: I’m a big fan of the whole “luxurious shower experience” thing, so scents are a must for my body products whenever possible.

Coconut smells like a subtle, standard coconut scent; maybe a little more earthy than some. It’s not really my thing, but I think it’ll be a hit. On the other hand, Chamomile smells like crack cocaine and nostalgia, and I CANNOT GET ENOUGH OF IT. It smells exactly like something I used to use when I was a kid, and it’s so good that I want to eat it.

Aveeno Skin Relief Gentle Scent chamomile review

The products: Even though I’m allergic to the silicones in them now, my family was always an Aveeno lotion family growing up. We’ve always had a lot of allergies and sensitivities, and from ages 6-16, they were the only brand that all of us could enjoy.

But, while I’m sad that I can’t use these new lotions, I’ve been using nothing but the new Gentle Scent Body Washes. They’re soap-free, dye-free, and allergy-tested, and I can confirm that they are just as gentle as my other Aveeno body washes.

I really notice a difference when I switch to a “bad” body wash (Lush in particular makes me itch my legs like a stray with fleas), but these are as hydrating as foaming washes get. They actually leave my skin feeling more moisturized than using no soap at all – sort of like a light in-shower moisturizer. 

Aveeno Skin Relief Gentle Scent review photos

The verdict?

I kinda thought Aveeno was already making fragranced body products (I’ve been a dummy and thought the soft, oatmeal-y scent of the line was added), so I’m pretty thrilled that Aveeno is actually making scented products now.

Whether or not you have dry skin, you need a bottle of Chamomile lotion or body wash like, yesterday. The scent is totally my jam, and the body wash leaves my skin feeling softer and more hydrated than any other shower gel out there!

Availability: $7.99 USD/$9.99 CAD for the body washes (354 mL); $8.99 USD/$13.99 CAD for the lotions at drugstores and mass market retailers!

Keep reading! »

Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil review, photos | A great, affordable cleansing oil find!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil review

The product: Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil

I’m a pretty lazy beauty blogger, so it’s not surprising that I review a fair number of cleansing oils. What can I say; they’re fast, they’re easy, and they usually smell great.

My latest find is the brand new Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil, and ugh, it’s so good. I received it in early May, and it’s been sitting on my countertop next to my Bella Aura and Fresh ever since.

Neutrogena Ultra Light cleansing oil for all skin types

The formula: From the sleek packaging to the subtle “fresh” scent, I honestly have nothing bad to say about Neutrogena’s new cleansing oil. It removes all of my makeup without any tugging or pulling, doesn’t require a separate eye makeup remover, and rinses off easily to a skin-neutral finish (both in hydration and in pH).

As this formula is water-soluble, I don’t find that it clogs my pores at all, even though it sweeps the makeup off my face in one fell swoop. (That sounded way less violent in my head.)

Neutrogena cleansing oil review

The elephant in the room: While I really like this cleansing oil, I should mention that it’s made primarily from mineral oil. Like other petroleum byproducts, mineral oil gets a bad rap; personally, I think that’s largely due to the “anti-chemical” stance of natural beauty brands.

I totally support not wanting to use a certain ingredient for ANY reason, but the “mineral oil will break you out” thing is a total myth. All oils have the potential to break you out; it just depends what your skin likes! If yours hates mineral oil, skip this one, but if it likes it, why not use it.

Mineral oil is scent-free, won’t go bad as quickly as plant oils (meaning chemists can add smaller amounts of preservatives), and it seals in moisture really well. But that brings me to my last point…

Drugstore cleansing oil review

The verdict?

The Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil has quickly become my new favourite cleansing oil with price, scent, and formula all taken into consideration.

That being said, Tatcha’s cleansing oil is a great option without synthetic fragrances, and DHC’s cleansing oil is definitely more lush. (L’Occitane and Shu’s offerings aren’t nearly as good.) But the Tatcha is expensive and the DHC smells like olive oil, so if I was to run out, this is definitely the cleansing oil that I would spend my money on – and I’d do it happily.

This stuff is effective, gentle, and smells great, and let’s be honest: the packaging is pretty sexy for a drugstore product!

Availability: From $8.99 USD/$9.97 CAD at drugstores and mass market retailers & online at Ulta and Drugstore.com. Available in most major markets (it’s a bestseller in Asia!)

Keep reading!

Clarins Silver Plum, Natural Glow Palette review, swatches, photos | Instant Glow Spring 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Clarins Instant Glow Spring 2016 review

The products: Clarins Palette 5 Couleurs (5-Colour Eyeshadow Palette) in 05 Natural Glow & Ombre Iridescente Cream-to-Powder Eyeshadow in 07 Silver Plum 

The Clarins Spring 2016 Instant Glow eye palette is quickly disappearing off shelves, so before it’s too late, here’s a quick review and a few swatches of the palette!

