Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil review, photos | A great, affordable cleansing oil find!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil review

The product: Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil

I’m a pretty lazy beauty blogger, so it’s not surprising that I review a fair number of cleansing oils. What can I say; they’re fast, they’re easy, and they usually smell great.

My latest find is the brand new Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil, and ugh, it’s so good. I received it in early May, and it’s been sitting on my countertop next to my Bella Aura and Fresh ever since.

Neutrogena Ultra Light cleansing oil for all skin types

The formula: From the sleek packaging to the subtle “fresh” scent, I honestly have nothing bad to say about Neutrogena’s new cleansing oil. It removes all of my makeup without any tugging or pulling, doesn’t require a separate eye makeup remover, and rinses off easily to a skin-neutral finish (both in hydration and in pH).

As this formula is water-soluble, I don’t find that it clogs my pores at all, even though it sweeps the makeup off my face in one fell swoop. (That sounded way less violent in my head.)

Neutrogena cleansing oil review

The elephant in the room: While I really like this cleansing oil, I should mention that it’s made primarily from mineral oil. Like other petroleum byproducts, mineral oil gets a bad rap; personally, I think that’s largely due to the “anti-chemical” stance of natural beauty brands.

I totally support not wanting to use a certain ingredient for ANY reason, but the “mineral oil will break you out” thing is a total myth. All oils have the potential to break you out; it just depends what your skin likes! If yours hates mineral oil, skip this one, but if it likes it, why not use it.

Mineral oil is scent-free, won’t go bad as quickly as plant oils (meaning chemists can add smaller amounts of preservatives), and it seals in moisture really well. But that brings me to my last point…

Drugstore cleansing oil review

The verdict?

The Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil has quickly become my new favourite cleansing oil with price, scent, and formula all taken into consideration.

That being said, Tatcha’s cleansing oil is a great option without synthetic fragrances, and DHC’s cleansing oil is definitely more lush. (L’Occitane and Shu’s offerings aren’t nearly as good.) But the Tatcha is expensive and the DHC smells like olive oil, so if I was to run out, this is definitely the cleansing oil that I would spend my money on – and I’d do it happily.

This stuff is effective, gentle, and smells great, and let’s be honest: the packaging is pretty sexy for a drugstore product!

Availability: From $8.99 USD/$9.97 CAD at drugstores and mass market retailers & online at Ulta and Drugstore.com. Available in most major markets (it’s a bestseller in Asia!)

Keep reading!

Clarins Silver Plum, Natural Glow Palette review, swatches, photos | Instant Glow Spring 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Clarins Instant Glow Spring 2016 review

The products: Clarins Palette 5 Couleurs (5-Colour Eyeshadow Palette) in 05 Natural Glow & Ombre Iridescente Cream-to-Powder Eyeshadow in 07 Silver Plum 

The Clarins Spring 2016 Instant Glow eye palette is quickly disappearing off shelves, so before it’s too late, here’s a quick review and a few swatches of the palette!

Clarins Natuarl Glow 5 colour eyeshadow plette review swatches

Clarins Palette 5 Couleurs review – 03 Natural Glow. (Did you know that these are made in Italy?)

I’m usually a big fan of Clarins’ eyeshadow palettes, and Natural Glow was no exception. Like most Clarins eyeshadows, these shadows are blendable and well-pigmented, and there are two signature Clarins iridescent shades in the palette – you know; those gorgeous ones with flakey glitter that are so hard to dupe.

Sadly, though, Natural Glow was way too warm/orange to look natural on me, especially once I applied it to my eyes. It kinda broke my heart, because $39 CAD is an awesome price for five Clarins eyeshadows in travel-friendly packaging, but I suppose warm-toned gals should get to have fun sometimes, too.

I guessss. 

Clarins Natural Glow Eye Palette swatches, review

Clarins 03 Natural Glow Eyeshadow Palette swatches (primed skin in artificial light)

Clarins Silver Plum eyeshadow ombre iridescente

Clarins Silver Plum Ombre Iridescente Eyeshadow review

Also new this spring are four new permanent Ombre Iridescente cream-to-powder eyeshadows ($25 CAD). I have 07 Silver Plum, and it’s pretty darn gorgeous.

