theNotice’s Best of Beauty: 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 was a big year for me — or, at least, for my skin. I found out that I have eczema, I kept trucking my way through the silicone-free lands of Clear Complexioniteria, and I tried some seriously cool new products.

So, as the year comes to a close, here’s what I really, really loved this year. These are the products that are both the best in their class and the ones that I reach for time and time again, and all products that were just one or the other (for instance, a gorgeous eyeshadow that only saw use once a season, or an everyday favourite that I think could stand to be better) just didn’t make the cut.

I hope you enjoy the list, and please! if you have time, let me know what products you loved this year!

theNotice skincare favourites 2014

theNotice’s Best of Beauty 2014 – Skincare Edition

Best makeup removing cleanser – NSPA Melting Cleansing Gel, which beat out Shu Uemura’s cleansing oils for the spot! { $15.97 CAD / review }

Best serum for dehydrated skin – Clarins Hydra Quench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase. This one works better for me than Hydraluron, but it really shines when combatting dehydration – not dryness. { $58 USD / review }

Best de-puffing eye cream – L’Occitane Immortelle Eye Care & Mask Duo. This isn’t a fix-all, but so far, it’s the best de-puffing product I’ve tried — and trust me, I’ve looked. Slather on a thick layer of this before bed and puffiness from crying and salt will go way down by morning. { $42 CAD / also seen in }

!!! Best miracle product – Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion. If I had to pick just one product to attribute my clear skin to, it’s this! It works wonders on regular blemishes and really makes a difference with cystic acne. 9/10 times, if I apply this early & frequently, this clears up my spots before they even have a chance to come to a head. { $19 USD / also seen in }

Skincare favourites 2014

Best everyday moisturizer for dry skin – German Nivea. Great if you love a heavy moisturizer for dry skin; not so good for dehydration! {  review }

Best intensive moisturizer for dehydrated skin - This category, unfortunately, just has two runners-up: the Odylique Timeless Rose Moisturizer and the L’Occitane Light Comforting Cream (5% Shea), so neither have been photographed. Both are great for dealing with dehydration, but neither is suited for dry skin — and the Odylique goes bad fast. Expect reviews of both next week!

Best face mask for dry skin - Bio-Beauté Vitamin Rich Detox Mask (for immediate smoothing, not long-term repair). { $27 CAD / review }

Best hand cream – Weleda Skin Food. This thick, glossy cream smells like citrus, lasts for an impressive amount of time, and really sinks into dehydrated hands. In a pinch, it’s great for extremely dry skin on the face, too, but it will leave your face pretty greasy. { $12.76 USD }

tn Best haircare body products of 2014

theNotice’s Best of Beauty 2014 – Makeup & Hair

Best body oil – Osmia Sunset Body Oil.This luxe body oil is all-natural and smells absolutely gorgeous. I’ve tried a few of the line’s other scents now, too, but this is the only one that I think is a must-have. { $25 USD / also seen in }

Best hair styling product – Giovanni 2Chic Avocado & Olive Oil Dual Action Protective Leave-In Spray. Low scent, no silicones, and zero-effort smoothing and hydration. (Literally — this minimizes frizziness even in air-dried hair.) { $10.43 USD / review }

Best hair treatment – Coconut oil. Pure coconut oil is a dream for a dry scalp — even one with eczema. Just warm up about a tablespoon in your hands and work onto your scalp once every week or two!

!!! Best skincare secret - Moisturizer on the lips! M is actually the one who figured this one out. The next time your lips are dry and cracking, apply a generous layer of your favourite intensive moisturizer to the lips, and follow up with a heavy lip treatment 5-10 minutes later to lock it in overnight. Voilà – I promise your lips will be completely healed within 48 hours at most.

theNotice favourite makeup 2014

Best lip balm – Bobbi Brown Lip Balm SPF 15. This stuff is stiff, hydrating, and tacky, so it’s perfect for lasting until morning and keeping your lips hydrated overnight. It’s amazing for super-dry lips, comes in a wide pot (so it’s easy to pick up without getting any under your nails), and even works well as a lipstick base. { $23 CAD / review }

