Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer review, swatches, photos SX02, SX05 | Silicone-free beauty

Friday, August 26, 2016

Kevyn Aucoin SX02 review photos swatches

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer review – SX02

The product: Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in SX02 and SX05

I’ve raved about the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer (known to makeup addicts simply as Kevyn Aucoin’s SSE) for ages, but I realized the other day that I still hadn’t posted a review of it!

So, without further adieu, here is not only a review, but also a comparison, some swatches, and a blending guide. For anyone out there still seeking their perfect silicone-free foundation, I hope this is helpful!

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX05 review

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer review – SX05

The formula: The Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer formula is thick, creamy, and VERY pigmented. It’s packaged in a tiny plastic jar (which somehow manages to look luxe all the same), and it’s bigger on the inside. Sure, it’s a third of the size of the NARS foundation sitting on your countertop, but it’ll last you three times as long regardless.

SSE is notorious for being more pigmented than most concealers, so you need only a “rice grain” amount (paired with lots of blending) to cover your entire face. It can cover everything from dark circles to severe acne scarring, and it wears well without a need for reapplication. It’s like a tiny pot of really sophisticated photoshoot makeup.

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer before after SX02

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer before & after with SX02

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer silicone free foundation review packaging

The SSE formula seems to work well for most, but I do have some issues with it. For one, it’s heavily fragranced with a powdery scent; for another, it can catch on dry patches. I’ve moved away from using SSE in favour of the new Rodial Airbrush Make-Up, simply because of the way that the Sensual Skin Enhancer looks unnatural in areas where I have lines from dryness.

If you have normal, oily, or even well-primed dry skin, the Sensual Skin Enhancer formula should work well for you. However, if you have eczema or similar patchy-dry skin, be aware that this will emphasize it.

Kevyn Aucoin SSE SX02 SX05 swatches review comparison

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer swatches on my summer-tanned arm: SX02 (lightly/heavily), SX05 (lightly/heavily)

The shades: The Kevyn Aucoin SSE range carries far more shades than the comparable Rodial Airbrush line does, so while I think the Rodial formula is actually a bit better for dry skin, I would still recommend SSE for most. Rodial makes a meagre four shades, all very fair; Kevyn Aucoin makes 16.

I was initially matched to SX05, but it turned out to be a bit too dark for my preferences – it matches the perimeter of my face well, but I mostly wear foundation through my T-zone and under my eyes, where your skin is naturally lighter. I exchanged it for SX02 shortly thereafter, and it’s an excellent match.

SX02 is fair with clear winter undertones, while SX05 is light with beige undertones. The shades don’t ascend with any undertone demarcation, unfortunately, so both SX03 and SX04 are too golden/warm yellow for my olive skin.

Foundation mixing

silicone-free foundation blend

Silicone free foundation recommendation tinted moisturizer

How I wear it: I’m really into the ten-minute-face this year, so I mostly wear my SSE as a liquid foundation unless I have something big going on. It’s easy to apply without a mirror, and as long as my face isn’t having a flare-up of dry skin, it’s totally invisible.

Of course, I’m so lazy that I can no longer be bothered to mix my foundation every morning, so I mix up a batch at a time and put it into a tube. My current HG blend contains a dollop of SSE, a portion of moisturizer (Embryolisse in the winter or Aveeno Fresh Essentials Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 in the summer), a touch of pomegranate seed oil, and a fair amount of Deciem Hylamide SubQ Serum.

Kevyn Aucoin SSE review SX05 silicone free foundation ingredients

Kevyn Aucoin SSE review – SX05

The verdict?

If you’re searching for the perfect silicone-free foundation, the Kevyn Aucoin is my top recommendation for a cream product. (The Rodial shade range is laughably small, and my beloved Pür Minerals 4-in-1 is a pressed powder). Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer is an amazing concealer, foundation, and tinted moisturizer… you name it, it can do it. It’s expensive, but it’s such a flexible product that it’s worth it. 

Because the shades are so pigmented, however, it’s important to find a seamless match. If you can’t find your perfect match in real life, I’d recommend trying Tinder sampling it through Camera Ready Cosmetics (that’s what I did, and my $4.99 USD sample lasted me weeks), or even buying two shades to blend – it’s worth the investment.

