My Annabelle Cosmetics favourites (plus 40% off + free shipping!)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Annabelle 40 off free shipping

With two of my favourite brands both doing 40% off this week until the 13th for International Women’s Day, I thought I’d take a minute to go over a few of my favourites from their lines. While I haven’t gotten around to reviewing them all–I know, I know; I’m working on it!–I’ve linked to the reviews that I do have up, and I’m going to try and do my best to tell you why I love the other products featured here just as much.

» Shop Annabelle.ca & Marcelle.com at 40% off with the code WOMEN

Shipping is free on all Canadian orders, and is calculated by weight for all US ones. I know, I know — it sucks to pay shipping, but 40% off at least help to soften that blow (if not make up for it entirely!)

My Annabelle favourites & must-haves (Marcelle to come tomorrow!)

Annabelle Glitterama Eyeliners. All of them. review/posts | buy }

These were one of my first loves from Annabelle. They take a while to dry (don’t all glitter liners?), but once they’re on, they’re on. Annabelle offers a wonderful selection of glitters suspended in a clear gel, but my favourite is still my first — Plutonium.

Annabelle Smoothie Eyeshadow Pencil in Licoriche review | buy }

My skin’s really picky about high amounts of silicone, but I still cheat in the morning & do my brows with a tiny, tiny bit of black eyeliner. This pencil is my go-to for a black cream base, tightlining, and the tightline-followed-by-brow-filling (without picking up new product) that I do every morning. 

With my super-picky eyelids, I wasn’t a fan of these on my lids as shadows. They’re exact dupes of Urban Decay’s jumbo 24/7 pencil formula, though, so here are photos and swatches of some of their (rather lovely) neutrals if you’re interested!

Annabelle Liquid Eyeliner in Black Spark review | buy }

Like their glitter liners, this liquid liner never budges once it’s set. I have the most finicky eyelids I’ve ever even heard of, but this (like Lancome’s much pricier 24hr Artliners) clings to my lids until I wash it off with warm water at the end of the day — at which point it comes off neatly in little “pills,” sort of like a tubing mascara would.

I’m pretty sure I remember the matte Black Out smudging on me back in the day, so stick to Black Spark if you want a sure thing.

 Annabelle TwistUp Retractable Lipstick review

Annabelle TwistUp Retractable Lipsticks review | buy }

When I signed up to swatch all 24 of these in a month, I kind of freaked out. Now that it’s over, though, I’m pretty proud of how the series of photos turned out, and I’m incredibly glad that I did it.

The Annabelle TwistUps are portable, easy to apply, and scent-free (which is a big thing for me). Ranging from immediately opaque to sheer and shimmery, the range quite literally offers something for everyone — check out face swatches, arm swatches, and my full shade recommendations here.

In a nutshell, the two shades that really wowed me were Naked and Cherry. That said, though, I also really liked Fizz, Sorbet, and Kinky Pink!

Annabelle expandable short wand

Annabelle Expandable mascara { review to come | buy }

With its long-wearing (but easy to remove) formula and long-or-short wand, Annabelle’s Expandable mascara hits it out of the park for more than one kind of lash. Its twist-to-collapse bristles deliver product for either length or volume (or, in the middle, a bit of both), and it totally trounces Le Big Show for me.

I love this (on its shortest setting) for really voluminous but natural-looking lashes, but I do think it’ll be a big hit with those who like to wear a more noticeable mascara, too.

What are your Annabelle Cosmetics favourites?

Giovanni 2chic Brazilian Keratin & Argan Oil Ultra-Sleek Super Potion serum review, in three takes

Monday, March 3, 2014

Giovanni Ultra Sleek Super Potion serum review

The product: Giovanni 2chic Brazilian Keratin & Argan Oil Ultra-Sleek Hair & Body Super Potion

This serum landed on my desk over a year ago, and after writing three variations of this review, I think I’m finally ready to publish a post about it.

I had tried Giovanni’s Keratin & Argan Oil Serum initially as a serum on my long, straight hair, and quite frankly, it was kind of gross. A year after that, I decided it was time to transition this guy’s routine into a silicone-free one (what? He was breaking me out!), and out came this serum for its triumphant, great-for-curly-hair return. And now, upon my third attempt at testing this, I can finally say it’s great for one more thing: soothing a chronically dry scalp. 

Giovanni 2chic keratin argan serum review

The “this makes curly hair so attractive I get light-headed” approach 

You think I’m joking, but seriously, I’m not joking. Giovanni’s Ultra-Sleek serum did nothing for my dry, straight hair except make it feel kind of gross and heavy, but on curly hair, it works wonders. 

