güd by Burt’s Bees Orange Petalooza Shampoo and Conditioner review, photos

Thursday, April 10, 2014

gud burt's bees shampoo conditioner review

The product: güd from Burt’s Bees Orange Petalooza Natural Nourishing Shampoo and Natural Softening Shampoo

It’s not often that I review things as soon as I try them, but this shampoo/conditioner duo from güd (a natural haircare/skincare range by Burt’s Bees) is an exception to the rule. My hair is still shower-fresh as I write this, and I’m altogether smitten with my güd experience so far.

gud Orange Petalooza shampoo conditioner review

gud Orange Petalooza review

The Orange Petalooza Natural Nourishing Shampoo

I gave these products a bit of a “blind” test, running them through their paces before reading what they were (and what they were supposed to do). The clear, thin Orange Petalooza shampoo lathers really, really nicely–much more easily than my usual all-natural shampoo–and leaves my scalp feeling clean, but not tight. 

The scent is another really lovely surprise: as it lathers, it smells less and less like what you’d expect from a mass-market product. It’s described as blood orange and hyacinth, and completely nails it in the execution. It’s no Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger, but I like to think of this güd scent as Serge’s $7 rendition.

The ingredients: (SLS, petroleum, phtalate, paraben, and silicone-free. Not tested on animals.)

Ingredients: Water, Sodium Coco-Sulfate, Sodium Bis-Hydroxyethylglycinate Coco-Glucosides Crosspolymer, Rice Extract, Fragrance, Sodium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Glycerin, Betaine, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower, Peppermint Leaf Extract, Salvia Sage Leaf Extract, Thyme Leaf Extract, Nettle Leaf Extract, Origanum Vulgare Leaf Oil, Thyme Oil, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Lauryl Lactyl Lactate, Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate, Sodium Chloride, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Potassium Sorbate, Lactic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Polyaspartate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Protein, Arginine, Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid, Alcohol Denat. 

gud Orange Petalooza Natural Nourishing Shampoo review

The Orange Petalooza Natural Softening Conditioner

güd’s Orange Petalooza Natural Softening Conditioner is, like its shampoo counterpart, a little on the thin side — but this is by no means a bad thing. Despite not feeling as thick or slippery as I’m used to, this conditioner left my hair feeling soft, hydrated, and full. 

The Natural Nourishing Conditioner smells a bit different than the shampoo, with more of a “true” bitter orange scent. It’s lighter on the florals, but there’s something in its base notes that I can’t quite put my finger on — it smells a little darker, a little deeper. I don’t think I’d be as fond of this scent in a body lotion or even shower gel, but for my hair, it’s really lovely.

Again, like its other half, this conditioner is silicone-free.

Ingredients: Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Ceteareth-20, Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Sunflower Seed Oil, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower, Peppermint Leaf Extract, Sage Leaf Extract, Thyme Leaf Extract, Nettle Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Stearalkonium Chloride, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Alcohol Denat.

gud Orange Petalooza Natural Softening Conditioner review

The verdict?

The güd from Burt’s Bees Orange Petalooza shampoo and conditioner duo is a clear winner in my books. It’s hydrating and softening, without a hint of SLS or silicone – an impressive feat, as I’m sure my fellow ‘cone-free lads and ladies will recognize!

The Orange Petalooza scent is a unique blend of bitter orange and florals, and while it’s far from high-end perfumery, it’s a really lovely drugstore find.

Availability: $6.99 USD/$8.29 CAD at Walgreens, Target, Drugstore.com, and Well.ca.

gud from Burt's Bees review

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Annabelle Expandable Mascara Review, Photos, Swatches | Not a gimmick, but a gold mine

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Annabelle Expandable mascara review

The product: Annabelle Cosmetics Expandable Mascara

I mentioned taking sixteen months to review a product a couple of weeks ago (this one!), but I’ve been testing Annabelle Expandable for even longer — yes, really, much to my shame.

I have absolutely no good excuse for why it’s taken me so long to review a product that I’ve had since it was a lab sample in a small, un-labeled black tube, but without further adieu, may I please introduce you to Annabelle Expandable: a drugstore mascara that I’ve loved since the very first time I tried it.

Annabelle Expandable swatches review photos

Annabelle Expandable – short and long wand results, no lash comb

The “gimmick”: What makes the Annabelle Expandable mascara special is that, well, it really is expandable. The wand handle twists at the base, allowing the plastic bristles to expand or contract — not with each bristle getting longer or shorter, but with each bristle getting closer or farther from its neighbour. 

What looks like a gimmick is, in this case, actually really awesome. I love the formula of this mascara, but for those who don’t struggle as much as I do with smudging, this may well be Expandable’s biggest pull. It allows you to have just one mascara that can deliver dramatically different effects: lots of separation and length at the (-) end, or lots of product and volume at the (+) end.

Annabelle expandable short wand

Annabelle Expandable mascara – short wand (separation)

Annabelle expandable long wand

Annabelle Expandable mascara – long wand (volume)

The curl and wear: Like most “wet” mascaras (though Expandable isn’t super wet — it’s just not super dry, either), this mascara drops the curl of my lashes only when I apply it. It’s just enough to give them a bit of a droop, so I tend to apply a quick coat or two of mascara, then “push” the lashes toward my face with my fingertip and hold for a few seconds. This helps the lash to set into a nice curl, and once dry, Expandable holds the curl in place for the rest of the day.

Where Annabelle’s Expandable mascara really excels, though, is in its wear. I get maybe 3-4 hours wear without smudging with your average mascara, but Expandable wears like a champ: I can make it 8 hours without any smudging, and over 10 hours with very minimal smudging. This is the longest-wearing non-tubing mascara that I’ve tried so far, and it comes with a mere $10 price tag.

Annabelle Expandable mascara review swatches

Annabelle Expandable mascara – one light coat short wand, second coat short wand, third coat long wand

Annabelle expandable long wand swatch

Annabelle Expandable mascara – one heavy coat, long wand

The verdict?

Annabelle claims that their Expandable mascara is volumizing, lengthening, anti-clumping, and easy to remove — and you know what? I’d agree with all of these claims.

Expandable is my go-to mascara for both natural, everyday lashes and high-impact volume (it’s outclassed very slightly for photos by Giorgio Armani’s Eyes to Kill mascara, which is gorgeous but not $30 USD worth of gorgeous), and I would absolutely recommend it to a friend. It gives me both better wear and more believable volume than Le Big Show, and I’ll be frank with you: the awesome, unique wand certainly isn’t doing it any harm.

5/5 would-buy-again, Annabelle.

Availability: $10.95 CAD at Annabelle.ca (ships to Canada & the US), or in-store at most major drugstores throughout Canada.

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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 »

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