Vegan Cuts December 2014 Beauty Box | I came, I tried, I cried

Friday, January 30, 2015

Vegan Cuts Beauty Box review

The product: Vegan Cuts Beauty Box (December 2014)

*Disclaimer: No actual crying occurred in the making of this post.

THE STAGE IS SET: A girl stands under a single exposed bulb and tells you that she wants to try more all-natural beauty products this year. She then pulls out a Vegan Cuts Beauty Box, shows it to you, and breaks down weeping. “It could have been so good,” she says. “Why couldn’t I have liked it more?”

Vegan Cuts Beauty Box review unboxing December

December 2014 Vegan Cuts beauty box

On their site, Vegan Cuts states that “only the good stuff will do,” and their featured brands included brands that I love (Weleda and Pacifica) alongside ones that I hope to try soon (Meow Meow Tweet and Mun), and I mean, hey. $28 for 4-7 products from brands that you’re already invested in isn’t a lot of money.

However.

However.

When my box arrived–and I feel terrible saying this, because it was sent to me as a sample from Vegan Cuts–I was horribly disappointed to find in it five brands that I have literally never heard of, and one that I’ve tried before and really didn’t like. My box contained a plastic-wrapped sliver of soap, a “lip and cheek balm” that looked cute but smelled terrible, yet another nondescript black eyeliner (the gratuitous shimmer powder of the beauty box world), and a shampoo with no conditioner counterpart.

Restorh shampoo, reosemary mint soap

Evolvh Ultra Shine Shampoo & Shorganics soap

The All Natural Face eyeliner kohl black

The All Natural Face Black Kohl eyeliner & Devines Butter Me Up stick

The contents of my December Vegan Cuts Beauty Box, because nobody wants spoilers for a month they haven’t received yet:

  • EVOLVh UltraShine Moisture Shampoo, trial size ($8 value) - Am I the only one who can’t use haircare without the other half of its pair?
  • Shorganics Rosemary Mint Bar Soap sample
  • Demes Butter Me Up in Tangerine Vanilla ($15 value) – Smells like an orange loaf with sugary glaze. I want to eat it. The lid keeps falling apart when I take it off.
  • The All Natural Face Diva Stix Black Kohl ($4.88 value) – A commendably short ingredients list of jojoba oil, candelilla wax, mica, oxides, and literally nothing else.
  • Mullein & Sparrow All Natural Tinted Lip & Cheek Balm ($22 value) – This guy is TINY for $22! The formula is soft and slippery with a very pretty sheer red tint when swatched, but the scent (all-natural, I believe) makes my stomach turn. This tint is invisible unless you really slather it on.
  • La Mav Antioxidant Rich Nightly Repair Nectar sample

At the end of the day, I am only left wanting to try more from Mullein & Sparrow, simply because their packaging is so charming. With, hilariously, the exception of the balm I received, every product in their line looks like it could have fallen straight from a bygone era, from the beautiful glass jar of their Pink Himalayan Bath Salts to their super-simple Facial Mask.

Mullein and Sparrow lip and cheek tint

Mullein & Sparrow Tinted Lip & Cheek Balm & La Mav Nectar

Mullein and Sparrow

More of Mullein & Sparrow’s charming packaging!

The verdict?

I loved the presentation of this beauty box, but the contents themselves just… didn’t grab me. I think it’s fantastic that Vegan Cuts takes the time to curate a cruelty-free box, but a “mostly natural” box with no guarantee of any full-sized products just isn’t enough to convince me that it’s worth subscribing to.

That said, where it excels is at introducing the subscriber to new brands. Everyone loves finding the next big thing before it gets huge; I just think that Vegan Cuts needs to take a little more time to select brands that have a presentable, market-ready feel to them. At $239-$419 USD/year, opening up the soap in your beauty box should make you feel pampered, not make you’re in the bathroom of a seedy motel!

My advice? Buy a Wantable box instead. It’s not vegan, but at least you’ll be able to select the “no black eyeliners or hair products, please” box.

Availability: $19.95 USD/month, plus $8 shipping to Canada or $15 internationally.

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MUFE Graphic Liner, Marcelle Double Precision Liner reviews, swatches, photos | High vs. Low: Two pen-tipped liners you need to know

Monday, January 26, 2015

Marcelle Double Precision pen liner review MUFE Graphic Liner

When it comes to makeup, I sometimes find it helpful to think of things in context of “generations” — like, different generations of eye primers (pre-Urban Decay tone eveners vs post-Urban Decay longevity-improving creams), lip stains (thin liquids vs YSL-type gloss-stains), eyeliner pencils (hard kohls vs waxy gel-creams) and now, liquid eyeliner pens.

