Marcelle Pink Lace, Berry Blossom, Show of Pink review, swatches, photos & more | Fall 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

Marcelle fall 2016 collecdtion review

The products: Marcelle Fall 2016 collection – Rouge Xpression Lipstick in 840 Pink Lace, 875 Berry Blossom, and 960 Show of Pink; Ultimate Easy Lash and Ultimate Fringe Effect Mascaras; and Face Powder in Translucent Medium

Have you ever looked at a makeup collection and thought, “Okay, this is me. They made this collection for me? Because that’s exactly how I feel about Marcelle’s fall collection this year.

The collection contains a new Flawless foundation and concealer that, unfortunately, I won’t be able to cover because they contain silicones, but I am all about this collection aside from that. It features three really wearable lipsticks, a couple of mascaras, and my favourite face powder ever, so I knew the second I saw it that I was going to be a fan.

Marcelle rouge xpression 2016 review photos swatches

The Rouge Xpression lipsticks

Three new Rouge Xpression Lipsticks ($11.95 CAD each) are being launched this August from Marcelle, and though the Rouge Xpressions aren’t my favourite Marcelle lipstick formula (give me Rouge Vitality or give me death!!!!), I still quite like them.

The Rouge Xpression lipsticks are creamier and more slick than the Rouge Vitality lipsticks, and they feature a fragrance-free, paraben-free, cruelty-free formula with omega 6 fatty acid-rich avocado oil.

I’ve been getting the most wear out of Pink Lace, a really wearable pink-nude that’s just a shade lighter than my natural lip colour, but the cool pink Berry Blossom and coral-pink Show of Pink are lovely options for bolder shades. I don’t know – I’ve been feeling the muted lip pretty hard recently. Maybe it’s all the 15 degree days we’ve been having this August.

Marcelle Rouge Xpression pink lace, berry blossom, show of pink swatches review photos

Marcelle Rouge Xpression Lipstick swatches: 840 Pink Lace, 875 Berry Blossom, and 960 Show of Pink

Marcelle Pink Lace nude lipstick review swatches photos

Marcelle Pink Lace – a really easy, wearable nude lip

The mascaras

I’m too busy trying out all of the new Annabelle mascaras to test these right now (more on that soon), but I love that they released two separate Ultimate mascaras. Mascara is one of those products that’s really subjective, so it’s cool that they’re recognizing right out of the gate that some people are going to prefer an easy everyday lash while others will want that full-on fringe.

Marcelle Ultimate Fringe Effect mascara review

Marcelle Ultimate Easy Lash mascara review

A good eyeliner is a good eyeliner across the board, but what constitutes the perfect mascara could be either a really natural looking lash, like in the Marcelle Ultimate Easy Lash ($9.95 CAD), or something with as much volume and length as humanly possible, like in the Marcelle Ultimate Fringe Effect ($12.95 CAD).

The ingredients listed online are the same for both, so I’m guessing that these two mascaras feature the same formula with a different brush (à la Eyeko). The Easy Lash mascara has a traditional bristled brush with short bristles on one side and long bristles on the other, while the Ultimate Fringe mascara has a springy, flexible silicone brush with short bristles all around.

Marcelle translucent medium face powder review

The face powder

Marcelle’s loose face powder got a black-and-clear makeover a couple years back (the original featured a white lid), and seeing it being re-promoted to bloggers makes me happy beyond words. I LOVE Marcelle’s Face Powder ($14.95 CAD), and I can’t even begin to tell you how many other makeup lovers I’ve converted over the years.

It’s just so good, you know? It looks totally natural and has a transparent “skin” finish, but it instantly makes your skin look better than normal. Whether you’re trying to make your base product look more like skin or you’re just trying to make your own skin look totally flawless, this stuff just magically makes it happen.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Tunakitten may not know what pants are, but he still knows what’s cool. 

It lasts forever, too – I’ve had my jar of Translucent for half a decade and have spilled huge amounts of it twice, but it’s still half full. For $14.95, it’s a crazy good deal.

