5 scents under $50 | Product closet excavation

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Five scents under $50

Let’s start this review off with a truth: I’m not a fan of celebrity fragrances. I’m like, really, really not. So, a lot of the time, I’ll receive one to review and it’ll just waste away in my product closet, waiting for its moment…

Today, that moment has finally come for these scents. Will I love them? Will I hate them? Only time (or simply skimming this review) will tell.

ck one shock for her him review

The couple’s duo: Calvin Klein CK One Shock EdT

Calvin Klein’s CK One Shock for Her is described as a “sensual floriental,” with notes like passion flower and poppy giving way to chocolate, blackberry, jasmine, and musk. It comes bottled in the iconic CK One flacon — but with an opaque white coating & the word “SHOCK” scribbled on in bright pink. (It’s meant to look like lipstick, which I think is silly — the guys get dripping spray paint!)

This design is echoed in the “bold oriental” for him version as well, which lists notes including clementine, cucumber, osmanthus, black pepper, tobacco, and patchouli. Both scents were created by Ann Gottleib and IFF, and retail for $45 CAD/50ml (100 ml bottles pictured here) at Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix locations across Canada.

These come with both caps and atomizers, which I love — I always get too much perfume with a single spritz, and caps store better, too. CK One Shock for Her is sweeter than I had expected, and kind of makes me think of a clothing store – soft, powdery kind of sweet. But CK One Shock for Him is the one to watch: it’s peppery and masculine with modern-oriental undertones, and gives an interesting “suggestion” of fruitiness despite not containing any fruity notes (probably due to the osmanthus).

Vera Wang Lovestruck review EdP

The big, big box: Vera Wang Lovestruck Floral Rush

My bottle of Floral Rush contains a mere 50 ml, but you’d never know it from the size of the box it came in. Lovestruck Floral Rush has a large plastic “bouquet” lid, and its box could easily contain four boxes of Heidi Klum Shine within its depths.

Created by Pascal Gaurin, Lovestruck Floral Rush is comprised of notes like champagne, apricot blossom, white freesia, and cashmere wood. It comes wrapped with a floral-print bow, which, well — it’s not a purple and green camouflage bandana, as I had originally thought.

A bright and shimmery “fizzy floral” (my words, not theirs), Floral Rush is a little sharp, but I think it’s more interesting than a lot of celebrity fragrances out there. It smells a bit too clean, which is really too bad, but I think it’s a good scent for its target demographic — there’s nothing aggressively sexy about this perfume, in its notes or in its advertising.

Vera Wang Lovestruck perfume review

The model moment: Heidi Klum Shine

Lauded by bloggers and perfume fanatics as one of the best budget scents at the drugstore, Shine lists fruity top notes of pear, mandarin, and pink peppercorn set against a floral heart and a sweet dry down. This is easily the one I was the most excited about, and it’s not bad — it’s not terribly unique, but it’s clean and very fruity, and I think it’s well-done for the small price tag.

Shine was created by Aurelien Guichard, Jean Guichard and Olivier Pescheux (Pescheux is the nose behind many of Diptyque’s scents, and Guichard is the man behind Issey Miyake’s Pleats fragrances and the Robert Piguet line), and is available for $35 CAD/30 ml.

Heidi Klum Shine perfume review

The Beyoncé effect: Beyoncé Pulse

I’m not a big Beyoncé fan, but I do love the way she’s created her image – while she’s far from perfect, you could do so much worse than telling young girls (and young minority girls in particular) that they can be both popular and powerful.

Her fragrances, though, are one area where I think she could do better. Pulse is described as a “citrus, floral gourmand” (which is cause for alarm on its own), with make-believe notes such as pear blossom, blue curaco, bluebird orchid, and midnight blooming jasmine. Created by Loc Dong, it’s available at Shopper’s and Sears for a rather alarming $59 CAD/50ml. (You didn’t hear it from me, but you can snap this one up easily for under $20 online.)

I think this is one of the better Beyoncé scents out there, but it’s still much too sweet for me. I’d recommend spritzing in-store if you’re a big fan of Queen B, and waiting to smell the drydown before buying — while I can definitely see why someone could fall in love with this, I think many will find it to be too pushy!

Beyonce Pulse review

Do you wear celebrity fragrances? And if so, what are your favourites? (Inquiring minds need to know!) 