M was blessed with the kind of hair all girls want (full, curly, and naturally dark blonde with highlights), but it needs a little prep work, sometimes. It gets fussy if he blow dries it, and poofs a little if there’s nothing in it, but all in all — pretty standout hair.

So I’ve always adored M’s hair, but good lord, the things this serum does to it. He works a tiny amount of the Ultra-Sleek serum into his hair–you really have to work it in there–and suddenly, it’s all curls! definition! glossiness!, like he’s rolled out of bed and onto the gently-tousled centre spread of a naughty glossy magazine. It takes all the guesswork and skill out of styling curly hair, which is something I think we could all use, you know?

(Don’t lie, you totally do. Rolling out of bed with model hair is every girl–and probably guy’s–dream.)

Giovanni berazilian keratin argan oil review - serum potion

Giovanni Argan and Keratin Super Potion serum review

But it’s great on the scalp, too

he Brazillian Keratin & Argan Oil 2chic serum is enriched with all sorts of good-for-your hair ingredients, and it makes for a smooth, hydrating finished product — it’s a rich, thin, nutty-smelling oil. You have to be careful not to use too much, but if worked in well, this is a product that doesn’t need to be re-activated or re-styled day after day.

I have one of those finicky scalps that gets super tight after I shower, no matter how hydrating my shampoo and conditioner are, but gets oily through the day — and, if left unattended, flakes like crazy along the hairline. I thought I had dandruff for years before realizing that the flakes weren’t characteristic of dandruff at all, and that they only appeared around my face… where, coincidentally, my skin also flakes and peels if left un-moisturized.

Long story short: used sparingly while your hair is wet, a little bit of Giovanni Ultra-Sleek massaged into the scalp really helps comfort and hydrate dry patches without adding too much weight to the hair. It’s not a permanent fix, but it’s certainly more hair-friendly than facial moisturizers!

Giovanni ultra-sleek super potion review

The verdict?

It took me sixteen months to review this product, but I couldn’t be happier that I waited. Had I reviewed it promptly, you would have gotten an entirely inaccurate view of the product: I would have told you that, for a serum, it seemed kind of dry-heavy… and kind of gross.

But patience has its rewards, and I can paint you a very different picture of Giovanni’s 2chic Brazilian Keratin & Argan Oil Ultra-Sleek Serum today. It’s amazing for curly hair (especially short curly hair), great for moisturizing the scalp, and touts a nutty scent alongside top-notch packaging. I actually did a double-take when I saw how much this was — I had expected something close to $20, not $8!

While NOT suited for fine hair, this serum has really knocked my socks off. It’s an amazing buy for the price, and despite being formulated entirely from natural and organic ingredients, it outperforms any silicone-based haircare products I’ve tried for dry scalps and thick, curly hair.

Availability: $7.99 USD/$8.99 CAD/£8.99. See the full list of retailers here — it’s very long, so you have absolutely no excuse not to give this a try!

Additional photos & ingredients »

Je Joue MiMi Soft Silicone Vibrator review, photos | A Valentine’s Day review, from me to you

Friday, February 14, 2014

Je Joue MiMi Soft box

The product: Je Joue MiMi Soft Waterproof Rechargeable Silicone Vibrator in Fuchsia

My dearest, darlingest readers: over 180 of you requested this review in a gift guide last December, and because I was so incredibly overwhelmed by the gesture, consider this my Valentine’s Day gift to all of you. 

Try as I might, I can’t really do anything with theNotice without your support, so thank you. I have a super embarrassing brain crush on all of you beautiful creatures right now, and I really hope that some of you will love the MiMi Soft as much as I do.

Je Joue MiMi Soft

The execution

Packaged in the sturdiest, most luxurious box I’ve ever received anything in, the MiMi Soft is luxury inside and out. With a very cool magnetic charging mechanism and a soft, plush silicone finish, it appeals to both my lady-parts and my inner geek.

Like the original MiMi ($88.99 USD), the MiMi Soft is entirely waterproof, with five vibration levels and five vibration patterns (controlled separately), and comes in four colours: black, lilac, fuchsia (featured here), and Je Joue’s classic purple. Both deliver two hours of use on a two hour charge, and feature metal intensity buttons on their back end that double as points of charge. The buttons are very hard to push, one of the MiMi’s only faults (the only other is its slight noisiness), but I personally think it’s a worthwhile tradeoff — yes, even with my arthritic fingers.

