L’Occitane Shea review & free samples: Cleansing Oil, Light Comforting Cream (aka magic cream), and Gentle Toner

Monday, January 5, 2015

L'Occitane Shea Cleansing Oil review

The products: L’Occitane Shea Light Comforting Cream, Shea Cleansing Oil, and Shea Gentle Toner

New year, new beginnings… new super-exciting giveaway that’ll put December to shame. (Keep reading or click here for the giving bit of this post.)

L’Occitane is one of my favourite brands to work with, and their French-made Shea Butter range plays a big part in that — each L’Occitane Shea product bought helps women in Burkina Faso achieve economic emancipation through sustainable, fair trade practices. So, today, I’m talking about three really affordable new silicone-free products in the range, and sharing one with you!

The L’Occitane Shea Cleansing Oil ($26 CAD) and Gentle Toner

L'Occitane Shea Gentle Toner review photos

The Cleansing Oil and Light Comforting Cream join L’Occitane’s Shea Gentle Toner in their permanent Shea Butter range this January, and I couldn’t be happier. Both carry the same scent as the moisturizer (though in much smaller amounts), and are just as gentle on my skin — even the toner.

I find the Shea Cleansing Oil to be quite a heavy oil, but it washes off with no residue and removes my makeup really easily. I like it a lot more than Shu Uemura’s Cleansing Oils, surprisingly enough, and it’s actually super-cheap – only $13/100 ml! (Tatcha’s Camellia Cleansing Oil is still better, but it’s a whopping $40/100 ml.)

L'Occitane Gentle Toner review

L’Occitane Gentle Toner

The L’Occitane Shea Light Comforting Cream AKA MAGIC FAIRY-DUST CREAM* ($30 CAD)

This is L’Occitane’s big launch of the new year — a face cream that pairs shea butter (5%) with a creamy, lightweight texture. And, somehow, L’Occitane manages to pull it off beautifully.

I do find that the Light Comforting Cream leaves my skin feeling tight after I apply it (it’s targeted for normal/combination skin, but they also offer a 25% Shea Ultra Rich Face Cream; not silicone-free), but it seems to nourish my skin over time – unlike things like German Nivea or Weleda Skin Food. Rather than providing a thick, comforting layer off the bat, it sinks in quickly and works to hydrate over time and eliminate surface dehydration completely over the course of a few days, which is… kind of crazy-impressive, if we’re being honest.

L'Occitane Shea Light Comforting Cream review

L’Occitane promises that their Ultra Rich Cream will sink into the skin with “an almost disconcerting ease,” which is freaking wonderful copy and totally applies here, too. My one complaint for this line is that it’s way more fragranced than it needs to be – the Light Comforting Cream smells good, and quite cozy, but the scent hangs around for so long that I can still smell it when I splash my face with water 12 hours later.

» Best for: silicone-free skincare regimens & regulating dehydrated skin! My skin has been crazy smooth and breakout-free since I started using this.

L'Occitane Shea Light Moisturizer review photos

L’Occitane Light Comforting Cream (5% shea)

Get your sample

And now, for the exciting part! I’m lucky enough to get to test out a lot of L’Occitane for theNotice, but this time, you guys get to be the testers. Just walk into any L’Occitane store in Canada and mention theNotice for a free 8 ml sample of the Light Comforting Cream (or use the code SHEAFACE online).

The promo expires at the end of January and only covers samples for 50 followers of the blog, so try to get to a L’Occitane boutique soon — and tell your friends! Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply outside of Canada, but think of it this way: it’s probably all you freezing, dry-skinned Canadians who really need it.

L'Occitane Cleansing Oil review budget buy shea butter

L’Occitane Cleansing Oil (5% shea)

The verdict?

L’Occitane has never really blown me away with their face care until this very moment, but blow me away they did. The Shea Butter range is incredibly well-priced and (now) comes with a bunch of great silicone-free options, so it definitely has my stamp of approval.