Availability: $48 USD/$58 CAD at Sephora, Nordstrom (limited shades), and Space NK. In Edmonton, you can also find this at Lux Beauty Boutique.

Keep reading! »

Libertine Fragrance Soft Woods EdT review, photos

Monday, August 8, 2016

Libertine soft woods roll on review photos

The product: Libertine Fragrance Soft Woods Eau de Toilette Roll-On

One of my favourite fragrances got a bit of a facelift recently, so I thought I’d take a moment to share it with all of you while it was fresh in my mind. Soft Woods (like the rest of the Libertine line) now comes in clear glass and a beautiful white box, but the scent and formula remain the same.

Libertine fragrance Soft Woods review photos

A little bit about Libertine: I’ve been trying my best to support local and indie businesses over the past couple of years, and Libertine Fragrance is basically the pinnacle of that–especially for me, because they’re based right here in Edmonton. Josh, the brand’s founder, is a forester turned designer who got hooked on perfume, and he now blends unisex fragrances right from the cozy comfort of his home.

(And yes, he still has a very forest-y beard. Hipster boys would weep in its wake.)

All of Libertine’s products are made by hand in small batches, and Josh uses a mix of high-quality synthetic and natural ingredients diluted in fractionated coconut oil or perfumers alcohol. Their blends are 60%-80% natural and are vegan and cruelty free, and all of the brand’s printing is done locally by a family-owned Edmonton business!

Edmonton indie Libertine Fragrance review, photos

The scent itself: I sniffed my way through the entire Libertine range at last year’s winter Royal Bison, but Soft Woods was the one scent that really stuck with me. It has this really guttural, sexy vibe to it, and it just envelops you in scent with the slightest touch of the roll-on.

Key notes and origins: Natural balsam fir (Canada), juniper (Hungary), black pepper (India), rose de mai (Egypt), frankincense (Oman), and bourbon vanilla (India). Synthetic, cruelty-free musk.

Indie soft woods fragrance review

What makes Soft Woods so special is that it’s sultry in a really natural kind of way – like hi, hello, I sleep in a pile of moss and everything I own is encrusted in gold and rubies. Small birds help me get dressed in the morning and my best friend is a cheetah. It’s woody, sweet, and floral, with an almost acrid edge that makes it alluring and risqué instead of headache-inducing or overpowering.

Basically, Soft Woods smells like what Tom Ford Black Orchid would have smelled like if it had been made for hipsters instead of ladies of the night. Both are gorgeous; one has far more veneer.

Soft woods review - Libertine Fragrance, edmonton

The verdict?

Soft Woods is a beautiful blend of woods, rose, and vanilla, and it smells like crisp winter evenings in utter silence. It’s one of those rare fragrances that hits it out of the park in every category, with a really genuine founder, excellently sourced ingredients, and the sillage of the roll-on is perfect for catching one’s nose and encouraging them to lean in for the full effect (nudge nudge).

Availability: $48 CAD at Libertine Fragrance and through these Canadian stockists. Ships internationally.

PS: If you’re addicted to Rahua products and Palo Santo wood (and really, who wouldn’t be), you NEED to try Libertine’s Leche De Palo Santo Linen & Body Spray ($32) as well!

Keep reading! »

Duckish Lotion Stick, Body Butter, Bath Salts review, photos | DIY Pedicure Kit

Monday, July 25, 2016

Duckish canadian pedicure kit review photos

The product: Duckish DIY Pedicure Kit (customized) – Duckish Mint Bath Salts, Pink Grapefruit Body Butter, and Lavender Lotion Stick

Okay, so I really wanted to feature Duckish as part of my Small Business Saturdays series, but things keep coming up on Friday nights and I really didn’t want to wait any longer. So we’ll call this one Small Business Mondays instead, I guess!

Duckish is an all-natural Canadian beauty brand with just the absolute cutest packaging. (I want to own basically everything they make.) Their products are all cruelty-free, handmade, and free of icky things like parabens, synthetic fragrances, and silicones.

