KYE for Shu Uemura collection review, swatches, photos

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Kye for shu collection review, photos

The products: KYE for Shu Uemura Summer 2016 collection

The KYE for Shu collection is this summer’s Shu Uemura capsule collection, designed by fashion designer Kathleen Kye. It’s inspired by the “new era fashion culture and hype beauty,” and is chock full of trendy products and things that could basically just be summed as “edgy but also fresh.”

I’m not always taken by celeb-designed makeup collections, not even Shu Uemura’s, but the KYE collection really gets me. It feels very authentic, and I love that it celebrates a youthful energy and gender fluidity. 

Kye for shu uemura eyebrow palette cappuccino, dark rose review photos

kye for shu “cappuccino/dark rose” brow:palette review

The brow products

The KYE for shu brow products are all about graphic, edgy eyebrows – and in this case, that means colour. 

I tried out the Shu Uemura Eyebrow Manicure in Dark Violet ($26 CAD) and brow:palette in cappuccino/dark rose ($55 CAD), and you know what? I really liked both of them. Shu does brows well, and these tinted versions of their regular products really hit the spot for me – although I wouldn’t give you $55 for the brow powder.

shu uemura violet brows swatches review photos

kye for shu swatches – ME pink 12 and M white 91 on eyes, eyebrow manicure in dark violet (left) and brow:palette in cappuccino/dark rose (right)

The Eyebrow Manicure is really where it’s at. The formula is easy to apply and doesn’t leave too much product on your skin, giving you definition and shape without really adding visual weight. And Dark Violet? It’s gorgeous. It brushes up gently against the skin, leaving a muted lilac brow that glistens in its wake... it’s a really lovely way to do colourful eyebrows while still looking totally daytime-appropriate.

(Yes, really!)

KYE for shu uemura eyebrow manicure dark violet review photos swatches

kye for shu “dark violet” eyebrow manicure review

Kye for Shu xxxxx

kye for shu “glow in pink” sheer colour balm review

The cheek & lip products

Okay, so full disclosure: these two product formats happen to be ones that I’m predisposed towards, so I’m maybe being a little lenient here.

I love alternative blush formats, so the KYE for Shu Fresh Cushion Blush ($39 CAD) caught my eye immediately. Hibiscus Orange is full of silicones and the sold-out Hisibscus Pink one would almost certainly look better on me, but the formula is just so cool watery, sheer, shimmer-free, and dewy. It’s a very Korean-inspired blush, right down to the names, but I hope we see more cushion blushes from Shu in the future.

For the lips, I also really liked the Shu Uemura Sheer Colour Lip Balm in Glow in Pink ($36 CAD), but I think they’re overpriced. The KYE Sheer Colour Balms are all translucent, pH-adjusting neons, and they’re really comfortable… but at the price, they’re not a must.

Shu Uemura kye collection swatches review

kye for shu swatches in indirect sunlight: hibiscus orange cushion blush, glow in pink sheer colour balm, cappuccino/dark rose brow:palette, dark violet eyebrow manicure, M white 91 drawing pencil, ME pink 12 drawing pencil.

Kye for shu hibiscus orange blush review swatches

kye for shu hibiscus orange fresh cushion blush review

The eye products

I tried out two of the KYE Drawing Pencils ($28 CAD each), which are eyeliners from Shu’s regular collection done up in adorable KYE packaging.

I’ve never been a fan of the Shu Drawing Pencil formula, and these are consistent with my past experiences. The matte M white 91 is a gorgeously opaque white eyeliner, but it snapped off on me the second I tried to swatch it. (And then again, and again, and again.)

The intense, metallic ME pink 12 fared better, but it too is very soft – the metallics are so buttery that you have to re-shape them as you line your eyes. However, they’re also a total pain in the butt to smudge or remove, so if you have any upcoming end-of-summer pool parties planned, ME pink 12 is pretty much mandatory. It’s like glittery indelible ink for your eyes!

Kye for shu eyeliners M white 91, ME pink 12 swatches review

kye for shu drawing pencils in M white 91, ME pink 12

kye for shu collection swatches

kye for shu swatches: hibiscus orange blush, glow in pink lip balm, cappuccino/dark rose brow:palette, dark violet eyebrow manicure, M white 91, and ME pink 12 eyeliners

Everything else

The KYE for Shu collection also includes a few cleansing oils and conditioners, but as they’re just re-packaged classics, I won’t be reviewing them here. I will note, however, that the pink Porefinist Fresh Cleansing Oil ($38-82 CAD) is my favorite Shu cleansing oil, though, and that the KYE packaging is even cuter in person!