These, ladies and gents, are not your mother’s pen liners. They apply like liquid liners rather than markers, they dry down to wonderfully glossy finishes, and–most importantly–they wear absolutely flawlessly all. day. long. with no staining.

PS: Neither of these liners contain silicones, so they’re a great choice if you’re trying to go ‘cone-free but still want something with great opacity and wear time!

Marcelle Liquid Eyeliner Pen review swatches photos

Marcelle Double Precision Liquid Eyeliner Pen in Intense Black ($14.95 CAD)

This dual-ended liner was the very first pen-style liner that I ever fell in love with, and I fell hard. The two tips moderate product flow so that you never end up with tons of liner on your lashes (as you might with a liquid liner), but it wears without smudging or budging for a good 12+ hours — maybe more, but I’ve never needed to test it for any longer.

Marcelle Double Precision Liner swatches review

Marcelle Double Precision Liner swatches

I like this one for its wear, which I find to be just the smallest bit better than the Make Up For Ever Liner, but I think that its dual-ended design has a pretty big pull, too. The felt tip is smaller than that on the Make Up For Ever, and is just firm enough to line the eyes with ease (yes, even for winged liner), while the brush tip is very fine and looks like a delicate paintbrush.

Of the two brush ends, I mainly use the felt end — the brush tip doesn’t dispense quite enough product to deliver a really solid-looking wing, though it is excellent at getting the very point at the end of your liner and fading it into nothingness. Occasionally, I need to make two passes with this liner (either end) to achieve full opacity.

» See it worn here!

Marcelle Double Precision brush tip liner review

Marcelle Double Precision brush tip

MUFE Graphic Liner swatches review, Marcelle Double Precision

MUFE Graphic Liner (thin/thick), Marcelle Double Precision felt tip (thick/thin), Marcelle Double Precision brush tip

Make Up For Ever Graphic Liner ($24 USD/29 CAD)

This liner has a significantly firmer felt tip than the Marcelle, which means that it delivers a much more consistent result: the line, no matter how fine, is always the same amount of pigmented and opaque.

On the flip side of that equation, however, is the fact that the Marcelle can achieve lines that are both thicker and thinner than those within the Graphic Liner’s range (even with just its felt end), so you have to choose which is more important to you: width or opacity. (There is no wrong answer!)

MUFE Graphic Liner vinyl pen review swatches

Make Up For Ever Graphic Liner

I do think this liner is ever so slightly better than the Marcelle, but (and this is a big but) I have two problems with it. One, the cap doesn’t click on; it just slides into place, and I constantly worry that it’s drying out. And two: the formula smells really toxic. Which is dumb, right? Like, logically, I know that something smelling bad does NOT equal toxic, and vice-versa.

But it smells really bad, like a paint or a Sharpie or something, and I’m not gonna lie, it freaks me out a little.

» See it worn here!

Marcelle vs MUFE liquid liner pen comparison review

Make Up For Ever Graphic Liner vs Marcelle Double Precision felt tips

The verdict?

I really love both these liners, so I’m going to leave the final verdict up to you (and possibly where you happen to live), but I think beginners and casual makeup wearers will appreciate the brush tip on the Marcelle, while makeup pros will prefer the Instagram-perfect opacity of the Make Up For Ever.

Whichever one you buy, remember that BOTH are very good — you really can’t go wrong here! Instinctually, I think I like the Make Up For Ever more (for its opacity and firm tip), but the scent-free Marcelle liner freaks me out way less.

Availability: The Marcelle liner is available at drugstores & mass market retailers across Canada or online at marcelle.ca ($14.95 CAD); the Make Up For Ever liner is available at Sephora ($24 USD/$29 CAD) and Make Up For Ever boutiques.

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Burt’s Bees x Bellavance Tinted Lip Balms & Lip Shimmers reviews, swatches

Friday, January 23, 2015

Burt's Bees Bellavance lip set kit

The product: Burt’s Bees x Bellavance Limited Edition Lip Collection & Holster

↳ Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in HibiscusBlush Orchid and Lip Shimmers in ApricotGrapefruit

I’m suffering from a major case of blogging burnout this week, so today, I have a couple old favourites to share with you in new shades.

My love for Burts’ Tinted Lip Balms and Lip Shimmers is a long and sordid one, stretching through the years and through numerous incidents of Rae cheating on Burts’ balms with Clinique simple definitely mutual infidelity, but alas! It does persist.

