Micellar water reviews: Garnier, Bioderma Hydrabio & Sensibio, Marcelle 3 in 1

Friday, May 27, 2016

Micellar water review comparison bioderma garnier marcelle bubble

For those of you who don’t already know, micellar waters are water-like makeup removing solutions. They use hydrophilic/hydrophobic “micelles” to break down makeup with the power of an oil while still having the texture of water, and they’re… kind of fantastic.

Ever since trying the Marcelle 3 in 1 (formerly the Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Water), I’ve been smitten with micellar waters. They’re an awesome way to gently remove makeup with no silicones and no oily residue, and while they break down makeup as well as many bi-phase makeup removers, they don’t set tubing mascaras the way an oil will.

Nowadays, there are a ton of micellar waters on the market – so here’s a comparison of four of the best.

Bioderma Sensibio micellar water review

4. Bioderma Sensibio Make-up Removing Micelle Solution ($26.95 CAD/500ml) 

Sensibio is the mother of all micellar solutions. Invented in 1995, Sensibio/Créaline just celebrated its 20th anniversary – and one bottle is still sold every 3 seconds worldwide.

The Sensibio range is fragrance-free and designed for sensitive skin, and the micellar solution replaces your make-up remover and toner. But, as much as I love Sensibio, I think that 20 years of competition and new technologies can make a better product.

The packaging: Bioderma’s packaging is a classic, but the lids are very fragile and snap off if you open the circular top from the wrong angle. Bioderma is available in the widest range of sizes (100 ml to 1L, depending on your country.)

The product: While gentle and fragrance-free, I find that Sensibio is a little drying, especially in the eye area. Sensibio is the least effective makeup remover of these 4.

The price: $26 CAD per 500 ml

Marcelle 3 in 1 micellar water review

3. Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution ($19.95 CAD/300 ml) 

The Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution was my first cleansing oil, so it has a special place in my heart. It’s Canadian, it’s fragrance-free, and it comes in awesome packaging. 

The packaging: The best of the bunch! The 3 in 1 comes in a sturdy flip-top push dispenser. However, it only comes in the one size, and there is no open-cap version available for q-tip dipping.

The product: More effective than Sensibio, but slightly more astringent.

The price: $33.25 CAD/500 ml

Garnier Micellar Water SkinActive review

2. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water ($8.97/400 ml)

Garnier’s SkinActive micellar waters (also available in blue/waterproof) are the newest micellar waters on the block, and I’ve gotta give it to ’em: they’re really not bad!

The packaging: Sturdy lid & slim bottle. However, the SkinActive line is a blatant ripoff of Bioderma, which is a big turn-off for me.

The product: The SkinActive Micellar Water is more effective than Bioderma Sensibio and less drying than Marcelle’s. It feels slightly more “soapy” than either of the two.

The price: $11.21 CAD/500 ml

Bioderma Hydrabio micellar water review

1. Bioderma Hydrabio Moisturizing Micelle Solution ($24.90/500 ml)

Hydrabio is Bioderma’s newest micellar water, and it is by far my favourite of the line. It’s optimized for dehydrated/dry, sensitive skin, and for my fragile, dry skin, it is the most gentle of the bunch. 

It’s very fragranced, however (it smells kind of moisturize-y floral), so it’s best for sensitive-fragile skin, not sensitive-“allergies galore!” skin.

The packaging: Fragile lid & wide volume range (see above).

The product: The most gentle AND the most effective of these four. It’s a little more “slippery” feeling, but it completely melts away even my waterproof gel eyeliners. (This is the #1 micellar water in Canada!)

The price: $24.90/500 ml

Bioderma sensibio vs hydrabio sensitive skin review comparison

The verdict?

While I would prefer it without the fragrance, I find Bioderma’s Hydrabio micellar water to be both the most gentle and the most effective micellar water in drugstores right now. However, all four of them are honestly very good – good enough that you should never have to return to non-micellar makeup removers ever again!

There are still a handful of micellar waters that I have yet to try, though, and I would love to hear your thoughts on them. Hit me up in the comments to rave about your favourite micellar water!! 

Additional photos & more »

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!

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.

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer swatches, review, photos | Currently obsessed with…

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Marcelle lip lacquer review

The product: Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer in 15 Universal Nude, 25 Bashful Pink, 33 Bubblegum Pink, 68 Uptown Pink, 72 Summer Flame, 82 Ruby Rose, and 95 Scarlette

Fact one: I did not like the Annabelle Big Show Lip Lacquers.

Fact two: I was not prepared to like their sister product, the Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquers.

Fact three: I like the Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquers so much that I kind of want to cry.

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer review

The formula & feel: I think that the shade range of the Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquers is literally perfect, so when I say that the formula is even better — well, I really, really mean it.

These lip lacquers feel like the most perfect lipgloss you’ll ever put on. They’re creamy, lightweight, and comfortable, with zero grit and a non-sticky finish. They’re not oily and they don’t slide around on my lips, and they’re nicely hydrating, too.

There’s also no added fragrance or flavour to the formula, which means that, for once (for once!) I can’t find a single thing that I would change about these lip colours.

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush lacquer swatches review

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer swatches (entire range)

The shades: Literally every single one of these shades is absolutely beautiful, and somehow, ALL of them look good on me. But if I had to pick favourites, I’d say that I love Bashful Pink (a beautiful, mauvy MLBB-style nude), Ruby Rose (which is almost as hot as Ruby Rose), and the fluorescent Uptown Pink the most.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you guys an adequate breakdown of all of the shades, so here goes nothing!