Clarins Natuarl Glow 5 colour eyeshadow plette review swatches

Clarins Palette 5 Couleurs review – 03 Natural Glow. (Did you know that these are made in Italy?)

I’m usually a big fan of Clarins’ eyeshadow palettes, and Natural Glow was no exception. Like most Clarins eyeshadows, these shadows are blendable and well-pigmented, and there are two signature Clarins iridescent shades in the palette – you know; those gorgeous ones with flakey glitter that are so hard to dupe.

Sadly, though, Natural Glow was way too warm/orange to look natural on me, especially once I applied it to my eyes. It kinda broke my heart, because $39 CAD is an awesome price for five Clarins eyeshadows in travel-friendly packaging, but I suppose warm-toned gals should get to have fun sometimes, too.

I guessss. 

Clarins Natural Glow Eye Palette swatches, review

Clarins 03 Natural Glow Eyeshadow Palette swatches (primed skin in artificial light)

Clarins Silver Plum eyeshadow ombre iridescente

Clarins Silver Plum Ombre Iridescente Eyeshadow review

Also new this spring are four new permanent Ombre Iridescente cream-to-powder eyeshadows ($25 CAD). I have 07 Silver Plum, and it’s pretty darn gorgeous.

These apply with much more pigment than the Ombre Mattes, but they definitely still need a primer underneath – think of them as a fluffy, buttery powder eyeshadow rather than a cream. (I totally need more.) Silver Plum is rich and pigmented, with cool silver shimmer on top of a plummy-grey base. 

It kind of makes me think of wet mud, which is a weird thing that shouldn’t be appealing unless you’re a cartoon pig, but I guess I must be a cartoon pig in spirit, then.

Clarins swatches Pink Cherry, Silver Plum, Rose Praline review

Clarins Silver Plum eyeshadow swatch (and Rouge Eclat lipsticks in Rose Praline and Pink Cherry)

Keep reading! »

The Swan Wand (BMS Factory) vibrator review, photos

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Swan Wand rechargeable vibrator review, photos

The product: Swan The Swan Wand Rechargeable Waterproof Silicone Vibrator

The Swan Wand features: The Swan Wand is Swan/BMS Factory’s most powerful toy, and it’s not hard to see why. This thing is like a walking, talking gold standard, except it neither walks nor talks.

It’s fully waterproof with a 100% silicone finish, features two independently controlled motors, and cycles through 7 functions independent of speed. The Swan Wand has a travel lock mode, charges via USB, and runs for up to 8.5 hours on a 4 hour charge — like, for real. I usually need to charge toys after every use, if not more (cough We-Vibe cough), but holy magical snickerdoodles, I’m on like my tenth orgasm with this thing and it’s still holding strong.

BMS Factory The Swan Wand review

How it performs: This dual-ended toy is, without a doubt, stronger than anything else I own. It’s relatively quiet for its intensity, but turned up, yeah, it’s gonna make some noise. It does send vibrations up the “handle” (aka the end that’s not in use), but it’s plenty strong enough to actually massage sore muscles. Think of it like a rechargeable Hitachi, but designed for internal use and less buzzy. (And cheaper!)

Like the Leaf Life I reviewed recently, the Swan Wand contains a PowerBullet motor, so it feels similar. However, this PowerBullet motor is stronger and rumblier on low than the Leaf Life is at its highest, and it’s a little more “thuddy” overall. Worth noting, though, is that the larger end of the Swan Wand is pretty big – it’s about 2 inches wide with zero give, and I am nowhere near brave or flexible enough to attempt to use it internally. It makes a great handle, though, and it’s definitely one for the size queens!

BMS Swan Wand review, size comparison

The Swan Wand dimensions

Swan Wand BMS Factory review

The Swan Wand Rechargeable Vibrator review

How it feels: The Swan Wand is extremely powerful and moderately rumbly. It has nearly invisible seams and a velvety silicone finish, so you’ll need to use it with a good water-based lubricant. (Sliquid Oceanics is my current favourite!)

As an external vibe, it’s not my favourite toy. It’s good, but I prefer spot vibrations to broad ones. That being said, this is one of the few internal vibrators that doesn’t bore me to death if used externally (the other is the Rosa Rouge), but it’s almost too powerful — like, I can get off, but it kinda hurts.