Duckish mint bath salts review photos

Mint Bath Salts ($9.99 CAD)

I wanted to focus my review on Duckish’s body butter and lotion stick, because I’ve been dying to try them out for what feels like forever–but this kit includes bath salts and a pumice stone on a rock, too. The pumice stone is pretty standard fare, but the bath salts are more then just plain ‘ol rock salt.

They’re a blend of Dead Sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, and Epsom salts, with sweet almond oil and organic coconut oil to add a bit of hydration to your bath or foot soak. Each scent comes with a unique blend of essential oils, too; the Mint one is made with eucalyptus and peppermint (two of my all-time favourite oils.)

Duckish pink grapefruit body butter review

Pink Grapefruit Body Butter ($11.99 CAD)

Funnily enough, I was most excited for the Duckish Body Butter, but their lotion stick stole the show for me. The Body Butters, I think, are best for those with dry or weathered skin – not so much for Sahara-like dehydration.

The Duckish Body Butter formula is definitely a classic one, with a thick, creamy formula that’s heavy on the shea, and honestly… I didn’t like it. It’s surprisingly creamy for an indie body butter, but non-“mainstream” (The Body Shop, L’Occitane, Bliss, etc.) butters just don’t seem to be hydrating enough for me – this one just kinda sits on my skin, leaving hands feeling both vaguely greasy and so dry that they’re itchy.

Some people love these kinds of body butters, though, so just keep it in mind when ordering! Oh, and a warning for all my fellow crazy cat ladies: there’s just enough citrus oil in Pink Grapefruit to scare Tunakitten away from me when I’m using this, but not quite enough to make the olive oil in the formula palatable to my nose. :(

Duckish lavender lotion stick review

Lavender Mini Lotion Stick ($6.99 CAD)

Duckish’s description for their lotion sticks is:

“Lotion? In a stick? Is this real life? Yes, yes it is!”

And you know what? They couldn’t have been more accurate with that statement. These lotion sticks are crazily good – the mini one is perfect for mess-free application on the go, and the formula is spot-on.

I have really dehydrated skin, and the Duckish lotion stick definitely works better for me than their body butter. It melts immediately upon contact, basically turning into a light oil that absorbs immediately into the skin, and it feels so lovely – not greasy at all.
Duckish DIY Pedicure Kit review

The verdict?

I love buying Canadian when I can, and Duckish makes that really easy. You’re not sacrificing packaging or price, and my only two reservations about the line are small ones: I’d have liked to see a bit more fragrance in their EO and a wider online availability, but both of these are things that will be remediated naturally, as the brand grows.

If bought separately, the three Duckish products in this kit come out to $28.97, so buying the kit essentially gets you a free pumice stone. If I was re-ordering for myself, though, I’d take all $29.99 and put it toward a hoard of lotion sticks!!

Availability: $29.99 CAD. Duckish just recently began shipping to the US in addition to Canada, so use code DUCKISHUSA to get $5 off all US orders over $20 until the end of the month.

Keep reading! »

CODE BLUE: The colour-coded skincare edit

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Colour coded skincare blue bright

Have you ever noticed that beauty brands, at some point in time, all seem to have collectively decided that certain colours mean certain things? It’s like some overfunded marketing department went, “hey, you know what sounds like fun? Bringing in an unqualified psychologist to tell us the true meaning of life and colours sounds like fun!” And everyone else followed suit.

It’s like that prison experiment: painting the walls pink made everyone calmer, but it wasn’t because pink is a gentle colour. (What was it said to be before the male to female changeover, again? Strong, bold, assertive?) The change just broke up the listless monotony of one identical day after the next, and even as a prisoner, it’s kinda nice when someone gives a crap about your environment. The same effects can be seen if you paint the walls red, yellow, fluorescent green…

Okay, maybe not fluorescent green, but that’s only because it’s impossible to maintain a pleasant disposition when the walls are literally (figuratively) screaming at you while you sleep.

Purple skin care for anti ageing hydration

The thing about these arbitrary industry colours, though, is that despite all the hogwash, they’re pretty helpful little guiding tools.

I like knowing that blue means cleansing, and that purple means anti-ageing, and that orange means that something is going to contain vitamin C and use the word “invigorating” or “energizing” at least twice on its packaging. It’s probably also going to smell like citrus, and I will surely try to taste it some point and no matter what, it’s going to be revolting.