(My only complaint? The new packaging is really squeaky, and it makes the experience of using it way less luxurious. I wish you would go back to your old factory, Marcelle!)

Collection availability: Marcelle is available online (US/Can) and in drugstores and mass market retailers across Canada.

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Diptyque Face Oil, Jason Wu x Caudalie, and more: New 27/08/16 | Steals & Deals with Groupon

Saturday, August 27, 2016

sponsored post

Okay, so here’s the thing. You know Groupon? I’ve been using their site for years*, and I recently found out that they do more than just coupons for in-store deals. They emailed me a couple weeks back and asked me to check out their site, and like… did you guys know that they have pages for web coupons, too? Because they do, and it’s awesome.

The Groupon Coupon pages have everything from % off deals to free shipping, and they have them for all sorts of sites – Nordstrom, Namecheap, even Ebay. Literally everything in the box above comes from a Groupon Coupon site. (In other words: ALL THE MAKEUPS.)

If you do a lot of online shopping, they’re worth checking out!

Sunday Riley calrifying face oil

*Okay, technically my mother has been compulsively using their site for years and the rest of us are just getting sucked into the vortex, but it’s lead to a surprisingly affordable Marble Slab addiction for all of us, so I’m cool with it. 

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer review, swatches, photos SX02, SX05 | Silicone-free beauty

Friday, August 26, 2016

Kevyn Aucoin SX02 review photos swatches

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer review – SX02

The product: Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in SX02 and SX05

I’ve raved about the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer (known to makeup addicts simply as Kevyn Aucoin’s SSE) for ages, but I realized the other day that I still hadn’t posted a review of it!

So, without further adieu, here is not only a review, but also a comparison, some swatches, and a blending guide. For anyone out there still seeking their perfect silicone-free foundation, I hope this is helpful!

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX05 review

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer review – SX05

The formula: The Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer formula is thick, creamy, and VERY pigmented. It’s packaged in a tiny plastic jar (which somehow manages to look luxe all the same), and it’s bigger on the inside. Sure, it’s a third of the size of the NARS foundation sitting on your countertop, but it’ll last you three times as long regardless.

SSE is notorious for being more pigmented than most concealers, so you need only a “rice grain” amount (paired with lots of blending) to cover your entire face. It can cover everything from dark circles to severe acne scarring, and it wears well without a need for reapplication. It’s like a tiny pot of really sophisticated photoshoot makeup.

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer before after SX02

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer before & after with SX02

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer silicone free foundation review packaging

The SSE formula seems to work well for most, but I do have some issues with it. For one, it’s heavily fragranced with a powdery scent; for another, it can catch on dry patches. I’ve moved away from using SSE in favour of the new Rodial Airbrush Make-Up, simply because of the way that the Sensual Skin Enhancer looks unnatural in areas where I have lines from dryness.

If you have normal, oily, or even well-primed dry skin, the Sensual Skin Enhancer formula should work well for you. However, if you have eczema or similar patchy-dry skin, be aware that this will emphasize it.

Kevyn Aucoin SSE SX02 SX05 swatches review comparison

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer swatches on my summer-tanned arm: SX02 (lightly/heavily), SX05 (lightly/heavily)

The shades: The Kevyn Aucoin SSE range carries far more shades than the comparable Rodial Airbrush line does, so while I think the Rodial formula is actually a bit better for dry skin, I would still recommend SSE for most. Rodial makes a meagre four shades, all very fair; Kevyn Aucoin makes 16.

I was initially matched to SX05, but it turned out to be a bit too dark for my preferences – it matches the perimeter of my face well, but I mostly wear foundation through my T-zone and under my eyes, where your skin is naturally lighter. I exchanged it for SX02 shortly thereafter, and it’s an excellent match.

SX02 is fair with clear winter undertones, while SX05 is light with beige undertones. The shades don’t ascend with any undertone demarcation, unfortunately, so both SX03 and SX04 are too golden/warm yellow for my olive skin.