Best lipsticksRevlon Lip Butter in 085 Sugar Plum and Lise Watier Hydra Kiss Colour Balm in Rose Eden. Both formulas are super-comfortable, and both deliver my-lips-but-better colour. { $11-ish } { $22 CAD / review }

Best blushers – MAC Powder Blush in Full of Joy (Frost), which is a gorgeous, glowy sheer lavender, and Senna Sheer Face Color Powder Blush in Très Jolie, a really wearable neutral-pink (I love the slim packaging). { $22 USD } { $18.50 USD / review }

Keep reading! »

What it’s like to get an IUD (and why you need one): A Christmas gift, from me to you

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The best thing I did all year was get an IUD and play hide and go seek with my mom, so today, I’m here to tell you all about it — the IUD, not hide and seek. Today’s post covers my entire IUD experience over the past six months, and I truly hope that you’ll find it helpful.

I’m going to take the next couple of days off and just leave this up here at the top of theNotice, but I’ll be back shortly. I hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday season so far, dear reader.

PS: YES I DID TAG THIS AS HOLY GRAIL.

The basics

This is the stuff that you can find anywhere on the internet, so I’m going to gloss over it. Here are the basics on IUDs, as compared to each other and the pill — I’m reviewing the Mirena (hormonal) IUD today, but the insertion process of a copper IUD is the same.

IUD infographic thenotice

As with any kind of birth control, IUDs don’t come without risks – and some of the rare side effects, like perforation or ovarian cysts, are very serious. So if you’re thinking about getting one, talk to your doctor and do a little bit of research on your own. I’m an undergrad, for god’s sake. Don’t just take my word for it.

Why I chose the IUD

Simply put: I really trust my OBGYN. I have had awful periods for most of my life, and oral contraceptives weren’t working out for me – I couldn’t do continuous birth control, and it totally killed my sex drive. (Plus, I have vestibulodynia, which is sometimes linked to the pill.)

(PS: if you experience pain when inserting a menstrual cup–and I know many of you do–you probably have vestibulodynia to some degree. Talk to your gynecologist; it’s usually very easy to treat!)

Anyhow. My doc thought I’d do a lot better with an IUD, and he’s amazing at his job, so I said okay. Most of the serious risks of an IUD occur during insertion, and this guy has done thousands without a single perforation or expulsion. I figured that a few weeks of cramps was a good trade-off for five worry-free years of birth control, and I was reassured by the fact that if my body didn’t like it, I could have it taken out whenever — removal is easier and faster than insertion.

Mirena size

The size of a Mirena (from their site)

What it’s like to have an IUD put in

NOT SO GREAT, YOU GUYS. I’m going to be totally honest here, because it wasn’t comfortable, and the fear of not knowing was even worse than the insertion itself.

Everyone says that getting an IUD is like a really bad period cramp, but everyone is LYING. It’s like a very sharp muscle knotting deep in your gut, and it feels really bad — but it’s definitely not the worst pain I’ve ever been in. I’d say it’s like stubbing your toe really hard, except instead of a toe it’s your cervix. So… worse than most things, but extremely localized and very short-lived.

What the process was like & more… »

Sephora + Pantone Marsala Color of the Year collection

Saturday, December 20, 2014

For once, the colour of the year is one that I think we can all appreciate: Marsala. It’s a little drab, a little red, and a little rustic — so, basically, a colour that I should hate (but totally don’t).

Unlike the bright green and violet that we’ve seen these past two years, Marsala is more or less wearable… maybe a little more on the less side, for us cool-toned girls. But it’s work-appropriate, at least, and that’s definitely a start!

And that rose gold packaging — I mean, Sephora isn’t even playing fair anymore.

Sephora Pantone Universe Marsala Collection

How do you feel about Marsala?

