Annabelle Chai Eyeshadow Quad swatches, review, photos | Beautifully bronzed at the drugstore

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Annabelle Chai eyeshadow swatches review

The product: Annabelle Cosmetics Eyeshadow Quad in Chai Chai Chai

This week is kicking my butt, you guys. It’s already Thursday and I’ve barely gotten out of bed because my abdominal muscles hurt so much – they’re so tender that touching them makes my head spin, which: never a good sign.

So, well, let’s talk makeup. I picked out a stellar product from one of my favourite lines today, and hopefully writing about it’ll help cheer me up a bit!

Annabelle eyeshadow quad review Chai

Annabelle Eyeshadow Quad in Chai Chai Chai

The product: Chai Chai Chai includes four gorgeous, super-smooth eyeshadows that are a dream to apply and blend. They’re crazy pigmented for a drugstore product, and apply vividly even without primer, never crumbling or kicking up dust.

The top two shades are a little more frosty than the bottom two, and the chocolate brown (third swatch) is just divine — it’s rich and dense, even more-so over primer, with a beautiful, uninterrupted finish. The darkest brown is a little drier than the rest, but makes up for it with a smattering of silver shimmer that twinkles as you move about.

Annabelle Chai eyeshadow quad swatches

Annabelle Eyeshadow Quad in Chai Chai Chai, swatched dry on unprimed skin

What impressed me most about these shades, I think, was how wearable they are. Yes, the overall feeling of the palette is very bronze, but it’s not so warm that I couldn’t wear it around if I wanted to. (If you love metals or warm colours but can’t always pull them off, this might be a good one to try.)

And, if warm bronze isn’t your thing, these quads come in cooler options, too — stormy grey-blues, cooler taupes, mossy browns, and purple-pinks.

Annablle eyeshadow quad swatches - Chai Chai Chai

Annabelle Chai Chai Chai swatches

The packaging: Where this product flounders (just a little!!) is its packaging. Chai Chai Chai comes with two applicators that are really just too small to be of any use — “crapplicators,” if you will.

It’s also a really hard palette to get open, which is both a positive and a negative: on one hand, it can be frustrating, but on the other, I feel 100% confident just throwing this into my bag, because it’s definitely not going to spring open if jostled the wrong way.


Annabelle Chai Eyeshadow Quad review

The verdict?

Annabelle consistently proves itself to be one of the best budget brands out there, and this quad is no exception. While the particular colour palette of Chai Chai Chai was a little too warm for my preferences (though it worked ok with my colouring), I would absolutely recommend these quads if you’re looking for a great drugstore palette for day-to-day use or travel!

Availability: $10.95 CAD at Annabelle.ca & in most drugstores across Canada.

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Marie Veronique Everyday Coverage SPF 20 & 30 reviews, swatches, and shade comparisons (& Face Oil)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Marie Veronique review

The products: Marie Veronique Organics Everyday Coverage SPF 30 and Face Oil; True Nature Botanicals Pacific Everyday Sheer Coverage SPF 20

When it comes to all-natural sunscreens, the name Marie Veronique pops up a lot — and so it should. There aren’t a ton of silicone-free, chemical-free sunscreens out there (not ones without a heavy texture and a white cast, at least), and the Marie Veronique ones are some of the best of the bunch.

That said, it’s hard to pick out what sunscreen to try out of all of the varieties available – so think of this as your guide to Marie Veronique sunscreens, from which shade to pick to what the formulas play best with.

Note: the products photographed in this review are sample sizes! 

Marie Veronique Face Oil review

Marie Veronique Face Oil

Marie Veronique Face Oils

I didn’t get a chance to compare the brand’s Pacific Face Oil with their regular option (the Pacific version broke in transit), but this is what I can tell you: what I did get to try of the Pacific Face Oil ($110/1 oz) felt extremely comforting, and had an herbal scent that reminded me very strongly of shu uemura’s Premium A/O and Ultime8 oils.

The Face Oil ($80/1 oz) felt less intensive, but has a lighter scent to it — it still made my dry skin feel softer immediately, and it layered well with the brand’s sunscreens. The product itself is very orange (due to a high amount of rosehip oil in the formula), but doesn’t tint the skin once it’s worked in!

Both of these products are quite pricy, but it’s important to note that they’ve been carefully formulated by the brand’s chemists – unlike what I’ve seen from other brands (ahem: Josie Maran, Tarte, & co.), who simply offer marked-up pure oils in pretty jars.

