L’Occitane Mer & Mitstral review, photos: the perfect gift for him (or her!)

Friday, December 5, 2014

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral Eau de Toilette review photos

The product: L’Occitane Mer & Mistral Eau de Toilette (La Collection de Grasse)

So, it’s a pretty well-known fact that I’m obsessed with the L’Occitane La Collection de Grasse – but did you know that there’s a unisex scent in the line, too? And, as a cologne lover, I am all over it.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral review

Behind the scent: I usually like my unisex scents a little more masculine (you know: woods, amber, pepper), and this one certainly isn’t — but it’s still a complete stunner. More department store than, say, Vanille & Narcisse, Mer et Mistral is a proper sparkling aquatic: it smells shimmery and extremely fresh, with bright citrus notes paired with pine and sea salt. 

The name “Mer et Mistral” means sea and wind — specifically, the extremely fast, turbulent winds in southern France blowing north into the Mediterranean Gulf of Lion. The mistral wind controls the climate of Grasse and plays a huge part in Provençal culture, dictating everything from how bell towers are built (open iron frameworks, so the wind can pass through) to the direction that homes face (south, with their backs to the wind).

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral photos review EdT

The notes & wear: A little [too] sharp at first spritz, Mer & Mistral features top notes of lemon and mandarin, heart notes of pine, cypress, and rosemary, and base notes of cedar, white amber, and musk.

The top notes fade pretty quickly, and 20 minutes later, the scent really settles in — it gets a lot more pine-y and less sparkling close to the skin, but retains its aquatic nature in the sillage. The herby accords really come out to play not long after, and the scent just transformsOnce you get past the run-of-the-mill opening, the rosemary makes this scent almost… aquatic-foody. Which sounds super gross, I know, but think of it more like this: lemon balm and pine, herbs in a mortar and pestle, and a cabin next to a rough sea.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral unisex fragrance review photos

The bottle: While the scent of Mer & Mistral is wonderfully bright and complex, the bottle is even better. With a blue lacquered base, this glass bottle takes on a mesmerizing, watery look — the blue comes and goes depending on what angle you look at it from, like the sea as it’s pushed and pulled by the wind.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral packaging review bottle

The verdict?

I like things that match. I just… do. I like the visual coherency, and I like rotating between fragrances that have a similar thread that weaves through all of them.

If you’re a lover of La Collection de Grasse, do yourself a favour this season and get your guy (or girl) a bottle of Mer & Mistral. Not only will it look beautiful on the dresser next to your collection, but L’Occitane’s in-house perfumer Karine Dubreuil will make sure the two of you smell great next to each other, too.

Availability: $75 CAD at L’Occitane boutiques and online.

Keep reading! »

Osmia Organics Milky Rose Soap review, photos + 15% off with free shipping!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Osmia Milky Rose review packaging

The product: Osmia Organics Milky Rose Soap

…also known as the perfect gift. Forgot about a Christmas party that you need a hostess gift for? Osmia Milky Rose. Got a mom that’s crazy hard to buy for? Osmia Milky Rose! Spent the whole year working so hard that you forgot to get yourself something this holiday season? Osmia Milky Rose. 

(Or a vacation. If you have not taken a vacation all year, you should probably get yourself one of those, too. Pronto.)

Osmia Milky Rose review

The formula: Like the Oh So Soap that M shared with you last week, Milky Rose is made from a base of saponified oils/butters and buttermilk powder, which make it both super gentle and thoroughly cleansing. It leaves my skin feeling squeaky-smooth, which is kind of like squeaky-clean, except without the stripping, drying half of the equation.

I usually use Dove’s Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar, which leaves my skin feeling a little less squeaky than Milky Rose, but isn’t actually any more moisturizing. The big pull for Milky Rose, however, is that Osmia products never seem to get mushy the way drugstore bar soap does. (You know how it is; you find a great bar soap and five uses in, it’s half gooey-mush-puddle. As far as I’ve seen, Osmia’s bars are quite literally made of sterner firmer stuff than that.)

Osmia soap review - Milky Rose

The look and feel: Most natural soap bars are 3-4 oz, but Osmia’s clocks in at a hefty 5.5 oz — and a whopping 6 oz for their wavy-topped bars. They’re quite stiff, and get quite slick (not soft!) in the shower.

