Beauty sales, new Meteorites, and the last “New This Week” post of the year | New 29/12/13

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Just an “easy” post for today — a few recent launches that I think are worth noting + a two sale PSAs.

Sorry for the impromptu little break I took last week; I ended up having to scrap the last few of our pre-Christmas features in favour of staying in bed and bemoaning my lack of an immune system. I hope to get back into the swing of things soon, though admittedly at a slower pace than the rest of December has been going at, so keep an eye on theNotice for more reviews & beauty news in the new year.

Get up to 50% off beauty at Nordstom & Sephora

There’s nothing like the post-holiday season for buying beauty, apparently! Get 15-50% off select beauty items + free US shipping on all orders at Nordstrom for a limited time. { shop the sale } clickable picks below!


From now until January, get an extra 20% off all sale items at Sephora with code EXTRA20, both in Canada & the US. { shop the sale } clickable picks below!

One last thing — due to the overwhelming response to this post, I will be reviewing the Je Joue MiMi Soft as soon as I can find the time! I’m so excited to get into something that’s so important to me (embracing female sexuality) in a space that I hold just as close to my heart. Thank you so much for your clicks, feedback, and re-tweets — support from all of you makes theNotice possible, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season!

Five gift ideas for the woman who has it all | The Gift Guide

Friday, December 20, 2013

For the luxury skincare lover: MIYU Beauty Hydrate Mi Beauty Essence

Founded just this past year by fellow blogger Connie Tai, MIYU Beauty is a new Canadian brand that’s stealing hearts across the blogosphere. I’m having difficulties putting together a review of the line (I live in fear of the glycerine ratios in facial sprays, which do wonders for a few days but always seem to break me out after a week), but I can’t find a single bad thing to say about the aesthetic — or the people behind the brand.

Beautifully housed in luxe-but-lightweight packaging with Ladurée-inspired details, the MIYU facial spray serums (!) are innovation at its best. { buy }

For the green girl: Osmia Organics Sunset Body Oil

Osmia Organics is a company that I was introduced to pretty recently, but I’m completely smitten with their range. Run by a former emergency room doctor who found her calling in all-natural skincare, the entire Osmia line up is exquisitely packaged, all-natural, and beautifully formulated.

While perfumes and skincare can be hard to pick for someone else, though, Osmia’s body oils & soaps are a great way to gift a little luxury without the worry. Sunset, one of Dr. Sarah Villafranco’s newest creations, is a super-sexy (but not at all overpowering) jojoba-based blend that hydrates immediately with absolutely no oiliness left on the skin. { buy }

Osmia Organics Sunset body oil review

Osmia Organics Sunset Body Oil (2 oz)

For the best friend: Je Joue MiMi Soft

Here’s your not-so-fun science fact of the day: did you know that only 25% of women report frequently experiencing orgasms during intercourse? We live in a culture that’s so fixated on sex, and yet — from magazines (five surprising tips on how to please your man!) to porn, sex is all about male pleasure, not female.

In the sprit of the season, consider giving someone the gift of self-love. Let them know that, like leaving the house without your makeup, sex isn’t anything to be ashamed of. And if we get to indulge in a bit of high-end tech while on the road to sexual equality? All the better.

The Je Joue MiMi Soft is small, classy, and discreet, with a soft, comfortable silicone finish (the safest material a vibrator could possibly be made from), a fully waterproof body, and a rechargeable battery. And the charger, you guys. The charger is so cool. It magnetizes onto the up/down buttons and supplies the vibrator with power through science magic, and I won’t be told otherwise. { buy }

If you’d like to see a review for the Je Joue Mimi Soft, click here to count your vote anonymously!

PS: This vibe was sent in by SheVibe.com.

Unlike everything else in this post, the Mimi was sent in by a storefront, not a brand. SheVibe.com is an online store that’s a far cry from the stereotypical blacked-out-windows sex shop in the bad part of town — I chose to work with them specifically because their site features reviews, articles, message boards, and tons of original artwork.

Whether or not you’re looking to purchase a new toy this season, their comics and articles are definitely worth a look!