Foundation mixing

silicone-free foundation blend

Silicone free foundation recommendation tinted moisturizer

How I wear it: I’m really into the ten-minute-face this year, so I mostly wear my SSE as a liquid foundation unless I have something big going on. It’s easy to apply without a mirror, and as long as my face isn’t having a flare-up of dry skin, it’s totally invisible.

Of course, I’m so lazy that I can no longer be bothered to mix my foundation every morning, so I mix up a batch at a time and put it into a tube. My current HG blend contains a dollop of SSE, a portion of moisturizer (Embryolisse in the winter or Aveeno Fresh Essentials Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 in the summer), a touch of pomegranate seed oil, and a fair amount of Deciem Hylamide SubQ Serum.

Kevyn Aucoin SSE review SX05 silicone free foundation ingredients

Kevyn Aucoin SSE review – SX05

The verdict?

If you’re searching for the perfect silicone-free foundation, the Kevyn Aucoin is my top recommendation for a cream product. (The Rodial shade range is laughably small, and my beloved Pür Minerals 4-in-1 is a pressed powder). Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer is an amazing concealer, foundation, and tinted moisturizer… you name it, it can do it. It’s expensive, but it’s such a flexible product that it’s worth it. 

Because the shades are so pigmented, however, it’s important to find a seamless match. If you can’t find your perfect match in real life, I’d recommend trying Tinder sampling it through Camera Ready Cosmetics (that’s what I did, and my $4.99 USD sample lasted me weeks), or even buying two shades to blend – it’s worth the investment.

Availability: $48 USD/$58 CAD at Sephora, Nordstrom (limited shades), and Space NK. In Edmonton, you can also find this at Lux Beauty Boutique.

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CalExotics Inspire Kegel Exerciser, Dilator Kit, Flickering Arouser reviews & giveaway!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

CalExotics Silicone Dilator Kit review

The products: CalExotics Inspire Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser, Silicone Dilator Kit, and Flickering Intimate Arouser

This spring, CalExotics released a range of products in collaboration with Living Beyond Breast Cancer. The range, labelled Inspire, aims to raise awareness of the sexual side effects of breast cancer treatments and includes products that are actually designed for those experiencing things like decreased libido and difficulties having sex, like breast massagers, vibrators, and “teasers”.

CalExotics didn’t just throw in on an awareness campaign; they actually designed and produced niche products to help specific individuals who may be struggling to have sex (but want to) to do so – and that’s pretty cool of them.

A portion of each sale goes to Living Beyond Breast Cancer (unfortunately, the exact figure or percentage is undisclosed,) and the prices range from $78.99 – $136.99 USD.

Updated 22/08/16: 5% of the proceeds from the CalExotics Inspire line are donated to LBBC! 

CalExotics Inspire Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser

Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser

The CalExotic Inspire Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser is a fairly standard product done well – but it has its flaws. I will start, however, with the good stuff.

It’s moderately strong with nice, rumbly vibrations (3 speeds, 7 patterns), a plush, waterproof silicone covering, and a squishy tip. It charges via USB and runs for 30 minutes on high/1.5 hours on low on a 2.5 hour charge. It has a long cord for easy retrieval and and makes a great clit vibrator, too.

CalExotics Inspire review Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser

CalExotics Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser review

However, I wasn’t able to get the full use out of this product. The remote that came with the product refuses to pair with it, and even without the remote, it has one big problem: it turns on, and I don’t mean intentionally. This little guy will start rumbling away like a jackhammer in the middle of the day when it’s charging; in the middle of the night when I’m sleeping; during dinner, when drilling sounds suddenly start emanating from the bedroom.

It is, to say the least, undesirable. My product may just be faulty, and I hope that it’s alone in this regard, because the vibrator itself is excellent (if a little short-lived).

Availability: $129.99 CAD at Well.ca, $99.99 CAD at PinkCherry.ca, and $79.99 USD at PinkCherry.com. (Free shipping on all 3 sites, plus an extra 30% off at PinkCherry right now with code DEAL30.)