Marie Veronique Everyday Sheer Coverage SPF20 review

Marie Veronique Everyday Sheer Coverage SPF 20 – Light, Medium Tints

Pacific Everyday Sheer Coverage SPF 20 ($58/2 oz)

As the brand’s more expensive sunscreen (it’s formulated to be anti-ageing, like the rest of the Pacific range), I was expecting great things from their Everyday Sheer Coverage — but, weirdly enough, I was a little disappointed in it.

I applied this one overtop the brand’s Face Oil, as suggested, and it felt okay on its own – not too heavy or sticky. But here’s the catch: this one doesn’t play very well under makeup. The Light shade was tinted enough to darken and warm up my skintone just a hair, but it’s sort of “film forming” — the first time I tried to buff in a cream foundation overtop of it, the whole layer slid in the direction of my brush strokes.

Marie Veronique Everyday Sheer Coverage SPF20 swatches light medium

Marie Veronique Everyday Sheer Coverage SPF 20 – Light, Medium Tints swatched

Marie Veronique Everyday Sheer Coverage SPF 20 swatches shade comparisons

Everyday Sheer Coverage swatched against: left - MAC NC15 (top), NW20 (bottom); right – NC30 (top) and NC25 (bottom)

When I used it after that, I applied a little less and layered it overtop a very thin layer of German Nivea. It went from thereon in, drying satin-matte as promised and staying in place with product overtop, but my makeup looked slightly more obvious than usual. All in all, I would recommend this for normal to oily skin types, or those who wear liquid (but not creme) foundation.

The Marie Veronique Everyday Sheer coverage SPF 20 is formulated with 16.6% non-nano zinc oxide. See the full ingredients list if you

Green & White Tea, 16.6% Non-Nano Zinc Oxide, Vegetable Glycerin, Broccoli Seed Oil, Cherry Kernel Seed Oil, Emu Oil, Pomegranate Seed Oil, Red Raspberry Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Yangu Oil, Cosmocil CQ (paraben-free anti-microbial), Xanthan Gum, N-Acetyl Glucosamine, Lecithin, Potassium Sorbate, Pearl Powder, Rosemary Oleoresin, Beta Glucan, Coffee Fruit Extract, Silk Powder, Rose Essential Oil, Neroli Essential Oil, Helichrysum Essential Oil, Cistus Essential Oil, Iron Oxides.

Marie Veronique Everyday Coverage SPF30 moisturizer review

Marie Veronique Organics Everyday Coverage SPF 30 – Extra Light, Light, and Medium Tints

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Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara review, swatches, photos | For a pretty, pool-ready lash

Monday, July 7, 2014

Clarins waterproof mascara review-

The product: Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara in 01 Intense Black

The formula: Clarins’ Truly Waterproof Mascara is formulated with bitter orange tree wax and olive squalane, and promises 12 hour waterproof wear from not just chlorinated water, but from salt water, too. (Which is great, considering how many mascaras do okay with pure water, but run when you cry!)

Clarins Truly Waterproof  Mascara review

The packaging: Can I just take a moment to say that love this packaging? It’s super sleek, with the little “C” emblem in a handy dip – which I always thought was aesthetic, but it actually makes opening the tube a lot easier.

The brush on this one has a relatively slim profile with traditional bristles (that is, not silicone), and the bottom of the tube has a thin piece of translucent red plastic on the bottom, which is a nice, subtle touch.

Clarins Truly Waterproof  Mascara brush review

Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara & brush

The application: I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed applying mascara before, but this one surprised me. It goes on really easily, no lash comb needed, and delivers a natural-looking lash in just one stroke. It gives really good separation with very little clumping, and it holds a curl beautifully — all while leaving your lashes feeling soft and flexible. 

One last thing to note about this formula is that it smells really nice (for a mascara). Like, weirdly nice. I can’t quite put my finger on what it reminds me of, but this formula has a very distinctive, pretty, Clarins-y fragrance to it.

Clarins Truly Waterproof  Mascara swatches review

Bare lashes / one coat of Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara in 01 Intense Black

The wear: SO GOOD — but not infallible. While this formula is extremely waterproof (I was able to submerge my lashes in water and rub at them multiple times before I even begun to lose a curl), the oils on my face do make it smudge through the day.

That said, this mascara doesn’t drop my curl or flake, and it removes easily with a good cleansing oil – those who use micellar waters may struggle, however. (This is the only product I’ve ever tried that my beloved Marcelle cleansing water couldn’t get off!) But, for those in a really humid country, or a day at the beach, this one’ll hold up like a champ.

Clarins Truly Waterproof  Mascara eyelash swatch

Bare lashes / Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara

The verdict?

It’s not quite holy grail material, but Clarins’ Truly Waterproof Mascara is definitely one that I’d recommend. Between easy application, super classy packaging, and a really pretty fragrance, it does a wonderful job of delivering a soft, flexible waterproof lash — and it does it all while holding a curl.