Back to school beauty with I love…

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Back to school beauty with I Love

Fall term started yesterday, and so far it’s been… kind of hellacious. So today I’m doing a brief overview of a bright, fruity back-to-school kit sent my way by Farleyco Beauty (thanks, guys!) It’s not a review, because guys, I want to go to bed, but hopefully those happy-looking stripes will make up for it. They certainly cheered me up.

I love…

I Love strawberries & cream body butter

Despite having the worst name in the history of ever (you try Googling a company called “I love”), these Shopper Drug Mart exclusives actually smell delicious — and they’d be a great send-off for a first-year college student, at their door or in a care package.

The Raspberry & Blackberry Bubble Bath and Shower Crème ($9.99) directions are, honestly, kind of creepy (“pour me seductively under running water… squeeze me generously into the palm of your hand”), but the product itself smells like candy, and the not-as-explicit Strawberries & Cream Nourishing Body Butter ($9.99) makes up for it — though I do prefer the raspberry scent.

You can check out the rest of the I love… range at Farleyco (though, again, it’s a Shopper’s exclusive), but keep in mind that the body butter is not silicone-free!

I Love raspberry blackberry bubble bath shower gel

Perspirex and X3

This particular back-to-school kit also included a bottle of Perspirex Roll-On Antiperspirant ($19.99), which claims to last up to 3 days, and a thing of X3 Labs Foaming Hand Sanitizer ($4.99) — you know, for dorm life. I prefer to wash my hands than use hand sanitizer, but in a pinch, this has always been my brand of choice! It’s alcohol-free as well as fragrance-free, so it plays well with my crazy-dry skin. And also my tendency to put my hands in or near my mouth.

X3 hand sanitizer

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Essence Beach Cruisers ombre blush giveaway | Summer beaches, summer blushes

Monday, July 21, 2014

Essence Beach Cruisers Summer Break ombre blush

So, I found this wonderfully bright ombré blush at the drugstore last week, and I couldn’t just let it sit there. And one thing led to another, and I was like oh man, I love ombre blushes, and, uh, I kind of bought it. Even though I hate peach and red tones against my complexion right now, and I’m already practically drowning in blush.

Anyhow, long story short, I’m giving away this blush. It’s nothing fancy, but I couldn’t just let it waste away, sad and unloved, and I like you guys.

Essence ombre blush giveaway

Win it

Up for grabs: one Essence Cosmetics multicolour blush in Summer Break, from their Beach Cruisers collection. The giveaway’ll run for a week, open worldwide (read the T&C for more details), and for those with allergies, the ingredients list talc and dimethicone, but no parabens.

I don’t have swatches for you, but Tracy (Beauty Reflections) swatched hers on her Instagram feed — see it here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Neutrogena summer sunscreen roundup & mini reviews

Monday, June 23, 2014

Neutrogena sunscreen roundup 2014

Let’s talk sunscreen. It’s not something I do often, but it is something that’s really important to pay attention to – especially in this day and age.

I have a couple silicone-free sunscreen reviews coming up this summer, but for now, here are a few drugstore sunscreen options from Neutrogena. Drugstore sunscreens aren’t always the most elegant option, but I’ve always favoured them over high-end ones: with their low price tag, it’s easier to use the full amount needed with each application. (That’s about a quarter-sized dollop for the face, and a shot-glass-sized portion for the body!)

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer ($12.99 CAD & up)

The Ultra Sheer line was, I kid you not, the very first sunscreen range I fell in love with. Their sweat-proof, matte-finish Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch sunscreen feels noticeable but matte on the skin — not shiny and greasy, the way the sunscreens of our youth were. You can now get the Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen in SPF 45, 30, 60, and 110, or the Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen in SPF 30, 45, and 60 ($16.99 CAD).

Neutrogena sunscreen

Neutrogena Clear Face ($12.49 CAD & up)

Available in SPF 30 and 60, Clear Face is designed not to cause breakouts. It’s oil-free and fragrance-free, and while it’s heavy on the ‘cones, it happens to be formulated without parabens. I had M test this out for me for a couple of days (it has ‘cones in the formula), and he thought it was considerably better than the Dry Touch formula — in comparison, he said, the Ultra Sheer Dry Touch felt greasy!

Neutrogena Beach Defence ($13.49 CAD & up)

Available in SPF 30 and SPF 60 (go for the 60!), Beach Defence is made to be water and sweat-resistant, with a “light, summery fragrance.” (It kind of reminds me of L’Oreal Kids’ shampoo — you know, no more tears?)

The Beach Defence line is available in both lotion and ‘cone-free spray form (make sure to spray a lot if you go with the spray — I find you always need more than you think  you do!), but note that the adult & child versions are the exact same product, just with a different label.