I like that kind of reliability. I mean, I never learn from that kind of reliability, taste-wise, but I like knowing that it’s there all the same.

Funnily enough, this is a phenomenon that I think is strongest in mid-range and drugstore brands. Trendy high-end brands are too busy being coherent and classy, you know? Like, they are not going to break that aesthetic just so a consumer will immediately reach for their skintype’s “colour,” and they don’t need to – the sales associate is there to guide the consumer anyways.

But for drugstore brands? This colour-coded nonsense can actually be pretty helpful, especially in a barrage of twenty other near-identical products. I think it’s kinda handy, like a weird life boat that nobody wanted but everybody is going to use anyways, because this ship is going down.

So what about you? What’s your “colour” in the skincare aisle? 

Scarlet & Julia review: Living Proof PhD Night Cap, Lavanila Passion Fruit Deodorant

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Scarlet Julia free sample

The products: Living Proof PhD Night Cap Overnight Perfector, Lavanila Vanilla Passion Fruit Healthy Deodorant, and Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Brow Color in Medium

It can be really tough to pick what to review when you haven’t done it in a while (okay, like, a week), but today, I was hit by a little bout of inspiration as I was getting out of the shower: why not review my Scarlet & Julia haul from last year?

(I know. I’m the worst.)

Scarlet and Julia review

Scarlet & Julia is an awesome Canadian online shop that carries brands like St. Tropez, Stila, and Lise Watier, with a bonus members-only “Beauty Outlet” section. (Think HauteLook, but without the insane Canadian shipping and processing fees.) They sent me a gift card last year to check out the store, and I put it towards part of my order.

Personally, I really like it when stores send out gift cards instead of product samples, because you get to experience the actual store with no extra bells and whistles. And my experience was great: the site’s easy to navigate, the sale section is really good (that Stila brow colour was actually purchased as a backup because it was so cheap at S&J), and my order came with a free sample of Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Conditioner and a $10 off promo code.

Lavanila Vanilla Passion Fruit deodorant review

Lavanila Vanilla Passion Fruit Healthy Deodorant ($17 CAD)

I really liked both of the new products that I ordered, too. The Lavanila Vanilla Passion Fruit deodorant was way more expensive than my usual deodorant choices (typically just a stick of men’s Axe or Degree), but it smells amazing and works really well. I liked that the stick felt like a “regular” deo, too – most silicone-free choices are all either gel-based or really pasty, but this was neither.

Lavanila’s passion fruit scent is surprisingly tart, which was a nice surprise. It’s light on the vanilla and heavy on the guava, too – think of it as more of an unsweetened fruit smoothie than a hearty dose of diabetes.

Living Proof PhD Night Cap overnight protector review

Living Proof PhD Night Cap Overnight Perfector ($34 CAD)

The biggest hit from my order, though, was the Living Proof PhD Night Cap Overnight Perfector. This stuff is MAGIC. I have no idea how it works its magic, but you put a little bit into damp hair from roots to ends, sleep on it, and wake up with model hair. 

It gives just the right amount of conditioning and shape, holding in some slept-on shape while still feeling totally product-free and touchable. Plus, it’s so non-greasy that you can even work it into your roots and wake up with grease-free hair.

It’s silicone-free and smells a lot like Elizabeth Arden Green Tea (one of my guiltiest pleasures), so really: zero faults here.

Scarlet and Julia haul

The verdict?

I really liked ordering from Scarlet & Julia, and you know what? I’d do it again. I like that they’re Canadian, I love the way they package their orders, and they were probably the only online shop that I could have made this particular order at.

The Living Proof Night Cap is also available at Sephora, but had I ordered from there, I wouldn’t have gotten 40% off of my Stila Brow Color. I wouldn’t have been able to get that Lavanila Healthy Deodorant in Vanilla Passion Fruit, either; for some reason, no one else seems to carry it here in Canada!