Aveeno Eczema Care Body Wash, Moisturizing Cream reviews, photos

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Aveeno Eczema Care body wash moisturizer

The products: Aveeno Eczema Care Body Wash & Moisturizing Cream with colloidal oatmeal

Winters in Edmonton are — well, let’s just say that I run my humidifier pretty much 24/7 and still wake up with dry, cracked skin. So, as soon as I was finished testing that gorgeous Osmia Organics soap, I switched up my shower routine and started testing AVEENO’s Eczema Care Body Wash ($13.99) immediately.

Aveeno Eczema Care Body Wash review photos

Aveeno Eczema Care Body Wash

Steroid- and fragrance-free, Aveeno’s Eczema Care line is made to help treat the signs and symptoms of eczema – things like itchiness, roughness, and irritation. (They also have Skin Relief and Intense Relief lines for dry skin). It’s estimated that 10-20% of Canadians suffer from eczema, and I recently found out that I was one of them, so I had high hopes for these products!

(I mean, I’ve always had eczema, I’ve just — denial. Denial and years and years of painfully dry skin.)

Aveeno Eczema Care review - body wash, moisturizing cream

Anyhow. I couldn’t test the AVEENO Eczema Care Hand Cream ($9.18) because it has ‘cones, but I am really enjoying using the Eczema Care Body Wash! It uses oat essence, colloidal oatmeal, and ceramides to help soothe itchy, rough skin, and I think it’s doing a pretty decent job of it for $10-ish. It’s very gentle and slippery, and feels kind of like washing yourself with lotion — smells like it, too.

All in all, it’s kind of a weirdly clinical experience, but I’m happy with it. This is not the range to try and treat serious eczema with on its own, but it’s a nice, sensitive-skin-friendly way to round out your skincare regimen without spending a lot of money.

Availability: The AVEENO Eczema Care range is available for $7.47-$12.99 CAD at drugstores and mass market retailers across Canada.

Six (super sexy) scents to consider for the season | The Gift Guide

Monday, December 15, 2014

I know, I know: perfume is a hard thing to gift. It’s hard to select one from the hundreds, it’s hard to choose the right scent family and bottle size, and it’s hard to get it right. 

That said, here are six scents that I absolutely love for the winter. (Confession: I actually started this post last year and forgot about it, but I’m still loving all six of these this year!) Whether you’re indulging in a little holiday gift for yourself or you’re choosing something for the androgynous-leaning femme in your life… I hope you love these as much as I do.

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-Serge Lutens Chergui ($135) - If I had to pick an all-time favourite perfume, this would be it. It’s the perfect blend of dry, warm, smokey, and sweet, and wears just beautifully in the winter chill. (Plus, it’s like catnip for M — but don’t tell him I told you; I’m not sure he knows yet.)

-Prada L’Eau Ambrée ($56) - L’Eau Ambrée has been discontinued and is getting harder and harder to find, but it’s one of the cornerstones of my fragrance collection – so snap it up now, if you can. It’s simple a wisp of silvery smoke in the night, simple but not boring, and it is my longest-standing perfume love. Full review here.

-Tom Ford Black Orchid ($75) – This is definitely the most feminine of the bunch, but it’s far more outrageous and brash than it is girly. Expect a loud perfume, but a well-blended one — it carries none of the astringent or sticky-sweet notes most “loud” mainstream perfumes. Read my full review here.

-Osmia Organics Cedar Smoke ($75) – I really wanted to include an all-natural perfume in these picks, and Osmia’s Cedar Smoke had to be it. Not quite as sharp or as strong as Juniper Fire, it smells wonderfully natural and woody.

-Illume Woodfire ($10 and up) - This one’s not a perfume, but it’s definitely a scentWoodfire may be my favourite candle scent ever (so far), and is an amazing steal for $10. It smells like wood burning in an outdoor fire pit, and even my mini sized tin has enough throw to fill my whole room within minutes. (Also, Illume makes matching matches!)

-Bottega Veneta ($103, on sale at Nordstrom) - Read my full review here! This one has lots of bergamot and patchouli, and it leaves behind the most divine tendril of leather

What scents are on your wishlist this year?

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