Three to try: Heat protectant sprays from Giovanni and Kevin Murphy

Monday, June 30, 2014

Giovanni Argan Keratin mist review - flat iron styling mist

Good: Giovanni 2chic Ultra Sleek Brazilian Keratin & Argan Oil Flat Iron Styling Mist

This Giovanni mist smells, to me, like a softly-scented, old-timey salon; vanilla with a hint of nuttiness and a whisper of hairspray. It’s part of the same range as this oil-serum that M and I love, but has a different, much more subtle scent. It’s made from 100% vegetarian ingredients, and the brand doesn’t test on animals, which is nice to note!

Giovanni says this mist is good for all hair types, but it contains denatured alcohol high up in the ingredients list, and amodimethicone later on — so I’d say skip it if you have really dry hair, are concerned about using body-safe products, or have a silicone sensitivity.

The Giovanni Keratin & Argan Oil Flat Iron Styling Mist ingredients:

Water, Glycerin, SD Alcohol-40B, Argan Kernel Oil, Brazilian Cocoa Keratin Extract [Phyto-Keratin], *Rooibos Tea Extract, Coconut Oil, *Macadamia Seed Extract, *Shea Butter Extract, Sorbitol, Amodimethicone, Panthenol, (Pro-Vitamin B-5), Benzyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Natural Fragrance.

Giovanni Ultra-moise avocado oilive oil review - leave-in spray

Better: Giovanni 2chic Ultra-Moist Avocado & Olive Oil Ultra-Moist Dual Action Protective Leave-In Spray

Even better than Giovanni’s Keratin & Argan styling mist, though, is their Avocado & Olive Oil leave-in spray. Silicone-free and formulated for dry, damaged hair, it’s designed to be both a leave-in conditioner and a heat protectant – all bundled up with a low scent profile and an easy-to-use mist pump.

Unlike its nutty, vanilla counterpart, this leave-in spray smells bright and rather synthetic, like a light, fruity hairspray — but while the formula leaves your hair feeling soft and smooth all day long, the scent fades quickly. It’s full of hydrating and soothing ingredients like aloe, avocado oil, olive oil, and shea butter, and is definitely my top pick for a silicone-free mass-market heat protectant spray. 

The Giovanni Avocado & Olive Oil Leave-In Spray ingredients: 

Water, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B-5), Glycerin, Vitamin E, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 20, Citric Acid, Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, Chlorophyllin-Copper Complex, *Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, *Avocado Oil, *Lychee Chinensis Fruit Extract, *Olive Fruit Oil, *Chenopodium Quinoa Flower/Leaf Extract, *Shea Butter, *Sunflower Seed Oil. 

Kevin Murphy Damage Manager

Best: Kevin Murphy Damage.Manager Instant Heat Shielding Spray

Despite what your salon may tell you (I’ve had not one, but two separate stylists in different salons lie to me about this), the Kevin Murphy line is not 100% silicone-free. Rather, the line uses “functional silicones” that rinse out easily (this is coming from the brand itself), which I interpret as meaning that they use water-soluble silicones whenever possible – ones that are lighter and less hydrophobic than traditionally heavy, slick silicones like dimethicone.

That said, Kevin Murphy does a ton of products that are silicone-free, and Damage.Manager is one of them. (Their Angel.Wash and Angel.Rinse are, too!) Damage.Manager protects your hair without weighing it down or leaving it even the slightest bit sticky, and it smells amazing – both complex and unisex, like the perfect whirlwind of vetiver and woods, with a tenacity that lasts right through your next shampoo.

I can’t for the life of me find an ingredients list for this online, but I promise that it’s paraben- and silicone-free. The formula features arnica root extract and allantoin alongside the KEVIN.MURPHY X-HP Complex, and it protects the hair up to a whopping 220ºC (428ºF).

Beautycounter Rose, Currant Lip Sheer swatches; Lustro Body Oil review

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Beautycounter review Lustro, Lip Tint

The products: Beautycounter Lustro Body Oil in Rosemary + Citrus and Lip Sheers in Rose and Currant

I’m not the kind of reviewer that looks at a luxury price tag, goes “well, you’re paying for exclusivity,” and then ignores it. I can see why some people are, and that’s totally cool with me, but, well: I’m not. If a brand is going to charge luxury prices, it better give me a darn good reason as to why someone should make the splurge – and if they’re going to talk about how ingredient-focused they are, they better earn the right.

Beautycounter Lustro body oil review

Lustro Body Oil in Rosemary + Citrus ($68 USD/80 ml)

As a dry-skinned girl who can’t use most moisturizers due to their silicone content, I’m a big, big fan of body oils. Which is why this Beautycounter oil was such a big surprise for me — because I didn’t love it. Like, at all. 