Kye for shu uemura absolute conditioners review

kye for shu art of hair conditioners

The verdict?

Shu Uemura releases a lot of really big makeup collections, but the KYE collection is my favourite Shu release in recent history. There isn’t a single product that disappoints (well, the eyeliners are a pain, but they wear like a champ as long as you pretend they’re gel pots), and the prices are very reasonable for Shu.

My top recommendations are the Dark Violet Eyebrow Manicure and Fresh Cushion Blush, but you really can’t go wrong with anything here!

Availability: Limited edition summer 2016 at shuuemura.ca, shuuemura.com, and in-stores at select Holt Renfrew & Sephora locations.

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Marcelle Pink Lace, Berry Blossom, Show of Pink review, swatches, photos & more | Fall 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

Marcelle fall 2016 collecdtion review

The products: Marcelle Fall 2016 collection – Rouge Xpression Lipstick in 840 Pink Lace, 875 Berry Blossom, and 960 Show of Pink; Ultimate Easy Lash and Ultimate Fringe Effect Mascaras; and Face Powder in Translucent Medium

Have you ever looked at a makeup collection and thought, “Okay, this is me. They made this collection for me? Because that’s exactly how I feel about Marcelle’s fall collection this year.

The collection contains a new Flawless foundation and concealer that, unfortunately, I won’t be able to cover because they contain silicones, but I am all about this collection aside from that. It features three really wearable lipsticks, a couple of mascaras, and my favourite face powder ever, so I knew the second I saw it that I was going to be a fan.

Marcelle rouge xpression 2016 review photos swatches

The Rouge Xpression lipsticks

Three new Rouge Xpression Lipsticks ($11.95 CAD each) are being launched this August from Marcelle, and though the Rouge Xpressions aren’t my favourite Marcelle lipstick formula (give me Rouge Vitality or give me death!!!!), I still quite like them.

The Rouge Xpression lipsticks are creamier and more slick than the Rouge Vitality lipsticks, and they feature a fragrance-free, paraben-free, cruelty-free formula with omega 6 fatty acid-rich avocado oil.

I’ve been getting the most wear out of Pink Lace, a really wearable pink-nude that’s just a shade lighter than my natural lip colour, but the cool pink Berry Blossom and coral-pink Show of Pink are lovely options for bolder shades. I don’t know – I’ve been feeling the muted lip pretty hard recently. Maybe it’s all the 15 degree days we’ve been having this August.

Marcelle Rouge Xpression pink lace, berry blossom, show of pink swatches review photos

Marcelle Rouge Xpression Lipstick swatches: 840 Pink Lace, 875 Berry Blossom, and 960 Show of Pink

Marcelle Pink Lace nude lipstick review swatches photos

Marcelle Pink Lace – a really easy, wearable nude lip

The mascaras

I’m too busy trying out all of the new Annabelle mascaras to test these right now (more on that soon), but I love that they released two separate Ultimate mascaras. Mascara is one of those products that’s really subjective, so it’s cool that they’re recognizing right out of the gate that some people are going to prefer an easy everyday lash while others will want that full-on fringe.

Marcelle Ultimate Fringe Effect mascara review

Marcelle Ultimate Easy Lash mascara review

A good eyeliner is a good eyeliner across the board, but what constitutes the perfect mascara could be either a really natural looking lash, like in the Marcelle Ultimate Easy Lash ($9.95 CAD), or something with as much volume and length as humanly possible, like in the Marcelle Ultimate Fringe Effect ($12.95 CAD).

The ingredients listed online are the same for both, so I’m guessing that these two mascaras feature the same formula with a different brush (à la Eyeko). The Easy Lash mascara has a traditional bristled brush with short bristles on one side and long bristles on the other, while the Ultimate Fringe mascara has a springy, flexible silicone brush with short bristles all around.

Marcelle translucent medium face powder review

The face powder

Marcelle’s loose face powder got a black-and-clear makeover a couple years back (the original featured a white lid), and seeing it being re-promoted to bloggers makes me happy beyond words. I LOVE Marcelle’s Face Powder ($14.95 CAD), and I can’t even begin to tell you how many other makeup lovers I’ve converted over the years.

It’s just so good, you know? It looks totally natural and has a transparent “skin” finish, but it instantly makes your skin look better than normal. Whether you’re trying to make your base product look more like skin or you’re just trying to make your own skin look totally flawless, this stuff just magically makes it happen.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Tunakitten may not know what pants are, but he still knows what’s cool. 

