5 scents under $50 | Product closet excavation

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Five scents under $50

Let’s start this review off with a truth: I’m not a fan of celebrity fragrances. I’m like, really, really not. So, a lot of the time, I’ll receive one to review and it’ll just waste away in my product closet, waiting for its moment…

Today, that moment has finally come for these scents. Will I love them? Will I hate them? Only time (or simply skimming this review) will tell.

ck one shock for her him review

The couple’s duo: Calvin Klein CK One Shock EdT

Calvin Klein’s CK One Shock for Her is described as a “sensual floriental,” with notes like passion flower and poppy giving way to chocolate, blackberry, jasmine, and musk. It comes bottled in the iconic CK One flacon — but with an opaque white coating & the word “SHOCK” scribbled on in bright pink. (It’s meant to look like lipstick, which I think is silly — the guys get dripping spray paint!)

This design is echoed in the “bold oriental” for him version as well, which lists notes including clementine, cucumber, osmanthus, black pepper, tobacco, and patchouli. Both scents were created by Ann Gottleib and IFF, and retail for $45 CAD/50ml (100 ml bottles pictured here) at Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix locations across Canada.

These come with both caps and atomizers, which I love — I always get too much perfume with a single spritz, and caps store better, too. CK One Shock for Her is sweeter than I had expected, and kind of makes me think of a clothing store – soft, powdery kind of sweet. But CK One Shock for Him is the one to watch: it’s peppery and masculine with modern-oriental undertones, and gives an interesting “suggestion” of fruitiness despite not containing any fruity notes (probably due to the osmanthus).

Vera Wang Lovestruck review EdP

The big, big box: Vera Wang Lovestruck Floral Rush

My bottle of Floral Rush contains a mere 50 ml, but you’d never know it from the size of the box it came in. Lovestruck Floral Rush has a large plastic “bouquet” lid, and its box could easily contain four boxes of Heidi Klum Shine within its depths.

Created by Pascal Gaurin, Lovestruck Floral Rush is comprised of notes like champagne, apricot blossom, white freesia, and cashmere wood. It comes wrapped with a floral-print bow, which, well — it’s not a purple and green camouflage bandana, as I had originally thought.

A bright and shimmery “fizzy floral” (my words, not theirs), Floral Rush is a little sharp, but I think it’s more interesting than a lot of celebrity fragrances out there. It smells a bit too clean, which is really too bad, but I think it’s a good scent for its target demographic — there’s nothing aggressively sexy about this perfume, in its notes or in its advertising.

Vera Wang Lovestruck perfume review

The model moment: Heidi Klum Shine

Lauded by bloggers and perfume fanatics as one of the best budget scents at the drugstore, Shine lists fruity top notes of pear, mandarin, and pink peppercorn set against a floral heart and a sweet dry down. This is easily the one I was the most excited about, and it’s not bad — it’s not terribly unique, but it’s clean and very fruity, and I think it’s well-done for the small price tag.

Shine was created by Aurelien Guichard, Jean Guichard and Olivier Pescheux (Pescheux is the nose behind many of Diptyque’s scents, and Guichard is the man behind Issey Miyake’s Pleats fragrances and the Robert Piguet line), and is available for $35 CAD/30 ml.

Heidi Klum Shine perfume review

The Beyoncé effect: Beyoncé Pulse

I’m not a big Beyoncé fan, but I do love the way she’s created her image – while she’s far from perfect, you could do so much worse than telling young girls (and young minority girls in particular) that they can be both popular and powerful.

Her fragrances, though, are one area where I think she could do better. Pulse is described as a “citrus, floral gourmand” (which is cause for alarm on its own), with make-believe notes such as pear blossom, blue curaco, bluebird orchid, and midnight blooming jasmine. Created by Loc Dong, it’s available at Shopper’s and Sears for a rather alarming $59 CAD/50ml. (You didn’t hear it from me, but you can snap this one up easily for under $20 online.)

I think this is one of the better Beyoncé scents out there, but it’s still much too sweet for me. I’d recommend spritzing in-store if you’re a big fan of Queen B, and waiting to smell the drydown before buying — while I can definitely see why someone could fall in love with this, I think many will find it to be too pushy!

Beyonce Pulse review

Do you wear celebrity fragrances? And if so, what are your favourites? (Inquiring minds need to know!) 

Annabelle Muddy, Glitzy Black Smudge Paint Gel Eyeliner swatches, review | The best gel liners in the drugstore

Monday, September 29, 2014

Annabelle Glitzy Black review

The product: Annabelle SmudgePaint Creamy Gel Shadow + Liner in Glitzy Black and Muddy

I’ve been falling pretty behind on theNotice these past few weeks, so let me make it up to you. Here’s a gel liner that I’ve had for years, but has only stuck a chord with me recently — Annabelle’s SmudgePaint liners.

