2015 favourites: My makeup & fragrance must-haves

Monday, January 11, 2016

2015 makeup favourites

2015 was, for some reason, a major skincare year for me. I didn’t fall in love with any new makeup products until December, and while I do love those with a passion–well, it makes for a favourites list that is much the same as 2014’s.

Which was the same as 2013’s.

You can see where I’m going with this, right?

My favourite everyday products

2015 must-have makeup products

For me, “the basics” begin with a black eyeliner that never smudges (I rely on Annabelle SmudgePaints and Marcelle Double Extension eyeliners for that — I think I’m on my third Marcelle pen) and an eyeshadow base that can keep you totally crease-free (the cheap-as-dirt Wet ‘n Wild Fergie primer or Pür Mineral’s awesome new Eye Polishes, both of which perform, for me, leaps and bounds better than Urban Decay Primer Potion or NARS Pro Prime.)

You’re only as good as the number of people who fear you, after all, and raccoon eyes don’t usually make for terrified weeping.

Best products of 2015

I also couldn’t live without my Revlon Lip Butter in Sugar Plum (the perfect medium-coverage MLBB shade), a few matte eyeshadows to contour with, and a basic lip balm.

I’m currently fixated on Burt’s Bees’ Refreshing lip balm, which is only moderately hydrating. It smells like pink grapefruit, though, so I mean… Really.

Add in a ‘cone-free face powder (no one does a satin finish like Marcelle) and a flawless foundation (thank you again, Pür Minerals, you radiant, beautiful unicorn) and I’m all set.

My favourite colour products of 2015

Makeup colour product favourites

I discovered a lot of absolutely stellar brow products last year, but only a few made the cut for my favourites: Stila’s, which is glorious but outrageously overpriced, and Annabelle’s, which is as wonderful as it is budget-friendly.

My eyeshadow favourites haven’t changed at all–always Clarins, and always their flaky-shimmer quads–and neither have my lip and everyday mascara favourites: Imju Fiberwig (all hail the glow cloud magic of tubing technology), Burt’s Bees, and Clinique Chubby Sticks.

Cheek and eye favourites 2015

Brow and lip favourites 2015

I did add two totally new favourites to my repertoire last year, though, and I couldn’t be happier to have found them!

Annabelle’s Blush On range is awesome (for some reason, I always reach for them before my Clinique Cheek Pops), and the new blue and purple Clinique Chubby Lash mascaras wear like a champ. I don’t think the black shade is a must, but the blue? Totally.

My favourite tools of 2015

Makeup Brush favourites

My do-everything powder brush, Senna’s Powder Point Brush #33, is my only new favourite this year — but it lives at my partner’s house, so I’m afraid I couldn’t include it in this photo! I feel like that speaks for itself, though: it’s my only powder brush at his place, and it does a good job of applying foundation, powder, contour, blush, and highlighter. It doesn’t do an amazing job of any of them, but for that kind of versatility, I’ll live.

My favourite fragrances of 2015

2015 fragrance favourites

And last but not least… The perfumes that I couldn’t get enough of last year. I looooove Aerin Waterlily Sun (I’m wearing it right now, actually!) and Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur, as I’ve talked about at length on theNotice, but I’ve been using Leila Lou by Rosie Jane a lot, too — it’s great for smelling really, really clean in an instant.

(And–ahem–it’s excellent for directing attention to certain areas at close range.)

What were your favourite products of 2015?

MIYU Soirée Essentials review, photos | The (Canadian!) Gift Guide

Thursday, December 17, 2015

MIYU Beauty Soiree Essentials kit review

The product: MIYU Beauty Soirée Essentials kit

Every Christmas, I like to pick out a couple “quick fix” gift ideas. Kits for under $100 that are luxurious, easy to wrap, easy to buy, and (most importantly of all) sure to please many. They’re a step above your standard hostess gift, but juuuust generic enough that you probably have 3 or 4 people in your life (if not more) that would absolutely love them.