CalExotics Inspire Flickering Intimate Arouser review, photos

Flickering Intimate Arouser

I have some pretty mixed feelings about the CalExotics Inspire Flickering Intimate Arouser. On one hand, it is a pretty darn unique product – similar, I’m guessing, to something like the Squeel, but definitely not something that I’ve ever seen before. It too is completely waterproof, and the useable portion of this toy is completely made from silicone, featuring a “tongue” that really does vibrate and flicker rapidly.

It is, however, HELLA LOUD. I did not know that sex toys could be this loud. It feels great and (for me) produces a very drawn-out, intense orgasm, but good lord, it sounds like a blender. On high, it is SO UNBELIEVABLY LOUD that if I’m watching or listening to something, I cannot make out the words.

(I tested this theory by parking the arouser next to a Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast, of course. Because reasons.)

If you’ve always wanted a flickering toy, then I suppose this is worth the investment – it’s pretty cool. But for most of you out there, I’m not recommending this one. It’s so clunky and so loud that it’s not even just an inconvenience; it’s an actual turn off.

Availability: $59.99 USD at PinkCherry.com

CalExotics Inspire Flickering Intimate Arouser review

CalExotics Inspire Silicone Dilator Kit review photos

Silicone Dilator Kit (and giveaway!) 

Aaand finally, we have the last Inspire item that I received for review – and it’s so good that CalExotics and I are giving a free set away to one reader! 

I have vestibulodynia (a condition that as many as 1 in 4 women experiences), so I’ve owned a number of dilator sets throughout my life so far. This one is by far my favourite. Unlike the cylindrical plastic sets of yesteryear, it contains five gently curved, slowly tapered dilators of 0.5″ to 1.25″ in diameter, and each one has a ring on the end rather than an awkward, popsicle-style handle.

CalExotics Silicone Dilator Kit review photos size CalExotics Silicone Dilator Kit giveaway review

Dilators are a pretty simple product, so I don’t think I really need to say more than that. These ones are really easy and comfortable to use, and while I don’t typically experience vestibulodynia symptoms anymore (thanks to feedback training, lidocaine, and my great OBGYN), I use them frequently to do internal stretches or warm up my muscles before sex. They make a big impact on how active my pelvic floor pain is, and I couldn’t recommend them more wholeheartedly.

So, if you want to win your very own set of Inspire Silicone Dilators, just enter using the widget below. While best used in conjunction with treatment from your gynecologist, they’re a great tool for anyone with pelvic floor pain, vestibulodynia, or even just anxiety about sex! 

Availability:$89.99 at Lovehoney (US/US/Can), $69.99 USD at PinkCherry.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CalExotics Silicone Dilator Kit review photos giveaway

This giveaway will be open to US & Canadian residents over 18 until 11:59 PM MST on August 31st, 2016. For full rules, please read the terms included in the widget above. 

Olio E Osso, Vice lipsticks, Wildfox perfume, and more… | New 12/08/16

Saturday, August 13, 2016

I have no idea what’s going on at Saint Laurent right now, but I’m totally enamoured with the idea of these chic Yves Saint Laurent Le Vestaire Des Parfums collection. These five scents (Tuxedo, Caban, Saharienne, Trench, and Caftan) bring couture to the boudoir with classically cut square-cut glass and jewel caps. 

And then there’s this… For some reason, I couldn’t put it into the widget, but how lovely does this sound? A perfume oil with notes of absinthe, incense, honeysuckle, jasmine, and musk. (Wildfox Perfume Oil, $49 USD).

Wildfox Perfume Oil

How to set your sponsored content rates | The business of blogging

Thursday, August 11, 2016

As a blogger, one of the hardest things to figure out is how much you should be charging for your content. Companies are often unwilling to pay bloggers unless they set their own rates, and in an industry that’s very closed-doors about how much everyone is charging, it can be difficult to figure out where your ballpark should even be (much less the exact figure that you want to aim for).