Give it a pass if most mascaras smudge on you, but if not, put this one at the top of your list of waterproof mascaras to try!

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Three to try: Heat protectant sprays from Giovanni and Kevin Murphy

Monday, June 30, 2014

Giovanni Argan Keratin mist review - flat iron styling mist

Good: Giovanni 2chic Ultra Sleek Brazilian Keratin & Argan Oil Flat Iron Styling Mist

This Giovanni mist smells, to me, like a softly-scented, old-timey salon; vanilla with a hint of nuttiness and a whisper of hairspray. It’s part of the same range as this oil-serum that M and I love, but has a different, much more subtle scent. It’s made from 100% vegetarian ingredients, and the brand doesn’t test on animals, which is nice to note!

Giovanni says this mist is good for all hair types, but it contains denatured alcohol high up in the ingredients list, and amodimethicone later on — so I’d say skip it if you have really dry hair, are concerned about using body-safe products, or have a silicone sensitivity.

The Giovanni Keratin & Argan Oil Flat Iron Styling Mist ingredients:

Water, Glycerin, SD Alcohol-40B, Argan Kernel Oil, Brazilian Cocoa Keratin Extract [Phyto-Keratin], *Rooibos Tea Extract, Coconut Oil, *Macadamia Seed Extract, *Shea Butter Extract, Sorbitol, Amodimethicone, Panthenol, (Pro-Vitamin B-5), Benzyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Natural Fragrance.

Giovanni Ultra-moise avocado oilive oil review - leave-in spray

Better: Giovanni 2chic Ultra-Moist Avocado & Olive Oil Ultra-Moist Dual Action Protective Leave-In Spray

Even better than Giovanni’s Keratin & Argan styling mist, though, is their Avocado & Olive Oil leave-in spray. Silicone-free and formulated for dry, damaged hair, it’s designed to be both a leave-in conditioner and a heat protectant – all bundled up with a low scent profile and an easy-to-use mist pump.

Unlike its nutty, vanilla counterpart, this leave-in spray smells bright and rather synthetic, like a light, fruity hairspray — but while the formula leaves your hair feeling soft and smooth all day long, the scent fades quickly. It’s full of hydrating and soothing ingredients like aloe, avocado oil, olive oil, and shea butter, and is definitely my top pick for a silicone-free mass-market heat protectant spray. 

The Giovanni Avocado & Olive Oil Leave-In Spray ingredients: 

Water, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B-5), Glycerin, Vitamin E, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 20, Citric Acid, Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, Chlorophyllin-Copper Complex, *Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, *Avocado Oil, *Lychee Chinensis Fruit Extract, *Olive Fruit Oil, *Chenopodium Quinoa Flower/Leaf Extract, *Shea Butter, *Sunflower Seed Oil. 

Kevin Murphy Damage Manager

Best: Kevin Murphy Damage.Manager Instant Heat Shielding Spray

Despite what your salon may tell you (I’ve had not one, but two separate stylists in different salons lie to me about this), the Kevin Murphy line is not 100% silicone-free. Rather, the line uses “functional silicones” that rinse out easily (this is coming from the brand itself), which I interpret as meaning that they use water-soluble silicones whenever possible – ones that are lighter and less hydrophobic than traditionally heavy, slick silicones like dimethicone.

That said, Kevin Murphy does a ton of products that are silicone-free, and Damage.Manager is one of them. (Their Angel.Wash and Angel.Rinse are, too!) Damage.Manager protects your hair without weighing it down or leaving it even the slightest bit sticky, and it smells amazing – both complex and unisex, like the perfect whirlwind of vetiver and woods, with a tenacity that lasts right through your next shampoo.

I can’t for the life of me find an ingredients list for this online, but I promise that it’s paraben- and silicone-free. The formula features arnica root extract and allantoin alongside the KEVIN.MURPHY X-HP Complex, and it protects the hair up to a whopping 220ºC (428ºF).

Beautycounter Rose, Currant Lip Sheer swatches; Lustro Body Oil review

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Beautycounter review Lustro, Lip Tint

The products: Beautycounter Lustro Body Oil in Rosemary + Citrus and Lip Sheers in Rose and Currant

I’m not the kind of reviewer that looks at a luxury price tag, goes “well, you’re paying for exclusivity,” and then ignores it. I can see why some people are, and that’s totally cool with me, but, well: I’m not. If a brand is going to charge luxury prices, it better give me a darn good reason as to why someone should make the splurge – and if they’re going to talk about how ingredient-focused they are, they better earn the right.