Neutrogena Water Light, Beach Defence

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Water-Light ($16.99 CAD)

New this season, the SPF 60 Water-Light sunscreen is designed to be a lightweight liquid lotion for the face. Depending on where you are (and what’s already sold out), you might see a few similar-but-different sunscreens from Neutrogena on shelves as well: the mineral Pure & Free Liquid SPF 50 sunscreen (Eye Heart It has a great mini-review of this), Ultra Sheer Liquid SPF 70, or Ultra Sheer Waterlight tinted sunscreens (Asia-only).

I also had M test this one out for us, and this was his favourite of the three he tried. He described it as being really comfortable and lightweight for a sunscreen (though it couldn’t pass for a moisturizer), but noted its strong, “hospitally” scent and extremely liquid texture — drippier and easier to spill than the Clear Face formula, but also easier to spread out.

Seven out-of-the-box drugstore nail picks

Friday, June 13, 2014

I haven’t covered a lot of nail-related beauty recently, so here’s a bit of catch-up: seven drugstore nail picks that all fall beyond the regular scope of “nail polish”.

Skip below the graphic to read more about these unique-but-accessible finds!

June nail feature

Nail HQ Base Coat ($7.99 CAD)

Base coats are base coats, but this newly launched one by Nail HQ describes itself as a “unique rubberized base coat” with a “sticky cushioned finish” to prep the nail for polish. Does it work? I’ll be testing it out this summer to find out!

Nail HQ Ridge Filler ($9.99 CAD)

Like the brand’s base coat, this ridge filler is available at Pharmasave, select drugstores, and farleyco.ca. It’s designed for weak, damaged nails, and is made to cover up & conceal ridges while conditioning the nail. It’s not a nail strengthener or hardener, though — Nail HQ also makes those, but they’re separate treatments.

Sally Hansen Instagel Strips in Sss-Snakeyes ($15.95 CAD)

Sally Hansen, available at most drug and grocery stores across Canada, makes two different kind of nail strips: these, and the ones below. A little more expensive than the non-gel version, the Instagel Strips are UV-cured, last up to two weeks, and come with a gel coat in the box. (Mini LED lamp must be purchased separately.) Think of them as an at-home gel manicure for the unsteady-handed.

Sally Hansen Fuzzy Coat Nail Polish

Sally Hansen Fuzzy Coat Textured Nail Colour in Wool Lite, Fuzzy Fantasy, Tight Knit, and Peach Fuzz

Sally Hansen Fuzzy Coat Textured Nail Colour in Wool Lite and Fuzzy Fantasy ($7.95 CAD)

Okay, I’ll fess up: I’m extra super not a fan of these Fuzzy Coat polishes. Like crackle-finish and “caviar” manicures, I think they look weird, and left exposed, they catch and pull on everything.

That said, they’re also pretty darn unique, and they’re formulated well — the small strips of “fuzz” haven’t curved or warped at all in the year that I’ve been sitting on these.

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips in Whoopsy Daisy ($9.95 CAD)

If you don’t have a nail lamp at home (I don’t!), Sally Hansen’s Salon Effects polish strips will probably be a better buy for you. They launched last year in eight different prints (and have since added more shades), with a simple peel-and-stick application. no drying time, and no DBP, toluene, or formaldehyde.

Maybelline Polka Dots swatch review Clearly Spotted

Maybelline Colour Show Polka Dots Nail Lacquer swatches: Drops of Jade, Clearly Spotted, Pretty In Polka, Blue Marks the Spot

Maybelline Colour Show Polka Dots Nail Lacquer in Clearly Spotted ($3.99 CAD)

Launched alongside a set of metallic duochrome nail lacquers last year, the Maybelline Colour Show Polka Dots range includes five “spotted’ shades in a translucent base. The brand describes it as “high-fashion meets high-art,” but I see it more as indie-meets-drugstore — a spinoff of the e-tailer trend of duochromes & textural overlays, made accessible to more than just nail fanatics and bloggers.

imPRESS Press-On Manicure by Broadway Nails in Night Fever and Vamp It Up ($10.99 CAD)

These are new to the market this month (find them at Walmart, London Drugs, and Pharmasave), and offer a peel-and-press false nail that lasts up to one week. I wasn’t a fan of most of the designs, but Vamp It Up is pretty cute — a far cry from the classic French manicure falsies, it’s a pop-art, comic-book design done in neons.

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