SkinCeuticals Simply Clean cleanser review, photos

Monday, February 1, 2016

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Cleanser

The product: SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Pore-Refining Gel Cleanser

The thing about SkinCeuticals’ Simply Clean cleanser is that it shouldn’t work for me… but it does. It’s everything that my skin usually hates, from the texture (gel instead of milk) to the target audience (oily instead of dry and sensitive).

But despite all that stuff, Simply Clean works wonders on my skin. I’m not sure how, but if I had to guess, I’d say probably magic. Maybe a crossroads deal; maybe a regular, ritualistic sacrifice. There are probably goats involved or something.

SkinCuticals square

The formula: SkinCeuticals’ products are all formulated with the philosophy of “prevention, protection, and correction,” (AKA science! Science! Science!) and their cleansers are no exception. Simply Clean is formulated with a hydroxy acid blend to gently exfoliate dead skin cells, smoothing out rough texture and removing excess oils.

It’s made for people with oily/combination skin and great for those with acne, but it was recommended as part of my skincare regimen because some of my pores can get a little clogged. My skin specialist told me that it (unlike the brand’s Purifying Cleanser) would help gently lift the dead skin cells from my skin without requiring more treatment products or physical exfoliation, which my super-dry skin often needs help with.

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Cleanser review oily skin

The results: My skin burns in response to a good 70% of the non-milk cleansers that I try, but this one caused no reaction, even after weeks of testing. It still delivers a totally makeup-free, squeaky-clean result, and I’ve been really happy with it so far.

I feel like I’ve seen less surprise breakouts and milia since I started using Simply Clean every night, and even though it isn’t the line’s gentlest cleanser, it’s really non-reactive. It’s my only squeaky-clean cleanser that I can comfortably use, and that’s honestly such a novelty for me that I look forward to using this stuff every night!

(Yeah, the Friday nights around here are really wild.)

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Cleanser combination gel skin review

The verdict?

Simply Clean is a simple, no-nonsense cleanser that will gently exfoliate while cleansing and removing makeup. It’s best for oilier skin types, but it works well for anyone with clogged pores — yes, even us dry-skinned folk.

I’d skip it if you want conditioning agents in your cleanser, or if you have sensitive skin that isn’t clogged (in which case, the SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser would probably suit your skin better.) Overall, however, I am very, very impressed with this little dude! I know that cleansers are kind of boring, but this one performs so well that it’s my favourite product from the line — and the SkinCeuticals range is far from underwhelming.

(Reviews of SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, Emollience Moisturizer, and Serum 10 upcoming.)

Availability: $34 USD/$39.50 CAD though dermatologist’s offices (see the SkinCeuticals site to find the one closest to you). Available online at SkinCeuticals, DermStore, SkinStore, and SkinCareRX (all authorized retailers!)

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Salcura DermaSpray, Hand Therapy, Shampoo/Conditioner reviews & GIVEAWAY!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Salcura Bioskin DermaSpray review

The products: Salcura Bioskin DermaSpray, Autumn Skin Awakening Hand Therapy, Winter Skin Warming Hand Therapy, and Sensitive & Dry Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner

Do you ever feel like Europe gets all of the best eczema/dry skin/pharmacy brands? I always have — I mean, just look at things like E45, Embryolisse, and Oilatum.

I have another brand for you guys to add to that list today: Salcura. They’re a (mostly, like 98%) natural brand that uses no SLS, parabens, silicones, mineral oil, etc., and they focus on providing gentle, hydrating care for people with dry skin conditions.

Salcura shampoo conditioner review photos

Salcura Sensitive & Dry Scalp Conditioner & Shampoo (£8.99 each)

What I thought was really cool about the Salcura line is that not only do they aim to treat dry skin on the body, but they have a couple products for people with dermatitis of the scalp, too. Their Sensitive & Dry Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner duo is rich in omega oils and super gentle on the hair, and my dry scalp has been loving them.

With regular use of this duo, I’ve seen a dramatic decrease in how peel-y and dry my scalp is — so much so that if I use a different shampoo (even a different one made for dry hair) for a day, I’ll notice more dry flakes and flyaway hair immediately.