Annabelle Cherry swatch TwistUp Retractable Lipstick

Annabelle TwistUp in Cherry — from this post

For the lip lover: Annabelle Cosmetics TwistUp Retractable Lip Crayon in Naked or Cherry

These lip crayons may not feel super-luxe when you hold them, but oh my – do they ever pack a punch. With a lush, comfortable formula and way more pigment than any drugstore product has any right to have, Annabelle TwistUps are the perfect choice for a bit of luxury on a budget.

Naked is a stunning satin-matte nude that suits my skintone (and a surprising many others) just perfectly, while Cherry is a drop-dead-gorgeous opulent red. Neither have shimmer, and (excuse my French) are classy as hell on the lips. { buy | review | swatches | win one! }

For the luxury makeup lover: Make Up For Ever Artisan Brushes 

I know I usually put my beloved Cozzette brushes in gift guides, and don’t get me wrong — I still love them. But while the Artisan brush range is just as soft, cruelty-free, and well-made as Cozzette’s S range, Make Up For Ever’s new brushes come with sleek, wood-finish handles and dark metal ferrules that Cozzette’s range just doesn’t have.

I can’t speak for all of Make Up For Ever’s brushes, but the #150 Angled Cheek Brush, #174 Small Concealer Brush, and #304 Lip Brush all get my seal of approval. And, I mean, really — who couldn’t use just one more brush? { buy }

What’s on your wishlist this season?

LUSH Luxury Lush Pud, Candy Mountain, & Melting Snowman | Three wintery bath-time treats for yourself, for others, for stocking stuffers

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lush Holiday 2013 Christmas bath bomb

The products: LUSH Luxury Lush Pud Bath Bomb, Candy Mountain Bubble Bar, and Melting Snowman Bath Melt

Like Lush’s Snowman Invasion gift set (which contains their Cinders and Snowman Bath Bombs), these three Lush bath treats are cruelty-free, Vegan, and returning favourites from past holiday seasons.

Whether you’re picking up a wintery relaxation aid for yourself, or you’re topping up a gift or filling up a stocking — here are three Lush products that really caught my eye this season. They’re all pretty different from one another, so keep reading to find out which one is best suited to you!

Luxury Lush Pud 200g Holiday 2013

Lush’s 2013 Luxury Lush Pud Bath Bomb

Polka-dot pastels: Luxury Lush Pud ($6.95 CAD/200 g)

Okay, okay, okay. I have to start with the Luxury Lush Pud, because — seriously? This thing is so cute.

Designed with a deep purple base, a white “cap,” and the most mind-blowingly adorable pastel polka dots scattered on its sides, this year’s Lush Pud is infinitely more squee-worthy than the dirty-water coloured, Snowcake-scented Lil Lush Pud of the past. 2013′s version is huge–literally; this bath bomb is a massive 200 grams–and is the brand’s holiday interpretation of the permanent-range Twilight.

I’m less crazy about the grape-coloured bathwater and lavender-benzoin-tonka fragrance blend of the Luxury Lush Pud than I am of its adorable design, but you win some, you lose some, you know? And lavender lovers will totally win some with this one.

LUSH Luxury LUSH Pud ingredients:

Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Cream of Tartar, Lauryl Betaine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Lavender Oil, Benzoin Resinoid, Tonka Absolute, Ylang Ylang Oil, Gardenia Extract, Titanium Dioxide, Coumarin, Linalool, Fragrance, Propylene Glycol, FD&C Blue No. 1, D&C Red No. 33, D&C Violet No. 2, D&C Red No. 30 Aluminum Lake, Candy Holly Leaf (Sugar, Water, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein, Vegetable Gelatin, Riboflavin, FD&C Blue 1).

Luxury Lush Pud review

Bright, pink, and glaringly sweet: Candy Mountain ($7.45 CAD/100 g)

Scented with the same cavity-inducing sweetness as Lush’s Creamy Candy Bubble Bar and Rock Star soap, Candy Mountain definitely has an audience — it’s just not me.

