Sunshine Tonic: My Demeter Blending Trio review | Gin & Tonic, Clean Skin, and Sunshine

Friday, August 19, 2016

Demeter Custom Blending Kit review photos

The products: Demeter Fragrance Library Gin & Tonic, Clean Skin, and Sunshine Cologne Sprays

You know when there’s something that’s so exciting that you want to share it with all of your friends right away? For me, this Demeter post is just that. (You guys are the friends, in case that part wasn’t clear.)

I very recently received a personalized Demeter Foolproof Blending Trio from their Classic Catalogue thanks to a collaboration that I’m doing with the CBB, and I’m feeling pretty ready to review the trio. Demeter’s single-note fragrances are all pretty comprehensible, so it wasn’t too big of a task to get to know these three in depth.

Did you know that… Demeter is a family owned business? It’s true! All of their products are also cruelty-free, and 95% of them are derived from natural or renewable resources.

Demeter custom blending trio review classic kit

The scents on their own 

My kit included three bright, clean fragrances that were all a little sharp to my nose. They’re not austere like the CB I Hate Perfume line is (fun fact, Christopher Brosius’ first perfume line was actually Demeter), but they’re fun. They’re good for the price, and they’re nice if you want a scent to briefly amuse your nose and then leave you alone.

(But for real: is this a thing that other people want? Because it’s a thing that I want sometimes.)

Demeter clean skin review

Clean Skin ($18 USD/1 oz), one of Demeter’s most popular scents, smells remarkably different on the skin than it does on paper. I’m not a fan of the “floral candy” scent itself, but this is exactly how I love to wear my fragrances: in many spots, but very, very sparsely. It would be a lovely fragrance for someone just finding their olfactory footing.

After the first fifteen minutes, Clean Skin smells like a nice fabric softener. No complaints or judgement–a great fabric softener scent is super tough to find–but take from that what you may.

Demeter Gin and Tonic cologne review

I was incredibly excited to try Gin & Tonic ($18 USD), and I liked it well enough – but it can be a bit obnoxious. It smells a bit like a drugstore shower product, sweet and tangy with plenty of citrus, but it’s just not boozy at all on my skin.

Like most of the Demeter line, Gin & Tonic is fun to throw on but lacks any real longevity. It too plays much better on my skin than it does on paper (where it smells kind of like sticky booze), though, so your mileage may vary. On a hot day or with the right skin chemistry, this is a real treat!

Demeter sunshine review

Finally, I spent some quality time with Sunshine ($18 USD), which had the most lasting power by far. It smells like the summer, not sunshine: warm and sweet and a little chemical-y.

I am loathe to say this about anything, but I hated it. I hated it all around. I’d rather smell like a chic robot than a human being with an urge to go to the exhibition, but if that’s your thing… hey, maybe you could love this as much as I don’t. Balance the scales for me.

Demeter custom blend

My custom-blended Sunshine Tonic

Is a Sunshine Tonic a drink, a cure for the blues, or a 9 AM shot of gin on the morning after?

I honestly have no idea, so I’ll tell you what a Sunshine Tonic feels like instead. It’s mostly Gin & Tonic with just a tenth of Sunshine, and it feels like summer afternoons. It feels like running in a grassy field slathered in mosquito repellant, water in the distance, cold feet and a chilly wind cutting the summer day. It’s simple and heavy-handed, but just made of pure joy.

The sweetness of Sunshine is overpowering, and just a touch turns Gin & Tonic into a family-friendly affair. It’s a weekend at the lake as kids, you know? Not something that you’d want to do every day, but something that makes you smile when you think of it. 

Demeter custom blending trio review

The verdict?

If you’re going to love the Demeter line, you totally already know that you will. It contains an astoundingly wide range of very simple scents, and it gets you because they’re just so easy to mix together.

I didn’t love any of these scents on their own, but you know what? This fragrance blending kit is FUN. It’s some of the most fun that I’ve had all month, and I would do it again at the drop of a hat.

So the scents smell a little cheap and don’t have a lot of lasting power – it’s not about starting a niche perfume business. It’s about having fun; it’s a Paint Nite for your nose, except it’s easier to hide any botched projects and you don’t have to desecrate the word “night” to do it.

