LUSH Valentine’s Day 2016 reviews, photos: The Kiss, Prince Charming, Unicorn Horn

Monday, February 8, 2016

LUSH Valentine's Day 2016 review

The products: LUSH The Kiss Lip Gloss and Lip Scrub, Prince Charming Shower Cream, and Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar

Lush has six pretty-in-pink, limited edition launches out for Valentine’s Day this year, and like they did with their fruity holiday releases, they’ve subverted expectations juuust a little bit with pomegranate and mandarin scented products. (Don’t worry, there are a few rose-scented ones as well, for all of us traditionalists.)

I tried out three of them and photographed one more, but I have to admit: my heart’s just not in it this year.

LUSH The Kiss Lipgloss swatch review

The Kiss Lip Gloss ($8.95 CAD) and Lip Scrub ($9.95 CAD)

Lush’s product page for The Kiss Lip Gloss leads you to believe that it’ll leave your lips shiny and pink, but while I do actually like this balm, it’s just that: a balm. It’s relatively hydrating and completely transparent, with a sheer, frosty shimmer finish and a scent that reminds me (and the others that I’ve asked) more of bubblegum than citrus. It’s not shiny, and it’s not pigmented, much less glossy and opaque (as it’s swatched on the Lush site.)

LUSH The Kiss Lip Scrub review

The Kiss comes in Lip Scrub format as well, and its twinkling pink sugar bits and edible red hearts had my hopes up high. But, like the last Lush scrub I tried, this one left my skin over-scrubbed and raw, and even though it’s described clearly as a “caster sugar scrub,” it’s half salt sea salt — so when you take Lush’s advice and lick up the excess, you end up with a very literal bitter, salty mouthful of disappointment. 

I have loved Lush’s lip products in the past, but these ones just aren’t working for me at all.

LUSH Prince Charming, The Kiss review swatches

The Kiss Lip Gloss swatch (yes, really), The Kiss Lip Scrub, and Prince Charming Shower Cream x2

LUSH Prince Charming Shower Cream review stain

Prince Charming Shower Cream ($9.95 CAD)

You’re killin’ me, Lush. You guys make some seriously awesome products (I’ve got, like, two measly uses of Gorgeous left and it makes me want to cry), and then there’s… this business.

For a company that prides itself on its natural, eco-friendly image, it’s weird to me that Lush keeps making all of these practically fluorescent Shower Creams. Like Lord of Misrule, Prince Charming can and will stain you and your shower, so watch out.

I get synthetic pomegranate & vanilla notes from this one, and while it does leave my skin feeling lovely and soft, that’s no excuse for staining. It performs more ore less okay under the spray of the shower, but if you apply this to dry skin, it WILL stain you pink with a vengeance.

So stop it, Lush. Seriously. No one else ever even has this problem.

LUSH Unicorn Horn Bath Bomb review photos

Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar ($7.95 CAD)

It turns out I still hate baths, so I can’t really tell you anything about the Lush Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar except LOOK, YOU GUYS. IT IS A RAINBOW UNICORN HORN AND IT IS COVERED IN GLITTER.

You need. Hell, I need, and I already have one. I wonder if I could tolerate a bath if I could convince boyfriend to sterilize the tub for me beforehand…

(Good for foaming up two baths, or for a single evening of super-plush lavender, ylang ylang, and neroli dreams.)

LUSH Unicorn Horn review photos

The verdict?

I loved that LUSH gave us something a little different this year, with pink products that don’t smell like roses, cocoa, or vanilla, but honestly… I’m a fan of the classics.

None of these products really “spoke” to me (well, aside from the unicorn horn, but who doesn’t that speak to), and love the idea of gifting your darling a bar of Roses All the Way Soap, or surprising them with a massage with of Lush’s classic massage bars. (I have Tender is the Night, which by some miracle still hasn’t gone bad, and I LOVE it.) I say skip the Lush Valentine’s Day launches this year, folks, and go with a tried-and-true from the brand instead.

Available: Limited edition at Lush stores and Lush.ca while supplies last!

