Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner in Universal Ebony review, swatches, photos | One in, one out

Friday, June 10, 2016

Annabelle Skinny Brow Universal Ebony review

The product: Annabelle Cosmetics Skinny Brow Liner in Universal Ebony 

Okay, so this one is a bit of a “cheat post.” I haven’t finished my first Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner yet, but I’ve already bought another one because I’m weak of spirit and I literally could not handle not having one on me at all times.

Does that mean that it: 1) counts as a repurchase, 2) counts doubly as a repurchase, or 3) does not count as a repurchase because you still have your first one; seriously, Rae, what is wrong with you?

Annabelle Skinny Brow Universal Ebony empties

And now, for a quick recap of the week this liner: I recently reviewed the Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner in my Annabelle brow breakdown post, but for those of you who missed it (or just need a quick refresher) – this thing is basically the shit. 

Universal Ebony the perfect shade for my Asian colouring, and it gives me hella flawless brows in just seconds. Nothing makes my face look as flawless as perfect brows (no, not even perfect foundation), and literally nothing beats this formula, except maybe liquid brow pens if the colour’s just right.

Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner swatches before after tutorial

1. Bare brows: Milani Liquif’Eye liner, Clarins Waterproof Eyeshadows in 01 Golden Peach and 02 Golden Sand (review soon!) / 2. Outlined brows

What I missed in my initial review…

I, in my infinite wisdom, managed to forget to do a before & after for my initial review. Which obviously couldn’t be withheld for a product THIS good, so here you go!

I find that the best way to get perfect-for-me brows with this liner is to sketch the outline of my brows (bottom line first, then the top), fill them in (heavily throughout for “Instagram brows”/more faintly on the inner corners for everyday), and then finish by pulling a spoolie through my brows in an outward motion to blend.

This process is literally so easy that I can finish my brows in under 60 seconds, and they stay flawless and natural-looking all day (and night) long.

(58 seconds and 11 milliseconds, and I don’t even have to rush. I know because I TIMED IT.)

Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner review tutorial

3. Filled in / 4. Finished! 

The verdict?

The Annabelle Skinny Brow Liners are literally so good that I couldn’t bear to be without, and dude, you need to give them a try. If my first review didn’t convince you, then please: let this one sway you in the direction of the light!

Availability: $8.95 CAD at Annabelle.com and at drugstores and mass market retailers across Canada. (My advice? Get it through Annabelle. I bought my second one at Shoppers, and it was $10.49!)

Check out these silicone-free ingredients! »

Smashbox Inspiration lipstick, Insta-Matte, & Mulholland Mauve review, swatches, photos

Monday, June 6, 2016

Smashbox Be Legendary lipstick Inspiration review

The products: Smashbox Cosmetics Be Legendary Cream Lipstick in Inspiration, Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer, and L.A. Lights Blendable Lip & Cheek Color in Mulholland Mauve

Smashbox Spring 2016 review

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick ($21 USD/$36 CAD)

The Be Legendary lipsticks are a staple of the current Smashbox lineup, and with Inspiration, it’s not hard to see why. This new shade is a super-flattering bright fuchsia pink with subtle shimmer (which I think makes it NOT a “true” cream!!) and it’s a total dreamboat.

Smashbox Inspiration review photos Be Legendary Creamm Lipstick

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Inspiration review

Smashbox Inspiration swatch Be Legendary Lipstick review

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Inspiration swatches in indirect sunlight. (Can you tell that I took these photos with my old Canon? Just not as good, man.)

The Smashbox Be Legendary Cream Lipstick formula is comforting, heavy, and smooth – I wouldn’t mind owning another couple (dozen) of these. They remind me of the Clinique Pop Lipsticks, actually, but with a lighter texture.

The Be Legendary “cream” finish (they’re also available in a matte finish) is luscious and looks almost glossy thanks to the shimmer, and Inspiration is well-pigmented with colour that goes exactly where it ought to, no lip brush necessary.

Smashbox Be Legendary Inspiration review photos swatches

(See the glitter?)

Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer ($24 USD/$26 CAD)

Smashbox also introduced their Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer this spring, which I think is a pretty nifty product. It’s a silicone-y gel that’s similar to their Photo Finish primer, but thicker, and it’s designed to turn any cream (!!) lipstick into a matte.

 Smashbox Insta-Matte transformer review

I liked the idea behind the Insta-Matte, and it worked well to mattify Inspiration when I tried it on. However, it doesn’t do anything that a sprinkling of loose powder could do (a trick that makeup artists have been using for decades), and the effect is subtle.