Designed to be used both as an intense cream eyeshadow & gel liner, these guys were some of the first on the market to feature this all-in-one packaging. More importantly, though, they’re still creamy and soft, even after three years of sitting in my drawer. If that doesn’t sell you on a drugstore gel liner, I don’t know what will.

Annabelle Muddy Gel Liner shadow review

The formula: Light, soft, and easy to blend, I think the SmudgePaint formula is absolutely perfect for its intended use. It takes a while to dry down, so it’s not a great pick if you’re in a hurry, but that makes the formula really easy to smudge and blend — but it’s moussey rather than slippery, so it does pinpoint precision just as well as a smokey haze.

What I like most about this formula, however, is that it really lasts. Aside from Annabelle Black Spark and Lancome’s Artliners, there isn’t a single other eyeliner in my collection that lasts as well on me as Glitzy Black does — with a bit of silica powder through the lid, I get zero smudging and very minimal creasing over 10 hours.

Annabelle SmudgePaint gel eyeliner review

Annabelle SmudgePaint in Glitzy Black

Annabelle Muddy SmudgePaint Gel Eyeliner, shadow

Annabelle SmudgePaint in Muddy

The shades: I’m not a brown eyeliner fan, but I think Muddy has its appeal as a soft, natural liner or a heavier all-over base. (See it in a makeup look here!) It’s a pretty bronze-brown, with plenty of gold shimmer and no red undertones. (I think red-browns are far more interesting than yellow-browns, but I do admit that they’re harder to pull off.)

While I think Muddy is a little boring, however, I adore the admittedly-dupeable Glitzy Black. It’s quite an intense black, like most gel liners, and it has just enough silver shimmer to give my eyes a bit of a – but the stray glitter particles never irritate my sensitive eyes, and any travelling they do is done completely separate from the base shade. I think it was limited edition, but if they still do a similar shade, be sure to snap it up!

Annabelle Glitzy Black swatch SmudgePaint gel liner

Annabelle Glitzy Black swatched in indirect sunlightAnnabelle Glitzy Black gel liner review

The verdict?

I wish the opening of these pots was a little wider, but honestly… that’s the only complaint I have for them. With a good eye base, a smudgy wing of Glitzy Black lasts well into the evening on me, which is more than I can say of any other gel liner I’ve tried so far – and it’s very well pigmented, to boot.

The handy packaging and great price are just the cherry on top when it comes to these liners, so if you can find them — buy them.

Availability: $10.95 CAD at drugstores across Canada. Maybe. I don’t know. I could have sworn I just saw these in-store, but now I can’t find them on the Annabelle site and I’m kind of panicking.

Swatches, pot shots (heh) & more »

Hourglass 1.5mm Mechanical Gel Eye Liner review, swatches, photos | Liners for pen geeks

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hourglass liner review extra thin

The product: Hourglass 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Eye Liner in Obsidian 

[Ed. note #1: Dear reader, I am so sorry to have disappeared again last week. I spent it resting, like a princess from an 18th century fairy tale, decaying as I waited for a prince who will never come.] [Ed. note #2: Sleeping Beauty metaphors work excellently for fibromyalgia.]

Hourglass 1.5mm Mechanical Gel Eyeliner review

Hourglass 1.5MM Mechanical Gel Eye Liner in Obsidian

The concept: In a unique fit of precision, Hourglass has recently released a pencil liner with a small, specific liner width — something I’ve never seen before, outside of niche writing implements. Released only in black, in singles or sets of three, each pencil contains enough click-up gel liner for about 20 applications (2 clicks per eye), according to the brand.

I’ve read a lot of unhappy comments about the price of the liner, but honestly, it doesn’t really bug me. Hourglass has never been a budget line, and 2 clicks of liner per eye provides you with plenty of product. The brand’s honesty about the contents of each liner is quite refreshing – a lot of brands skimp on product with optic illusions and thick-walled glass or products halved and re-packaged, but only Hourglass has been upfront about how many uses their product actually contains.

But enough of that — let’s talk about that liner, then.

iHourglass Obsidian eyeliner review set of 3

The size & shade: I still definitely prefer thin brushes and potted gel liners for a super-fine line, but for a retractable pencil, this one is extremely precise. It’s considerably finer–and blacker–than all of the other mechanical eyeliners I own, but the intense colour is marginally softer and more satisfying than Milani Liquid Eye (not a twist-up) – Obsidian is a very neutral black, and as such won’t look as unnatural as cooler liners of comparable intensity.

Hourglass 1.5mm gel eye liner review swatch obsidian

Hourglass 1.5MM gel (pencil) liner swatches

Hourglass 1.5mm liner comparison review

“Lead” comparison: Clinique Quickliner for Eyes Intense | Hourglass 1.5MM Liner | Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Liner | Marcelle 2 in 1 Retractable Eyeliner (swatches at bottom of post)

The wear: Unfortunately, I wasn’t enamoured with the wear time of this one. It applies easily and precisely, smudging well, but does give me little raccoon eyes by the evening — I wouldn’t trust it for more than four hours without obsessive mirror-checks.

