The purple pout: A Body Shop Universal Lip Pencil vs. Clinique Voluptuous Violet comparison

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Purple lipstick comparison swatches review

I recently got a question on Instagram asking me to compare The Body Shop’s Universal Shade Lip & Cheek Velvet Pencil ($15 USD/CAD) with Clinique’s Voluptuous Violet Chubby Stick ($17 USD/$19 CAD), so I thought I’d follow up with a super short blog post on the topic.

If all you’re looking for is a sheer, comfortable violet lip pencil, then either one of these will fit the bill. But here’s where the differ: Chubby Sticks are glossy and emollient while The Body Shop’s Velvet Pencils are satin-matte and, well, velvety. (Neither are particularly drying or hydrating on me!) Voluptuous Violet reads as more of a pinky-red, while the pH-adjusting Body Shop pencil is an ashier purple, though it stains pink.

For wearability, definitely opt for the Clinique. But for coolness (both tonally and metaphorically), go for the Body Shop pencil.

Clinique Voluptuous Violet vs TBS Universal Shade

The Body Shop Universal Shade Lip & Cheek Pencil, Clinique Voluptuous Violet Chubby Stick swatches (layered to maximum intensity)

Do you own any purple lipsticks, pencils, balms, or glosses?

Shu Uemura Satin Radiant Sticks in Pink, Orange Coral: swatches, review, photos

Monday, March 23, 2015

shu uemura brave beauty blush sticks review

The product: shu uemura Satin Radiant Sticks in Pink and Orange Coral

I’ve been all about stick makeup this month, so today I thought I’d share photos of one of my first cheek-stick loves: the Shu Uemura Brave Beauty Satin Radiant Sticks.

They’re not something that I was planning on reviewing, because they contain way more shimmer than I prefer, but… I mean, I’ve been wearing the pink one so often that it would basically just be wrong NOT to post about it.

So, consider this my not-rave product rave.

shu uemura pink satin radient stick blush review brave beauty

The shades: This stick is available (right now, at least; it’s limited edition from the fall) in four shades: two blushes, pictured here, and two highlighters. Orange Coral is a bright, super glowy orange with yellow/gold shimmer, silver microshimmer (for a super dewy finish), and literally no coral undertones. Pink is a gorgeous purpley pink with a cool pink sheen and silver microshimmer.

If you’re cool-toned and you’re looking for the perfect stick blush, the Pink Satin Radiant Stick is totally where it’s at. 

shu uemura pink, coral radiant stick blush swatches review

shu uemura radiant blush stick swatches – pink (blended/unblended), orange coral (unblended/blended)

shu uemura satin radient stick blush review

Heartbreak! Suspense!: So, if I’m so obsessed with these sticks, why the hesitation?

Well… for one, I’m big on totally invisible makeup, and silver shimmer doesn’t quite fit the bill. But more than that, my Pink stick doesn’t twist back down, so I have to twist it up, swipe twice, and then push it back in with my fingers. Which… is kind of icky, for travel purposes.

shu uemura pink, coral brave beauty stick blush swatches review

shu uemura brave beauty radiant blush stick swatches — pink; orange coral

The verdict?

The pros definitely outweigh the cons with these blush sticks, but for a whopping $55 CAD apiece, I expect a blush to be flawless if I’m going to recommend it to you guys. And these, with their silver shimmer and slightly flawed packaging, just aren’t flawless.

Are they pretty? Absolutely. Would I have been heartbroken if I hadn’t gotten something in that gorgeous Brave Beauty packaging? Definitely. But are these two products worth $110? Well… maybe not. I say get Pink if you’re an absolute blush fiend, but in general, I think that the Brave Beauty eyeshadow palettes are a better buy!

Availability: $55 CAD at shuuemura.ca and in select Holt Renfrew locations.

Additional photos & more »

The Body Shop Lip & Cheek Velvet Stick swatches, review, photos (& a little Smoky Poppy preview)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Body Shop Lip Cheek Velvet Stick reviews swatches

The products: The Body Shop Lip & Cheek Velvet Sticks in Universal Shade and 40 Red

↳ Photographed with the limited-edition Smoky Poppy Body Butter ($20), which smells amazing but contains silicones, so I can’t touch it! (But seriously: amazing. It’s super sultry for a Body Shop fragrance.)

My love affair with jumbo lip pencils is a long and almost frighteningly well-documented one, but when I tried these for the first time, I actually stopped and went, “oh, cool,” for a moment.

TBS lip velvet jumbo pencil review swatches

The texture: Unlike your standard jumbo lip pencil (sheer-glossy or opaque-matte), these Lip & Cheek Velvet Sticks are exactly that: velvety. They apply with an incredibly natural finish, softly matte but not at all drying.

Unlike most mattes, though, they’re sheer — or, rather, they’ll sheer out if you blend them. Red (and I’m assuming the rest of the regular line) applies with a very medium opacity, but blends out to create the most seamless, perfect flush; the Universal Shade applies more sheerly, but in a way that’s suited well to the shade.