Granted, it’s a lot more comfortable to wear than loose powder is, but it can’t be used overtop of glosses, lacquers, or balms, which I think kind of minimizes its appeal. Cream lipsticks are halfway to today’s mattes anyways, you know? Just pat with tissue and you’re 90% of the way there.

Smashbox Inspiration, Mulholland Mauve swatches, Insta-matte

Smashbox swatches L-R: Insta-Matte over Be Legendary Lipstick in Inspiration; Inspiration on its own; L.A. Lights in Mulholland Mauve lightly, then heavily. Swatched in artificial light. 

Smashbox L.A. Lights Blendable Lip & Cheek Color ($29 USD/$36 CAD)

I love a good stick/pencil product, but the Smashbox L.A. Lights formula just didn’t grab me. It’s workable, but it feels tacky and heavy to me. The formula drags on the skin as you blend it out, so while the finish looks lovely and dewy, I find that I rarely reach for these.

As a lip product, though, I found Mulholland Mauve to be extremely disappointing. A darker colour would fare better, but it looks pasty and thin on my lips–almost like a $2 bargain bin lipstick or an early-2000s party girl lipgloss.

Smashbox L.A. Lights cheek lip review

However, the L.A Lights sticks are one of the few silicone-free stick blushes that I’ve found, and Mulholland Mauve is a rather unique colour. It looks passable on my fair olive skin (the shade choice was my mistake!), but would be gorgeous on a warmer complexion.

As a note, the availability on the L.A. Lights is a little weird. If you’re looking for Mulholland Mauve or Fairfax Fuchsia in Canada, they’re only available at Shopper’s/Murale – you won’t be able to buy them at Sephora. Make sure you shop accordingly!

Smashbox Mulholland Mauve review swatches

The verdict?

Sadly, none of Smashbox’s spring launches were total must-haves for me–but I do really like their Be Legendary lipsticks, so it was nice to see that shade range expanded.

On the whole, I’d say that the Be Legendaries are a nice-to-have, the Insta-Matte is a cool-to-have, and the L.A. Lights are a skip. I’ve heard excellent things about the L.A. Lights from other bloggers, though, so if you love ’em, hit me up in the comments. I want to know what I’m missing here!

Availability: New permanent products (as of January 2016) at Shopper’s Drug Mart Beauty Boutiques, Murale, Nordstrom, and Sephora.

 

Bio Beauté by Nuxe Toning Citron Body Oil, Deodorant review & photos

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bio beaute cedrat review body oil deodorant

The products: Bio Beauté by Nuxe Toning & Nourishing Satin-Touch Oil with Corsican Citron Extract and 24 HR Refreshing Deodorant

My love for Bio Beauté is far from a secret, so when I found out that they were launching two new lemon-scented products this summer, I was pretty excited.

I soon realized that they were, in fact, not launching two lemon-scented products this summer, and were actually launching two new body products featuring naturally “toning” citron (an ingredient you may recognize from my old L’Occitane review), plus their repackaged deodorant.

But! Confusion aside, I was still very, very happy to try out the new oil, and it didn’t disappoint.

Bio beaute nuxe deodorant roll on yellow review

The deodorant: Okay, first things first. This is NOT a lemon version of the Bio Beauté deodorant that I reviewed last year, a fact which I am super sad about. This the exact same deodorant, now in yellow packaging. It contains 10 essential oils and 5 floral waters to gently inhibit bacteria growth, starch powder to reduce moisture, and aloe vera for a little additional soothing – and yes, it still smells like candy. 

While I’m not crazy about smelling like I just got wrecked in a Wonka factory, this alcohol- and aluminum-free deodorant is actually very well-formulated (and 98% organic!) It works well on my man-smelly boyfriend, and leaves no stains on clothing.

Bio Beaute toning nourhishing body oil review

The oil: On the other hand, I loooove the Bio Beauté citron/toning body oil. It smells like lemon squares, sugared to perfection and waiting patiently for you on the kitchen counter (a scent that comes from a combination of citrus oils and vanilla), and the packaging is great: sleek but made of lightweight plastic, with a mister on top.

A spray-mister, unfortunately. Not a mister-mister. (Ugh, that bone structure. Those sad-sexy eyes. That really good hair.)

Bio Beauté notes that this oil is quick-absorbing (true!) but perfect for a massage, which… Boyfriend had better get on that; that’s all I’m saying. It’s not really much of a toning product, but as a body oil, it’s lovely.