Marcelle Colour rush lipgloss review swatches

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer swatches, L-R: Universal Nude, Bashful Pink, Bubblegum Pink, Uptown Pink, Summer Flame, Ruby Rose, and Scarlette

15 Universal Nude is a warm, peachy nude. (I think Light Nude or Warm Apricot would have been better options for names, though — there’s really no such thing as a lip product that’ll look nude on both an NC15 and an NW55!) 25 Bashful Pink is a beautifully wearable mauvy pink. It’s almost the same colour as my lips, and makes a wonderful MLBB shade for fair skintones! 33 Bubblegum Pink is a little “milky” and streaky, but really is a lovely bubblegum shade. 

68 Uptown Pink is a fluorescent fuchsia that swatches, for some reason, very differently from the rest of these colours; because it is so bright, it’s almost like it has a cooler lipstain base with a slightly warmer cream gloss finish. In the tube, it reminds me of Beauté Cosmetics Flouron, for those who know it–are those stains still a thing anymore, by the way?

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer swatches, review

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer swatches, L-R: Universal Nude, Bashful Pink, Bubblegum Pink, Uptown Pink, Summer Flame, Ruby Rose, and Scarlette

72 Summer Flame is a beautiful, wearable dark pink with incredibly fine (almost invisible!) microshimmer; it and Ruby Rose are both just wonderful, brightening, easy-to-wear pink lip shades. 82 Ruby Rose is surprisingly similar to Summer Flame when applied to pigmented lips, but it’s cooler, a hair darker, and totally shimmer-free.

Finally, 95 Scarlette is just an absolutely beautiful red. It’s flattering, brightening, and so much more comfortable than most high-maintenance reds!

Marcelle Colour Rush gloss lipstick review swatches

The verdict?

The Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquers are everything–and I mean everything–that I could possibly want in a lip product. They’re comfortable and unscented, with an absolutely beautiful shade range, and the ways in which they’re different from their Annabelle counterparts make them the perfect fit for my preferences.

The Coles Notes version? If you like your lip products punchy and metallic, go with the Annabelle Big Show Lip Lacquers that I reviewed last month. But if you like them creamy and effortless (and scent-free!), then stock up on these Marcelle Lux Lip Lacquers ASAP.

Availability: $11.95 CAD at Marcelle.com and in drugstores and mass retailers across Canada. Cruelty-free & permanent.

Keep reading for pictures of the entire range »

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Toner & Foam Face Cleanser review, photos

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fresh Peony collection review

The product: Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Face Cleanser, Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner, and Peony Brightening Moisture Face Cream

Fresh recently added three new products to their Peony Brightening range, and even though I’m not always into brightening products, I love these.

I don’t really believe in the brightening powers of peony (it’s only ever been “proven” to work in petri dishes), and I highly doubt that peony/mushroom/etc-based products truly brighten. That being said, a great brightening range will also make your skin seem brighter by leaving it clean, fresh, and well-hydrated–and the Fresh Peony Brightening range definitely delivers on that kind of brightening.

Fresh Brightening Peony collection review

The ingredients: The range is formulated with Chinese tree peony extract, Madonna lilly root extract, and vitamin C glucoside, and each product has an additional star ingredient: shea seedcake extract (an antioxidant) in the cleanser and moisturizer, and sodium hyaluronate (to act as an to help the skin retain moisture) in the toner and moisturizer.

Unfortunately, the Fresh Peony Brightening Moisture Face Cream ($72 USDcontains silicones, but the new cleanser and toner are ‘cone-free!

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisture face cream review

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisture Face Cream

Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Face Cleanser ($42 USD/$49 CAD)

I tried out the Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Face Cleanser ($42 USD/$49 CADexpecting to enjoy it, and it totally exceeded my expectations.

It’s a super-thick foam formula that’s honestly kind of hard to squeeze out of the tube, but it’s really luxurious — the packaging is gorgeous, and the foam applies kind of like a traditional shaving cream, or a face mask. (Or like fancy glue.) It feels like a ritual sort of product, and the sweet, soft, floral scent of the Peony Brightening range only compounds on this luxe kind of feeling.

Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Cleanser review

I don’t think I love this one enough that I’ll be rebuying it (my skin’s too dry to use something that foams on a daily basis), but I definitely love it enough that I’m not sharing. A’s gonna have to earn this level of pampering if he wants to touch my Peony cleanser!

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner ($60 USD/$70 CAD)

Conversely, I tried out the Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner ($60 USD/$70 CAD) expecting it to be a flop — but I actually like it even more than the cleanser.

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing toner review

The Fresh Peony toner is, in a word, phenomenal. It’s softly scented and absorbs quickly, and its glycerine-based formula leaves my skin feeling moisturized, velvety, and plush, but never sticky.

I know that this one is a huuuuge stretch for most budgets, but it’s honestly the best-performing toner/lotion-type product that I have ever tried for dry skin. It acts more like a really excellent beauty essence than a toner, and while I’m doubtful that it’ll be brightening in the long term, it’s just beyond lovely.

I can even skip my hydrating serum on days that I use this toner (which is something that I never do), so even though it’s priced at a luxury price point, it’s kind of like spending $70 on a serum, not a toner. Which… seems more reasonable, right?

Fresh skincare picks Peony

The verdict?

If you haven’t checked out the Fresh Peony Brightening range yet, I have two words for you: DO IT. 

I’m not sold on the range’s brightening abilities, but these three products are fantastic nonetheless. The moisturizer has a really lovely texture and scent; the cleanser feels literally like it belongs in a high-end spa; and the toner acts more like a liquid serum that’ll soften and balance your dry skin every morning and night.

There are actually quite a few products in the Fresh Peony range now, and if the rest are anything like these, they would make a fantastic Mother’s Day treat for this time of the year!

Availability: New permanent products as of April 2016. Find them online at Fresh and soon at Sephora.

Keep reading! »

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