Earlier this year, I surveyed a number of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle bloggers to anonymously find out how much they were charging. Here are those results.

how much to charge for a sponsored post

Montly unique visits average beauty blog

Average monthly visitors for the blogs surveyed.

Background information

First off, if you missed the rest of my Business of Blogging series, you can view the first few posts here, or at the links below!

How to start a beauty blog (and what to expect once you do!)

How to monetize your blog, partner with brands, & more: The do’s and don’t of blogging

Additionally, I wanted to share a bit of information about the bloggers who took this survey before we begin. Most of the respondents were beauty bloggers (84%), and on average, they posted 2-3 times each week. 

The number of unique visits and page views that these blogs saw varied greatly, but they averaged 14 000 monthly unique visitors and 29 000 monthly page views. 63% of bloggers mostly waited to be approached by brands, and there was no significant difference noted in the rates secured by bloggers who took the initiative to approach brands.

making money blogging tips

Sponsored posts

For a single sponsored post, most bloggers are charging about $250. A further breakdown follows:

  • 100 000+ monthly visitors: $1200-$1800 per post. Average $1500.
  • 10 k to 90 k monthly visitors: $60-$500 per post. Average: $280.
    • Instagram: $15-200 per post. Average: $100.
  • 50 to 9000 monthly visitors: $10-400 per post. Average: $125.
    • Instagram: $24-$150 per post. Average: $45.

Within each of these tiers, much of the discrepancies can be explained by bloggers’ Instagram follower counts. With almost no exceptions, those with over 15k followers on Instagram were the ones commanding the upper range of each spectrum, and those with under 10k followers were charging the lower end of each.

Blog stats aside, here’s how everyone’s Instagram numbers broke down when examined on their own:

  • Under 3k followers: $15-$100 per post. Average $30.
  • 3k to 50k followers: $25-$400 per post. Average $125. *Note: this category’s data set was all over the place. Outliers aside, most bloggers in this category charge $100 per post. 

How to set a sponsored post rate instagram

Sponsored content rates vs monthly visitors

Sponsored post rates vs. unique monthly visits. Note: outliers were excluded from this scatter plot because frankly, the rest of the data looked like one big lump with them included. For the full range of the survey, please read the textual content of this post.

Blog sponsorships and banner ads

Far fewer bloggers offered blog sponsorships and banner ads than sponsored posts, but there were more than I had expected! 26% of bloggers offered sponsorships and 34% of bloggers offered banner ads, with sponsorship fees being consistently higher than banner ads.

  • Over 10 000 monthly visitors: Average sponsorships $300/month, ads $50/month.
  • Under 10 000 monthly visitors: Average sponsorships $100/month, ads $35/month.

Event coverage

For event coverage, most bloggers either charged nothing or charged around $200. 

Because only 20% of respondents included data for this section, I will not be drawing any additional conclusions.

email newsletters

how to charge for event coverage blogging guide

Overall conclusions & tips for getting a better rate

I’m hoping that these averages will help provide you with a starting block for how much you can be charging if a brand requests specific content or coverage from you, but they’re not at all a definitive guide.

One of the things that I learned while going through these rates was that nowadays, sponsored content rates are no longer only set by page views. Social media is a key determining factors in rate-setting, and a while a difference of 10k page views has no impact on a blogger’s rate at all, a difference of 10k Instagram followers can change the rate that they command by hundreds of dollars.

Sponsored post rates beauty blog

Instagram stats had the most significant impact on how much bloggers were able to charge, and Bloglovin’ stats seemed to have no influence at all. However, there was one big predictor for who saw the most visitors and those who made the most cash: the top five bloggers surveyed all posted daily or multiple times a day.

In conclusion? If you’re looking to make blogging a living, focus on growing your social stats – primarily Instagram and YouTube; not so much Facebook or Twitter. From there, stay honest, and make sure to update your blog daily if possible!

What are your tips for rate-setting and sponsored content? Leave your do’s and don’ts in the comments below!

Image sources: (1) (2

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