MIYU Beauty Soiree Essentials kit

MIYU Beauty mirror

MIYU Soiree Essentials love juliet earrings

The MIYU Soirée Essentials kit ($69 CAD) contains a full-sized Hydrate Mi Beauty Essence and Hydrate Mi Tea, along with a Hydrate Mi Beauty Essence Mini to throw into your clutch or leave on your nightstand. But what I really love about this kit is that it isn’t only beauty products — it’s a complete, well-rounded gift, ready to wrap with a compact mirror and a set of sparkling pearl & crystal 14K gold plated drop earrings by Love Juliet.

I’ve reviewed the MIYU Beauty Essences before, so I won’t go too much into detail about Hydrate Mi, but I’m happy to say that I’m still using (and loving!) both my Hydrate Mi and De-Stress Mi Beauty Essences religiously.

I find that I actually my essences more now than I did when I wrote my review — they’re perfect for adding a veil of moisture to my super-dry skin right before bed or just as I wake up, and unlike all other beauty essences, they can be spritzed on to freshen up winter-dry foundation.

MIYU Beauty Hydrate Mi Beauty Essence, Tea review

I thought it was silly at first that MIYU put two Hydrate Mi essences in to this kit, but then it hit me: one is totally not enough. I keep a De-Stress Mi in my bathroom, and bottles of Hydrate Mi at my desk, in the bathroom cabinet at my partner’s place, and on my side of the bed. (I like to think of it as my portable humidifier, because it does about the same thing for my skin.)

If you’re searching for an awesome last-minute gift, or if you want to treat yourself for the holidays, the MIYU Beauty Soirée Essentials Kit ($69 CAD) is a great way to do it!

» Why gift MIYU? I love the MIYU brand because it’s a small Canadian business built around two absolutely inspiring ladies. CEO Connie Tai grew up here in Edmonton and has an extensive background in cosmetic chemistry and product development, so she actually gets it — she’s not just a pretty celebrity face behind a thrown-together brand.

Keep reading! »

L’Occitane Cedrat Shower Gel & After-Shave review, photos | The Gift Guide

Thursday, December 3, 2015

L'Occitane Cedrat After-Shave gel lotion review

The product: L’Occitane Cédrat Shower Gel and After-Shave Cream Gel for him

The one thing that strikes me every Decem-burr (yay!) is that I never do enough of a “gift guide for him.” Dudes deserve product too, so if you have a Mr. in your life who needs a little spoiling this season, this post is for you!

(And him.)

L'Occitane Cedrat After-Shave review

My partner and I couldn’t test out the Cedrat After-Shave Cream Gel ($36 CAD) because it contains silicones, but I had to include it in this post–it’s just so gorgeously packaged! Formulated with Corsican cédrat (citron), it’s meant to hydrate, mattify, and energize the skin, reducing irritation after shaving with a lightweight “melting texture.”

Hilariously, L’Occitane describes the cedrat as an “eminently masculine fruit” with its “thick and rough bark,” which is so unbelievably, comically unnecessary. Men’s marketing, you guys. It gets me every time.

L'Occitane cedrat shower gel review citron

I did give the Cedrat Shower Gel ($22 CAD) a go, though, and I was happily impressed. It’s a 2-in-1 cleanser for the body and hair, and it does a great job of both. It’s lightly scented with a faint herby-citrus fragrance and a hint (not a hit) of woods in the base, and it is great as a shampoo — richly lathering, yet completely non-stripping. 

(I’m serious, you guys. I went from Kérastase to this, and I liked this one more.)

L'Occitane Cedrat review men's skincare

The verdict?

The L’Occitane Cédrat line has a very unexpected, earthy-citrus fragrance to it, but I was really impressed with what I saw from the range. I think it’ll be a big hit for fans of vetiver and other earthy, subtle scents — just make sure not to get it confused with the brand’s Cèdre range, like I foolishly did!

Availability: $8.50 CAD & up at L’Occitane stores and online.

Keep reading! »

Give the GiftofGOLD with Kérastase

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kerastase Gift of Gold

I like to get all of my holiday shopping done before, if possible, the second week of December. It’s a great setup: you start planning in July, finish up in November, and then you have all of December to bake cookies, hang tinsel, and pick a tree.