Ivory Avenue Art | Small Business Saturdays

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ivory Avenue Valentine's Day

One of the things that I get excited about, like most beauty writers, is when beauty bloggers branch out. Sometimes they branch out by starting their own beauty brand (hello, MIYU), but sometimes it’s not quite as beauty-related, as is the case with Natalie of Ivory Avenue.

I’ve been a fan of Ivory Avenue for a while, and there’s no question as to why: Natalie is kind and funny, with a great eye for design and a frankly adorable obsession with her puppy. So when Natalie announced that she was planning on opening her own Etsy shop full of original watercolour paintings… well, I knew it was going to be something pretty special.

Small Business Saturdays Ivory Avenue Art

Rosie and painting No. 1 from the Valentine’s Day collection

Ivory Avenue Art

Natalie started painting to express her feelings and stay positive, and she decided to open her Etsy shop in order to share that happiness with others — something that I find to be particularly beautiful. There are a lot of us in the beauty community who struggle with mental illness and physical limitations, and I like to think that each of us feels a little less alone knowing how many of our friends and favourite bloggers experience similar struggles.

Ivory Avenue Art showcases one collection of six paintings every month, and a different charity is chosen for each collection to receive 10% of the sale price of each order. Available right now are the Winter’s Morn and Valentine’s Day collections (in green & grey and coral-pink, respectively,) and the current Ivory Avenue charity is the Samaritan’s Purse!

Natalie Heather Ivory Avenue Art Etsy

I’m particularly fond of Natalie’s Valentine’s Day Collection Painting No. 1, with its beautiful gold detailing and coral-pink ombré (directly above), but honestly, her entire shop is just gorgeous.

If you want to support a small business (and a local Canadian blogger!) this Valentine’s Day, make sure to check out Ivory Avenue Art — and use code LOVEYOU until February 29th for a whopping $30 off your order! 

All images are from Natalie’s Etsy shop and Instagram

ColourPop Meow, So Quiche, I ♥ This, Pop Rocks swatches, reviews, photos

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

ColorPop eyeshadow review

The products: ColourPop Cosmetics Super Shock Shadows in Pop Rocks (Tie Dye), So Quiche (Metallic), I ♥ This (Metallic), and Meow (Tie Dye)

In the world of Instagram beauty brands, there’s no one bigger than ColourPop. Their products are cheap ($5 each!!), high-intensity, and super-hyped by heavy-hitting makeup aficionados, and the brand’s founders rarely give out interviews — which media publications like Fashionista are so completely dumbfounded by that they’ve decided there’s some sort of weird conspiracy going on.

I made a tiny little ColourPop haul a year or two ago, but I’ve been campaigning hard for the title of Tardiest Blogger Ever, so obviously I had to drag my heels on this one for as long as I could.

ColorPop eyeshadow review packaging

ColorPop eyeshadow review packaging label

The formula: The ColourPop Super Shock Shadows are the product that really put ColourPop on the map, but they’re not actually the brand’s biggest seller anymore — that title now belongs to the ColourPop Ultra Matte Lip Creams (which I haven’t tried yet). The Super Shock formula is a moist-pressed-eyeshadow one, with lots of cyclopentasiloxane (which will evaporate out) and dimethicone to give smoothness to some seriously high-intensity shadows.

Because of this, the Super Shock Shadows will slowly dry out over time (hence the twist-cap pots). It’s a formula that I happen to really like, however — the dampness means that each swipe of eyeshadow applies as if it’s been foiled, whether you apply with a finger or an eyeshadow brush.

Colorpop So Quiche Super Shock review swatches photos

ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in So Quiche (Metallic)

Colorpop I Heart This Super Shock swatch review photos

ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in I <3 This (Metallic)

Colorpop Super Shock Shadow review texture

All four of these eyeshadows (post-swatch brush cleaning). See those little flakes?

What I will say about the Super Shock formula, however, is that some of the shades can be a little too glittery/chunky. I had this problem with Meow in particular, so it’s probably a good thing that the Tie Dies were discontinued (see below), but I saw more chunkiness in all of these than I’d have liked. I’ve always been more of a smooth satins + separate fairy glitter kind of gal, though (thank you, Shu Uemura and Clarins)!