If you have dehydrated skin, check out the Shea Light Comforting Cream ASAP. The Gentle Toner is fine and the Cleansing Oil is quite good, but it’s this new moisturizer that really shines.

Availability: All three products are permanent products as of January 2015, and will be available online soon!

Ingredients »

Aveeno Eczema Care Body Wash, Moisturizing Cream reviews, photos

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Aveeno Eczema Care body wash moisturizer

The products: Aveeno Eczema Care Body Wash & Moisturizing Cream with colloidal oatmeal

Winters in Edmonton are — well, let’s just say that I run my humidifier pretty much 24/7 and still wake up with dry, cracked skin. So, as soon as I was finished testing that gorgeous Osmia Organics soap, I switched up my shower routine and started testing AVEENO’s Eczema Care Body Wash ($13.99) immediately.

Aveeno Eczema Care Body Wash review photos

Aveeno Eczema Care Body Wash

Steroid- and fragrance-free, Aveeno’s Eczema Care line is made to help treat the signs and symptoms of eczema – things like itchiness, roughness, and irritation. (They also have Skin Relief and Intense Relief lines for dry skin). It’s estimated that 10-20% of Canadians suffer from eczema, and I recently found out that I was one of them, so I had high hopes for these products!

(I mean, I’ve always had eczema, I’ve just — denial. Denial and years and years of painfully dry skin.)

Aveeno Eczema Care review - body wash, moisturizing cream

Anyhow. I couldn’t test the AVEENO Eczema Care Hand Cream ($9.18) because it has ‘cones, but I am really enjoying using the Eczema Care Body Wash! It uses oat essence, colloidal oatmeal, and ceramides to help soothe itchy, rough skin, and I think it’s doing a pretty decent job of it for $10-ish. It’s very gentle and slippery, and feels kind of like washing yourself with lotion — smells like it, too.

All in all, it’s kind of a weirdly clinical experience, but I’m happy with it. This is not the range to try and treat serious eczema with on its own, but it’s a nice, sensitive-skin-friendly way to round out your skincare regimen without spending a lot of money.

Availability: The AVEENO Eczema Care range is available for $7.47-$12.99 CAD at drugstores and mass market retailers across Canada.

Je Joue Uma G-Spot Vibrator review, photos, comparison | An eco-friendly, body-friendly way to get off

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Je Joue Uma vibrator review

The product: Je Joue Uma G-Spot Vibrator

This February, I introduced you guys to one of my favourite gadgets ever made: the Je Joue MiMi Soft. So, today (you know, before the Christmas shipping deadlines), I thought I’d show you a little bit more from the line.

Je Joue is one of my all-time favourite tech brands–when you create a motor that rumbly, you get to be classed as a tech brand rather than a toy brand–and the Uma is no less well-made or well-packaged than the rest of the line. If your partner is still grasping at straws to try and find out what to get you this holiday season, send ‘em this review and tell them to get you something from Je Joue. (You’re welcome.)

Also, yes, I did just learn how to code that in for this post.

Je Joue Uma G-Spot Vibrator review

The specs

Like the Je Joue MiMi Soft that I reviewed in February, Uma is 100% waterproof, silicone, and rechargeable (via two little magnetic charging points on the end, which also serve as insanely stiff +/- controls). It’s fully submersible for and features five vibration levels and six independently-controlled patterns.

Why you want… SILICONE - non-porous and completely stable, silicone toys won’t leech chemicals into your body (or trap bacteria beneath the surface). WATERPROOF - safe to use in the bath, and easy to soap up and clean thoroughly after every use. RECHARGEABLE – no additional costs over time (basic AAA batteries are $12 for four!), and they help keep used-up batteries out of landfills.

Gently curved, the Uma measures in at 7″ long and 1.25″ at its widest, and comes in four colours: purple, light lilac, fuchsia, and the matte black pictured here. If you look at it from the end, it looks a little bit like an adorably confused sloth.