It lasts forever, too – I’ve had my jar of Translucent for half a decade and have spilled huge amounts of it twice, but it’s still half full. For $14.95, it’s a crazy good deal.

(My only complaint? The new packaging is really squeaky, and it makes the experience of using it way less luxurious. I wish you would go back to your old factory, Marcelle!)

Collection availability: Marcelle is available online (US/Can) and in drugstores and mass market retailers across Canada.

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Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer review, swatches, photos SX02, SX05 | Silicone-free beauty

Friday, August 26, 2016

Kevyn Aucoin SX02 review photos swatches

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer review – SX02

The product: Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in SX02 and SX05

I’ve raved about the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer (known to makeup addicts simply as Kevyn Aucoin’s SSE) for ages, but I realized the other day that I still hadn’t posted a review of it!

So, without further adieu, here is not only a review, but also a comparison, some swatches, and a blending guide. For anyone out there still seeking their perfect silicone-free foundation, I hope this is helpful!

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX05 review

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer review – SX05

The formula: The Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer formula is thick, creamy, and VERY pigmented. It’s packaged in a tiny plastic jar (which somehow manages to look luxe all the same), and it’s bigger on the inside. Sure, it’s a third of the size of the NARS foundation sitting on your countertop, but it’ll last you three times as long regardless.

SSE is notorious for being more pigmented than most concealers, so you need only a “rice grain” amount (paired with lots of blending) to cover your entire face. It can cover everything from dark circles to severe acne scarring, and it wears well without a need for reapplication. It’s like a tiny pot of really sophisticated photoshoot makeup.

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer before after SX02

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer before & after with SX02

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer silicone free foundation review packaging

The SSE formula seems to work well for most, but I do have some issues with it. For one, it’s heavily fragranced with a powdery scent; for another, it can catch on dry patches. I’ve moved away from using SSE in favour of the new Rodial Airbrush Make-Up, simply because of the way that the Sensual Skin Enhancer looks unnatural in areas where I have lines from dryness.

If you have normal, oily, or even well-primed dry skin, the Sensual Skin Enhancer formula should work well for you. However, if you have eczema or similar patchy-dry skin, be aware that this will emphasize it.

Kevyn Aucoin SSE SX02 SX05 swatches review comparison

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer swatches on my summer-tanned arm: SX02 (lightly/heavily), SX05 (lightly/heavily)

The shades: The Kevyn Aucoin SSE range carries far more shades than the comparable Rodial Airbrush line does, so while I think the Rodial formula is actually a bit better for dry skin, I would still recommend SSE for most. Rodial makes a meagre four shades, all very fair; Kevyn Aucoin makes 16.

I was initially matched to SX05, but it turned out to be a bit too dark for my preferences – it matches the perimeter of my face well, but I mostly wear foundation through my T-zone and under my eyes, where your skin is naturally lighter. I exchanged it for SX02 shortly thereafter, and it’s an excellent match.

SX02 is fair with clear winter undertones, while SX05 is light with beige undertones. The shades don’t ascend with any undertone demarcation, unfortunately, so both SX03 and SX04 are too golden/warm yellow for my olive skin.

Foundation mixing

silicone-free foundation blend

Silicone free foundation recommendation tinted moisturizer

How I wear it: I’m really into the ten-minute-face this year, so I mostly wear my SSE as a liquid foundation unless I have something big going on. It’s easy to apply without a mirror, and as long as my face isn’t having a flare-up of dry skin, it’s totally invisible.

Of course, I’m so lazy that I can no longer be bothered to mix my foundation every morning, so I mix up a batch at a time and put it into a tube. My current HG blend contains a dollop of SSE, a portion of moisturizer (Embryolisse in the winter or Aveeno Fresh Essentials Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 in the summer), a touch of pomegranate seed oil, and a fair amount of Deciem Hylamide SubQ Serum.

Kevyn Aucoin SSE review SX05 silicone free foundation ingredients

Kevyn Aucoin SSE review – SX05

The verdict?

If you’re searching for the perfect silicone-free foundation, the Kevyn Aucoin is my top recommendation for a cream product. (The Rodial shade range is laughably small, and my beloved Pür Minerals 4-in-1 is a pressed powder). Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer is an amazing concealer, foundation, and tinted moisturizer… you name it, it can do it. It’s expensive, but it’s such a flexible product that it’s worth it. 