If you love sugary, cotton candy scents and all things pink, then this bubble bar is definitely, absolutely for you. It tints the water a gentle pink, which is why I wanted to give it a go (most Lush bubble bars have a more startling colour), but the scent is just so sweet. I couldn’t keep it in my room, much less bathe with it, and ended up having to give it to the boy — and as such, I can confirm that the scent definitely lingers on the skin all day long. 

Lush Candy Mountain 2013 review holiday christmas

Lush’s 2013 Candy Mountain Bubble Bar

The bar doesn’t deliver a ton of bubbles, and is definitely a one-bath-per-bar kind of product (unlike, for instance, the Luxury Lush Pud). With a hard shell surrounding a softer centre, the boy found it was hard to get all of Candy Mountain to dissolve under the faucet, and though it was enough for an adorable bubble beard, the bubbles disappeared pretty quickly. That said, the shimmer doesn’t linger on the skin after your bath, and rinses just as easily off of the tub, which is definitely a good thing — it was one of my main concerns for this bubble bar.

If you love pink, sweet scents, and shimmer, or you know someone who does, this is the veritable peak of cotton-candy pink products. For most of us, though? I think it’s a pass.

LUSH Candy Mountain ingredients:

Sodium Bicarbonate, Cream of Tartar, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Lauryl Betaine, Citric Acid, Fragrance, Cornflour, Snowflake Lustre (Potassium Silicate & Titanium Dioxide), Fair Trade Vanilla Absolute, Titanium Dioxide, Polyester-3, Methyl Ionone, D&C Red 28, D&C Red No. 21.

A snowman to steal the show: Melting Snowman ($5.95 CAD/60 g)

Lush Holiday 2013 Christmas bath melt, bubble bar

Lush’s 2013 Melting Snowman Bath Melt

This bath melt, you guys. This is the highlight of the holidays at Lush. 

Made with cocoa butter, shea butter, and almond oil, the Melting Snowman has the most comforting, festive fragrance. It’s so good that I have it lying out on my office dresser, letting it gently scent my room with the perfect cinnamon-clove/orange-lime balance. As lovely as it is, I am loathe to use it, because my office hasn’t smelled this good in ever. It is reputed to leave a ring around the tub, so buyers beware, but personally? I’m considering buying a backup, and then pelting LUSH HQ with letters begging them to make a candle or body butter or room spray of the Melting Snowman scent.

Lush Melting Snowman Bath Melt 2013 review holidays

I wish that Snowman and Melting Snowman came in a set together (psst — Lush, are you listening?), because that set would be awesome. I would buy that set for everyone, no fail, every year. Boyfriend’s mom? Bam. Snowman set. Secret Santa gift exchange? No problem: Snowman set. Prof who taught the best psych course ever, but constantly seems to be on the verge of a mental breakdown? Snowman set.

LUSH Melting Snowman ingredients:

Sodium Bicarbonate, Icing Sugar, Citric Acid, Cocoa Butter, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides & PEG60 Almond Glycerides , Almond Oil, Titanium Dioxide , Shea Butter, Cinnamon Leaf Oil, Patchouli Oil, Benzoin Resinoid, Sweet Orange Oil, Clove Leaf Oil, Lime Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Cinnamal, Coumarin, Eugenol, Limonene, Linalool, Fragrance, Dairy-Free Chocolate Drops (Sugar, Cocoa Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Vanilla), Ginger Stem.

Keep reading! »

Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio review, swatches, photos | A quick, easy, last-minute gift idea

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fresh Sugar lip balm review

The product: Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio

   ↳ Sugar Petal, Sugar Honey, and Sugar Cherry Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15

Okay, so: it’s the week before Christmas and you:

a) Get a last-minute invite to a holiday girl’s-night-slash-secret-santa gift exchange,

b) Find out that your distant cousin, twice removed, is going to be at your parents’ this year (and you need a gift for her),

c) Realize that your sister’s gift, while pretty cool, could use an extra dose of awesome.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment review

In any of these scenarios, I’m going to go right ahead and recommend that you snag a Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio from Sephora on your way to… wherever it is you’re headed. I’m a sucker for a Fresh lip balm, so this trio of three minis (which comes in a super-easy-to-wrap box) is a pretty no-fail gift idea, as far as I’m concerned.