If you loved the original Urban Decay eyeshadow range (AKA glitter, fallout, and colour central), then you are going to LOVE the ColourPop Metallics. For a “nothing” look, though, you’re going to have to go with ColourPop’s Mattes — the Metallics look super-smooth when swatched, but they won’t buff down the way you’d expect them to. (Instead, you’ll just see a lot of wishy-washy colour speckled with lots of chunky shimmer, so go with the shade you want, not the shade you want to blend out!)

Colorpop Meow Super Shock swatch review photos

ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in Meow (Tie Die)

Colorpop Pop Rocks Super Shock swatch review photos

ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in Pop Rocks (Tie Die)

The shades: I ordered two neutral Metallic Super Shock Eyeshadows and two Tie Dye Super Shock Eyeshadows, but the Tie Die line (I’M SO SORRY) has been discontinued since I made my order. I’m glad that I have them, though, and I still wanted to share them with you guys! Tie dye products get me every. damn. time.

Pop Rocks, the blue and purple Tie Die shadow that was the whole reason behind my order, is a periwinkle blue with plenty of blue, white, and violet glitter. Meow, the pink, white, and black Tie Die shadow, is a medium-toned grey with white and pink glitter. And you know what? Swatching each shade for the first time made the whole order worth it, even though they’re discontinued now and I rarely wear either. That’s how much I absolutely adore multicolour products.

ColorPop I heart This Meow swatch review

ColourPop Super Shock Eyeshadow swatches: Pop Rocks, So Quiche, I <3 This, and Meow

ColorPop So Quiche Pop Rocks swatch review

ColourPop Super Shock Eyeshadow swatches: Pop Rocks, So Quiche, I <3 This, and Meow

I loved the novelty of the Tie Dies, but the Metallics really got me. While their finish is definitely still glitter on top of a smooth metallic base (rather than what I think of as a traditional metallic), they were easier to work with than the Tie Dies, and a little more wearable. 

I <3 This is a gorgeous, super casual light taupe (I like describing this kind of shade as a “wheat taupe,” if that makes sense), and So Quiche (still available!) has just the most stunning yellow-gold/pink duochrome finish on top of an olive-khaki base.

ColorPop I heart This Super Shock Eyeshadow swatch review

ColourPop Super Shock Shadow (Metallic) in So Quiche

ColorPop I heart This swatch review

Also ColourPop Super Shock Shadow (Metallic) in So Quiche. Look at that duochrome!!

The verdict?

At $5 per shadow, I would be tempted to recommend Super Shock Shadows as it was — but knowing just how well they work, I’m not just tempted to do so, but I’m happy to. They’re a great way to build up a starter eyeshadow collection, but they’re pigmented enough that they’d be a fun haul for someone with a huge makeup stash, too.

The one thing that I’d warn about ColourPop eyeshadows is that, while they’re great for $5, they don’t feel like a high-end eyeshadow. The shades with shimmer will look a little Instagram-y and will give you some glitter fallout, so if you prefer a “natural” makeup look, make sure you opt for their mattes instead. But, at $5, these guys are awesome! 

Availability: $5 each at ColourPop.com. (Yes, really, $5!)

Keep reading!

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean cleanser review, photos

Monday, February 1, 2016

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Cleanser

The product: SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Pore-Refining Gel Cleanser

The thing about SkinCeuticals’ Simply Clean cleanser is that it shouldn’t work for me… but it does. It’s everything that my skin usually hates, from the texture (gel instead of milk) to the target audience (oily instead of dry and sensitive).

But despite all that stuff, Simply Clean works wonders on my skin. I’m not sure how, but if I had to guess, I’d say probably magic. Maybe a crossroads deal; maybe a regular, ritualistic sacrifice. There are probably goats involved or something.

SkinCuticals square

The formula: SkinCeuticals’ products are all formulated with the philosophy of “prevention, protection, and correction,” (AKA science! Science! Science!) and their cleansers are no exception. Simply Clean is formulated with a hydroxy acid blend to gently exfoliate dead skin cells, smoothing out rough texture and removing excess oils.

