Avène Xeracalm A.D Lipid Replenishing Balm, Cleansing Oil review & giveaway

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Avene Xeracalm review

The products: Avène Xeracalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil, Xeracalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Balm, and Eau Thermale/Thermal Spring Water

The technology behind Xeracalm

Avène (a.k.a. Eau thermale Avène, or “the itchy horse brand”!) has been making products for intolerant skin for years, but this month, they’re launching something just for those with dry skin. The Xeracalm A.D range, which is suitable for infants and adults with moderate to intensely dry skin (my entire life can be summed up in that statement, by the way) was created around “I-modulia®,” a new technology that took a whopping twelve years of research to create.

Avene Xeracalm A.D Cleansing Oil review

The Xeracalm A.D range, which is formulated with Avène’s classic thermal water as a key component, aims to reduce itching while soothing irritations and redness, offering both comfort and softening to the skin — something that those with very dry skin will recognize as a pretty rare find.

The Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil

Unlike other cleansing oils, the Avène Xeracalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil is thick and almost “sticky,” and I was surprised to find out that it is NOT made to be a makeup removing oil (though it does that, too). Rather, it’s generously-sized and is designed to be used on wet skin at the sink, in the shower, or as a bath oil.

Avene Xeracalm Lipid Replenishing Cleansing Oil review

It feels most like a shower/bath gel, with a gentle lather and squeaky-clean (but not too stripping) finish. It cleanses well, but I found that this one really excelled as a bath/baby product. Think of it as a lipid-replenishing bath gel, not a cleansing oil, and definitely give it a try if you have generalized eczema, psoriasis, or atopic dermatitis.

The Lipid-Replenishing Balm

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Xeracalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Balm is thin and non-sticky, for a balm! It’s manufactured in a completely sterile environment and is packaged in patent-protected packaging with a perfect hermetic seal, meaning that there are ZERO preservatives (not even trace amounts) in this product.

Avene Xeracalm A.D Lipid Replenishing Balm review

The Xeracalm Balm reminds me of a zinc cream, but with a texture more like body lotion: it’s very plain, very soothing, and perfect for skin prone to atopic dermatitis. This one is hard to squeeze out of the tube (so avoid it if you have arthritis in your hands or wrists) and not optimal for dehydration, but it will be perfect for you if you have reactive skin.

Or if you’re a baby. The literal kind — this is very well-suited to itchy babies’ skin.

Avene Xeracalm A.D review balm

The classic: Eau Thermale

I also had a chance to try the cult-favourite Avène Thermal Spring Water (proper name “Eau Thermale Avène Eau Thermale,” which I find to be endlessly hilarious) for this review, and I have to say: I really liked it! The full-sized bottle is enormous, and it dispenses a dense, light mist of calming spring water.

I don’t have an itchy-skinned horse to test this product on, but I do find it to be very soothing on my skin when it’s feeling particularly parched. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go — you might just find (like I did) that this one really does live up to the hype.

Avene Thermal Spring Water review

The giveaway

And now, the best part! One lucky Canadian reader of theNotice will win the ENTIRE Xeracalm A.d range by Avène – just enter using the givewaway widget below. Good luck (and good skin) to all of you!!

Keep reading! »

Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution review, photos | A makeup remover to love (even more)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution paraben-free makeup remover

The product: Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution

My love for the Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Water is long and well-documented one, and today, I am happy to share with you that this fan favourite has been re-packaged and re-named in the best way possible. 

I am a little late with this news (the changeover occurred during the fall), but cleansing water addicts across Canada can now easily get their hands on this awesome piece of innovation!

Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution flip-top packaging

New Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution flip-top cap

As I mentioned in my original review, the Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Water (now called the Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution, but I promise that it’s the same stuff) is gentle and super-effective, removing makeup easily without drying out your skin or leaving an oily residue behind. It uses little micelles–an actually legit science thing–which “trap” makeup in little micro-capsules of makeup remover.

I know, the whole thing sounds like a total hoax, but micellar solutions are a real, big thing in the skincare industry right now — and they work really, really well. I find that this one isn’t quite as effective as scrubbing down your whole face with cleansing oil, but it works better for me than any other oil-free makeup remover that I’ve tried.