While Rosemary + Citrus‘ jojoba-based formula feels great and hydrates well (without an ounce of oiliness left behind on your now baby-soft skin), the scent just didn’t do it for me – and the smooth glass bottle felt like it was slipping to its death every time I pressed the pump.

Beautycounter Body Oil review Lustro Rosemary Citrus

Beautycounter Lustro Body Oil in Rosemary + Citrus

For $25/oz (Osmia’s gorgeous body oils are only $11/oz), a product shouldn’t be a struggle, you know? And it should smell awesome, not like a kitchen window basket full of roast-appropriate herbs. (My boyfriend described this one as “something you’d pick up at a Canadian Tire” — nice, but not expensive. Sort of like a citronella candle.)

If you love jasmine-scented products, they offer a jasmine-scented alternative; however, it has a jojoba/grapeseed/rosehip base, rather than jojoba/sweet almond/meadowfoam. As pretty and light-feeling as it is, I have to recommend that you pass on this one.

Lustro Rosemary + Citrus Body Oil ingredients

Golden Jojoba Oil, Sweet Almond Oil*, Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Virgin Grapeseed Oil*, Rosehip Oil, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Marula Oil*, Virgin Argan Nut Oil*, Rose Otto Oil, Apricot Oil, Grapefruit Oil, Sweet Orange Oil, Rosemary Oil.

Beautycounter Lip Sheer review swatches Rose Currant

Beautycounter Lip Sheers in Rose (L) and Currant (R)

Lip Sheers in Rose and Currant ($28 USD/each)

Like the Lustro Body Oil, the first Lip Sheer I tried put my nerves on edge, too. Despite being described as a creme finish, Rose has particles of hidden gold shimmer in it, and while the colour was really pretty, the shimmer is noticeable on my lips — not a deal-breaker, but I’m kind of bummed that the brand describes it as a creme finish.

Beautycounter Rose lip sheer

Beautycounter Lip Sheers in Rose and Currant — see the shimmer that was hiding in there?

Currant, however, is shimmer-free… and it’s awesome. The Beautycounter Lip Sheer formula is really comfortable and hydrating, with a naturally-sourced vanilla scent and a good amount of pigment. If I had to pick one Beautycounter product to recommend, it would definitely be this one – they feel gorgeously heavy and balmy, and the packaging is divine. (According to brand rep Anna Vig, only Rose and Petal have shimmer, and it’s less noticeable in the latter!)

Also nice to note is that the line’s Lip Sheers rate an EWG Skin Deep rating of 1 (aka “super safe”), which is great when it comes to lip products — we end up ingesting a pretty gross amount of them, after all.

Beautycounter Lip Sheer ingredients

Diisotearyl Malate, Jojoba Esters, Octyldodecyl Ricinoleate, Castor Seed Oil, Microcrystalline Wax, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Calcium Sodium Borosilcate, Candelilla Wax, Carnuba Wax, Tin Oxide. +/- Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Yellow 5 Lake, Red 5 Lake, Red 7 Lake, Red 27 Lake, Blue 1 Lake.

Beautycounter Currant Rose swatches

Beautycounter Lip Sheer swatches - Rose (L) and Currant (R)

Beautycounter Rose Currant Lip Sheer swatches

L-R: Beautycounter Lip Sheers in Rose and Currant, swatched

The verdict?

I love the idea of a brand that focuses on its ingredients, but Beautycounter seems to focus more on profit than product. Upon closer inspection, all of their pricy-but-beautiful face oils feature the same formula (differing only in fragrance), and their lazily-fragranced body oil runs at almost double the cost per ounce than beautifully scented oils by brands like L’Occitane, Caudalie, and Clarins. For an all-natural body oil, I would opt instead for one by Osmia Organics – their packaging is easier to use, and each scent is beautifully crafted.

That said, I did really like how hydrating, comfortable, and safe the Beautycounter Lip Sheers are. I found swatches of all six shades on Our Wanderlust (Petal, Twig, and Coral caught my eye!), and I think they’d make a wonderful “splurge” lip product — they’re gorgeously packaged, have a great formula, and come in a beautiful range of shades.

Availability: These items were sent in for review by superstar brand rep Anna Vig, who has been unbelievably helpful and friendly. If you’re going to indulge in a Lip Sheer, I would definitely encourage you to shop her storefront here!

Keep reading! »

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.