Availability: $45 USD for the trio and blending kit. ($59.40 USD if bought separately).

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CalExotics Inspire Kegel Exerciser, Dilator Kit, Flickering Arouser reviews & giveaway!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

CalExotics Silicone Dilator Kit review

The products: CalExotics Inspire Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser, Silicone Dilator Kit, and Flickering Intimate Arouser

This spring, CalExotics released a range of products in collaboration with Living Beyond Breast Cancer. The range, labelled Inspire, aims to raise awareness of the sexual side effects of breast cancer treatments and includes products that are actually designed for those experiencing things like decreased libido and difficulties having sex, like breast massagers, vibrators, and “teasers”.

CalExotics didn’t just throw in on an awareness campaign; they actually designed and produced niche products to help specific individuals who may be struggling to have sex (but want to) to do so – and that’s pretty cool of them.

A portion of each sale goes to Living Beyond Breast Cancer (unfortunately, the exact figure or percentage is undisclosed,) and the prices range from $78.99 – $136.99 USD.

Updated 22/08/16: 5% of the proceeds from the CalExotics Inspire line are donated to LBBC! 

CalExotics Inspire Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser

Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser

The CalExotic Inspire Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser is a fairly standard product done well – but it has its flaws. I will start, however, with the good stuff.

It’s moderately strong with nice, rumbly vibrations (3 speeds, 7 patterns), a plush, waterproof silicone covering, and a squishy tip. It charges via USB and runs for 30 minutes on high/1.5 hours on low on a 2.5 hour charge. It has a long cord for easy retrieval and and makes a great clit vibrator, too.

CalExotics Inspire review Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser

CalExotics Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser review

However, I wasn’t able to get the full use out of this product. The remote that came with the product refuses to pair with it, and even without the remote, it has one big problem: it turns on, and I don’t mean intentionally. This little guy will start rumbling away like a jackhammer in the middle of the day when it’s charging; in the middle of the night when I’m sleeping; during dinner, when drilling sounds suddenly start emanating from the bedroom.

It is, to say the least, undesirable. My product may just be faulty, and I hope that it’s alone in this regard, because the vibrator itself is excellent (if a little short-lived).

Availability: $129.99 CAD at Well.ca, $99.99 CAD at PinkCherry.ca, and $79.99 USD at PinkCherry.com. (Free shipping on all 3 sites, plus an extra 30% off at PinkCherry right now with code DEAL30.)

CalExotics Inspire Flickering Intimate Arouser review, photos

Flickering Intimate Arouser

I have some pretty mixed feelings about the CalExotics Inspire Flickering Intimate Arouser. On one hand, it is a pretty darn unique product – similar, I’m guessing, to something like the Squeel, but definitely not something that I’ve ever seen before. It too is completely waterproof, and the useable portion of this toy is completely made from silicone, featuring a “tongue” that really does vibrate and flicker rapidly.

It is, however, HELLA LOUD. I did not know that sex toys could be this loud. It feels great and (for me) produces a very drawn-out, intense orgasm, but good lord, it sounds like a blender. On high, it is SO UNBELIEVABLY LOUD that if I’m watching or listening to something, I cannot make out the words.

(I tested this theory by parking the arouser next to a Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast, of course. Because reasons.)

If you’ve always wanted a flickering toy, then I suppose this is worth the investment – it’s pretty cool. But for most of you out there, I’m not recommending this one. It’s so clunky and so loud that it’s not even just an inconvenience; it’s an actual turn off.

Availability: $59.99 USD at PinkCherry.com

CalExotics Inspire Flickering Intimate Arouser review

CalExotics Inspire Silicone Dilator Kit review photos

Silicone Dilator Kit (and giveaway!) 

Aaand finally, we have the last Inspire item that I received for review – and it’s so good that CalExotics and I are giving a free set away to one reader! 

I have vestibulodynia (a condition that as many as 1 in 4 women experiences), so I’ve owned a number of dilator sets throughout my life so far. This one is by far my favourite. Unlike the cylindrical plastic sets of yesteryear, it contains five gently curved, slowly tapered dilators of 0.5″ to 1.25″ in diameter, and each one has a ring on the end rather than an awkward, popsicle-style handle.