(It’s more effective than a lot of the bi-phase ones that I’ve used over the years, too. Plus: no mess, and no stinging.)

Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution review makeup remover

The verdict?

You need this. I mean, you needed it before, but the new Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution is actually cheaper per ounce than the original and features a very awesome blue flip-top cap, which makes it super easy to soak a cotton pad one-handed.

Also, the new packaging is super pretty, and we all know that that’s the real game, here.

Availability: $19.95 CAD/10 fl oz at drugstores and mass market retailers across Canada (or online at Marcelle.com with shipping to the US & Canada).

Keep reading! »

Odacité Pomegranate + Rose Geranium serum oil review, photos | How one skincare brand changed my view on oils for good

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Odacite Pomegranate Rose Geranium serum oil review

The product: Odacité Pomegranate + Rose Geranium Facial Serum Concentrate

I’m not a facial oil kind of girl. That’s not to say that I haven’t tried any before (I have; recently, L’Occitane and Marie Veronique come to mind), but… I’ve never loved one before, you know? They always just feel too thin, or too greasy, or they don’t to enough for my dryness. I’ve always loved the idea of them, but we’ve never gotten along.

Until now.

Odacite skincare review The Detox Market

About Odacité

That in mind, I didn’t have very high hopes for this range, but Odacité proved me wrong in every way possible. Unlike other brands, Odacité focuses on freshness and ingredients, and their range of 18 oils are all super-potent, super-targeted, and made to compliment your skincare regimen, not replace it.

Perhaps coolest of all, Odacité labels feature an easy-to-reference “table of pure elements that tells you about your product in detail.

Odacité Table of Pure Elements

Po + R has an origin number of #CVG12GSa, which translates into: cold pressed virgin first ingredient (pomegranate oil) grown in Europe, specifically Germany; and a second ingredient (rose geranium) that’s grown without chemicals in South Africa.

The brand is also vegan and cruelty-free, and you won’t find any silicones, parabens, or artificial fragrances in any of their products.

Odacite Po + R facial serum concentrate oil review

Po + R = HG

I don’t toss the H-word (holy grail) around lightly, but guys, this stuff is amazing. It’s a super-thick oil that mixes into your regular moisturizer like a dream, and it’s insanely effective.

» At $27 & up, Odacité oils are a fantastic way to increase the efficacy of your fancy moisturizer while also stretching out its life by half!

If you’ve ever tried to mix anything into a heavy creme like German Nivea, you’ll know that it’s virtually impossible — the water-repellent cream just kind of slicks away the second ingredient. But, because this serum isn’t diluted with anything, it mixes easily into any type of moisturizer. I find what works best is cutting my regular amount of moisturizer in half, then adding 1-2 drops of Po + R.

Odacite Pomegranate Rose Geranium oil review

The resulting cream is rich, emollient, and super luxurious. I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t have serious dehydration (Odacité makes 17 other oils that’ll be better suited to your skin type!), but for those looking for dry skin relief, this is a must-have.

I saw results with this oil literally within 24 hours, and they stick around. After a few days of constant use, stubborn dry patches will disappear, and your foundation will start applying like a dream — this stuff is so smooth and hydrating that it almost seems to prime your skin at the same time.

Full disclosure: I am possibly developing an allergy to something in this oil, so I’m not using it right now. The super-hydrating effects lasted for around 7-10 days before diminishing, though, which is crazy impressive!

Odacite facial serum concentrate review

The verdict?

I didn’t think I’d ever be a facial oil kind of gal, and to be honest, I’m still not — but I am now a HUGE fan of Odacité serum concentrates.

If you have tight skin and dry patches that you can’t seem to shake, you need this oil in your life. Pomegranate + Rose Geranium pairs heavy comfort with great hydration better than any product I’ve ever tried before, and it’ll “beef up” whatever moisturizer you’re currently using, be it high-end or budget. (It pairs well with Odacité’s own moisturizers, too!)

Availability: Po+R is $43 USD/$49 CAD at Odacité, The Detox Market CA (you can get these in person in Toronto), or The Detox Market US. The Facial Serum Concentrate range starts at $27 USD.