These apply with much more pigment than the Ombre Mattes, but they definitely still need a primer underneath – think of them as a fluffy, buttery powder eyeshadow rather than a cream. (I totally need more.) Silver Plum is rich and pigmented, with cool silver shimmer on top of a plummy-grey base. 

It kind of makes me think of wet mud, which is a weird thing that shouldn’t be appealing unless you’re a cartoon pig, but I guess I must be a cartoon pig in spirit, then.

Clarins swatches Pink Cherry, Silver Plum, Rose Praline review

Clarins Silver Plum eyeshadow swatch (and Rouge Eclat lipsticks in Rose Praline and Pink Cherry)

Keep reading! »

The Swan Wand (BMS Factory) vibrator review, photos

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Swan Wand rechargeable vibrator review, photos

The product: Swan The Swan Wand Rechargeable Waterproof Silicone Vibrator

The Swan Wand features: The Swan Wand is Swan/BMS Factory’s most powerful toy, and it’s not hard to see why. This thing is like a walking, talking gold standard, except it neither walks nor talks.

It’s fully waterproof with a 100% silicone finish, features two independently controlled motors, and cycles through 7 functions independent of speed. The Swan Wand has a travel lock mode, charges via USB, and runs for up to 8.5 hours on a 4 hour charge — like, for real. I usually need to charge toys after every use, if not more (cough We-Vibe cough), but holy magical snickerdoodles, I’m on like my tenth orgasm with this thing and it’s still holding strong.

BMS Factory The Swan Wand review

How it performs: This dual-ended toy is, without a doubt, stronger than anything else I own. It’s relatively quiet for its intensity, but turned up, yeah, it’s gonna make some noise. It does send vibrations up the “handle” (aka the end that’s not in use), but it’s plenty strong enough to actually massage sore muscles. Think of it like a rechargeable Hitachi, but designed for internal use and less buzzy. (And cheaper!)

Like the Leaf Life I reviewed recently, the Swan Wand contains a PowerBullet motor, so it feels similar. However, this PowerBullet motor is stronger and rumblier on low than the Leaf Life is at its highest, and it’s a little more “thuddy” overall. Worth noting, though, is that the larger end of the Swan Wand is pretty big – it’s about 2 inches wide with zero give, and I am nowhere near brave or flexible enough to attempt to use it internally. It makes a great handle, though, and it’s definitely one for the size queens!

BMS Swan Wand review, size comparison

The Swan Wand dimensions

Swan Wand BMS Factory review

The Swan Wand Rechargeable Vibrator review

How it feels: The Swan Wand is extremely powerful and moderately rumbly. It has nearly invisible seams and a velvety silicone finish, so you’ll need to use it with a good water-based lubricant. (Sliquid Oceanics is my current favourite!)

As an external vibe, it’s not my favourite toy. It’s good, but I prefer spot vibrations to broad ones. That being said, this is one of the few internal vibrators that doesn’t bore me to death if used externally (the other is the Rosa Rouge), but it’s almost too powerful — like, I can get off, but it kinda hurts.

As an internal vibe, it is excellent. Its powerful motor gets put to good use and really resonates through your body, and the gentle curve to the Swan Wand’s smaller end hits the spot just right for me. It’s actually far stronger than I would ever need; I like it best at levels 1-3, and only crank it up to max to massage my muscles during non-sexy-times or get off super quickly.

Swan Wand vibrating dildo review functions

The Swan Wand controls. How sleek are those? (They’re super satisfying to click, too — like the tops of fountain drink lids.)

What sets it apart from the crowd: Achieving orgasm with a partner has always been really difficult for me, and it’s always been a big source of anxiety and self-consciousness in the bedroom. On a bad day, it can easily take me 45 minutes to achieve orgasm with a partner present, but if I pair a clit vibe with the Swan Wand, I can get that down to 15 minutes. (With a clit vibe and a great dildo on said bad day, I’m probably looking at 20-30 minutes.)

For me, 15 minutes is a pretty big deal — it makes me feel like less of a “burden” in a relationship, and as a result, it makes it easier for me to get off the rest of the time, too.

Swan Wand vibrator size comparison

The verdict?

If you don’t yet own an internal vibe that you love, BUY THIS. BUY IT RIGHT NOW.