At almost a dollar per application (waterline, through the lashes, above the lashes, and a small wing on both eyes), I wish that this product wore betterThat said, I’ve heard very positive things about the wear from bloggers without monolids, so your mileage may vary!

Hourglass Mechancal Gel Eyeliner review obsidian

The verdict?

As much as I love the concept of a very thin pencil, and as much as I respect Hourglass for being honest about how tiny lines mean tiny cartridges, I would give these a pass if liner tends to smudge on you. Your money would be better spent on their calligraphy-brush liner or a new Ambient powder, honestly.

If liners do tend to last on you, though (because these certainly don’t preform below average), then these could be a great addition to your stash — especially on the go. I’d recommend buying the set of three, because they will run out pretty quickly, and there’s no anxiety like “oh god what if my liner runs out and I only have one eye done” anxiety.

Availability: $16 USD/$19 CAD each ($45 USD for three) at Sephora, Space NK, and Hourglass.

Comparison swatches & ingredients »

Shu Uemura Petal Lash Mascara review, swatches, photos | For a flower-scented fringe of lashes

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

shu uemura petal lash mascara review

The product: shu uemura petal lash mascara in intense black

I’ve been trying a lot of mascaras recently, but this one may just be my new favourite. Like all mascaras, it promises great things… but unlike the others… it actually delivers.

What sets the Petal Lash mascara apart is its unique “pink blossom applicator”, which features a curved square-and-round design made especially to fit Asian eyes. The 2mm round tip is perfect for catching tiny inner lashes (and great for point-lifting the lashes at the outer corner of the eye), while the square 3.5mm base coats the longer lashes perfectly.

Reader, I want all mascaras to come with a wand like this one. Applying mascara–especially to my short, sparse Asian lashes–has literally never been this easy before.

shu uemura petal lash mascara eotd swatch

bare lashes / 1 uncombed coat of shu uemura petal lash mascara

The formula: Flexible and just-dry-enough, the Petal Lash Mascara formula delivers soft, pliable lashes and still manages to maintain a curl. It adds natural-looking amounts of lift and length to the lash (but not a lot of volume), with zero clumping or flaking throughout the day – when I tested this in on a dry 28 degree day, I saw gorgeous separation and fullness with no smudging until the evening (8-10 hours later).

Plus–and I’m not gonna lie; this was a big pull for me–this formula is softly scented with an uplifting sakura fragrance, making application one of the best parts of my morning.

shu uemura petal lash scented mascara

Shu Uemura Petal Lash tube. Even the lettering is pretty! 

The verdict?

At the end of the day, mascaras always come down to personal preferences. I like this one because I like my mascaras to hold a curl, apply easily, and last well into the evening; you might not, especially if you like your mascaras to give you a heavy, dramatic lash or sooty lower lashline. But if you have thin, straight lashes and want a clean, natural lash look, take it from me: this one is a dreamboat.

(Oh. And did I mention that it also feels light as air, smells amazing, and is crazy easy to apply flawlessly?)

Availability: $29 CAD at shuuemura.ca, Holt Renfrew, and select Sephora stores across Canada.

Keep reading! »

Clinique custom phone cases & more | New 14/09/14

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New this week are a few long-awaited launches (like the NARS Audacious lipsticks), as well as a couple new-to-store ones (Charlotte Tilbury at Nordstrom, and that pastel Shiseido trio!) and a few unique items that caught my eye. If you’ve tried the new Micro.mini Beautyblenders, for instance, or that new Sephora makeup-removing lip gel, I’d be curious to hear what you thought of them! (And those new Bottega Veneta perfumes, hrrrnnnngh.)

New (& more than noteworthy)

Also upcoming this week is an event — and a very, very cool one at that. Manhattan residents are invited to the Clinique counter at Bloomingdale’s on 59th St. to receive a complimentary Smart Skin Consultation and create a customized smartphone case designed by fashion illustrator Brooke Hagel.

Clinique custom phone cases

The event will be held this Thursday, September 18th, and while I obviously won’t get to go… I can only hope that one of you will take this opportunity to have a phone case custom-illustrated with Chubby Stick sketches!

What: Complimentary Smart Skin Consultations, a fall trend fashion preview, and a custom-illustrated phone case with the purchase of Clinique’s Smart Repair Serum.

When: Thursday, September 18, 6pm-8pm

Where: Bloomingdale’s 59th Street Beauty Studio (1000 3rd Ave at 59th Street, NY)

Pre-book an appointment at the counter or by calling (212) 705-2879.

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