Because the shades are so pigmented, however, it’s important to find a seamless match. If you can’t find your perfect match in real life, I’d recommend trying Tinder sampling it through Camera Ready Cosmetics (that’s what I did, and my $4.99 USD sample lasted me weeks), or even buying two shades to blend – it’s worth the investment.

Availability: $48 USD/$58 CAD at Sephora, Nordstrom (limited shades), and Space NK. In Edmonton, you can also find this at Lux Beauty Boutique.

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Clarins “Rosewood” 4-Colour Eyeshadow Palette review, swatches | 2016 vs Eye Quartet Mineral formula

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Clarins Rosewood old vs new review swatches

The product: Clarins 4-Colour Eyeshadow Palette Smoothing & Long-Lasting in 02 Rosewood

When I found out that Clarins’ Eye Quartet Mineral Palettes were being reformulated and relaunched as 4-Colour Eyeshadow Palettes, I was heartbroken. They’ve been my go-to eyeshadow range for half a decade, and I loved the old quads so much that they even had their own tag here on theNotice – something that I reserve only for my very favourite products.

Rosewood in particular was one of my favourites, so much so that I bequeathed my original to my sister and caved not three months later to re-buy one for myself. So, when I found out that it would be in the new range as well but that the shades themselves wouldn’t be duplicated, I was furious.

Until I tried it.

Clarins Rosewood neutral eyeshadow palette review swatches

The shades: Frustratingly enough, the old 03 Rosewood and the new 02 Rosewood are entirely different palettes. They’re just similar enough to be confusing, but different enough that I would have appreciated Clarins giving the new palette a distinct (and far less confusing) name.

The old 03 Rosewood contained 1) a transparent white shimmer, 2) a light, satiny salmon pink, 3) a warm, taupey brown frost, and 4) a dry, subtly shimmery chocolate brown. It’s a much warmer palette, and it’s an excellent representation of what Clarins quartets used to be: one sparse shimmer, a colourful satin, an easy-to-wear frost, and a sooty liner shade.

Clarins 4 colour eyeshadow palette rosewood swatches review photos labelled

(L) old Clarins 03 Rosewood Ombre Minérale / (R) new Clarins 02 Rosewood Palette 4 Couleurs

The new 02 Rosewood, contains 1) a sheer white satin with a pink duochrome, 2) a much more intense orange frost, 3) a cooler taupe frost, and 4) a dark, matte mauve. The taupes (#3) of the new and old palettes are the most similar; the newer version is just a bit more purple/less orange.

The new 02 Rosewood is cooler and less natural-looking overall, with stronger pigmentation and plummier tones.

Clarins Rosewood swatches old vs new eye quartet palette

Clarins 03 Rosewood Eye Quartet Mineral Palette (Ombre Minérale 4 Couleurs) / Clarins 02 Rosewood 4-Colour Eyeshadow Palette (Palette 4 Couleurs)

Clarins Rosewood 4 colour eyeshadow palette 2016

The formula: The updated Clarins quartet formula is even better than the original, too. I’ve always loved Clarins palettes for the way that their super-smooth finishes blend seamlessly into the lid, and these new shades do the exact same thing–but better.

They’re less dry and more pigmented, so you can easily buff in each eyeshadow until it looks seamless with your skin OR apply them over a sticky primer for a really intense look. (Like the old palettes, the new ones can also be used wet.)

They also have better wear than the originals; I’ve never had a problem with creasing with these palettes, but the new formula looks a little more intense at the end of the day.

Clarins 4 couleur minerale review vs comparison 4 colour eyeshadow palette - packaging

Packaging update: old on left, new on right

The verdict?

I have mixed feelings about these new Clarins palettes. They lack the magic of the old ones (those transparent shimmers are basically the light of my makeup collection), but at the same time, I think they’re better palettes overall. The updated formula is butterier and more pigmented, and even the shape of each eyeshadow pan is easier to work with.

Regardless of the comparison between the old and new, the Clarins 4-Colour Eyeshadow Palettes are excellent quads to add to your makeup collection. They’re beautifully formulated, pretty stunning, and altogether just very chic!

Availability: $43 USD/$43 CAD at department stores and online.

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Sunshine Tonic: My Demeter Blending Trio review | Gin & Tonic, Clean Skin, and Sunshine

Friday, August 19, 2016

Demeter Custom Blending Kit review photos

The products: Demeter Fragrance Library Gin & Tonic, Clean Skin, and Sunshine Cologne Sprays

You know when there’s something that’s so exciting that you want to share it with all of your friends right away? For me, this Demeter post is just that. (You guys are the friends, in case that part wasn’t clear.)