Clinique A Different Nail Enamel swatches, review, photos

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Clinique A Different Nail Enamel review swatches

L-R: Clinique Base & Top Coat, Call My Bluff, Sweet Tooth, Really Rio, Red Red Red, and Concrete Jungle

The product: Clinique A Different Nail Enamel for Sensitive Skins

   ↳ Base and Top Coat, 01 Call My Bluff, 02 Sweet Tooth, 05 Really Rio, 07 Red Red Red, and 11 Concrete Jungle

I can’t remember how I came by these particular shades. I think (it’s been a while) that my press contact at Clinique picked out some of her favourites and sent them over, maybe? Because they’re not the same set of shades that went out in the wide release, but they’re perfect.

So, if I’m right — thank you. I can’t take the credit for this selection of shades, but you guys, I kid you not, they embody summer! so strongly to me that I just can’t look away.

Clinique Red Red Red review swatch

Clinique A Different Nail Enamel in Red Red Red

The formula: Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), how well these nail polishes go on seems to be dependent on the shade. The first two I tried were Really Rio and Concrete Jungle, an entire year ago, and I was so unimpressed and confused by them that I back-burnered this post altogether.

Then, a week ago, I decided to swatch Sweet Tooth out of the blue. And it was awesome. And I kept going, from Call My Bluff to Red Red Red, and just kept being blown away.

(And then I tried Concrete Jungle again and whoops, nope, not going there.)

Clinique Sweet Tooth Concrete Jungle swatches

Clinique Sweet Tooth (1, 3 coats), Clinique Concrete Jungle (1, 3 coats)

Sweet Tooth, Call My Bluff, and the AWESOME Red Red Red

To start off, here are three great nail shades from Clinique: starting with the super-sheer Sweet Tooth and Call My Bluff, which I’m going to come right out and say would be great Dior Nail Glow alternatives. They apply really easily (and evenly), and coat the nail with just a hint of colour – the perfect amount to whiten the white part of your nail & brighten the nail bed.

Clinique Call My Bluff swatch review

Clinique Call My Bluff swatch

Unlike Dior’s Nail Glow, however, Clinique makes two shades to suit a wider range of skintones — and both give a more natural look than Dior’s. For skintones with yellow or olive undertones, try Call My Bluff; for skintones with a lot of pink or peach, try Sweet Tooth. Alternately, choose the whiter Call My Bluff for more of a whitening effect on the free edge of the nail (think a subtle French manicure), and Sweet Tooth to focus on brightening the nail bed.

Dior Nail Glow dupe Clinique Sweet Tooth

Clinique Sweet Tooth swatch (1 coat on index finger, 3 coats on middle finger)

Clinique Sweet Tooth, Red swatch

Bare nail, Clinique Sweet Tooth, Clinique Red Red Red (3 coats, 1 coat)

And to finish up this category of super awesome Clinique nail shades? Clinique Red Red Red, the very best of the bunch. Summer-bright and deliciously vivid, it is hands-down the best red nail polish I’ve tried so far, applying evenly and with the perfect red-yellow-blue balance.

Red Red Red is just shy of opaque at three coats, but I’d actually call it a two-coater. While I’d normally have a problem with anything short of full opacity, it actually works in this particular shade’s favour, creating a really lighthearted almost-jelly finish rather than a super-serious red.

Clinique Red Red Red swatch A Different Nail Enamel

Clinique Red Red Red swatched (3 coats, 1 coat)

Really Rio and Concrete Jungle

These shades are gorgeous, but application-wise, I just couldn’t figure them out. They applied a lot like Essie polishes, if you have any experience with those: some people seem to be able to work magic with them, but for the rest of us, each gorgeous shade after the next applies kind of lumpily. Not even just in streaks, but… lumps.

No one wants lumpy space princess nails, so give these two a pass unless you can pull off Essie-style formulas and brushes with grace!

(Seriously, though. Really Rio would have been such a great, beachy summer shade in a smoother formula.)

Clinique Really Rio Nail Varnish swatch

Clinique A Different Nail Enamel in Really Rio, swatched

The verdict?

If you love bright nails or reds, you need Red Red Red in your life. I don’t know how Clinique did it, but they absolutely killed it with the shade — it’s not super opaque, but it’s one of the most fun, bright shades I’ve ever laid eyes on — without coming off as childish at all.

Aside from Red Red Red, I’d also totally recommend either Sweet Tooth or Call My Bluff for that perfect natural-but-better nail. You don’t need both, but I’d definitely pick up one of them for when you need a super fast, super easy natural nail!

Availability: $12.50 USD/$16 CAD at Clinique (US), Sephora, and Nordstrom, as well as Clinique counters.

Keep reading! »

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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