It’s made for people with oily/combination skin and great for those with acne, but it was recommended as part of my skincare regimen because some of my pores can get a little clogged. My skin specialist told me that it (unlike the brand’s Purifying Cleanser) would help gently lift the dead skin cells from my skin without requiring more treatment products or physical exfoliation, which my super-dry skin often needs help with.

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Cleanser review oily skin

The results: My skin burns in response to a good 70% of the non-milk cleansers that I try, but this one caused no reaction, even after weeks of testing. It still delivers a totally makeup-free, squeaky-clean result, and I’ve been really happy with it so far.

I feel like I’ve seen less surprise breakouts and milia since I started using Simply Clean every night, and even though it isn’t the line’s gentlest cleanser, it’s really non-reactive. It’s my only squeaky-clean cleanser that I can comfortably use, and that’s honestly such a novelty for me that I look forward to using this stuff every night!

(Yeah, the Friday nights around here are really wild.)

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Cleanser combination gel skin review

The verdict?

Simply Clean is a simple, no-nonsense cleanser that will gently exfoliate while cleansing and removing makeup. It’s best for oilier skin types, but it works well for anyone with clogged pores — yes, even us dry-skinned folk.

I’d skip it if you want conditioning agents in your cleanser, or if you have sensitive skin that isn’t clogged (in which case, the SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser would probably suit your skin better.) Overall, however, I am very, very impressed with this little dude! I know that cleansers are kind of boring, but this one performs so well that it’s my favourite product from the line — and the SkinCeuticals range is far from underwhelming.

(Reviews of SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, Emollience Moisturizer, and Serum 10 upcoming.)

Availability: $34 USD/$39.50 CAD though dermatologist’s offices (see the SkinCeuticals site to find the one closest to you). Available online at SkinCeuticals, DermStore, SkinStore, and SkinCareRX!

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Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm review, photos, comparison

Friday, January 29, 2016

Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm review

The product: Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm

In the world of high-end lip balms, there are few names that are muttered as frequently or as reverently as Rêve de Miel. This dense, potted lip balm has been an iconic product for more than twenty years, and despite the hundreds of lip balms that have launched since then, it remains the go-to lip balm recommendation for many.

Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm

The formula: The Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm is scented with honey and grapefruit, and smells comforting without smelling sticky-sweet (as I find many honey-scented products do). But what makes it so special is its texture.

I expected this lip balm to be waxy and hard, like my other favourite potted lip balms, but I couldn’t have been farther off the mark. Instead, it’s soft but dense, almost like a bowl of frosting that contains too much icing sugar — it’s mouldable and not at all sticky.

Nuxe Reve de Miel review photos

Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm texture

The wear: This stuff is lovely. It lingers throughout the night, forming a thick, protective layer over your lips and doing a great job of keeping moisture in.

It’s also soft enough that you can use it to treat other dry areas of skin (Nuxe actually recommends it), but I haven’t given this a go — the formula is full of silicones, and I think it may be breaking me out as it is. (Since I started testing it, I’ve been getting a recurrent blemish juuuust along my hairline in the very spot that my lip balm finger touches my face when I brush my hair back. Nowhere else!)

Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm review texture comparison scent

The verdict?

It took me far too long to try this lip balm, but my opinion of it is clear: I’m a fan.

I am a fan, however, with reservations. If you’re sensitive to silicones, then I wouldn’t recommend this one for you; likewise, if you’re on a budget, I would try a different potted lip balm. This one preforms on par with or just slightly under the Osmia Organics and Bobbi Brown lip balms that I love, but due to its super-soft texture, a $17 pot won’t last you nearly as long.

However: that soft texture, created undoubtedly by waxes and oils suspended in silicones, is exactly why I would recommend this one as my #1 lip balm for dryness in combination with ageing skin. Its formula has virtually no drag, unlike the others that I have listed above, and will be far more gentle on your lips and lip contour area — a definite plus for many!