Keep reading! »

Vegan Cuts December 2014 Beauty Box | I came, I tried, I cried

Friday, January 30, 2015

Vegan Cuts Beauty Box review

The product: Vegan Cuts Beauty Box (December 2014)

*Disclaimer: No actual crying occurred in the making of this post.

THE STAGE IS SET: A girl stands under a single exposed bulb and tells you that she wants to try more all-natural beauty products this year. She then pulls out a Vegan Cuts Beauty Box, shows it to you, and breaks down weeping. “It could have been so good,” she says. “Why couldn’t I have liked it more?”

Vegan Cuts Beauty Box review unboxing December

December 2014 Vegan Cuts beauty box

On their site, Vegan Cuts states that “only the good stuff will do,” and their featured brands included brands that I love (Weleda and Pacifica) alongside ones that I hope to try soon (Meow Meow Tweet and Mun), and I mean, hey. $28 for 4-7 products from brands that you’re already invested in isn’t a lot of money.

However.

However.

When my box arrived–and I feel terrible saying this, because it was sent to me as a sample from Vegan Cuts–I was horribly disappointed to find in it five brands that I have literally never heard of, and one that I’ve tried before and really didn’t like. My box contained a plastic-wrapped sliver of soap, a “lip and cheek balm” that looked cute but smelled terrible, yet another nondescript black eyeliner (the gratuitous shimmer powder of the beauty box world), and a shampoo with no conditioner counterpart.

Restorh shampoo, reosemary mint soap

Evolvh Ultra Shine Shampoo & Shorganics soap

The All Natural Face eyeliner kohl black

The All Natural Face Black Kohl eyeliner & Devines Butter Me Up stick

The contents of my December Vegan Cuts Beauty Box, because nobody wants spoilers for a month they haven’t received yet:

  • EVOLVh UltraShine Moisture Shampoo, trial size ($8 value) – Am I the only one who can’t use haircare without the other half of its pair?
  • Shorganics Rosemary Mint Bar Soap sample
  • Demes Butter Me Up in Tangerine Vanilla ($15 value) – Smells like an orange loaf with sugary glaze. I want to eat it. The lid keeps falling apart when I take it off.
  • The All Natural Face Diva Stix Black Kohl ($4.88 value) – A commendably short ingredients list of jojoba oil, candelilla wax, mica, oxides, and literally nothing else.
  • Mullein & Sparrow All Natural Tinted Lip & Cheek Balm ($22 value) – This guy is TINY for $22 Kim pointed out that this is probably a sample size (how big is an ounce???), so ignore that comment! The formula is soft and slippery with a very pretty sheer red tint when swatched, but the scent (all-natural, I believe) makes my stomach turn. This tint is invisible unless you really slather it on.
  • La Mav Antioxidant Rich Nightly Repair Nectar sample

At the end of the day, I am only left wanting to try more from Mullein & Sparrow, simply because their packaging is so charming. With, hilariously, the exception of the balm I received, every product in their line looks like it could have fallen straight from a bygone era, from the beautiful glass jar of their Pink Himalayan Bath Salts to their super-simple Facial Mask.

Mullein and Sparrow lip and cheek tint

Mullein & Sparrow Tinted Lip & Cheek Balm & La Mav Nectar

Mullein and Sparrow

More of Mullein & Sparrow’s charming packaging!

The verdict?

I loved the presentation of this beauty box, but the contents themselves just… didn’t grab me. I think it’s fantastic that Vegan Cuts takes the time to curate a cruelty-free box, but a “mostly natural” box with no guarantee of any full-sized products just isn’t enough to convince me that it’s worth subscribing to.

That said, where it excels is at introducing the subscriber to new brands. Everyone loves finding the next big thing before it gets huge; I just think that Vegan Cuts needs to take a little more time to select brands that have a presentable, market-ready feel to them. At $239-$419 USD/year, opening up the soap in your beauty box should make you feel pampered, not make you’re in the bathroom of a seedy motel!

My advice? Buy a Wantable box instead. It’s not vegan, but at least you’ll be able to select the “no black eyeliners or hair products, please” box.

Availability: $19.95 USD/month, plus $8 shipping to Canada or $15 internationally.