Additional photos & more »

Pai Skincare Instant Calm, Rosehip Oil, Sensitive Skin Cloth reviews, photos

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Pai skincare review photos natural silicone free

The products: Pai Skincare Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream, Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser and Cloth, and Rosehip BioRegenerative Oil

I’ve gone years resisting the pull of the Pai Rosehip Oil (and the super pretty rest of the line), but it’s been long enough. Eventually, you just have to cave in, locate the high-quality thing, and luxuriate in its beauty.

(Similar but different: I had my first cup of coffee at Credo a while back, and it was literally so good that I moaned a little. I think I scared my date a little.)

Pai hydrating cleanser review

Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser ($50 USD/$56 CAD)

My favourite product from this trio is the Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, which comes with one of the brand’s dual-textured sensitive skin cotton cloths. It smells gently of lemon balm, and the cleanser and cloth make for a really lovely hot cloth polish experience!

The Camellia & Rose cleanser has a thin cold cream texture and is great for sensitive skin. For those of you unfamiliar with cold cream or hot cloth type cleansers, they’re a very ritualistic experience – you apply a thick layer of cleanser to dry skin (eye area included), gently wipe away all of your makeup and impurities with a muslin soaked in hot water, and finish with a splash of cold water to rinse.

My dry skin really likes this cleanser, but I do have one complaint: my skin is crazy sensitive, and I really wish that Pai offered an even softer cloth for ultra sensitive skin types!

Pai chamomile day cream review photos

Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream ($60 USD/$66 CAD)

Pai’s Chamomile & Rosehip Day Cream has a really “clean” ingredient list rich in matricin, azulene, and omega fatty acids, it’s designed to soothe the skin and minimize the appearance (!) of reactive redness.

It was far from hydrating enough for my skin, though (which is dry but not super dry right now), and it didn’t do much for my sensitivity. Ironically, because it left my skin feeling a little tight and dry, it actually made my skin feel more uncomfortable than usual, not better!

For redness and sensitivity, I still think that this Deciem serum is a better option. However, it’s nice that there’s a natural option out there from Pai, and I have no real issues with the Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream (aside from the fact that it smells like rosehip oil, which I am weirdly and seemingly uniquely adverse to). It just wasn’t the right product for me, you know?

Pai rosehip regenerative oil review photos

Rosehip BioRegenerative Oil ($40 USD/$40 CAD)

And finally: the crown and glory of the Pai Skincare line!

Pai’s biggest, most cult-followed product is their Rosehip BioRegenerative Oil, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t super psyched to try it. I’m split on my thoughts about it, though: on one hand, it turns out that I hate the smell of rosehip oil, and when it’s good quality (like this one is), it actually tints my skin orange.

On the other, the quality of Pai’s rosehip oil is beyond compare. It blends rosehip seed oil with rosehip fruit oil to really pack in the carotenoid-rich antioxidants and sterols, and it’s noticeably more effective as a result. It doesn’t just condition the skin, it helps heal it, which is pretty cool. (I got two accidental scratches from Tunakitten last month, and the one that I was using Pai oil on definitely scarred less.)

Rosehip oil review pai skincare vegan cruelty free

This is my third rosehip oil, and it’s by far my favourite. Now Organic’s Rosehip Seed Oil was thin and clear, and Le Serum de Jacynthe’s rosehip oil blend was very good, but it was literally twice the price of this one and no more effective.

In short, I think that the Pai Rosehip BioRegenerative Oil is well worth the price. It’s one of the highest-quality oils that I own, and it hits scrapes and scars with +150% crit damage. Blending it with another oil will help neutralize the scent (try adding a drop of essential oil into some decanted rosehip oil), and 1-2 drops of rosehip oil with your regular moisturizer will make a fantastic overnight treatment.

Pai hot cloth polish review photos

The verdict?

Overall, I really enjoyed using these products from Pai, and I use the Camellia & Rose Cleanser and Rosehip BioRegenerative Oil on a regular basis. I like that they’re pretty, vegan, and cruelty-free, and I love that their rosehip oil is such a powerhouse.

$40 CAD/oz is a steal for a serum that’s this high-quality, and while it’s not my favourite oil ever, it’s unquestionably fantastic for the price.

Availability: Pai Skincare (US) & The Detox Market (US & Canada)

Additional photos & ingredients »

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...