The shades: The Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio contains Sugar Petal, a neutral-pink with a touch of brown, Sugar Honey, a medium-nude with a hint of red (for warmth), and Sugar Cherry, an absolutely gorgeous sheer red. The first two are nice, but Sugar Cherry gives the lips a really lovely, natural-looking, “just bitten” effect — perfect for the winter.

Fresh Sugar Petal lip balm review swatches

Fresh Sugar Petal Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15

Fresh Sugar Honey lip balm review swatches

Fresh Sugar Honey Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15

Fresh Sugar Cherry lip balm review swatches

Fresh Sugar Cherry Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15

The Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 formula: The first thing to note about the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments is that, while they have a fairly moisturizing formula, they’re very soft and slippery. It makes the balms comfortable, but also prone to sliding around on your lips & smooshing during application.

Despite being formulated with hydrating oils like meadowfoam seed oil, avocado oil, and jojoba, these aren’t the best choice for an actual “lip treatment” (as opposed to a tinted balm). They’re hydrating while worn, but need to be reapplied every two hours or sooner, making them a good choice for daytime wear but not a great one for overnight. The Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment formula has a nice, lemony-sweet scent — sugary without being overpowering and just citrusy enough.

Fresh Sugar Cherry review photos swatches

The tint: Because of the slippery formula, these balms need a minute to sink in. Once they do, however, the colour stops sliding around on my lips, and acts more like a balm with a very light stain. I’ve tried four shades of this balm (Honey, Cherry, and Petal, all featured here, as well as Rose), and all of them deliver exactly the amount of pigment I’d want from a tinted lip balm — more than a Clinique Chubby Stick, less than a lipstick, and definitely enough to give my lips some really natural-looking colour. 

The packaging: Mini sizes of products usually lose out when it comes to packaging, but the great thing about Fresh lip balms is that they don’t. Just as solid, luxe, and well-made as the full-sized versions, mini Fresh Sugar lip balms feature the same coated-metal tube & twist-closure bottom as their full-sized counterparts.

Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio review swatches

The verdict?

I have a no-longer-secret soft spot for Fresh Sugar lip balms, and I think that this set is a worthwhile indulgence. No one needs a 20-something dollar lip balm, but the Sugar lip balms are a really nice treat. The scent is close to lemony biscuits and far from lemon cleaner, and the light tints really do do a great job of adding colour without making it obvious that you’re wearing makeup.

To note, these mini lip balms are 0.08 oz, the same size as last year’s BI birthday gifts. Buying just one full-sized tube is a little cheaper (in listed price, not cost per ounce), but I actually prefer these small(ish) tubes – they’re perfect for throwing into your handbag, and three shades is always more fun than one!

Availability: $28 USD/$32 CAD for the Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio (3 x 0.08 oz), or $22.50 USD/$26 CAD for a full-sized tube (0.15 oz).

Additional photos & ingredients »

Osmia Organics Juniper Fire Perfume Concentrate review, photos | Winter woodlands in a bottle

Monday, December 16, 2013

Osmia Organics Juniper Fire review

The product: Osmia Organics Juniper Fire Perfume Concentrate

2013 is turning out to be a great year for smoky scents. Between finding love in both Juniper Fire and Illume’s Woodfire candle, I’ve spent almost all of this month surrounded in deep, outdoorsy scents — and I couldn’t be more smitten with them.

Osmia’s perfumes are, perhaps, the most perfect portrayal of natural perfumery. The way Dr. Sarah Villafranco talks about her fragrances is so personal – each scent has a story, and each is made by hand in small batches. Blum, for instance, “may be a limited run, depending on [her] ability to procure more of the amazing honeysuckle absolute,” while Prima (“inspired by the smell of the dark, rich soil as it emerges from under the Colorado snow in the early spring,”) is blended with saffron oil that swirls its way into the fragrance like ink.