Je Joue MiMi Soft details

Je Joue MiMi Soft review controls hard

Je Joue MiMi Soft intensity buttons/charging ports, & pattern switch (between)

Je Joue MiMi Soft magnetic charger

Je Joue MiMi Soft, with its magnetic charging “port”

The experience

The silicone finish: Unlike the original MiMi, or any other toy I’ve owned before, the Soft version features a thick layer of silicone overtop the ABS plastic. It’s squishy without being too squishy, holding its shape but delivering a very unique, incredibly comfortable experience. Silicone is the safest material to use in any type of sex toy, but it usually feels like a thin, fixed layer of protection overtop a harder material. With the MiMi Soft, however, the silicone layer feels plush and somehow realistic (without being creepy-realistic), and lifts slightly off the inner body of the toy if squished just right. For me, it’s like the difference between bare hands and latex on a stick: which is to say, a huge one.

Somehow, though, the soft finish of this vibrator isn’t even its main selling point. Instead, may I please introduce you to the Je Joue MiMi motor: a little rattly, a little loud, and yet exponentially better than anything else I’ve ever tried. 

Je Joue MiMi review

Keep reading to find out what makes the MiMi a must-have »

LUSH Valentine’s 2014 reviews: Tender is the Night, Neon Love, Love Locket

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lush Neon Love alt

The products: LUSH Tender is the Night massage bar, Love Locket bath bomb, & Neon Love soap

Tender is the Night massage bar ($11.95)

A returning limited edition product coming to the permanent line, Tender is the Night is a solid massage bar. It’s very sturdy in its solid state (perfect for travel), and melts immediately upon contact with skin. The oil it melts into is smooth and intensely moisturizing, and I really appreciate that the body of the bar isn’t coloured — it saves me from worrying about it getting on my white sheets.

Lush Tender is the Night review

Scented with Simon Constantine’s Vanilla Orchid fragrance, this bar smells a little sour to my nose. That said, I’m crazy picky about my vanillas — past the initial sharpness, Tender is the Night is kind of delicious and a little bit sexy. Scented with notes of vanilla, jasmine, and ylang ylang, it’s sweet without being nauseating, and I think many will adore its fragrance.

As long as you don’t live in a hot climate, I think this would be a lovely bedside or bathroom addition. If you really love vanilla, it would be a really nice treat for yourself, too, even just for travel or for moisturizing with after a bath!

Tender of the Night is photographed here in LUSH’s Massage Bar Tin ($3.95), which is great for both storage and travel. 

Murumuru Butter, Organic Shea Butter, Fragrance, Fair Trade Vanilla Absolute, Jasmine Absolute, Ylang Ylang Oil, Titanium Dioxide, Cornflour, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Citral, Eugenol, Farnesol, Geraniol, Lilial, Linalool, Limonene, D&C Red No. 33, FD&C Red No. 4, D&C Red No. 27

Lush massage bar review - Tender is the Night

Love Locket ballistic bath bombs ($10.95)

Love Locket is priced a little higher than Lush’s other bath bombs, but for good reason: this thing is MASSIVE. Like, three-baths massive: the heart “unlocks,” breaking into two halves with an additional heart in the centre. It’s heavy, dense, and honestly, the idea behind it is kind of fantastic.

A little macabre (“break your heart”), but fantastic.

LUSH Love Locket Bath Bomb

Lush Love Locket open

Fragranced with vanilla, jasmine, and neroli essential oils, I’m not crazy about the scent — but unlike some of LUSH’s other bath bombs, it’s not a deal-breaker. The outside layer hides paper hearts that will float out to the surface of the water, while the centre heart has shiny red hearts made from agar. Unlike plastic wrap or microbeads, both will dissolve entirely, making them 100% ocean-safe.

Note: my Love Locket “unlocked” in the mail (though all of the pieces are intact), so if you’re going to buy one of these, I definitely recommend purchasing it in person.

Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Fragrance, Jasmine Absolute, Fair Trade Vanilla Absolute, Neroli Oil, Gardenia Extract, Eugenol, Geraniol, Methyl Ionone, Linalool, Limonene, D&C Red No. 33, D&C Red No. 27, Pink Heart Confetti

Red Edible Hearts (Hydroxy propyl methyl cellulose, Glycerine, Gum Arabic, Sodium carboxy methyl cellulose, FD&C Red 40)

LUSH bath bomb review - love locket

Neon Love soap ($6.95)

The first thing that came to mind when I saw Lush’s Neon Love soap was Cut Copy’s 2004 Bright Like Neon Love. I still haven’t gotten around to listening to anything post In Ghost Colours, but you guys — they’re pretty great. Not, like, “I love this so much I never want to listen to anything else ever again” levels of great, but there’s something about their light, electro-pop sound that’s sort of smooth, like little fizzy bursts of soft light in a dark room. 