Milky Rose comes topped with organic rose petals and is blended with bitter orange and palmarosa essential oils, and it smells very fleetingly herb-y. Osmia says that this bar “feels like a serious splurge – luxurious, elegant, and so moisturizing,” and I have to tell you — I agree with them on all three counts.

I would, however, totally love to see Milky Rose change into a wavy-topped bar, like many of Osmia’s other soaps. They’re so pretty.

Osmia Milky Rose soap, Sunset body oil

The verdict?

Yes, yes, yes! I know that $12 ($10 today) is a lot to pay for one bar of soap, but if you want something small to “splurge” on (is $12 even a splurge??), get this soap. It feels utterly luxurious, works really well on dry skin, and makes an absolutely beautiful gift year-round.

And, in case you need any more convincing, it’s also cruelty-free, 15% off, and a great way to support a small businesses! Buying it practically makes you a saint. :P

Availability: $12 USD at Osmia Organics, but the entire site is 15% off with free shipping in the US for their holiday sale, so today it’s only $10.50! (And when you buy it, make sure you pick up Sunset, too — it’s generously perfumed with one of my favourite scents ever.)

Additional photos & more »

Black Friday (& Cyber Monday) in the beauty world

Friday, November 28, 2014

First things first: Don’t forget about cash back!

Whether you’re shopping in the US or Canada, make sure to sign up for a cash back program before shopping — they’ll send you x% of the value of your order back to you in the form of a cheque, which is just like getting that much extra off of your sale prices! Sign up for Ebates in the US or Ebates.ca in Canada for…

  • US: 10% cash back at Lancôme, 8% cash back at Ulta, Bloomingdale’s, The Body Shop, and Sephora; 6% cash back at Nordstrom and Bobbi Brown.
  • Canada: A whopping 20% cash back at Shop.ca, 8% cash back at Bobbi Brown, 7.5% cash back at Marcelle, 7% cash back at Clinique, 6% cash back at The Body Shop and Paula’s Choice, 5% cash back at NARS, Lancôme, and Clarins, and 4% cash back at Sephora and Shu Uemura.

shu uemura black friday sale

A quick list of sales you don’t want to miss…

  • Aerie: 40% off + free shipping with code GOBBLEUP
  • Annabelle: 40% off + free shipping over $25
  • Anthropologiesite-wide sale
  • Asos (US): 30% off with the code TGIBF
  • BeautyBar$15 off $75, $35 off $150, and $65 off $250 until Dec 9th with code BBCYBER14
  • BeautyBridge: 20% off site wide
  • Banana Republic (US): 50% off 1 full-priced item with code BRFIFTY, 40% off sitewide with code BRFORTY
  • Banana Republic (CA)50% off 1 full-priced item with code BRCFIFTY; 40% off sitewide with code BRCFORTY

Banana Republic sale black friday

  • Dynamite: 40% off all orders + free shipping until the 30th, plus get a free $25 cash card with every $50 purchase. (Returns are free to any Dynamite store if they don’t fit, which I love!)
  • Gap50% off sitewide with code GAPBFRIDAY
  • Nordstrom: Items at 40% off throughout the site, plus Black Friday beauty deals and Cyber Monday beauty gifts with purchase.
  • Marcelle40% off + free shipping over $25
  • Pretty Indulgent: 15% off with code thanks15 (that includes BPAL!)
  • Urban Outfitters: Extra 25% off sale items.
  • SheVibe: 10% off $75+ with TURKEY10, 15% off $100+ with TURKEY15, and 20% off $125+ with TURKEY2o. Go get yourself a MiMi Soft on sale with free shipping!
  • Shu Uemura20% off and free shipping over $75; 25% off and free shipping over $125.

From Sephora: Fragrance minis and $10 steals

Sephora Black Friday sale

Along with $10 USD/$12 CAD beauty deals from the 28th to 30th (online and in-store), use code SCENTMINI to get a free miniature bottle of one of six scents with orders over $25 USD/$25 CAD. Or, use code PARTYPACK for 11 sample sachets in a free Sephora bag of your choice, SEASONSET for eight sachets and minis in a bag (choose 1 of 3 sets), or TRYOIL to get a free mini size of Fresh’s Seaberry Oil, Boscia’s Cleansing Oil-Gel, or Josie Maran’s Light Argan Oil.