Availability: $19 USD/$17 CAD (!) at Shopper’s Drug Mart, Scarlet & Julia, Target (US), and Birchbox (US/Canada).

Keep reading! »

Fountain The Super Green, Hyaluronic Molecule review & photos

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Fountain The Hyaluronic Molecule beauty supplement review

The products: Deciem Fountain 02 The Hyaluronic Molecule, 03 The Super Green Molecule

One of my resolutions for 2016 was to cover more indie brands & weird beauty finds, so today, I thought I’d talk about Deciem’s super-cool liquid supplements.

Beauty drinks aren’t a big thing here in North America, but they’re all over the place in Asia. You can take everything from collagen to sheep placenta (yes, really) in capsule, liquid, or even jelly form, and they’re all designed to make you prettier/plumper/smoother/etc. from the inside out.

Deciem’s Fountain range contains everything from Vitamin B12 to resveratrol, and all of the supplements are sweetened with xylitol, so you don’t have to worry about adding sugary syrups to your morning juice or water! (I push Xyla candy like they’re drugs. Cheap drugs. Drugs that are good for your teeth).

Fountain The Hyaluronic Molecule review

The Hyaluronic Molecule ($38 CAD)

The first “molecule” that I tried was the brand’s Hyaluronic Molecule, and honestly, it was a weird experience. It’s really thick and viscous, like slime or phlegm or (according to my cousin) semen, which is a texture that you don’t want to see in a product ever.

Texture aside (once diluted with a full glass of water or juice, you honestly don’t notice it at all), this stuff is pretty darn cool. It contains the only water-soluble, bioavailable hyaluronic acid supplement on the market, and it contains a lot of it: 130mg per serving, which is actually why it’s so goopy.

Deciem Fountain The Hyaluronic Molecule review

“With tequila” is probably not how the Fountain supplements were designed to be taken.

The Hyaluronic Molecule is also vegan-friendly and cruelty-free, and it’s said to make your skin softer and smoother, keep your joints mobile, and (again: yes, really) keep your eyes lubricated. Like any other supplement, though, I can’t say for sure if it’s really working, but I do like it. I know that it should be working, and I like the subtle ginger flavour, and that’s enough for me.

(If ginger isn’t your thing, Deciem also make a Fountain 10X Hyaluronic Molecule ($60 CAD), which is Jasmine Silver Tea flavoured!)

Deciem Fountain The Super Green Molecule review

The Super Green Molecule ($28 CAD)

I’m currently taking The Super Green Molecule on days that I don’t eat my veggies (which, for the record, is totally not recommended by Deciem/Fountain), and I am loving this one.

The Super Green Molecule is very liquidy, very green, and kiwi flavoured. The deep green colour of this stuff makes me feel so healthy when I take it, and I know it’s no substitute for actual vegetables, but it’s better than nothing, okay? I mean, a single teaspoon of this stuff contains as much chlorophyll as SIX bowls of dark, organic leafy greens.

This Fountain of Youth supplement is also enriched with vitamins and minerals from sea kelp, and all of that colour comes from alfalfa-derived sodium copper chlorophyllin, which is a readily bioavailable form of chlorophyll that green gurus love for its ability to control body odour, help your body process out toxins, fight off yeast infections, and promote healthy iron levels.

Plus, I mean, The Super Green is super tasty.

Fountain The Super Green Molecule review

The verdict?

You can never be sure what you’re actually getting when it comes to holistic products, but if I had to pick a cosmetic company that I trusted not to trick me into eating ants, it would be Deciem. They didn’t cut corners on these guys one bit, and it really shows: The Hyaluronic Molecule is literally full of so much bioavailable hyaluronic acid that it’s noticeably thick, and The Super Green Molecule is full of so much chlorophyllin that it’ll stain your tongue if you don’t dilute it first.

I’m not recommending these as a food or drug, but as a cosmetic adjunct to your routine, they’re quite nice. I say start with The Super Green Molecule and go from there!

Availability: $28 CAD & up at Fountain.co, which uses Deciem’s universal shopping cart (so you can buy your Hylamide at the same time!) and ships for FREE worldwide.

Keep reading! »

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