As an internal vibe, it is excellent. Its powerful motor gets put to good use and really resonates through your body, and the gentle curve to the Swan Wand’s smaller end hits the spot just right for me. It’s actually far stronger than I would ever need; I like it best at levels 1-3, and only crank it up to max to massage my muscles during non-sexy-times or get off super quickly.

Swan Wand vibrating dildo review functions

The Swan Wand controls. How sleek are those? (They’re super satisfying to click, too — like the tops of fountain drink lids.)

What sets it apart from the crowd: Achieving orgasm with a partner has always been really difficult for me, and it’s always been a big source of anxiety and self-consciousness in the bedroom. On a bad day, it can easily take me 45 minutes to achieve orgasm with a partner present, but if I pair a clit vibe with the Swan Wand, I can get that down to 15 minutes. (With a clit vibe and a great dildo on said bad day, I’m probably looking at 20-30 minutes.)

For me, 15 minutes is a pretty big deal — it makes me feel like less of a “burden” in a relationship, and as a result, it makes it easier for me to get off the rest of the time, too.

Swan Wand vibrator size comparison

The verdict?

If you don’t yet own an internal vibe that you love, BUY THIS. BUY IT RIGHT NOW.

I don’t like saying that toys “will work for everyone,” because that’s a load of crap, but this one works for me. It’s insanely strong, has a battery life that puts even my MacBook to shame, and gets me off faster than anything else that I own, as long as I pair it with a clit vibe. (And I mean, why wouldn’t I? If you’re gonna go for the good feels, you may as well go all the way.)

I know that my list of must-have sex toys is ever-changing, but this one gets classed right up in there in the legends with my VixSkin and MiMi Soft. 10/10 would recommend to a friend; 10/10 would also buy for a friend if I loved them enough.

Availability: $119.99 USD at SheVibe, who provided this item for review! (SRP is $149.99 USD through Swan, and it’s $154.99 at Lovehoney.) In Canada, you can find the Swan Wand at The Travelling Tickle Trunk for $152 CAD, which matches the current exchange rate with SheVibe’s price.)

Keep reading! »

Yasmine Jones from Bella Aura: creator interview | Small Business Saturdays

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Yasmine Jones Bella Aura

Right now, I’m testing out a new Canadian skincare range called Bella Aura. You may have heard of it already (a number of my blogger friends, like Tracy and Shireen, really love the line), but if you recognize the name, then you’ll definitely want to read on.

As I’m still working on testing this range, I reached out to Bella Aura to see if I could do an EXCLUSIVE interview with their founder, Yasmine Jones, to share before the review. Luckily for us, she said yes!!

Bella Aura skincare review, interview

 

The interview

Q: I am so exited to feature you on theNotice today, so I’m going to start out with a pretty broad question, if that’s okay! If you had to describe yourself to a stranger on the street, what would you tell them about yourself? 

Yasmine Jones: I’m not really so comfortable describing myself to others, what I can say is that I am real and what you see is what you get, which means that I can be direct some times. Probably the best way for me to answer the question is to tell you that my mom taught to be kind and generous to people, especially those less fortunate than I am. (Editor’s note: Bella Aura donates a portion of their proceeds to charity each month and engages in responsible sourcing.)

One thing that I’ll say is that I am a very spiritual person and I think that comes across in Bella Aura Skincare.

Q: One of the things that I love about Bella Aura is that the range is very edited. Do you plan on adding more products as time passes, or was this an intentional decision? 

YJ: This was an intentional decision for sure. The goal was to keep things simple and develop multifunctional natural products that can be used for all skin types. We have created 5 targeted skin care solutions that all work well together. Our formulas are called emulsions, which combine the best qualities of serums and creams. They absorb quickly while providing superior hydration to the skin to fight the signs of aging and make your skin look radiant.

For now we are focused on our existing product line, but I have some ideas for future products to compliment them!

Bella Aura skincare range review

Q: I am totally smitten with the Bella Aura packaging and design. Can you share some insights on why you chose these bottles and illustrations? 

YJ: Thank you Rae, I’m so happy that you like the packaging. My thoughts on packaging were part functional and part design. For the bottles, I wanted to use glass and not plastic. Natural skin care products should be stored in dark containers. This combined with the airless pump, which is designed to protect against bacteria that can contaminate product, increases shelf life by up to 15%. I chose black because it is elegant, I’ve always loved black packaging for this reason.

The logo is a droplet with a zelig (pronounced zel-eej) pattern which inspired by traditional Moroccan tiles. We us a different colour droplet for each product which represents a specific aura colour. As I mentioned, I am a spiritual person.

Q: What made you want to launch your own skincare range? 