I find that I have to use a little more product than usual with this shampoo, but I can good a good foam going if I do. Both products smell a little oily (think grapeseed, not canola), but they leave my hair and scalp looking and feeling super hydrated.

Salcura DermaSpray review photos

Salcura Bioskin DermaSpray (£16.99)

Another super cool product from Salcura is their DermaSpray, which is made for daily use on itchy skin. Made with labender, rosemary, and eucalyptus essential oils, this spray is milky and watery — it provides instant soothing with no oiliness (I can even spray it onto my scalp and my hair looks fine).

I didn’t see strong results with this one on my problem areas, but this spray would be awesome for someone with normal skin who wants totally weightless, easy moisture OR for someone with dry skin (like me!) who is planning on layering it with another moisturizer.

Salcura Winter Skin therapy review hand cream

Salcura Autumn & Winter Hand Therapy Creams (£12.99 each)

Even more exciting than Salcura’s spray and haircare range, though, are their hand creams. I tried the Winter Skin Warming Hand Therapy, which doesn’t actually warm your hands and smells very strongly of ginger oil (one of my least favourite smell so, I’ve since discovered), and the Autumn Skin Awakening Hand a Therapy, which on the other hand was the BEST thing that I’ve ever smelled. 

Salcura says that their autumn scent comes from freesia and pear, and while I can’t pull any distinct notes from it, I can tell you that it smells great. It’s floral, juicy, and fruity, with a scent that lingers and gives me serious heart-eyes all throughout the day.

The formula of Autumn Skin is awesome, too — it’s almost airy, but it’s very creamy, too. It’s quite hydrating (more hydrating than L’Occitane, Neutrogena, or Lush), with a silky, non-greasy finish. 

Salcura Autumn Skin therapy review hand cream

I told the kind folks at Salcura about how much I loved the Autumn Skin Awakening Hand Therapy, and they offered to send one reader not just the Autumn hand cream, but all four seasons! So: please use the giveaway widget below to enter to win FOUR awesome hand creams that are silicone, phthalate, and paraben-free. ;)

The giveaway will be open until Sunday, January 31st at 11:59 PM MST. Good luck, you guys — you’re going to LOVE these!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The verdict?

If you have eczema on your scalp, you need to give Salcura a try. I saw the best results when I used all three of their hair-appropriate products together, but if you love your current shampoo and conditioner, even just adding their DermaSpray to your morning routine will help a ton.

I also think their Autumn Skin hand cream is a must, although I’d take a pass on Winter if you’re making an order!

Availability: You can find Salcura at Boots, Whole Foods, and salcuraskincare.com.

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Design crush: Vice & Velvet | Small Business Saturdays

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Vice and Velvet - Mei Ong

I’ve been looking for indie brands to review and feature on theNotice recently (if you have any suggestions, hit me up in the comments!) and yesterday night, I came across a cute little Australian soap company called Vice & Velvet. It’s a brand that anyone who spends a lot of time on Instagram (guilty) will recognize, but did you know that Vice & Velvet is a one-woman brand?

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As crazy as that sounds, this gorgeous little soap company is run and operated by Mei Ong out of Melbourne, Australia. The line is cruelty-free and vegan, and features small-batch products that are “cut, stamped, and wrapped by hand” — all by Mei, who also does all of her own formulating, production, graphic design, photography, and bookkeeping. 

What I think is really inspirational about Vice & Velvet, though (I keep wanting to call it V&V, which is my nickname for my girlfriend’s cats), is that Mei isn’t just an Asian-Australian woman who’s totally making it on her own, although honestly — that shit is hard. But no, it’s the level at which she excels at all of these things.

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I am completely smitten with Vice & Velvet’s minimalist-hipster packaging; with its unique Jewel Soap Gift Set and whimsical Cloud Soap Bars. I am enamoured with the fact that each bar of soap is lovingly hand-stamped for an ultra-chic, ultra-luxe look. I am obsessed with the way that each bar looks different (but perfect), and with the way that Mei’s photographic style is recognizable from a mile away. 