The Body Shop black universal Lip Cheek Stick review

The Body Shop Universal Shade Lip & Cheek Velvet Stick

The Body Shop Lip Cheek Stick swatches review universal, red

The Body Shop Lip & Cheek Velvet Sticks, swatched – Universal Shade (heavily/blended) and 40 Red (heavily/blended)

The shades: Red is a bright strawberry red, but the pH-adapting Universal Shade is the Lip & Cheek Velvet Stick that really steals the show. Purple-black in the tube, it applies as a very sheer dark purple. It’s less glossy and more plummy than Clinique’s Voluptuous Violet Chubby Stick (the closest dupe that I’ve seen), and you NEED it.

When sheered out, the Universal shade reads as a muted flush of colour, and on the lips, it’s nothing short of perfect. My natural lip colour leans a bit orange (bleh), which makes most medium/dark lip colours look punchy and ostentatious as they wear off, but this weird, pH-adjusting pencil is perfect. It darkens my natural lip colour considerably without making my lips look bright!, which–believe me–is a pretty substantial feat.

Bare lips - Korres Cherry Picked reference

Bare lips

The Body Shop Universal Lip & Cheek Stick swatches review

The Body Shop Universal Shade Lip & Cheek Velvet Stick lip swatch

The Body Shop Smoky Poppy Body Butter review

The Body Shop Smoky Poppy Body Butter

The verdict?

These sheer-matte Lip & Cheek Velvet Sticks are great both for the lips and cheeks, but it’s the black Universal Shade pencil that you really need to own. If you’ve ever been intrigued by a sheer purple lipstick, or if you’ve ever been tempted to try Clinique’s classic Black Honey, get this one instead — you won’t be disappointed. 

Availability: $15 USD/CAD at The Body Shop. Permanent.

Keep reading! »

Kaia Bamboo Tapioca Beads review, photos | A semi-DIY cleanser/exfoliator/mask

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Kaia Bamboo Tapioca Beads cleanser review

The product: Kaia Naturals Bamboo Tapioca Beads Daily Powdered Face Cleanser

How it works: DIY meets green beauty, baby! Instead of releasing a ready-made exfoliator, Kaia offers a cleansing kit comprised of an exfoliating powder, a mini vial of moringa oil, and instructions.

Now, I’m all about customizing products, and this kit is perfect for it. All you do is tap out some of the powder into your hand, then blend with a liquid to make a cleanser/mask/exfoliator that’s customized to meet your needs exactly.

Exfoliating powder review - Kaia

Kaia Naturals Bamboo Tapioca Beads kit

What to blend it with: Kaia recommends moringa oil, a makeup-removing dry oil that’s rich in vitamin C, but the sample they provided goes cloudy and thick in my (cold, cold, cold) bathroom. They also suggest water, yogurt (for a mask), other oils, and green tea.

I liked it best paired with my go-to cleanser, though — a dollop of Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Milk, a tap of powder, and you’re off to the races.

Kaia Bamboo Tapioca Beads review

Kaia Naturals Bamboo Tapioca Beads

Kaia Naturals review

The caveat: While I like the idea of this cleansing powder a lot, I still prefer an enzyme powder cleanser (like Tatcha’s) over a gritty one like this. But, as a physical exfoliator, this powder definitely isn’t too harsh for my sensitive skin, and is far less abrasive than all of the regular-line Clarisonic heads!

Kaia powdered face cleanser review

The verdict?

At $38, this cleansing powder is a little pricy — but it leaves my face feeling super soft. I love that Kaia has taken the usual approach to cleansing and broken it down into its component parts, allowing the consumer to decide how to use the product without needing to buy three separate versions of it.

If you’re really picky about things being just-so (or if you need an exfoliator/cleanser for your carry-on luggage), then definitely give this one a look. My recommendation? Go with the refill, not the kit — you’ll save $8 and all you miss out on is a spoon and a tiny-baby vial of oil.

Availability: $38 USD/CAD at Kaia Naturals and select Holt Renfrew locations.

Keep reading! »

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser – Foaming Wash review, photos | Currently hooked on…

Friday, March 13, 2015

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser Foaming Wash review

Okay, so you know how I took that trip to Toronto a couple of weeks ago? Well, like an idiot, I totally forgot to bring soap with me — I guess I figured my crazy-dry skin could handle bar soap for a couple of days or something. (WHY, Rae.)

Luckily for me, my welcome basket from Neutrogena just so happened to contain this little gem, which I’ve always passed over for its non-foaming creamy counterpart!

Neutrogena face body wash review

Turns out, Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser is ultra gentle — and the foaming version is AMAZING as a bodywash. It feels and smells super luxurious in the shower, but because it’s an enormous face wash from a drugstore brand, it’s not going to run you $20-30 like a lot of department-store body washes will.

Plus, it comes in totally cute, sensible packaging, and it foams up really easily. (I’ve always found that shower gels are too thick to really enjoy using unless you put them on a shower puff.) So the next time you’re at the drugstore and you feel like treating yourself to something: give this a go! 

I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

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