Sloth Uma

Je Joue Uma review comparison - lelo, we-vibe

I really love Je Joue’s silicone, which has a velvety matte finish and doesn’t pick up too much lint — it definitely screams luxury, and is safe to use with both water-based and natural oil-based lubricants (I recommend Sliquid Sassy and Yes Organics, respectively). But unlike some other luxury brands, you really do get what you pay for with Je Joue: their silicone is flawlessly seam-free, and their battery holds a charge well over time.

Je Joue interchageable charger

The experience

Uma comes inside of a sturdy, discreet set of boxes, and features the usual ruh-ruh-ruh-ruh-ruh Je Joue motor – which, yes, is just as strong, deep, and rumbly internally as it is externally. It’s gently curved and narrower in the centre, which never catches on the pubic bone (ouch) and gives a degree of maneuverability that I think most will appreciate. I mean, except for those who prefer extremely pinpoint g-spot pressure, though really, do those people even exist.

(I’m just kidding; those people do exist, and they should opt for the G-Kii instead.)

Je Jou Uma curve

Side view of the Je Joue Uma

The Uma is extremely lightweight despite its impressive motor (which is slightly quieter here than in the MiMi), and my only complaint is that I would have liked to see it with a Soft option: Je Joue has proven that they’re able to add a very realistic texture without dampening their vibrations, and I think the Uma could have been a must-have with that soft, bouncy finish.

Uma’s length makes it easy to use internally with either a rocking or a thrusting motion, but I’d say skip it if you want to use it externally more than, like, 20% of the time – that length makes it awkward to use close-up.

Je Joue review - Uma internal vibrator

The verdict?

When it comes to sex toys, “your mileage may vary” is a term that can’t be taken seriously enough — but things like aesthetics and quality are still irrefutable. I personally prefer Je Joue’s MiMi Soft ($95) to the Uma, but I know some of you skipped the MiMi last year because you wanted an internal/external toy. For a mix of both worlds, Uma is great, and an easy toy to buy online: there’s no secondary arm to poke you in weird places, the curve isn’t so severe as to be uncomfortable, and Je Joue’s silicone is so smooth that there are literally no seams to be felt.

For a discreet, rechargeable internal vibrator with a kickass motor, Uma is an awesome toy to have on hand… but without Je Joue’s Soft finish, it’s just a nice-to-have, not a must-have. You definitely need at least one of the two, though, so choose as you will!

Availability: $109 USD at SheVibe (US) / $110 CAD at Come As You Are (Canada) / £74.99 at Lovehoney (UK) with free delivery within the country at each. Special thanks to the ever-wonderful SheVibe for sending this in for review!

Remember to buy before the end of this week for delivery by the 25th.

Additional photos & more »

L’Occitane Mer & Mitstral review, photos: the perfect gift for him (or her!)

Friday, December 5, 2014

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral Eau de Toilette review photos

The product: L’Occitane Mer & Mistral Eau de Toilette (La Collection de Grasse)

So, it’s a pretty well-known fact that I’m obsessed with the L’Occitane La Collection de Grasse – but did you know that there’s a unisex scent in the line, too? And, as a cologne lover, I am all over it.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral review

Behind the scent: I usually like my unisex scents a little more masculine (you know: woods, amber, pepper), and this one certainly isn’t — but it’s still a complete stunner. More department store than, say, Vanille & Narcisse, Mer et Mistral is a proper sparkling aquatic: it smells shimmery and extremely fresh, with bright citrus notes paired with pine and sea salt. 

The name “Mer et Mistral” means sea and wind — specifically, the extremely fast, turbulent winds in southern France blowing north into the Mediterranean Gulf of Lion. The mistral wind controls the climate of Grasse and plays a huge part in Provençal culture, dictating everything from how bell towers are built (open iron frameworks, so the wind can pass through) to the direction that homes face (south, with their backs to the wind).

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral photos review EdT

The notes & wear: A little [too] sharp at first spritz, Mer & Mistral features top notes of lemon and mandarin, heart notes of pine, cypress, and rosemary, and base notes of cedar, white amber, and musk.