That being said, “like to” and “actually do” are two very, very different things. So, if you’re just starting your holiday gift acquisition right now, here’s a little something to help you get started!

Kerastase Bain Densité shampoo review

Kérastase PARIS is running a great promotion in all Kérastase PARIS salons and on the Kerastase.ca website right now: buy a styling product and conditioner and get the corresponding shampoo free!

They’re calling it the Gift of Gold promo, and it’s a haircare lover’s dream. The gift sets start at $83 CAD, and there are eleven sets available, including:

Kerastase Densifique Masque Densite review

There aren’t a ton of silicone-free Kérastase PARIS products, but I’ve been testing some of the Chronologiste and Densifique ranges this month.

Densifique comes packaged in simple, pretty, champagne-beige packaging, and the Mousse Densimorphose, Bain Densité (shampoo), and Masque Densité (conditioner) are all ‘cone-free. I’d like more hydration for my already-dry prairie hair, but a little goes a long way with this range! I use about 1/3 of my normal amount of shampoo with Kérastase, and it’s still more than enough.

Kerastase Chronologiste Scalp Exfoliator

The coolest product that I tested from the gift sets, however, was definitely the Chronologiste Revitalizing Exfoliating Care Rinse-Out Pre-Shampoo treatment. The Chronologiste line is gorgeously packaged to begin with (that black! That gold!), and the treatment is silicone-free.

To use, you take a large dollop of the Revitalizing Exfoliating Care, work it through your hair in sections, and massage it onto the scalp for five minutes before rinsing out. It’s a little hard on the arms, but quite unique overall: the product is flecked with gold and red for a great sensory experience, and it does a great job of exfoliating away any little scalp-flakies that the winter has “gifted” upon you!

Kérastase Chronologiste review scalp and hair exfoliator (more…)

September Birchbox (CA) review & unboxing! | Davines Sea Salt Spray, Japonesque Eye Shadow, 100% Pure Eye Cream, and more

Saturday, October 3, 2015

September 2015 Birchbox review

The product: Birchbox (Canada), September 2015 box

I’ve always been wary of monthly subscription boxes. I mean, I’ve tried one or two in the past, but subscription boxes tend to be full of silicone-y products that I can’t try and creamy eyeliners that just wouldn’t work for me.

But when I was asked to try the September Birchbox, I had to say yes. It’s the company’s five-year anniversary, and I’m on the site all the time — it’s chock-full of reviews, funny product descriptions, and (most importantly) ingredients lists! I figured I was probably long overdue to try an actual box.

Birchbox unboxing review canada september 2015

The overall box: September is customer appreciation month at Birchbox, so my box came with the usual five products (actually, it came with six by mistake; there was a double of the Japonesque eyeshadow) plus a 20% off code for the Birchbox.ca store.

For $14.95 including shipping, the contents of this year’s September box really impressed me. The box itself was just gorgeous (I’m using it to store stuff now!) and it contained a sheet mask, a full-sized eyeshadow, a VERY generous haircare sample, and two “regular” samples. I did the math for comparison’s sake, and compared to the full-sizes based on ounces, the samples in this box are valued at $44.20.

Tocca Giulietta scrub review, 100 percent pure coffee bean eye cream

The products: Honestly, the most important factor in all of this was luck. I happened upon a box that was perfect for me, so I got to use all five of the silicone-free, paraben-free goodies — and two of them, again, just so happened to be products that I’ve been meaning to try for a while anyways.

(My mom always tells me that I’ve got horseshoes up my butt, which I can assure you, I absolutely do NOT. That sounds dangerous and also horrifically painful.)

  • 100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream ($26 CAD full-sized) – I had a hell of a time opening this one (it still had that little bud-thingy that needed to be cut off), but it smells JUST like sugary breakfast cereal! It’s smooth and rich, and definitely best for vanilla-lovers.
  • BioRepublic Skincare Aloe Rescue Revitalizing Sheet Mask ($21 CAD for 3) – I’m not really a sheet mask girl, but if I was, this would have been the perfect mask for me! It’s a fiber mask (so it’s all ready to go), and it’s perfect for dry, sensitive skin like mine.