Keep reading! »

MUFE Graphic Liner, Marcelle Double Precision Liner reviews, swatches, photos | High vs. Low: Two pen-tipped liners you need to know

Monday, January 26, 2015

Marcelle Double Precision pen liner review MUFE Graphic Liner

When it comes to makeup, I sometimes find it helpful to think of things in context of “generations” — like, different generations of eye primers (pre-Urban Decay tone eveners vs post-Urban Decay longevity-improving creams), lip stains (thin liquids vs YSL-type gloss-stains), eyeliner pencils (hard kohls vs waxy gel-creams) and now, liquid eyeliner pens.

These, ladies and gents, are not your mother’s pen liners. They apply like liquid liners rather than markers, they dry down to wonderfully glossy finishes, and–most importantly–they wear absolutely flawlessly all. day. long. with no staining.

PS: Neither of these liners contain silicones, so they’re a great choice if you’re trying to go ‘cone-free but still want something with great opacity and wear time!

Marcelle Liquid Eyeliner Pen review swatches photos

Marcelle Double Precision Liquid Eyeliner Pen in Intense Black ($14.95 CAD)

This dual-ended liner was the very first pen-style liner that I ever fell in love with, and I fell hard. The two tips moderate product flow so that you never end up with tons of liner on your lashes (as you might with a liquid liner), but it wears without smudging or budging for a good 12+ hours — maybe more, but I’ve never needed to test it for any longer.

Marcelle Double Precision Liner swatches review

Marcelle Double Precision Liner swatches

I like this one for its wear, which I find to be just the smallest bit better than the Make Up For Ever Liner, but I think that its dual-ended design has a pretty big pull, too. The felt tip is smaller than that on the Make Up For Ever, and is just firm enough to line the eyes with ease (yes, even for winged liner), while the brush tip is very fine and looks like a delicate paintbrush.

Of the two brush ends, I mainly use the felt end — the brush tip doesn’t dispense quite enough product to deliver a really solid-looking wing, though it is excellent at getting the very point at the end of your liner and fading it into nothingness. Occasionally, I need to make two passes with this liner (either end) to achieve full opacity.

» See it worn here!

Marcelle Double Precision brush tip liner review

Marcelle Double Precision brush tip

MUFE Graphic Liner swatches review, Marcelle Double Precision

MUFE Graphic Liner (thin/thick), Marcelle Double Precision felt tip (thick/thin), Marcelle Double Precision brush tip

Make Up For Ever Graphic Liner ($24 USD/29 CAD)

This liner has a significantly firmer felt tip than the Marcelle, which means that it delivers a much more consistent result: the line, no matter how fine, is always the same amount of pigmented and opaque.

On the flip side of that equation, however, is the fact that the Marcelle can achieve lines that are both thicker and thinner than those within the Graphic Liner’s range (even with just its felt end), so you have to choose which is more important to you: width or opacity. (There is no wrong answer!)

MUFE Graphic Liner vinyl pen review swatches

Make Up For Ever Graphic Liner

I do think this liner is ever so slightly better than the Marcelle, but (and this is a big but) I have two problems with it. One, the cap doesn’t click on; it just slides into place, and I constantly worry that it’s drying out. And two: the formula smells really toxic. Which is dumb, right? Like, logically, I know that something smelling bad does NOT equal toxic, and vice-versa.

But it smells really bad, like a paint or a Sharpie or something, and I’m not gonna lie, it freaks me out a little.

» See it worn here!

Marcelle vs MUFE liquid liner pen comparison review

Make Up For Ever Graphic Liner vs Marcelle Double Precision felt tips

The verdict?

I really love both these liners, so I’m going to leave the final verdict up to you (and possibly where you happen to live), but I think beginners and casual makeup wearers will appreciate the brush tip on the Marcelle, while makeup pros will prefer the Instagram-perfect opacity of the Make Up For Ever.

Whichever one you buy, remember that BOTH are very good — you really can’t go wrong here! Instinctually, I think I like the Make Up For Ever more (for its opacity and firm tip), but the scent-free Marcelle liner freaks me out way less.

Availability: The Marcelle liner is available at drugstores & mass market retailers across Canada or online at marcelle.ca ($14.95 CAD); the Make Up For Ever liner is available at Sephora ($24 USD/$29 CAD) and Make Up For Ever boutiques.

Keep reading! »

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