Beautycounter Lustro body oil review

Lustro Body Oil in Rosemary + Citrus ($68 USD/80 ml)

As a dry-skinned girl who can’t use most moisturizers due to their silicone content, I’m a big, big fan of body oils. Which is why this Beautycounter oil was such a big surprise for me — because I didn’t love it. Like, at all. 

While Rosemary + Citrus‘ jojoba-based formula feels great and hydrates well (without an ounce of oiliness left behind on your now baby-soft skin), the scent just didn’t do it for me – and the smooth glass bottle felt like it was slipping to its death every time I pressed the pump.

Beautycounter Body Oil review Lustro Rosemary Citrus

Beautycounter Lustro Body Oil in Rosemary + Citrus

For $25/oz (Osmia’s gorgeous body oils are only $11/oz), a product shouldn’t be a struggle, you know? And it should smell awesome, not like a kitchen window basket full of roast-appropriate herbs. (My boyfriend described this one as “something you’d pick up at a Canadian Tire” — nice, but not expensive. Sort of like a citronella candle.)

If you love jasmine-scented products, they offer a jasmine-scented alternative; however, it has a jojoba/grapeseed/rosehip base, rather than jojoba/sweet almond/meadowfoam. As pretty and light-feeling as it is, I have to recommend that you pass on this one.

Lustro Rosemary + Citrus Body Oil ingredients

Golden Jojoba Oil, Sweet Almond Oil*, Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Virgin Grapeseed Oil*, Rosehip Oil, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Marula Oil*, Virgin Argan Nut Oil*, Rose Otto Oil, Apricot Oil, Grapefruit Oil, Sweet Orange Oil, Rosemary Oil.

Beautycounter Lip Sheer review swatches Rose Currant

Beautycounter Lip Sheers in Rose (L) and Currant (R)

Lip Sheers in Rose and Currant ($28 USD/each)

Like the Lustro Body Oil, the first Lip Sheer I tried put my nerves on edge, too. Despite being described as a creme finish, Rose has particles of hidden gold shimmer in it, and while the colour was really pretty, the shimmer is noticeable on my lips — not a deal-breaker, but I’m kind of bummed that the brand describes it as a creme finish.

Beautycounter Rose lip sheer

Beautycounter Lip Sheers in Rose and Currant — see the shimmer that was hiding in there?

Currant, however, is shimmer-free… and it’s awesome. The Beautycounter Lip Sheer formula is really comfortable and hydrating, with a naturally-sourced vanilla scent and a good amount of pigment. If I had to pick one Beautycounter product to recommend, it would definitely be this one – they feel gorgeously heavy and balmy, and the packaging is divine. (According to brand rep Anna Vig, only Rose and Petal have shimmer, and it’s less noticeable in the latter!)

Also nice to note is that the line’s Lip Sheers rate an EWG Skin Deep rating of 1 (aka “super safe”), which is great when it comes to lip products — we end up ingesting a pretty gross amount of them, after all.

Beautycounter Lip Sheer ingredients

Diisotearyl Malate, Jojoba Esters, Octyldodecyl Ricinoleate, Castor Seed Oil, Microcrystalline Wax, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Calcium Sodium Borosilcate, Candelilla Wax, Carnuba Wax, Tin Oxide. +/- Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Yellow 5 Lake, Red 5 Lake, Red 7 Lake, Red 27 Lake, Blue 1 Lake.

Beautycounter Currant Rose swatches

Beautycounter Lip Sheer swatches - Rose (L) and Currant (R)

Beautycounter Rose Currant Lip Sheer swatches

L-R: Beautycounter Lip Sheers in Rose and Currant, swatched

The verdict?

I love the idea of a brand that focuses on its ingredients, but Beautycounter seems to focus more on profit than product. Upon closer inspection, all of their pricy-but-beautiful face oils feature the same formula (differing only in fragrance), and their lazily-fragranced body oil runs at almost double the cost per ounce than beautifully scented oils by brands like L’Occitane, Caudalie, and Clarins. For an all-natural body oil, I would opt instead for one by Osmia Organics – their packaging is easier to use, and each scent is beautifully crafted.

That said, I did really like how hydrating, comfortable, and safe the Beautycounter Lip Sheers are. I found swatches of all six shades on Our Wanderlust (Petal, Twig, and Coral caught my eye!), and I think they’d make a wonderful “splurge” lip product — they’re gorgeously packaged, have a great formula, and come in a beautiful range of shades.

Availability: These items were sent in for review by superstar brand rep Anna Vig, who has been unbelievably helpful and friendly. If you’re going to indulge in a Lip Sheer, I would definitely encourage you to shop her storefront here!

Keep reading! »

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