YJ: It comes from personal struggles with my skin. I was dealing with the stress and sleepless nights of a personal family tragedy and experienced serious skin issue. I tried many different skin care products, some made it worse and nothing was able to bring back my normally healthy skin.

After about a year dealing my skin issues, I met a herbalist/chemist in Morocco who said that he had a natural remedy to fix my skin. I was skeptical, but I tried it and my skin gradually improved. Not being a patient person, I was inspired to research natural ingredients for skin care that really work. I wanted to create “Clean” skincare products based on natural ingredients to make people feel good about their skin.

After 3 years of scouring the world for an amazing formulation chemist, Bella Aura Skincare was born.

Bella Aura moroccan bath

Q: What are your 3 favourite skincare ingredients?

YJ: I actually have 4, based on an ancient Moroccan beauty formula (our exclusive Kamilah Blend) which I use in all of the products. They are Argan oil, Fig de Barbarie oil, Neroli, and Nigella oil. The reason I love these oils is that they work really well together and complement each other. Combined they are super rich in vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, they also contain natural anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties all essential for healthy beautiful skin.

Q: What are your top 3 vacation destinations, and why? 

YJ: Morocco – Because of its great food, real people, diversity in geography, and subcultures. And it’s where I was born!

Maldives – I’ve only been there once, but it was amazing, exotic, and relaxing. Beautiful ocean and beaches, really out of this world.

Banff – Because of its natural beauty, fresh mountain air and wildlife, simply breathtaking.

Q: And, finally… If you had to choose only ONE Bella Aura product that you love the most, which one would it be? 

YJ: This is such a hard question for me to answer because I use the entire set of products in my skin care regime. I use the Gentle Purifying Cleanser morning and night, Daily Moisture Repair and Antioxidant Booster in the morning and during the day when the weather is dry. At night after cleansing I will use either the Instant Lifting Eye Contour or Night Cellular Renewal and quite often both, during the winter and when exposed to sun.

(Editor’s note: Yasmine totally cheated on that last question! ;) But if you want MY favourite product, it’s definitely the Bella Aura Gentle Purifying Cleanser… or maybe the Antioxidant Booster Emulsion. Thanks for reading, folks!)

 

—-

This interview with Yasmine Jones has been edited and condensed. Additional images of Yasmine and Morocco are c/o Bella Aura.

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara review, swatches, photos | A drugstore gem!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Maybelline Lash Sensational masca raview photos

The product: Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara in 253 Blackest Black

The brush: The Maybelline Lash Sensational brush is curved and asymmetrical, with “10 layers of bristles.” Its wand is soft and synthetic, and I actually really like the brush — it’s fatter than my usual fare, but I can reach each lash easily.

This brush deposits a fairly heavy amount of product on each lash, so it’s definitely a one-coater for me. (Any more than that and my lashes start to look a little spidery.)

Maybelline mascara review

The formula: I’m not usually a fan of drugstore mascaras, but man, I loooove this formula. It’s not a tubing mascara, but it acts almost like it is. 

The Lash Sensational formula wears literally all day on me, with zero smudging, flaking, or transfer. It holds a curl well (not too wet in the application), and it comes off easily — IF you use an oil-free makeup remover. Mascara is always a battle of cohesion vs adhesion (sticking to itself vs sticking to your lashes), and while this formula isn’t cohesive enough that it comes off in tubes, it delivers the same great wear time and ease of removal as a tubing mascara.

As a result, however, that does mean that your biphasic makeup removers and (some) cleansing oils will struggle to remove your Lash Sensational mascara! Just make sure to opt instead for a micellar water or something similar isntead and you’ll be golden.

Maybelline Lash Sensational eye swatch photos review

Maybelline Lash Sensational swatch – bare lashes / one coat (+this liner!)

The lash: While I’m not crazy about the Lash Sensational lash, I definitely don’t hate it. It’s not as full or fluttery as some of my other mascaras, but it makes a great everyday lash. I finished product testing for it about two weeks ago but have just kept wearing it since then, so I guess something about it must be working for me! 

Maybelline Lash Sensational Blackest Black review photos packaging

Maybelline Lash Sensational mascara packaging

The verdict?

There are very few non-tubing mascaras that I trust to wear outside of the house, but this one gets a seal of approval from me. It’s affordable, holds a curl well, and wears all day long. 

If you have really oily lids, this would be a great product to check out. I think I have enough mascara stockpiled to take me into next year, but once I’m out, I’ll be re-purchasing this one as my day-to-day mascara!

Availability: $9.49 CAD(ish) at drugstores and mass market retailers.

Keep reading! »

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