Bio Beaute deodorant review

The verdict?

It’s a bit confusing that Bio Beauté has quietly relaunched their 24HR Refreshing Deodorant in yellow (but otherwise identical) packaging, presumably to differentiate it from the “Bio Beauté Body” anti-perspirant, but that’s honestly my only complaint about these launches. Stop gaslighting me, Bio Beauté! I’ve only ever shown you love!

The new Toning & Nourishing Satin-Touch Oil is a lemon-scented dream, and I love that it features lots of organic ingredients & fair trade oils. It smells delicious, too, and as we all know… the way to any twenty-something’s heart is through their stomach.

Availability: $13 CAD (deodorant) to $26 CAD (body oil). New as of June 2016 & available exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart.

Micellar water reviews: Garnier, Bioderma Hydrabio & Sensibio, Marcelle 3 in 1

Friday, May 27, 2016

Micellar water review comparison bioderma garnier marcelle bubble

For those of you who don’t already know, micellar waters are water-like makeup removing solutions. They use hydrophilic/hydrophobic “micelles” to break down makeup with the power of an oil while still having the texture of water, and they’re… kind of fantastic.

Ever since trying the Marcelle 3 in 1 (formerly the Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Water), I’ve been smitten with micellar waters. They’re an awesome way to gently remove makeup with no silicones and no oily residue, and while they break down makeup as well as many bi-phase makeup removers, they don’t set tubing mascaras the way an oil will.

Nowadays, there are a ton of micellar waters on the market – so here’s a comparison of four of the best.

Bioderma Sensibio micellar water review

4. Bioderma Sensibio Make-up Removing Micelle Solution ($26.95 CAD/500ml) 

Sensibio is the mother of all micellar solutions. Invented in 1995, Sensibio/Créaline just celebrated its 20th anniversary – and one bottle is still sold every 3 seconds worldwide.

The Sensibio range is fragrance-free and designed for sensitive skin, and the micellar solution replaces your make-up remover and toner. But, as much as I love Sensibio, I think that 20 years of competition and new technologies can make a better product.

The packaging: Bioderma’s packaging is a classic, but the lids are very fragile and snap off if you open the circular top from the wrong angle. Bioderma is available in the widest range of sizes (100 ml to 1L, depending on your country.)

The product: While gentle and fragrance-free, I find that Sensibio is a little drying, especially in the eye area. Sensibio is the least effective makeup remover of these 4.

The price: $26 CAD per 500 ml

Marcelle 3 in 1 micellar water review

3. Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution ($19.95 CAD/300 ml) 

The Marcelle 3 in 1 Micellar Solution was my first cleansing oil, so it has a special place in my heart. It’s Canadian, it’s fragrance-free, and it comes in awesome packaging. 

The packaging: The best of the bunch! The 3 in 1 comes in a sturdy flip-top push dispenser. However, it only comes in the one size, and there is no open-cap version available for q-tip dipping.

The product: More effective than Sensibio, but slightly more astringent.

The price: $33.25 CAD/500 ml

Garnier Micellar Water SkinActive review

2. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water ($8.97/400 ml)

Garnier’s SkinActive micellar waters (also available in blue/waterproof) are the newest micellar waters on the block, and I’ve gotta give it to ’em: they’re really not bad!

The packaging: Sturdy lid & slim bottle. However, the SkinActive line is a blatant ripoff of Bioderma, which is a big turn-off for me.

The product: The SkinActive Micellar Water is more effective than Bioderma Sensibio and less drying than Marcelle’s. It feels slightly more “soapy” than either of the two.

The price: $11.21 CAD/500 ml

Bioderma Hydrabio micellar water review

1. Bioderma Hydrabio Moisturizing Micelle Solution ($24.90/500 ml)

Hydrabio is Bioderma’s newest micellar water, and it is by far my favourite of the line. It’s optimized for dehydrated/dry, sensitive skin, and for my fragile, dry skin, it is the most gentle of the bunch. 

It’s very fragranced, however (it smells kind of moisturize-y floral), so it’s best for sensitive-fragile skin, not sensitive-“allergies galore!” skin.

The packaging: Fragile lid & wide volume range (see above).

The product: The most gentle AND the most effective of these four. It’s a little more “slippery” feeling, but it completely melts away even my waterproof gel eyeliners. (This is the #1 micellar water in Canada!)