Osmia Juniper Fire perfume concentrate review Osmia Organics review

Juniper Fire is no exception to this rule. It was Sarah’s first perfume, and smells like an evergreen forest in the calm of winter. Beneath that, though, there is an undeniable warmth – almost as if you’re walking through these beautiful old trees, as tall as skyscrapers, but you can’t feel the chill at all.

A tribute to Sarah’s beloved Colorado, and created “after stepping outside our house on a breathlessly cold, blue-sky day with a fire burning in the fireplace,” she describes it as:

“Sweet, crisp, and comforting – somehow both chilly and incredibly warm.  A vanilla and sandalwood base with a hint of smoke, and the deeply wholesome smells of juniper and cedar – it’s like getting embraced by the mountains.”

Natural perfume review - Osmia Organics Juniper Fire

To me, Juniper Fire opens a little medicinal — but it’s not the kind of medicinal you’d find in a bottle of cold medicine. There’s this old Chinese remedy that my grandmother used to keep under the bathroom sink; a brown-coloured fluid in a red box that was meant to numb and heal bruises and sprains. A tincture of evergreen resin, safflower, and ginseng, it stained horribly, but she swore it took the pain away. Juniper Fire reminds me, at first, of that.

Past the first few minutes, though, Juniper Fire settles into something much more woodsy and close to the skin. It looses its medicinal edge and plummets straight for sexy — clean and unisex, but not department store unisex, you know? It’s sexless and genderless; a quiet, crackling campfire in the woods. 

The one thing about Juniper Fire that makes my heart break, however, is its longevity: a mere five hours, on my skin. That said, the scent is entirely unique, and only gets better with time: I merely like it for the first hour, but by the time I reach the third, my nose is literally pushed up to my skin. It’s beautiful – absolutely like nothing else you’ll ever find indoors. 

Osmia Organics perfume concentrate review Juniper Fire

Cedar Smoke, a similar Osmia scent, is no less gorgeous. It’s more subtle than Juniper Fire, and a little softer — though it does open with a touch of a (different) almost-medicinal note, just for a minute or two. Its cedar base leaves it smelling vaguely like a really sexy, dry sauna, and I would actually like it more than Juniper Fire if it packed a bigger punch. Osmia is very clear about the fact that their scents have only a 2-5 hour lifespan on the skin, and Cedar Smoke sits firmly at the two-hour end of that spectrum.

Cedar Smoke is more comforting than Juniper Fire, while Juniper Fire is more unique. I think anyone who loved one would at the very least like the other, but they are different enough that you need to sample both and pick your favourite!

Juniper Fire is a perfume concentrate, $150/0.48 oz in organic grape alcohol. Cedar Smoke is a perfume oil, $75/0.28 oz in organic jojoba and fractionated coconut oils. Both are packaged in glass with rollerball applicators.

Osmia Organics perfume concentrate review

The verdict?

I’m always hesitant to recommend products that come at a price like this, but in this case — I can’t not. Juniper Fire is beautifully composed: equally fitting on both men and women, it’s sexy in a very, very understated, down-to-earth way. To put it succinctly, Juniper Fire is the kind of winter scent that you’d never be able to find in a department store, and it’s all the better for it.

Like a breath of air in a snowy forest, it’s crisp, smokey, and wonderfully singular. At $150 USD, I’d really have liked to see better tenacity and sillage, but some ingredients (ingredients like cedar wood, pine needle, or juniper essential oils) just don’t have that — and I get it, I do. You can’t bend the boundaries of science, and Osmia is very upfront about their scents’ 2-5 hour, low-sillage wear.

For most of us, natural perfumes may seem overpriced: but if you have someone in your life who loves scents but can’t wear synthetic compounds (my sister, for instance, gets really pervasive headaches around them), or you’re trying to detox your personal care regimen, then they’re more than a worthwhile indulgence. 

Available: $150 USD/0.48 oz roll-on concentrate at Osmia Organics, or $2 for a sample (0.06 oz). International shipping available!

Additional photos & more »

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