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! »

Clinique Chubby Stick swatches, review: Hazelnut, Blush, Tomato, Orange, & more!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Clinique Chubby Stick review swatches

The product: Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm

   ↳ in 09 Heaping Hazelnut, 10 Bountiful Blush, 11 Two Ton Tomato, 12 Oversized Orange, 13 Mighty Mimosa, 14 Curvy Candy, 15 Pudgy Peony, and 16 Voluptuous Violet

I love Clinique’s Chubby Stick range. I talk about them all the time; I carry them around in my bag like they’re the keys to my house, I own all of the lip shades except maybe three or four of them.

I haven’t, however, had the chance to post swatches of many of them yet. So: here are eight more Clinique Chubby Sticks. I hope you enjoy.

Clinique Chubby Stick review

A recap of the formula: The classic Clinique Chubby Stick formula is comfortable and sheer, and wears for about 2-3 hours on my lips. The twist-up pencil packaging and no-mirror opacity makes them easy to throw into your handbag and apply on the go, and the large shade range literally has something for everybody.

All of the Chubby Sticks are taste- and scent-free, and get a lot of flack for being really sheer — but it’s important to remember that they’re marketed as a lip balm, not a lipstick. The Chubby Stick Intense formula offers full opacity, while the original formula varies from almost completely-sheer to medium-opaque depending on the shade.

Clinique Chubby Stick sheer lipsticks

Clinique Chubby Stick swatches Hazelnut Blush Tomato Orange

Swatched L-R: 09 Heaping Hazelnut, 10 Bountiful Blush, 11 Two Ton Tomato, 12 Oversized Orange, 13 Mighty Mimosa, 14 Curvy Candy, 15 Pudgy Peony, and 16 Voluptuous Violet

The shades: Heaping Hazelnut is a sheer, warm nude with a hint of shimmer. Bountiful Blush is a pinky-brown with medium opacity and a subtly frosty finish (I bet it would make a gorgeous nude on a darker skintone). Two Ton Tomato is a sheer, bright strawberry-orange. Oversized Orange is a super-sheer orange with a hint of gold shimmer (pinker, less shimmery, and way more sheer than Mega Melon).

Mighty Mimosa is a sheer soft pink with very subtle shimmer. Curvy Candy is also sheer with subtle shimmer, but is a cooler-toned pink. Both are a little more pigmented than Whoppin’ Watermelon, which is shimmer-free. Pudgy Peony is a bright blue-pink; it’s also sheer, but appears more pigmented due to how vivid the shade is. Voluptuous Violet is a super-sheer subdued violet — it is the sheerest shade in the entire range, but adds a really pretty, wearable violet veil to the lips.

Clinique Chubby Stick Swatch mimosa candy peony violet

Clinique Chubby Stick swatches, L-R: Heaping Hazelnut, Bountiful Blush, Two Ton Tomato, Oversized Orange, Mighty Mimosa, Curvy Candy, Pudgy Peony, ad Voluptuous Violet

Clinique tinted lip balm lipstick review Chubby Stick

The verdict?

As someone who loves low-maintenance products, I love the comfortable Chubby Stick formula and super-cute packaging. These Chubby Sticks (released initially in 2012) tend to be a little more pigmented than the original eight shades, and more of these shades contain a small amount of natural-looking shimmer.

My must-have Chubby Stick shades are Whoppin’ Watermelon (for everyday), Mega Melon (for the summer), Super Strawberry (for more pigment), and Voluptuous Violet (for a really sheer wash of cool-toned pigment). For those looking for a bright, sheer lip, I would also recommend Pudgy Peony.

Availability: $17 USD/$19 CAD at Nordstrom, Sephora, and Clinique counters.

More Chubby Sticks & individual product shots »

Burt’s Bees Hydrating Lip Balm with Coconut and Pear review, photos

Monday, June 9, 2014

Burt's Bees Coconut & Pear lip balm review

The product: Burt’s Bees Hydrating Lip Balm with Coconut and Pear

Coming this month to Burt’s Bees is a new beeswax-based lip balm. During June–aka Pollinator Month–100% of the proceeds of this all-natural lip balm will go to Burt’s Bees’ WILD FOR BEES campaign, which celebrates its third year this month.

In partnership with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, this money will go toward expanding the WILD FOR BEES bee hotel initiative across Canada. The initiative hopes to have 100 bee hotels open across Canada by 2015, designed with bees in mind by SUSTAINABLE.TO Architecture + Building. These “bee hotels” will help provide the dwindling bee population with a safe space to rest in the summer (and hide in the winter).

Burt's Bees WILD FOR BEES bee hotels

The formula: The Burt’s Bees Hydrating Lip Balm with Coconut and Pear formula feels light and slippery, and feels more hydrating than Burts’ other spinoff formulas right off the bat.

That said — for my super-dry lips, this formula just doesn’t cut it. It hydrates while it lasts, but I need to re-apply within 1-2 hours or my lips feel parched; however, if other drugstore or scented Burt’s Bees balms work for you, this one definitely will as well. (You’ll probably find it a little more hydrating than the others, even!)

Burt's Bees Hydrating lip balm review

The scent: Flavour-free, the coconut really predominates in this blend. If you take a close sniff, though, you can smell a bit of pear-y fruitiness in the undertones, which becomes much more apparent as the coconut scent fades. It’s a really lovely scent blend, especially for the summer!

The ingredients: (Which, might I add, I’m really impressed with.)