Burt's Bees Hibiscus, Blush Orchid, Apricot, Grapefruit review

Burt's Bees Hibiscus, Blush Orchid, Apricot, Grapefruit swatches

Burt’s Bees swatches, L-R: Tinted Lip Balm in Hibiscus and Blush Orchid; Lip Shimmer in Apricot and Grapefruit

100% of the proceeds from this Bellavance-designed holster will go to Pollinator Partnership Canada, a non-profit that supports lost and solitary pollinator bees by building sustainable bee hotels (direct quote!) throughout Canada.

The holster itself is made from 100% organic cotton and contains four elasticized spots for your favourite lipsticks or Burt’s Bees lip balms. It’s available at burtsbees.ca and boutiques where Bellavance is sold, and contains two Tinted Lip Balms from Burt’s permanent line, Hibiscus and Blush Orchid, plus two Lip Shimmers in Grapefruit and Apricot, which both debut in this set.

Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm, Lip Shimmer reviews

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Lancôme My French Palette review, swatches, photos | This morning, in Paris…

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lancome French Innocence Spring 2015 palette review

The product: Lancôme My French Palette eyeshadow & liner palette

It’s rare that I’m ever ahead of schedule at theNotice, but today, I have a sneak-peak to share with you of a product that launches officially in February. (What can I say? With their recent announcement of Lisa Eldridge as their new Makeup Creative Director, I have Lancôme on the mind!)

Part of Lancôme’s French Innocence Spring collection, the My French Palette was inspired by the Parisian garden — delicately detailed, it reveals three matte and iridescent neutrals when you open it up, but the trio of “secret” blue-greens are hidden behind a lid.

Lancome My French Palette packaging review

The packaging: I’ve seen a lot of the inside of this palette on Instagram, but for some reason, it seems like no one ever shows off its packaging. Sleek and sharp-edged, it houses a dual-ended synthetic eyeshadow brush that’s soft and very springy, and hides an eyeshadow and two liners behind a metal flap.

This little metal door (which very reminiscent of the Dior Garden Clutch palettes) is just as exquisitely delicate as the gorgeous artwork that stole my heart on the lid. I mean, how lovely are those fine lines and the simple, perfectly-undone pink additions? And the dull “tink!” of the flap when you close it makes the palette feel truly special.

Lancome eyeshadow palette review - Spring Innocence collection

Behind the My French Palette door…

The product: The My French Palette contains three creamy mattes (ivory, mauve, and salmon-pink), three iridescent nudes (in light to medium tones), an iridescent turquoise blue, and two liners (dark teal and charcoal grey in satiny shimmers).

Much like the Clinique palette I talked about last week, I did like this palette, but… I couldn’t make myself love it. While the palette itself is visually stunning, the shadows were all just a little too similar and sheer for me to really fall in love with. Yes, they’re all gorgeous, but I could dupe all of this palette’s nude makeup look permutations using a single half-decent eyeshadow trio from the drugstore without breaking a sweat.

Lancome My French Palette swatches

Lancôme My French Palette swatches (swatched dry on primed skin in indirect sunlight)

Lancome My French Palette makeup look

Lancôme My French Palette nudes (shades 2, 4, and 6) and greens (shades 1, 7, and 9) worn dry over primer

That said, I do totally get where Lancôme was trying to go with this palette. Worn together, the nudes create a lovely, transparent rose lid, with the creamy mattes providing a very chic base while the iridescent shades (which apply quite transparently unless foiled) give the canvas a bit of sparkle.

As Syl would say, they lend themselves easily to a “Rae-whale” lid :P

Tip: If you just have to have this palette, it’s gorgeous as long as you foil the iridescent shades. Try layering the turquoise shimmer over black liner, too — you won’t be disappointed!

Lancome My French Innocence Spring review

The verdict?

For a more delicate, refined take on the nude trend (à la Urban Decay Naked), this palette does a beautiful job of encapsulating the feeling of a French spring collection. Like a trip to France itself, however, it doesn’t come cheap, and it’s fleeting — I was disappointed to find that I needed to foil these sixty-eight dollar eyeshadows just to make them show up properly, and they showed significant creasing and wear within 3 hours (over primer).

While I totally agree with Christa that this palette would make a great gift (all wonderful and chic and dreamy), I think it’s best for Muggles, not makeup addicts. Gift accordingly!