I very recently received a personalized Demeter Foolproof Blending Trio from their Classic Catalogue thanks to a collaboration that I’m doing with the CBB, and I’m feeling pretty ready to review the trio. Demeter’s single-note fragrances are all pretty comprehensible, so it wasn’t too big of a task to get to know these three in depth.

Did you know that… Demeter is a family owned business? It’s true! All of their products are also cruelty-free, and 95% of them are derived from natural or renewable resources.

Demeter custom blending trio review classic kit

The scents on their own 

My kit included three bright, clean fragrances that were all a little sharp to my nose. They’re not austere like the CB I Hate Perfume line is (fun fact, Christopher Brosius’ first perfume line was actually Demeter), but they’re fun. They’re good for the price, and they’re nice if you want a scent to briefly amuse your nose and then leave you alone.

(But for real: is this a thing that other people want? Because it’s a thing that I want sometimes.)

Demeter clean skin review

Clean Skin ($18 USD/1 oz), one of Demeter’s most popular scents, smells remarkably different on the skin than it does on paper. I’m not a fan of the “floral candy” scent itself, but this is exactly how I love to wear my fragrances: in many spots, but very, very sparsely. It would be a lovely fragrance for someone just finding their olfactory footing.

After the first fifteen minutes, Clean Skin smells like a nice fabric softener. No complaints or judgement–a great fabric softener scent is super tough to find–but take from that what you may.

Demeter Gin and Tonic cologne review

I was incredibly excited to try Gin & Tonic ($18 USD), and I liked it well enough – but it can be a bit obnoxious. It smells a bit like a drugstore shower product, sweet and tangy with plenty of citrus, but it’s just not boozy at all on my skin.

Like most of the Demeter line, Gin & Tonic is fun to throw on but lacks any real longevity. It too plays much better on my skin than it does on paper (where it smells kind of like sticky booze), though, so your mileage may vary. On a hot day or with the right skin chemistry, this is a real treat!

Demeter sunshine review

Finally, I spent some quality time with Sunshine ($18 USD), which had the most lasting power by far. It smells like the summer, not sunshine: warm and sweet and a little chemical-y.

I am loathe to say this about anything, but I hated it. I hated it all around. I’d rather smell like a chic robot than a human being with an urge to go to the exhibition, but if that’s your thing… hey, maybe you could love this as much as I don’t. Balance the scales for me.

Demeter custom blend

My custom-blended Sunshine Tonic

Is a Sunshine Tonic a drink, a cure for the blues, or a 9 AM shot of gin on the morning after?

I honestly have no idea, so I’ll tell you what a Sunshine Tonic feels like instead. It’s mostly Gin & Tonic with just a tenth of Sunshine, and it feels like summer afternoons. It feels like running in a grassy field slathered in mosquito repellant, water in the distance, cold feet and a chilly wind cutting the summer day. It’s simple and heavy-handed, but just made of pure joy.

The sweetness of Sunshine is overpowering, and just a touch turns Gin & Tonic into a family-friendly affair. It’s a weekend at the lake as kids, you know? Not something that you’d want to do every day, but something that makes you smile when you think of it. 

Demeter custom blending trio review

The verdict?

If you’re going to love the Demeter line, you totally already know that you will. It contains an astoundingly wide range of very simple scents, and it gets you because they’re just so easy to mix together.

I didn’t love any of these scents on their own, but you know what? This fragrance blending kit is FUN. It’s some of the most fun that I’ve had all month, and I would do it again at the drop of a hat.

So the scents smell a little cheap and don’t have a lot of lasting power – it’s not about starting a niche perfume business. It’s about having fun; it’s a Paint Nite for your nose, except it’s easier to hide any botched projects and you don’t have to desecrate the word “night” to do it.

Availability: $45 USD for the trio and blending kit. ($59.40 USD if bought separately).

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CalExotics Inspire Kegel Exerciser, Dilator Kit, Flickering Arouser reviews & giveaway!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

CalExotics Silicone Dilator Kit review

The products: CalExotics Inspire Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser, Silicone Dilator Kit, and Flickering Intimate Arouser

This spring, CalExotics released a range of products in collaboration with Living Beyond Breast Cancer. The range, labelled Inspire, aims to raise awareness of the sexual side effects of breast cancer treatments and includes products that are actually designed for those experiencing things like decreased libido and difficulties having sex, like breast massagers, vibrators, and “teasers”.

CalExotics didn’t just throw in on an awareness campaign; they actually designed and produced niche products to help specific individuals who may be struggling to have sex (but want to) to do so – and that’s pretty cool of them.