LUSH Valentine's 2014 review - Neon Love soap

Much like Cut Copy, Neon Love is heartbreakingly bright. It’s sunny and cheery without being too sweet — Lush lists notes of passion fruit, bergamot, rosewood, and cinnamon, and let me tell you: it does not disappoint. The cinnamon leaf oil gives incredible balance to the scent, a spicy base to tether the fizzy passionfruit, and it’s so perfectly mouthwatering that I’m presently using it to scent my office.

(Neon Love is named after 12 Months of Neon Love, a public art project.)

Water, Propylene Glycol, Rapeseed Oil, Coconut Oil, Fresh Passion Fruit, Cornflour, Sodium Stearate, Fresh Figs, Fragrance, Cinnamon Leaf Oil, Rosewood Oil, Bergamot Oil, Titanium Dioxide,Glycerine, Sodium Chloride, EDTA, Tetrasodium Editronate, Sodium Hydroxide, Citral, Coumarin,Eugenol, Geraniol, Linalool, Limonene, FD&C Yellow No. 8, D&C Green No. 8, D&C Red No. 27

Lush Neon Love review

The verdict?

Of these, Neon Love is really the only one that I’d call a must-have – but what a must-have it is. Honestly, I don’t even think I’d be upset if it was the only soap I was allowed to use all spring and summer: it’s that good.

The fragrances of Love Locket and Tender is the Night didn’t really hook me, but the delivery of both is stellar. I love that Love Locket breaks open and reveals yet another heart (what a wonderful, romantic-or-platonic Valentine’s Day gift it would be for a bath addict!), and Tender is the Night would make a great bedside addition if you want to subtly hint that you’d like a massage.

And Lush? If you’re listening… please, please, please bring Neon Love into your permanent collection. I think it’d be a hit!

Additional photos & more »

Essie Master Plan swatches, review, photos | Grey nails for grey days

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Essie Master Plan review swatches

The product: Essie Nail Polish in 779 Master Plan 

You guys, I am so bad with Essie polishes. This is my — fourth? fifth? and I keep going back to the brand, because they have the most divine colour range, and everyone speaks so highly of them, and I just–

Good lord, I cannot apply them to save my life.

Essie Master Plan swatches review - grey creme polish

Essie Master Plan swatches — two (thick) coats, no topcoat

The formula and application: Maybe I’m just lacking in skill, but I can never make an Essie polish go flat on my nails. Their smelly but 3-free formula is always too thick, too lumpy, and ends up sort of mottled and streaked.

The only two brands I’ve ever had this problem with are Essie and Clinique, both of which are loved by so many others whose opinions I trust, and I just don’t get it. I think it may actually be a brush problem, not a formula one (I much prefer thin, wide brushes), but either way — I’d prefer almost any ‘ol brand, even a drugstore brand, for a flawless, even nail.

(Sorry, Essie lovers. Want to share your tips & tricks with me?)

Essie Master Plan swatches review

The colour: Described by the brand as a mischievous soft greythere isn’t really anything, uh, mischievous about Master Plan. That said, it is certainly a soft grey (darker and less of a yellow-beige than stock photos would have you believe), and it’s rather understated. It features a cream finish, and there’s something a little bit utilitarian about it — it’s more cement-grey than putty grey, and has just the right balance of blue and green.

Master Plan reminds me of those art erasers that all of the art students had back in high school — the mouldable ones. It grabbed me far less than I had expected it to, but for those who can really pull off greys, this is a wonderfully basic one. It’s hard to create a shade that’s just-so, but Essie do it beautifully with Master Planit’s grey; no more, no less. 

Essie review Master Plan

Essie Master Plan swatched on awkward, dry, stubby fingers

The verdict?

Master Plan was a dud for me, as you can (maybe?) see in these swatches, but I think it could be really great if you know how to work an Essie polish. It’s as basic a grey as you can get – not too warm, not too cool, and not marred by any shimmer.

For those who pull off industrial-chic really well, this one is definitely worth a look. And do me a favour, if that’s you, my dear Essie fan, please hit me up in the comments thread with your tips & tricks for getting their polishes to apply smoothly!

Availability: The Essie range is available at drugstores, beauty supply stores, and online. In Canada, I know for sure that you can find them at Shopper’s Drug Mart, though I believe the selection is often seasonal.

This bottle was submitted for review by Beauty Stop Online, who have been incredibly understanding about how long it’s taken me to get this post up. Master Plan is available on their site here for $5.99.

Keep reading! »

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