Davines This is a Sea Salt Spray review

  • Davines This is a Sea Salt Spray ($30 CAD full-sized) – Okay, so I maybe actually squealed a little bit when I saw this in my box. The sample itself is practically full-sized, and I’ve been meaning to buy a salt spray for months. Now, I won’t have to: the This is a Sea Salt Spray, which smells deliciously like vanilla and coconut, gives my hair lots of texture and body and makes it feel lush and full. 
  • Japonesque Velvet Touch Eye Shadow in Shade 02 ($12 CAD; this is full-size) – This was the other product that I really wanted to try! It’s a light green/gold with a soft metallic finish, but honestly, I’m glad I didn’t spend $12 on it alone — it’s smooth and blendable, but definitely on the sheer side.
  • TOCCA Esfoliante da Corpo in Giulietta ($38 CAD full-sized) – Am I going to get heckled if I admit to not really “getting” the TOCCA line? All of the scents seem so watered-down and dated to me, and while I love the packaging… I need a little more punch. Giulietta smells, to my nose, kind of like generic green apple hand soap in a mid-range restaurant, but I do really like the scrub itself — it’s a lovely, gritty sugar scrub that leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized.

Japonesque 02 eyeshadow review

The verdict?

With a box whose contents change on a monthly basis, there’s no way that I can tell you that you’re going to love the Birchbox every month. What I can tell you is this: I was really happy with my box, and it contained only full-sized products and deluxe samples — nothing that you could just pick up a sample of at Sephora.

I found two products that I loved, two products that I’m glad I got to try (so that I could learn that they’re not really for me), and one product that I’m still looking forward to trying, which… I mean, isn’t that kind of the whole point of a sampling subscription? To get to try a bunch of stuff that you’re interested in without spending a lot of money, and find some loves and losses along the way?

Availability: $14.95 CAD shipping/month. I would love if you used my friend referral (I’d get “Birchbox points,” but no actual $$), but it’s up to you!

Burberry Beauty at Nordstrom Vancouver, The Bay, & Sephora

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Burberry Beauty launches Canada Vancouver Nordstrom

I remember when Burberry Beauty first stepped onto the scene. It wasn’t too long ago, but the brand was one of the first high fashion lines (other than Chanel, of course) to step outside of fragrance and start producing luxury cosmetics, too.

And, despite making up just a tiny morsel of the brand’s overall sales, the Burberry cosmetics line has done well for itself–well enough that other fashion brands, like Gucci and Michael Kors, have followed suit. Bloggers and consumers alike have been smitten with the products’ smooth formulas and chic packaging for the past half-decade, and the love just doesn’t seem to be waning.

Burberry Ash Brown eyebrow definer review

Burberry Effortless Eyebrow Definer in Ash Brown ($36 CAD)

Burberry Poppy Black nail polish review

Burberry Nail Polish in Poppy Black ($23 CAD)

So, dear reader, it’s been particularly exciting to slowly watch Burberry cosmetics become available in person across Canada this year.

There are quite a few high-end makeup brands that are next to impossible to find in Canada, but you can now find Burberry Beauty at the brand-new Nordstrom in Vancouver. Or, if you’re outside of Vancouver, look for the brand at Nordstrom Ottawa, select Hudson’s Bay locations, and online at thebay.com and sephora.ca.

Happy shopping!

Burberry Khaki Green Nail Polish review

Burberry Nail Polish in Khaki Green ($23 CAD limited edition)

Burberry kip cheek bloom poppy review

Burberry Lip & Cheek Bloom in Poppy ($33 CAD)

Photographed here: Burberry Cashmere Foundation in Porcelain ($60 CAD), Lip Velvet in Honeysuckle ($38 CAD), Lip & Cheek Bloom in Poppy ($33 CAD), Effortless Eyebrow Definer in Ash Brown ($36 CAD).

Additional photos & more »

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