A portion of each sale goes to Living Beyond Breast Cancer (unfortunately, the exact figure or percentage is undisclosed,) and the prices range from $78.99 – $136.99 USD.

Updated 22/08/16: 5% of the proceeds from the CalExotics Inspire line are donated to LBBC! 

CalExotics Inspire Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser

Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser

The CalExotic Inspire Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser is a fairly standard product done well – but it has its flaws. I will start, however, with the good stuff.

It’s moderately strong with nice, rumbly vibrations (3 speeds, 7 patterns), a plush, waterproof silicone covering, and a squishy tip. It charges via USB and runs for 30 minutes on high/1.5 hours on low on a 2.5 hour charge. It has a long cord for easy retrieval and and makes a great clit vibrator, too.

CalExotics Inspire review Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser

CalExotics Vibrating Remote Kegel Exerciser review

However, I wasn’t able to get the full use out of this product. The remote that came with the product refuses to pair with it, and even without the remote, it has one big problem: it turns on, and I don’t mean intentionally. This little guy will start rumbling away like a jackhammer in the middle of the day when it’s charging; in the middle of the night when I’m sleeping; during dinner, when drilling sounds suddenly start emanating from the bedroom.

It is, to say the least, undesirable. My product may just be faulty, and I hope that it’s alone in this regard, because the vibrator itself is excellent (if a little short-lived).

Availability: $129.99 CAD at Well.ca, $99.99 CAD at PinkCherry.ca, and $79.99 USD at PinkCherry.com. (Free shipping on all 3 sites, plus an extra 30% off at PinkCherry right now with code DEAL30.)

CalExotics Inspire Flickering Intimate Arouser review, photos

Flickering Intimate Arouser

I have some pretty mixed feelings about the CalExotics Inspire Flickering Intimate Arouser. On one hand, it is a pretty darn unique product – similar, I’m guessing, to something like the Squeel, but definitely not something that I’ve ever seen before. It too is completely waterproof, and the useable portion of this toy is completely made from silicone, featuring a “tongue” that really does vibrate and flicker rapidly.

It is, however, HELLA LOUD. I did not know that sex toys could be this loud. It feels great and (for me) produces a very drawn-out, intense orgasm, but good lord, it sounds like a blender. On high, it is SO UNBELIEVABLY LOUD that if I’m watching or listening to something, I cannot make out the words.

(I tested this theory by parking the arouser next to a Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast, of course. Because reasons.)

If you’ve always wanted a flickering toy, then I suppose this is worth the investment – it’s pretty cool. But for most of you out there, I’m not recommending this one. It’s so clunky and so loud that it’s not even just an inconvenience; it’s an actual turn off.

Availability: $59.99 USD at PinkCherry.com

CalExotics Inspire Flickering Intimate Arouser review

CalExotics Inspire Silicone Dilator Kit review photos

Silicone Dilator Kit (and giveaway!) 

Aaand finally, we have the last Inspire item that I received for review – and it’s so good that CalExotics and I are giving a free set away to one reader! 

I have vestibulodynia (a condition that as many as 1 in 4 women experiences), so I’ve owned a number of dilator sets throughout my life so far. This one is by far my favourite. Unlike the cylindrical plastic sets of yesteryear, it contains five gently curved, slowly tapered dilators of 0.5″ to 1.25″ in diameter, and each one has a ring on the end rather than an awkward, popsicle-style handle.

CalExotics Silicone Dilator Kit review photos size CalExotics Silicone Dilator Kit giveaway review

Dilators are a pretty simple product, so I don’t think I really need to say more than that. These ones are really easy and comfortable to use, and while I don’t typically experience vestibulodynia symptoms anymore (thanks to feedback training, lidocaine, and my great OBGYN), I use them frequently to do internal stretches or warm up my muscles before sex. They make a big impact on how active my pelvic floor pain is, and I couldn’t recommend them more wholeheartedly.

So, if you want to win your very own set of Inspire Silicone Dilators, just enter using the widget below. While best used in conjunction with treatment from your gynecologist, they’re a great tool for anyone with pelvic floor pain, vestibulodynia, or even just anxiety about sex! 

Availability:$89.99 at Lovehoney (US/US/Can), $69.99 USD at PinkCherry.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CalExotics Silicone Dilator Kit review photos giveaway

This giveaway will be open to US & Canadian residents over 18 until 11:59 PM MST on August 31st, 2016. For full rules, please read the terms included in the widget above. 

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