You never have to check the caption to see if a bar of soap was made by Vice & Velvet, you know? All you have to do is glance at the image and you just know. 

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Check out Vice & Velvet at their online store here, or click here to see their goods on Etsy. 

Hylamide Sensitive Fix, HA Booster review, photos, comparison

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Deciem Hylamide Booster review photos comparison

The products: DECIEM Hylamide Sensitive Fix & Low-Molecular HA Booster Serums

It’s no secret that I love Deciem’s SubQ Anti-Age Advanced Serum, so when I heard about the line’s “boosters,” my interest was immediately piqued. The boosters are designed to be used as an adjunct to your skincare routine, applied after your serum and before your moisturizer, letting you customize exactly what you want out of your regimen.

I was sent the Low-Molecular HA Booster by the lovely folks at Deciem, but I liked it enough to purchase the Sensitive Fix Booster on my own — and I couldn’t be happier that I did.

Deciem Hylamide Low-Molecular HA Booster review photos

Low-Molecular HA Booster

The HA Booster contains 5 different hyaluronic compounds that target everything from lightweight surface hydration (hyaluronic acid ferment) to encouraging your skin to produce more hyaluronic acid on its own (HA precursor), but for some reason, I find that I get lots of little closed comedones when I use this.

The formula of the HA booster is a little weird, too. Like Fountain’s Hyaluronic Molecule, it’s very thick — not sticky, but almost… goopy? It dries to a “nothing” finish, but the application is a little weird!

Hylamide Low-Molecular HA Booster review photos

Deciem Hylamide Sensitive Fix Booster review photos

Sensitive Fix Booster

Okay, so this? This is where it’s at. 

I was a little disheartened with my experience with Hylamide’s HA booster, so I went and purchased their Sensitive Fix during the brand’s 20% off Halloween sale. My order came out to a tiny $16.80 CAD including 2-day shipping, and it was marked as shipped literally twelve minutes after I made my order, so yeah, you could say that Mr. Sensitive Fix and I got off to a pretty good start.

Hylamide HA Booster review photos

Sensitive Fix is meant to decrease irritation and redness with twice daily use. I don’t have a lot of redness and it doesn’t do anything for the redness that I do have (though I suspect those with serious redness will have different results), but what it does do is calm down my surface irritation. 

I have super-sensitive skin that sometimes feels like it’s burning for no reason whatsoever, but Hylamide’s Sensitive Fix kills the irritation almost immediately. It works much like the Guerlain SOS Serum does, with a very mild “hot” feeling followed by a dramatic decrease in irritation, except it’s $20 CAD, not (have mercy) $104 USD.

Deciem Sensitive Fix Booster review photos

Now, this is a total over-share, but when I read that the Golden-Eye Grass Complex in this serum balances skin pH to reduce sensitivity in the immediate and short term, I, uh. Put it on not-my-face. And then I re-tested it on not-my-boyfriend’s-face.

That’s all I’m going to say about that, but trust me on this one: if you’re experiencing pain on pink skin due to dryness or irritation, this stuff will calm it down in literally seconds. 

But I mean, don’t try this one at home, kids.

Hylamide Sensitive Fix Booster review photos

The verdict?

You NEED the Hylamide Sensitive Fix Booster. I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first, but now that I’ve tried it, I really believe in its ability to calm down surface sensitivity in the short term. It was easily my best purchase of 2015, and I’ll likely be stocking up with a second bottle before the end of 2016!

As for the Low-Molecular HA Booster? My skin is really dry, so it doesn’t always slough off its layers correctly (hence the clogged pores), but I think those with oily, dehydrated skin will really like it. It does a great job of hydrating my partner’s face without feeling heavy or greasy, and unless it’s really dry outside, he can actually just use the HA Booster and nothing else!

Availability: $20 CAD each with FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING!! (the caps lock is definitely necessary) at Deciem.com. Also available at the Hudson’s Bay Beauty Underground.