{ Shop Sephora’s Black Friday sale here, their regular sale section here, and see the rest of their deals here. }

From The Body Shop: Deals Galore

The Body Shop black friday deal

No one does holiday sales like The Body Shop, so from the 28th until the 30th, almost everything is 3 for $33, 4 for $44, and 5 for $55 and their special Black Friday Tote Bag is $30 ($125 value) with orders over $30. I will update this post on Monday to let you know about their fantastic Cyber Monday sale, too!

For Cyber Monday, The Body Shop is doing 50% off site-wide, plus free shipping over $40 CAD! Sale starts at 6:30 am ET.

{ Shop the sale here. }

My favourites from the brand: Honestly, I haven’t tried a lot from their current line. I love their Satsuma fragrance, though, (who doesn’t?) and am really curious about their Vitamin E Serum-In-Oil! Along with the serum, their hair butters and new Body Sorbets are notably silicone-free.

Keep reading! »

Osmia Organics Oh So Soap & Tea Bath review, photos | The boy reviews!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

SONY DSC

The product: Osmia Organics Oh So Soap and Organic Tea Bath

Today on theNotice, I have a very special surprise for you, dear reader: a review by M. I really wanted to highlight a few products for eczema and psoriasis (Mathew has the latter) this winter, and as someone who hates baths–his words, not mine, though true–I thought you guys might enjoy someone else’s perspective on things for a change.

So, I hope you enjoy this post, and I hope you like the pretty pictures! (How good is that tea bath one??!)

Osmia Organics Organic Tea Bath review

The Osmia Organic Tea Bath ($45 USD)

The Organic Tea Bath comes pre-portioned in six satisfyingly large cloth tea bags with cotton drawstrings. The tea’s scent is subtle and bright; sharp spearmint notes are balanced by sweet chamomile while dry. Add hot water to reveal a strong citrus element, most likely from the orange peel. The combination is pleasing, if a touch mild. The Organic Tea Bath’s scent is without the usual synthetic sheen I have come to associate with bath products, and for this, I am grateful. [ R: Oops. That's probably because I keep giving him LUSH to try. ]

When “steeped”, the bags turn the water a surprisingly opaque chamomile yellow. (I recommend holding each tea bag under the faucet as you draw your bath for best results.) After bathing, I find that the tea leaves my skin feeling much softer and less dry than it generally would be, especially if I’m in the tub for a while — but though the tea bath is very soothing while I’m in the bath, the results don’t translate into the next day. That said, these are great for anyone who enjoys a cozy winter bath but might be too lazy to moisturize after, or anyone who takes ludicrously long baths like me but doesn’t want to dry out!

–their skin. Who doesn’t want to dry out their skin.

Osmia Organics Tea Bath review sachet photo

Osmia Organics Organic Tea Bath

Does it work? Though tea (especially herbal tea) is usually steeped at much higher temperatures than is appropriate for a bath, the organic ingredients used here–like rose, calendula, and bitter orange–are paired with tried-and-true remedies for dry skin, including epsom salt and rolled oats. Each bag is good for 1-2 soothing baths (3 is stretching it), but I found the process of drying out the large sachets to be rather difficult. Those worried about cleanliness can rest easy knowing that this tea bath left only a very fine film in the tub, which rinsed out easily after use.

Osmia Organics’ Oh So Soap ($12 USD)

Osmia Organics Oh So Soap review

Osmia’s Oh So Soap has been a wonderful surprise. The elegance of the bar’s woven top is reflected in its ingredient list, which contains only saponified organic oils and butters, African pearl salt, and buttermilk powder. This velvety soap would suit the most sensitive of the sensitive, yet it still leaves you feeling clean. It’s great both on the face and body, and is unlikely to offend anyone as it contains no fragrance or essential oils.

Overall, I found Oh So Soap to be far less drying than regular bar soap, and I really liked how gentle it was. It never left my skin feeling dry or squeaky-clean, but rather like it had been magically cleaned without any soap at all. Hands down, it is the best soap I have ever used.