I don’t like saying that toys “will work for everyone,” because that’s a load of crap, but this one works for me. It’s insanely strong, has a battery life that puts even my MacBook to shame, and gets me off faster than anything else that I own, as long as I pair it with a clit vibe. (And I mean, why wouldn’t I? If you’re gonna go for the good feels, you may as well go all the way.)

I know that my list of must-have sex toys is ever-changing, but this one gets classed right up in there in the legends with my VixSkin and MiMi Soft. 10/10 would recommend to a friend; 10/10 would also buy for a friend if I loved them enough.

Availability: $119.99 USD at SheVibe, who provided this item for review! (SRP is $149.99 USD through Swan, and it’s $154.99 at Lovehoney.) In Canada, you can find the Swan Wand at The Travelling Tickle Trunk for $152 CAD, which matches the current exchange rate with SheVibe’s price.)

Keep reading! »

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara review, swatches, photos | A drugstore gem!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Maybelline Lash Sensational masca raview photos

The product: Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara in 253 Blackest Black

The brush: The Maybelline Lash Sensational brush is curved and asymmetrical, with “10 layers of bristles.” Its wand is soft and synthetic, and I actually really like the brush — it’s fatter than my usual fare, but I can reach each lash easily.

This brush deposits a fairly heavy amount of product on each lash, so it’s definitely a one-coater for me. (Any more than that and my lashes start to look a little spidery.)

Maybelline mascara review

The formula: I’m not usually a fan of drugstore mascaras, but man, I loooove this formula. It’s not a tubing mascara, but it acts almost like it is. 

The Lash Sensational formula wears literally all day on me, with zero smudging, flaking, or transfer. It holds a curl well (not too wet in the application), and it comes off easily — IF you use an oil-free makeup remover. Mascara is always a battle of cohesion vs adhesion (sticking to itself vs sticking to your lashes), and while this formula isn’t cohesive enough that it comes off in tubes, it delivers the same great wear time and ease of removal as a tubing mascara.

As a result, however, that does mean that your biphasic makeup removers and (some) cleansing oils will struggle to remove your Lash Sensational mascara! Just make sure to opt instead for a micellar water or something similar isntead and you’ll be golden.

Maybelline Lash Sensational eye swatch photos review

Maybelline Lash Sensational swatch – bare lashes / one coat (+this liner!)

The lash: While I’m not crazy about the Lash Sensational lash, I definitely don’t hate it. It’s not as full or fluttery as some of my other mascaras, but it makes a great everyday lash. I finished product testing for it about two weeks ago but have just kept wearing it since then, so I guess something about it must be working for me! 

Maybelline Lash Sensational Blackest Black review photos packaging

Maybelline Lash Sensational mascara packaging

The verdict?

There are very few non-tubing mascaras that I trust to wear outside of the house, but this one gets a seal of approval from me. It’s affordable, holds a curl well, and wears all day long. 

If you have really oily lids, this would be a great product to check out. I think I have enough mascara stockpiled to take me into next year, but once I’m out, I’ll be re-purchasing this one as my day-to-day mascara!

Availability: $9.49 CAD(ish) at drugstores and mass market retailers.

Keep reading! »

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze “Warm Bronze” review, swatches, photos

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze bronzer

The product: Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze Prismatic Bronzing Powder in Warm Bronze

I am sooo not feeling the blogging bug this week, so I’m gonna take a breather on the words and share, instead, a mostly-photos post featuring the new, limited edition Elizabeth Arden bronzer. 

It’s a product that I’ve gotten lots and lots of questions about this season, so even though bronzers aren’t really my thing, I figured I’d share some swatches and a quick review!

Elizabeth ARden Sunset Bronze powder review

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze Prismatic Bronzing Powder swatches

Elizabeth Arden Warm Bronze swatch review

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze “Warm Bronze” swatches

Warm Bronze is the only bronzer in the Arden summer colour collection, and it’s lovely. It features strips of bronzey tones (mostly shimmer, a couple matte) with a beautiful gold overspray that disappears in a few uses.

I personally find it to have a nice depth of tone for my skin (it’s definitely best for light/fair complexions), but like most bronzers, it’s a little yellowy-orange for me. Too much and I look really sallow; too little and I can’t see it at all.