The price: $24.90/500 ml

Bioderma sensibio vs hydrabio sensitive skin review comparison

The verdict?

While I would prefer it without the fragrance, I find Bioderma’s Hydrabio micellar water to be both the most gentle and the most effective micellar water in drugstores right now. However, all four of them are honestly very good – good enough that you should never have to return to non-micellar makeup removers ever again!

There are still a handful of micellar waters that I have yet to try, though, and I would love to hear your thoughts on them. Hit me up in the comments to rave about your favourite micellar water!! 

Additional photos & more »

Yasmine Jones from Bella Aura: creator interview | Small Business Saturdays

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Yasmine Jones Bella Aura

Right now, I’m testing out a new Canadian skincare range called Bella Aura. You may have heard of it already (a number of my blogger friends, like Tracy and Shireen, really love the line), but if you recognize the name, then you’ll definitely want to read on.

As I’m still working on testing this range, I reached out to Bella Aura to see if I could do an EXCLUSIVE interview with their founder, Yasmine Jones, to share before the review. Luckily for us, she said yes!!

Bella Aura skincare review, interview

 

The interview

Q: I am so exited to feature you on theNotice today, so I’m going to start out with a pretty broad question, if that’s okay! If you had to describe yourself to a stranger on the street, what would you tell them about yourself? 

Yasmine Jones: I’m not really so comfortable describing myself to others, what I can say is that I am real and what you see is what you get, which means that I can be direct some times. Probably the best way for me to answer the question is to tell you that my mom taught to be kind and generous to people, especially those less fortunate than I am. (Editor’s note: Bella Aura donates a portion of their proceeds to charity each month and engages in responsible sourcing.)

One thing that I’ll say is that I am a very spiritual person and I think that comes across in Bella Aura Skincare.

Q: One of the things that I love about Bella Aura is that the range is very edited. Do you plan on adding more products as time passes, or was this an intentional decision? 

YJ: This was an intentional decision for sure. The goal was to keep things simple and develop multifunctional natural products that can be used for all skin types. We have created 5 targeted skin care solutions that all work well together. Our formulas are called emulsions, which combine the best qualities of serums and creams. They absorb quickly while providing superior hydration to the skin to fight the signs of aging and make your skin look radiant.

For now we are focused on our existing product line, but I have some ideas for future products to compliment them!

Bella Aura skincare range review

Q: I am totally smitten with the Bella Aura packaging and design. Can you share some insights on why you chose these bottles and illustrations? 

YJ: Thank you Rae, I’m so happy that you like the packaging. My thoughts on packaging were part functional and part design. For the bottles, I wanted to use glass and not plastic. Natural skin care products should be stored in dark containers. This combined with the airless pump, which is designed to protect against bacteria that can contaminate product, increases shelf life by up to 15%. I chose black because it is elegant, I’ve always loved black packaging for this reason.

The logo is a droplet with a zelig (pronounced zel-eej) pattern which inspired by traditional Moroccan tiles. We us a different colour droplet for each product which represents a specific aura colour. As I mentioned, I am a spiritual person.

Q: What made you want to launch your own skincare range? 

YJ: It comes from personal struggles with my skin. I was dealing with the stress and sleepless nights of a personal family tragedy and experienced serious skin issue. I tried many different skin care products, some made it worse and nothing was able to bring back my normally healthy skin.

After about a year dealing my skin issues, I met a herbalist/chemist in Morocco who said that he had a natural remedy to fix my skin. I was skeptical, but I tried it and my skin gradually improved. Not being a patient person, I was inspired to research natural ingredients for skin care that really work. I wanted to create “Clean” skincare products based on natural ingredients to make people feel good about their skin.

After 3 years of scouring the world for an amazing formulation chemist, Bella Aura Skincare was born.

Bella Aura moroccan bath

Q: What are your 3 favourite skincare ingredients?

YJ: I actually have 4, based on an ancient Moroccan beauty formula (our exclusive Kamilah Blend) which I use in all of the products. They are Argan oil, Fig de Barbarie oil, Neroli, and Nigella oil. The reason I love these oils is that they work really well together and complement each other. Combined they are super rich in vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, they also contain natural anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties all essential for healthy beautiful skin.

Q: What are your top 3 vacation destinations, and why? 

YJ: Morocco – Because of its great food, real people, diversity in geography, and subcultures. And it’s where I was born!

Maldives – I’ve only been there once, but it was amazing, exotic, and relaxing. Beautiful ocean and beaches, really out of this world.