CalExotics Silicone Dilator Kit review photos size CalExotics Silicone Dilator Kit giveaway review

Dilators are a pretty simple product, so I don’t think I really need to say more than that. These ones are really easy and comfortable to use, and while I don’t typically experience vestibulodynia symptoms anymore (thanks to feedback training, lidocaine, and my great OBGYN), I use them frequently to do internal stretches or warm up my muscles before sex. They make a big impact on how active my pelvic floor pain is, and I couldn’t recommend them more wholeheartedly.

So, if you want to win your very own set of Inspire Silicone Dilators, just enter using the widget below. While best used in conjunction with treatment from your gynecologist, they’re a great tool for anyone with pelvic floor pain, vestibulodynia, or even just anxiety about sex! 

Availability:$89.99 at Lovehoney (US/US/Can), $69.99 USD at PinkCherry.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CalExotics Silicone Dilator Kit review photos giveaway

This giveaway will be open to US & Canadian residents over 18 until 11:59 PM MST on August 31st, 2016. For full rules, please read the terms included in the widget above. 

Rodial Instaglam Contouring Powder 03, South Beach Blusher swatches, review, photos

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rodial makeup review 2016 new launches

The products: Rodial Instaglam Contouring Powder in 03 and Blusher in South Beach

I’ve been using a ton of Rodial in my everyday makeup recently (mostly the new Rodial Airbrush Make-Up and Airbrush Concealer, which I LOVE), so I have one more little review for you guys! And, of course, a makeup look with a nice, bright lip – it’ll be up on Friday.

Actual Friday, not “oops sorry today is Tuesday.” Seriously. I already have it drafted and everything.

Rodial instaglam contouring powder 03 review swatches photos

Rodial Instaglam Compact Deluxe Contouring Powder ($57 USD)

I began my testing, of course, with the much-lauded Rodial Contouring Powder ($57 USD). The shade is great for light skintones (very balanced, and definitely not too warm), and Rodial released a new contouring shade this year to fit a wider range of faces.

However: Rodial’s Contouring Powder Dark is a solid medium at best, and saying that it “works well for dark skin tones” feels like an act of exclusion to me. The formula of Rodial powders is very sheer and the line’s contour shades are very light, and they are simply not designed with ethnic skin in mind.

» If you’re a POC or you want to support a brand who designs makeup for ALL makeup wearers, check out the contour powders offered by NYX, Anastasia, Black Up, or Kat Von D instead.

Rodial packaging contouring face sculptor and definer swatches review photos

Rodial Deluxe Contouring Powder review, swatches

Rodial contour, south beach, instaglam highlighter swatches review photos

Rodial 03 Contouring Powder (lightly/heavily), South Beach Blusher, 01 Illuminating Powder swatches – lightly primed skin, indirect sunlight

Rodial blush south beach review photos swatches

Rodial South Beach Blusher review, swatches

Rodial South Beach Blusher ($35 USD)

I didn’t personally have problems with the opacity of the fresh, springy South Beach Blusher ($35 USD), but again, I didn’t love the formula. Like the contour powder, this blush is very sheer. Both of these pressed powders contain a lot of talc and a fair amount of silica (as well as cornstarch in the contour powder), so they kick up some dust and have that slippery-smooth silica feel.

In other words, they blend well, but you can’t build them up. Which means that they’ll never have the ability to make you look awful (even if applied in the dark!), but it doesn’t give them any versatility at all. Even with my fair skin I have to apply two layers of this blush whenever I wear it, and I’ve never been able to get my Rodial contour as dark or sharp as I like it – it just blends itself away.


Rodial makeup new items

The verdict?

I enjoy using these powder products from Rodial, but if I’m being honest… they’re just not as good as the brand’s Airbrush base products. I’d recommend them only in a strictly luxury capacity, and not at all if you have medium to dark skin.

For the price, I am disappointed in the quality of these products. The packaging and luxury “feel” are spot on, but they’re very sheer, and (in my opinion) their ingredients and formula just don’t justify the price tags.

Availability: Rodial, select Shopper’s Drug Mart Boutiques, and Murale.

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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.

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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 »

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