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Bio Beaute Flash Perfection review, swatches | A NYE-ready review!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Silicone-free Flash Perfection review

The product: Bio Beauté by Nuxe Flash Perfection Beautifying Serum

OH GOD IT’S THE LAST DAY OF 2015 I CAN’T HANDLE THIS HELP ME

Happy New Year’s Eve, readers! How are your holidays going?

I wasn’t really feeling a NYE makeup look this year, so I have a different New Year’s themed post for you instead: a review of this neat little Flash Perfection serum by Bio Beauté. It sounds pretty New Years Eve party-ish, right? Flawless and instant and, most importantly, luminous?

Bio Beaute Beautifying Serum review.jpg

What’s in it: This new Bio Beauté by Nuxe serum (well, not-so-new if you’re in France; I think it launched in the spring for all of you lucky ducks) is silicone-free and certified organic, and it’s lightly scented with a 100% natural rose, freesia, and raspberry fragrance. (I had to read the press release for that info — it honestly doesn’t really have much of a scent.)

What’s nifty about this serum, though, is that like products such as Deciem’s Photography Foundation and Neutrogena’s Instant Tone Corrector, it’s designed to blur out imperfections with “chameleon nacres” — basically, a light nude/peachy tint and delicate micro shimmer that instantly makes all skin tones look better.

Nuxe Flash Perfection serum swatch

But does it work? Sadly, on my skin… Not so much. It does make my skin look lovely and glowy, but it’s subtle. I was hoping Bio Beauté’s Flash Perfection would be a great pre-party product (perfect for things like New Years) because of, you know, the name, but it’s more of a lightly luminizing long term product for me. It’s still a nice serum, but didn’t really deliver on the flash!

On a dark or medium skin tone, I think you’d see more of an effect, but I don’t find myself reaching for this when I need a quick fix.

Bio Beaute By Nuxe Flash Perfection review.jpg

The verdict?

Sadly, Bio Beauté’s Flash Perfection Radiance Beautifying Serum wasn’t what I wanted it to be. It was a close thing, though — it does instantly make my skin look more luminous and smooth, but no more so than a great facial mist would have. 

However, I do think there’s a small group of people who would LOVE this product. If you really like the idea of those “instant complexion booster”-type products BUT you want something that’s (a) silicone-free or (b) truly invisible under a macro lens, this is going to be your jam. The trade-off will be that it won’t give you major results at a distance, though, so I think this one is best used daily for long-term luminosity instead! 

Availability: $37 CAD at select Shopper’s Drug Mart boutiques in Canada. (Should be available at the Beauty Boutique soon!)

Keep reading!

2015 favourites: My skincare must-haves for dry, sensitive skin!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Best of 2015 skincare favourites

As some of you guys might remember, I skipped my 2014 favourites on account of the fact that they were like… 95% exactly the same as my 2013 favourites. My 2015 favourites, however, are a whole other can of fish!

I was lucky enough to not just try out a whole slew of awesome new products this year (mostly skincare), but to find a bunch of new favourites, too. So, I’ve been planning this updated favourites list since October (!), and the list you’ll see is as condensed as possible: these are only my very favourite products; not simply products that I think are the best in their class, but the ones that I use every day, will take with me on overnight stays, and have, in many cases, already re-purchased a couple of times. 

To put it simply, these favourites lists look at a product in relation to its price, packaging, and the other products in its class, unlike my reviews, which examine products on a standalone basis.

My must-have serums for super dry skin

Dry skin favourites

I’ve always really loved makeup, but starting at the end of 2014, I got super into skincare. Everything sort of shifted for me when I tried the Odacité Pomegranate + Rose Geranium Serum Concentrate ($42 USD; review), and realized that, oh, my super-dry skin didn’t actually have to be painful and peeling at all times.

This year, however, I stopped purchasing my beloved Po+R. I still love it to bits, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just too expensive of a habit for me to keep up — my last bottle only lasted me about 8 weeks before the serum crystalized in the bottle (thank you, pomegranate seed oil), though I did manage to use up my previous bottle entirely.