Sunflower Seed Oil, Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Natural Flavor, Castor Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Lanolin, Pear Fruit Extract, Ammonium Glycyrrhizate, Tocopherol, Soybean Oil, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Canola Oil, Linalool, Limonene, Geraniol.

Burt's Bees Hydrating Lip Balm Coconut & Pear review

The verdict?

Burt’s Bees may make tons of other products nowadays (their iconic cuticle butter and excellent peppermint foot cream come to mind), but I will always think they do lips best. This new Coconut & Pear lip balm is comfortable and hydrating, and though the hydration doesn’t last for me, I think it’ll be a big hit for most — especially with those who  like the tropical smell of coconut.

Availability: $3.59 USD/$4.89 CAD at burtsbees.ca, pollinatorpartnership.ca, and in stores at The Fairmont Store at the Fairmont Royal York this June. Launching July 2014 nationwide.

Keep reading! »

theBalm timeBalm review, swatches – Lighter Than Light, Light, Light/Medium | My staple silicone-free concealer

Thursday, June 5, 2014

theBalm timeBalm anti-ageing concealer review

The product: theBalm timeBalm Anti-Wrinkle Concealer in Lighter Than Light, Light, and Light/Medium

You see timeBalm all the time on theNotice. Every tutorial, every makeup look, every shade comparison — they all (or almost all) have one secret ingredient in common: timeBalm. It’s my old standby; the only silicone-free concealer I’ve tried so far that runs light enough for my skin.

A couple weeks ago, I finished off an entire pot of this concealer, right down to the last smudge. It took me five and a half years (during which time my timeBalm somehow managed not to go off at all), but as someone who has literally never finished off a makeup product before — it was a pretty big deal for me.

theBalm timeBalm concealers

theBalm timeBalm shade comparisons

L-R: theBalm timeBalm concealer in Lighter Than Light, Light, and Light/Medium

The formula: The beeswax-based timeBalm concealer is free of silicones, parabens, and fragrances, and enriched with Vitamins A, E, and C to help combat the signs of ageing. theBalm says it’s so good for your skin that you can wear it to sleep, and while I absolutely would not recommend  this, I have admittedly done it once or twice (by accident!) with no harm done.

theBalm timeBalm Anti-Ageing Concealer Ingredients: 

Tridecyl Trimellitate, Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Talc, Diethylhexyl Adipate, Isoeicosane, Carnauba Wax, Beeswax, Octyldodecanol, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, C18-36 Acid Glycol Ester, Panthenol, Tribehenin, Ceresin, Lauroyl Lysine, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Linoleic Acid, Soybean Sterols, Phospholipids, Silica, Propyl Gallate, Soybean Oil.

+/- Mica, Titanium Dioxide, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, CI 77007.

theBalm timeBalm Lighter Than Light swatch shade comparison review

theBalm timeBalm in Lighter Than Light

theBalm timeBalm light medium swatch comparison review

theBalm timeBalm in Light

theBalm timeBalm Light swatch comparison review

theBalm timeBalm in Light/Medium

The texture & wear (aka “what makes timeBalm so great”): I really love the timeBalm formula because, for a consumer product, it resembles theatre makeup quite closely. It’s a wonderfully creamy, high-coverage product, and works well for both concealing acne and covering dark circles (though it does struggle a bit with extremely dry patches and pronounced wrinkles). Because the formula blends out so beautifully, I use my timeBalm as both a foundation and a spot concealer, similarly to how something like the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer ($48 USD) would be used — but at a fraction of the cost.

I have extremely dry skin, and though timeBalm does catch on my really rough patches (I’ve yet to find anything that doesn’t), I get all day wear out of it as long as I follow up with powder. This includes morning-to-evening coverage of blemishes–I layer timeBalm with a mineral powder to cover up scars and acne–which is quite the feat!

theBalm timeBalm lighter than, light, medium swatches

theBalm timeBalm concealer comparison swatches – Lighter Than Light, Light, Light/Medium

The shades: Lighter Than Light is yellower than MAC Studio Fix Concealer in NW15. It’s similar to NC20, but pinker, and its warm undertones run more peach than orange, unlike NC20. Light is similar to MAC NW20 but just a hair darker, and runs a touch more yellow-orange than pink-peach. If you match NW20, timeBalm in Light will definitely work for you. If you match MAC NW25, Light will by way too fair for you.

I can’t for the life of me find my pot of Light/Medium (and I literally searched for three hours yesterday), but if memory serves me right, it’s darker than Light and NW20 but not as dark or orange as NW25 — the NW20-NW25 shade jump seems particularly large to my eye for some reason. I’m pretty sure Light/Medium is a little more olive and more orange/saturated (but with less peach and pink) than Lighter Than Light and Light, too.

theBalm timeBalm concealer review

The verdict?

I really, really love timeBalm. It’s the only makeup product I’ve ever used up & re-purchased, and though I’m always on the lookout for something better (something that magically hides dry patches, perhaps), I’ve yet to find anything else that meets my criteria.

I use theBalm’s timeBalm concealer as both a concealer and a foundation, and it pulls off everything from spot concealing to sheer coverage without breaking a sweat. It’s also scent-free and silicone-free, and comes in seven shades.

Availability: $18 USD at Nordstrom; in Canada, you can find theBalm at many Rexall locations. timeBalm is also available in cream foundation and liquid forms, though I haven’t had the chance to try either!

Keep reading! »

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