Availability: $58 USD/$68 CAD; limited edition. Available online now & at counters from February to the end of March.

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BPAL x Pretty Indulgent review: Hochelaga, Black Silk, Une Folle Entreprise, Ville-Marie, and Halloween in Montreal

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Black Pheonix Alchemy Lab Pretty Indulgent review collection

If you haven’t heard of them before, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is one of those alt/hippie companies with a crazy-wonderful following (think Fyrinnae and LUSH) — and I mean this in the most amazing way possible. They’re a small company with an enormous library of super-concentrated fragrance oils that seems to produce one cult hit after another, and after seven years of beauty blogging, I have finally had the chance to try a few of their scents.

Today, I’m covering five fragrances exclusive to Pretty Indulgent, an online store run by Maggie of Maggie’s Makeup (who I have the biggest girlcrush on, but shhh.) These tiny–but potent, seriously–little bottles retail for a mere $23 each, and each scent in this limited run celebrates the rich culture and history of Quebec and Montreal. 

BPAL Black Silk Hochelaga review Pretty Indulgent

The first scent I tried on was Hochelaga, which features dry, warm woods and musk alongside elegant threads of buttery old herbs, spices and wildflowers. It smells like walking into an antiques/thrift store in the winter, surrounded by knitted blankets and knick-knacks in old wooden cabinets that once held metal pots for stew.

Next, I tried Black Silkwhich seems to have been the big hit of the collection — it sold out in less than a day! Unfortunately, I don’t think there will be a second run (one of its ingredients is very difficult to source), but it smells absolutely incredible. While sharp in the bottle, it rounds itself out beautifully on the skin and the tobacco absolute/bourbon vanilla cream notes blend together to create a boozy, almost nutty animalic sweetness unlike anything I’ve ever smelled before. Think smokey, smooooth benzoin-tobacco overtones with just a whisper of patchouli for this one.

BPAL Ville-Marie Une Folle Entreprise review Pretty Indulgent

Then came Une Folle Entreprise, which I wasn’t crazy about — but WOW does it ever last. I got a drop (and I mean a literal drop) of this on my sweater, and the base notes stuck around for a week. Thanks to the violet note, it’s sweet like a chocolate martini; sharp but cloying with patchouli, licorice root, and tonka bean.

Next is Ville-Mariewhich was just a treat to experience. It’s bright and sugary (there are so many different kinds of sweetness in this post!), and yet again, I’ve smelled nothing like it before. The cream soda opening lifts within minutes, and the scent blooms on the skin to reveal a lemony bouquet of orchids, lilies, and a whopping five different varieties of lilac, ending in a creamy vanilla-musk.

And, finally, we end with Halloween in Montreal, which covers the final corner of the sweetness spectrum. This one really does smell like Halloween, as promised — it’s bottled-up leaves, snowflakes, chimney smoke, and candy, and you can smell it all by simply closing your eyes. (Weirdly, it also smells like walking into a Pier 1 Imports or something, open-top candles everywhere).

BPAL Halloween in Montreal review Pretty Indulgent

Buying guide

This is a lot to take in, so here’s your SparkNotes version!

If you love smelling things but you’ve never tried a BPAL creation before… you owe it to yourself to experience these beauties. Heck, it doesn’t even matter if you like any of them; they’re an olfactory experience like no other, and that makes them fascinating. Unlike mainstream scents, which tend to be identifiably “perfumey”, these fragrances smell like Things – places, times, memories. Order yourself a few Imps (samples) to get started, and go from there.

And to pick your perfect Pretty Indulgent exclusive ($23 CAD each, and yes, the site takes Paypal), here they are in order of must-haveability!

  1. Try Ville-Marie if you like happy summer days and evenings on the pier. It’s a complete chameleon, starting out so bright and uplifting that it makes me want to giggle, and transforming completely into a musk so soft and vanilla-tinged that I can’t help but go “mmmm.”
  2. Try Black Silk if there is any way you could possibly get your hands on it, because it’s amazing.
  3. Try Hochelaga if you’re secretly a super-cool hippie/alt girl/vegan, but you daylight as the Regular Girl at the office.
  4. Try Halloween in Montreal if you like the way home-store candle aisles smell, because I swear to god, this smells EXACTLY like that. I feel like I’m picking out throw pillows in my office right now; it’s uncanny.
  5. Try Une Folle Entreprise to pair with your flavoured martini and slit-back dress. I both envy and fear your ability to wear four-inch heels.

Happy sniffing, scoundrels!

BPAL fragrance review intro for beginners

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