I’m using a blend of pomegranate seed oil from Mountain Rose Herbs and pink grapefruit seed oil from Purple Citrus in my Po+R bottle right now (around a 9:1 ratio), and I’m really happy with the blend. I definitely notice a difference in the quality of the oils (the Mountain Rose Herbs pomegranate seed oil breaks me out unless I add a bit of pink grapefruit to clarify), but for the price difference (about $9/oz vs $247/oz), I don’t think I’ll be going back to the Odacité anytime soon.

Odacite Pomegranate Rose Geranium oil review

I’ve also been using the Paula’s Choice Resist Moisture Renewal Oil Booster ($35 USD; review), which I really love. It’s not thick and comforting the way that pomegranate seed oil is, but it’s lovely. I use two drops of this mixed into my nighttime moisturizer and always wake up with just the most amazing skin–like, since I started using this stuff, I will actually just stop and stare at my skin in mirrors. It’s kind of awkward.

I’m not sure if I’ll re-buy the Paula’s Choice (it’s $52/oz, which I know is still really cheap, but my oil blend is $9/oz) once I run out, but I do really love it. It makes a big difference for my already youthful skin, and if I was five or ten years older, I would definitely re-purchase!

My must-have moisturizers

I’ve got, like, four giant tubs of German Nivea sitting in my basement, and I don’t know what on earth I’m going to do with them because dudes, I have finally moved on.

DHC Extra Nighttime Moistsure review

Right now, I’m switching between two awesome mid-range moisturizers: DHC Extra Nighttime Moisture ($36 USD; reviewin the evenings and Reversa Anti-Redness Soothing Care ($34 CAD; review) in the daytime. Both are excellent delivery mechanisms for other products: they’re scent- and silicone-free and very hydrating, but mix well with whatever serum I’m using or testing that day.

My current mix for Heavenly, Blemish-Free Morning Face™ is a tiny dollop of DHC with two drops of the Paula’s Choice serum I mentioned above — if you have really dry, dehydrated skin, you MUST try these two products!! And, for the daytime, the Reversa stuff is awesome. It doesn’t have SPF (its only failing), but the slight green tint just makes my skin look that little bit better.

My cleansing, acne, and haircare favourites

I’m still loving my Marcelle 3-in-1 Micellar Solution ($19.95 CAD; review), which removes my eye makeup without any stinging or hassle, and my Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion ($19 USD at Nordstrom, Ulta, or UO; outside the US, I think Beauty Bay is the cheapest way to get it — that’s where I buy mine). I think I’m on, like, my fourth bottle of each, or something equally ridiculous–the Marcelle is super gentle, effective, and affordable, and the Mario Badescu is just magic for acne. 

-Skin and haircare favourites

I’m also still all over the Giovanni 2Chic Avocado & Olive Oil Leave-In Spray (review), which I re-bought this year. It’s a great little drugstore find that makes your hair feel silky and super-smooth, but also makes it seem like you have nothing in your hair at all — it’s not greasy or sticky, and the smell evaporates almost immediately.

Finally, I’ve been using the Paula’s Choice Resist Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser ($18 USD; reviewevery single day since I tried it for the first time! It’s a rich, “plain” cleansing milk that’s (also) super gentle and effective, and even though it’s harder to get my hands on than a bottle of Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Milk, it’s stolen my go-to cleanser spot.

The skincare secrets that I learned this year

SkinCeuticals skincare regimen group

Okay, this is the stuff that you guys really want to tune in for, regardless of your skin type. I learned two big things in 2015: one, that I am way more likely to use a serum if I mix it into my moisturizer, and two, that you should never leave product in your eye dropper.

I know they always tell you to apply serum first, but I almost never do. It’s kind of a hassle, and I hate the way that a lot of them feel — dry and thin and oily all at the same time. If I apply my serum at the same time as my moisturizer, though, I find that I get all of the benefits with none of the icky parts!

As for the other skincare secret? A lot of my favourite serums are stored in eyedropper-type bottles, and I learned this year that you are NEVER supposed to leave product in the actual dropper part! The air in the squeeze-y balloon will oxidize the product while it sits in there, so any actives (ferulic acid, for instance) will degrade before they even make it to your face. (A big, big thank you to SkinCeuticals’ awesome PR rep for this tip!)

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