Osmia Organics Oh So Soap gentle dry skin review

M’s verdict?

While neither of these products made a distinct improvement on my psoriasis, I can say that they were a pleasure to use, especially in the winter. On the whole, they were very gentle on sensitive skin, and far less stripping than other soaps and bath products I have used in the past — both in the bath and coming out of it.

The Oh So Soap in particular was especially luscious, and delightfully simple — I would definitely recommend it, especially if you have very delicate or dry skin. (It is also, as Osmia Organics so succinctly puts it, “perfect for babies, even fresh ones.”)

Availability: $12 USD-$45 USD at Osmia Organics.

Annabelle Lipsies review, swatches, photos (Holiday 2014)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Annabelle Lipsies review swatches - tinted lip balm

The product: Annabelle Lipsies Lip Balm (Holiday 2014 edition)

  ↳in Roasted Marshmallow, Yummy Gingerbread, Flirty Candy cane, Grandma’s Peppermint, Cinnamon Candy, and Hot Chocolate

So, you guys know how much I love jumbo lip pencils, right? (Right). Well — Annabelle Cosmetics has come out with a limited-edition range of six for the holiday season, and they smell amazing.

Annabelle Lipsies Holiday 2014 winter review

The formula and wear: I get 2-3 hours of comfortable, moisturizing wear out of these (more moisturizing than a Chubby Stick; less moisturizing than an eos sphere), with clear to medium coverage depending on the shade. They have a soft-shiny finish, and all five shades are quite understated.

The packaging (retractable!) and overall aesthetic makes them a lot less, uh, luxe than most jumbo pencils, but I think they’d make amazing stocking stuffers — especially for a pre-teen or teenager just getting into makeup. (Or a makeup addict who doesn’t take her stash too seriously!)

Annabelle Cinnamon Candy Lipsies review swatches

Each Lipsies balm comes adorned with a cartoon drawing of their scent!

The shades and scents

Roasted Marshmallow is clear with a bit of super-fine, glossy-looking sparkle and a fruity scent — weird, considering its name, but delicious. Yummy Gingerbread is an almost-clear peach shade, and it smells like sugared cereal in milk (or an Urban Decay Rocket Lipgloss; those things were equally gross.)

Flirty Candy Cane is a sheer milky pink with a white frost finish–which makes it look more pigmented in this swatch than it really is–and again, it smells quite fruity. It’s a more standard fruit scent than Roasted Marshmallow, and a tiny bit sweeter, but both are mouthwatering. Grandma’s Peppermint is a pretty, universal sheer pink that smells like peppermint tea rather than your standard minty lip balm, and is the glossiest of the bunch.

Cinnamon Candy is by far the highlight of the group, and smells exactly like cinnamon hearts — but without the burn. It’s a new-to-me lip product scent, with a warm-red tint that sinks in to look like a stain after 15 minutes. Finally, Hot Chocolate smells like your typical chocolate-scented drugstore product, and both it and Cinnamon Candy have good pigmentation – more than Fresh or Clinique tinted balms, and I’d recommend using a mirror to apply.

Annabelle Lipsies swatches - cinnamon, gingerbread, peppermint, chocolate, candy cane, marshmallow

Annabelle Lipsies swatches: Roasted Marshmallow, Yummy Gingerbread, Flirty Candy Cane, Grandma’s Peppermint, Cinnamon Candy, Hot Chocolate

The verdict?

These ones aren’t available online, but if you can pick them up in-store, do it!! They’re a lot of fun, and at $4.95 CAD, they’re a really good price — for yourself or as a gift.

Must-have: Cinnamon Candyespecially if you look best in warmer reds! And Grandma’s Peppermint, if you love peppermint tea — this scent is spot-on. (The shade’s really pretty, too.)

Nice-to-have: Roasted Marshmallow and Flirty Candy Cane – the shimmer in both is very fine, and both are inoffensively fruity. If colour is of no consequence to you, I say go for the marshmallow.

Skip: Yummy Gingerbread and Hot Chocolate. They’re pretty gross-smelling, to be honest.

Available at drugstores and mass retail stores across Canada while quantities last.

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