The top notes fade pretty quickly, and 20 minutes later, the scent really settles in — it gets a lot more pine-y and less sparkling close to the skin, but retains its aquatic nature in the sillage. The herby accords really come out to play not long after, and the scent just transformsOnce you get past the run-of-the-mill opening, the rosemary makes this scent almost… aquatic-foody. Which sounds super gross, I know, but think of it more like this: lemon balm and pine, herbs in a mortar and pestle, and a cabin next to a rough sea.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral unisex fragrance review photos

The bottle: While the scent of Mer & Mistral is wonderfully bright and complex, the bottle is even better. With a blue lacquered base, this glass bottle takes on a mesmerizing, watery look — the blue comes and goes depending on what angle you look at it from, like the sea as it’s pushed and pulled by the wind.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral packaging review bottle

The verdict?

I like things that match. I just… do. I like the visual coherency, and I like rotating between fragrances that have a similar thread that weaves through all of them.

If you’re a lover of La Collection de Grasse, do yourself a favour this season and get your guy (or girl) a bottle of Mer & Mistral. Not only will it look beautiful on the dresser next to your collection, but L’Occitane’s in-house perfumer Karine Dubreuil will make sure the two of you smell great next to each other, too.

Availability: $75 CAD at L’Occitane boutiques and online.

Keep reading! »

Osmia Organics Milky Rose Soap review, photos + 15% off with free shipping!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Osmia Milky Rose review packaging

The product: Osmia Organics Milky Rose Soap

…also known as the perfect gift. Forgot about a Christmas party that you need a hostess gift for? Osmia Milky Rose. Got a mom that’s crazy hard to buy for? Osmia Milky Rose! Spent the whole year working so hard that you forgot to get yourself something this holiday season? Osmia Milky Rose. 

(Or a vacation. If you have not taken a vacation all year, you should probably get yourself one of those, too. Pronto.)

Osmia Milky Rose review

The formula: Like the Oh So Soap that M shared with you last week, Milky Rose is made from a base of saponified oils/butters and buttermilk powder, which make it both super gentle and thoroughly cleansing. It leaves my skin feeling squeaky-smooth, which is kind of like squeaky-clean, except without the stripping, drying half of the equation.

I usually use Dove’s Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar, which leaves my skin feeling a little less squeaky than Milky Rose, but isn’t actually any more moisturizing. The big pull for Milky Rose, however, is that Osmia products never seem to get mushy the way drugstore bar soap does. (You know how it is; you find a great bar soap and five uses in, it’s half gooey-mush-puddle. As far as I’ve seen, Osmia’s bars are quite literally made of sterner firmer stuff than that.)

Osmia soap review - Milky Rose

The look and feel: Most natural soap bars are 3-4 oz, but Osmia’s clocks in at a hefty 5.5 oz — and a whopping 6 oz for their wavy-topped bars. They’re quite stiff, and get quite slick (not soft!) in the shower.

Milky Rose comes topped with organic rose petals and is blended with bitter orange and palmarosa essential oils, and it smells very fleetingly herb-y. Osmia says that this bar “feels like a serious splurge – luxurious, elegant, and so moisturizing,” and I have to tell you — I agree with them on all three counts.

I would, however, totally love to see Milky Rose change into a wavy-topped bar, like many of Osmia’s other soaps. They’re so pretty.

Osmia Milky Rose soap, Sunset body oil

The verdict?

Yes, yes, yes! I know that $12 ($10 today) is a lot to pay for one bar of soap, but if you want something small to “splurge” on (is $12 even a splurge??), get this soap. It feels utterly luxurious, works really well on dry skin, and makes an absolutely beautiful gift year-round.

And, in case you need any more convincing, it’s also cruelty-free, 15% off, and a great way to support a small businesses! Buying it practically makes you a saint. :P

Availability: $12 USD at Osmia Organics, but the entire site is 15% off with free shipping in the US for their holiday sale, so today it’s only $10.50! (And when you buy it, make sure you pick up Sunset, too — it’s generously perfumed with one of my favourite scents ever.)

Additional photos & more »

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