Banff – Because of its natural beauty, fresh mountain air and wildlife, simply breathtaking.

Q: And, finally… If you had to choose only ONE Bella Aura product that you love the most, which one would it be? 

YJ: This is such a hard question for me to answer because I use the entire set of products in my skin care regime. I use the Gentle Purifying Cleanser morning and night, Daily Moisture Repair and Antioxidant Booster in the morning and during the day when the weather is dry. At night after cleansing I will use either the Instant Lifting Eye Contour or Night Cellular Renewal and quite often both, during the winter and when exposed to sun.

(Editor’s note: Yasmine totally cheated on that last question! ;) But if you want MY favourite product, it’s definitely the Bella Aura Gentle Purifying Cleanser… or maybe the Antioxidant Booster Emulsion. Thanks for reading, folks!)

 

—-

This interview with Yasmine Jones has been edited and condensed. Additional images of Yasmine and Morocco are c/o Bella Aura.

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Toner & Foam Face Cleanser review, photos

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fresh Peony collection review

The product: Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Face Cleanser, Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner, and Peony Brightening Moisture Face Cream

Fresh recently added three new products to their Peony Brightening range, and even though I’m not always into brightening products, I love these.

I don’t really believe in the brightening powers of peony (it’s only ever been “proven” to work in petri dishes), and I highly doubt that peony/mushroom/etc-based products truly brighten. That being said, a great brightening range will also make your skin seem brighter by leaving it clean, fresh, and well-hydrated–and the Fresh Peony Brightening range definitely delivers on that kind of brightening.

Fresh Brightening Peony collection review

The ingredients: The range is formulated with Chinese tree peony extract, Madonna lilly root extract, and vitamin C glucoside, and each product has an additional star ingredient: shea seedcake extract (an antioxidant) in the cleanser and moisturizer, and sodium hyaluronate (to act as an to help the skin retain moisture) in the toner and moisturizer.

Unfortunately, the Fresh Peony Brightening Moisture Face Cream ($72 USDcontains silicones, but the new cleanser and toner are ‘cone-free!

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisture face cream review

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisture Face Cream

Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Face Cleanser ($42 USD/$49 CAD)

I tried out the Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Face Cleanser ($42 USD/$49 CADexpecting to enjoy it, and it totally exceeded my expectations.

It’s a super-thick foam formula that’s honestly kind of hard to squeeze out of the tube, but it’s really luxurious — the packaging is gorgeous, and the foam applies kind of like a traditional shaving cream, or a face mask. (Or like fancy glue.) It feels like a ritual sort of product, and the sweet, soft, floral scent of the Peony Brightening range only compounds on this luxe kind of feeling.

Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Cleanser review

I don’t think I love this one enough that I’ll be rebuying it (my skin’s too dry to use something that foams on a daily basis), but I definitely love it enough that I’m not sharing. A’s gonna have to earn this level of pampering if he wants to touch my Peony cleanser!

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner ($60 USD/$70 CAD)

Conversely, I tried out the Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner ($60 USD/$70 CAD) expecting it to be a flop — but I actually like it even more than the cleanser.

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing toner review

The Fresh Peony toner is, in a word, phenomenal. It’s softly scented and absorbs quickly, and its glycerine-based formula leaves my skin feeling moisturized, velvety, and plush, but never sticky.

I know that this one is a huuuuge stretch for most budgets, but it’s honestly the best-performing toner/lotion-type product that I have ever tried for dry skin. It acts more like a really excellent beauty essence than a toner, and while I’m doubtful that it’ll be brightening in the long term, it’s just beyond lovely.

I can even skip my hydrating serum on days that I use this toner (which is something that I never do), so even though it’s priced at a luxury price point, it’s kind of like spending $70 on a serum, not a toner. Which… seems more reasonable, right?

Fresh skincare picks Peony

The verdict?

If you haven’t checked out the Fresh Peony Brightening range yet, I have two words for you: DO IT. 

I’m not sold on the range’s brightening abilities, but these three products are fantastic nonetheless. The moisturizer has a really lovely texture and scent; the cleanser feels literally like it belongs in a high-end spa; and the toner acts more like a liquid serum that’ll soften and balance your dry skin every morning and night.

There are actually quite a few products in the Fresh Peony range now, and if the rest are anything like these, they would make a fantastic Mother’s Day treat for this time of the year!

Availability: New permanent products as of April 2016. Find them online at Fresh and soon at Sephora.

Keep reading! »

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