But, well… it’s quite a thing to look at. The packaging is absolutely beautiful and the pan is just gorgeous, but at the end of the day, I think you’re better off spending your hard-earned cash on the Sunset Bronze Prismatic Highlighter!

Bench SS16 colour pairings

Keep reading! »

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer swatches, review, photos | Currently obsessed with…

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Marcelle lip lacquer review

The product: Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer in 15 Universal Nude, 25 Bashful Pink, 33 Bubblegum Pink, 68 Uptown Pink, 72 Summer Flame, 82 Ruby Rose, and 95 Scarlette

Fact one: I did not like the Annabelle Big Show Lip Lacquers.

Fact two: I was not prepared to like their sister product, the Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquers.

Fact three: I like the Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquers so much that I kind of want to cry.

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer review

The formula & feel: I think that the shade range of the Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquers is literally perfect, so when I say that the formula is even better — well, I really, really mean it.

These lip lacquers feel like the most perfect lipgloss you’ll ever put on. They’re creamy, lightweight, and comfortable, with zero grit and a non-sticky finish. They’re not oily and they don’t slide around on my lips, and they’re nicely hydrating, too.

There’s also no added fragrance or flavour to the formula, which means that, for once (for once!) I can’t find a single thing that I would change about these lip colours.

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush lacquer swatches review

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer swatches (entire range)

The shades: Literally every single one of these shades is absolutely beautiful, and somehow, ALL of them look good on me. But if I had to pick favourites, I’d say that I love Bashful Pink (a beautiful, mauvy MLBB-style nude), Ruby Rose (which is almost as hot as Ruby Rose), and the fluorescent Uptown Pink the most.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you guys an adequate breakdown of all of the shades, so here goes nothing!

Marcelle Colour rush lipgloss review swatches

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer swatches, L-R: Universal Nude, Bashful Pink, Bubblegum Pink, Uptown Pink, Summer Flame, Ruby Rose, and Scarlette

15 Universal Nude is a warm, peachy nude. (I think Light Nude or Warm Apricot would have been better options for names, though — there’s really no such thing as a lip product that’ll look nude on both an NC15 and an NW55!) 25 Bashful Pink is a beautifully wearable mauvy pink. It’s almost the same colour as my lips, and makes a wonderful MLBB shade for fair skintones! 33 Bubblegum Pink is a little “milky” and streaky, but really is a lovely bubblegum shade. 

68 Uptown Pink is a fluorescent fuchsia that swatches, for some reason, very differently from the rest of these colours; because it is so bright, it’s almost like it has a cooler lipstain base with a slightly warmer cream gloss finish. In the tube, it reminds me of Beauté Cosmetics Flouron, for those who know it–are those stains still a thing anymore, by the way?

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer swatches, review

Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer swatches, L-R: Universal Nude, Bashful Pink, Bubblegum Pink, Uptown Pink, Summer Flame, Ruby Rose, and Scarlette

72 Summer Flame is a beautiful, wearable dark pink with incredibly fine (almost invisible!) microshimmer; it and Ruby Rose are both just wonderful, brightening, easy-to-wear pink lip shades. 82 Ruby Rose is surprisingly similar to Summer Flame when applied to pigmented lips, but it’s cooler, a hair darker, and totally shimmer-free.

Finally, 95 Scarlette is just an absolutely beautiful red. It’s flattering, brightening, and so much more comfortable than most high-maintenance reds!

Marcelle Colour Rush gloss lipstick review swatches

The verdict?

The Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquers are everything–and I mean everything–that I could possibly want in a lip product. They’re comfortable and unscented, with an absolutely beautiful shade range, and the ways in which they’re different from their Annabelle counterparts make them the perfect fit for my preferences.

The Coles Notes version? If you like your lip products punchy and metallic, go with the Annabelle Big Show Lip Lacquers that I reviewed last month. But if you like them creamy and effortless (and scent-free!), then stock up on these Marcelle Lux Lip Lacquers ASAP.

Availability: $11.95 CAD at Marcelle.com and in drugstores and mass retailers across Canada. Cruelty-free & permanent.

Keep reading for pictures of the entire range »

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