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

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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 »

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Toner & Foam Face Cleanser review, photos

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fresh Peony collection review

The product: Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Face Cleanser, Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner, and Peony Brightening Moisture Face Cream

Fresh recently added three new products to their Peony Brightening range, and even though I’m not always into brightening products, I love these.

I don’t really believe in the brightening powers of peony (it’s only ever been “proven” to work in petri dishes), and I highly doubt that peony/mushroom/etc-based products truly brighten. That being said, a great brightening range will also make your skin seem brighter by leaving it clean, fresh, and well-hydrated–and the Fresh Peony Brightening range definitely delivers on that kind of brightening.

Fresh Brightening Peony collection review

The ingredients: The range is formulated with Chinese tree peony extract, Madonna lilly root extract, and vitamin C glucoside, and each product has an additional star ingredient: shea seedcake extract (an antioxidant) in the cleanser and moisturizer, and sodium hyaluronate (to act as an to help the skin retain moisture) in the toner and moisturizer.

Unfortunately, the Fresh Peony Brightening Moisture Face Cream ($72 USDcontains silicones, but the new cleanser and toner are ‘cone-free!

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisture face cream review

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisture Face Cream

Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Face Cleanser ($42 USD/$49 CAD)

I tried out the Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Face Cleanser ($42 USD/$49 CADexpecting to enjoy it, and it totally exceeded my expectations.

It’s a super-thick foam formula that’s honestly kind of hard to squeeze out of the tube, but it’s really luxurious — the packaging is gorgeous, and the foam applies kind of like a traditional shaving cream, or a face mask. (Or like fancy glue.) It feels like a ritual sort of product, and the sweet, soft, floral scent of the Peony Brightening range only compounds on this luxe kind of feeling.

Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Cleanser review

I don’t think I love this one enough that I’ll be rebuying it (my skin’s too dry to use something that foams on a daily basis), but I definitely love it enough that I’m not sharing. A’s gonna have to earn this level of pampering if he wants to touch my Peony cleanser!

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner ($60 USD/$70 CAD)

Conversely, I tried out the Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner ($60 USD/$70 CAD) expecting it to be a flop — but I actually like it even more than the cleanser.

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing toner review

The Fresh Peony toner is, in a word, phenomenal. It’s softly scented and absorbs quickly, and its glycerine-based formula leaves my skin feeling moisturized, velvety, and plush, but never sticky.

I know that this one is a huuuuge stretch for most budgets, but it’s honestly the best-performing toner/lotion-type product that I have ever tried for dry skin. It acts more like a really excellent beauty essence than a toner, and while I’m doubtful that it’ll be brightening in the long term, it’s just beyond lovely.

I can even skip my hydrating serum on days that I use this toner (which is something that I never do), so even though it’s priced at a luxury price point, it’s kind of like spending $70 on a serum, not a toner. Which… seems more reasonable, right?

Fresh skincare picks Peony

The verdict?

If you haven’t checked out the Fresh Peony Brightening range yet, I have two words for you: DO IT. 

I’m not sold on the range’s brightening abilities, but these three products are fantastic nonetheless. The moisturizer has a really lovely texture and scent; the cleanser feels literally like it belongs in a high-end spa; and the toner acts more like a liquid serum that’ll soften and balance your dry skin every morning and night.

There are actually quite a few products in the Fresh Peony range now, and if the rest are anything like these, they would make a fantastic Mother’s Day treat for this time of the year!

Availability: New permanent products as of April 2016. Find them online at Fresh and soon at Sephora.

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NYX Strobe of Genius Illuminating Palette review, swatches, photos (& NYX Pro Fan Brush review)

Friday, April 29, 2016

NYX Strobe of Genius palette review

The products: NYX Cosmetics Strobe of Genius Illuminating Palette, NYX Cosmetics Pro Fan Brush

2016, as I’ve said before, is having great spring for illuminators and highlighters. The contouring trend is holding steady with an additional strobing aspect, and the market has been absolutely overpopulated with highlighters.

And hey, I’m no fool. If the beauty industry suddenly gives you 10x the amount of choices for a product category that you love, you snap up that opportunity like nobody’s business.

NYX illuminating palette review

What is strobing? I will say one thing before I get started today: “strobing” is bullshit. It’s not “THE beauty tend that everyone is obsessing about,” and it’s not “fresh” or “new!” (All direct quotes from the NYX website.)

Strobing is highlighting pumped up to the max, plain and simple. Things can be great without being new, oh Great and Powerful Beauty Industry — case in point.

NYX Strobe of Genius illuminating strobing palette review

NYX Strobe of Genius Illuminating Palette

NYX Strobe of Genius palette swatches

NYX Strobe of Genius Illuminating Palette swatches (no primer; indirect sunlight)

The formula: The NYX Strobe of Genius Illuminating Palette features 7 highlighters in two formulas. The lavender, golden pink, bronze, and champagne all feature one formula; the yellow/gold, light pink, and peachy gold all feature a very slightly different one.

In practice, I find that six of the highlighters are all very similar. They’re smooth and blendable but a little bit dry, and are ideal for normal to oily skin. (They emphasize my fine lines slightly.) The exception is the lavender shade; it’s more buttery than the rest, and it has an intense satin-sheen finish rather than a frosty, metallic one.

I totally get that formulas are going to vary based on how their pigments influence them, but man. That lavender highlight is really something else — from a high-end brand, I’d pay $27 CAD (the palette’s SRP) for it alone.

NYX Strobe of Genius palette labels

NYX Strobe of Genius strobing palette review

NYX Strobe of Genius illuminating palette swatches

NYX Strobe of Genius Illuminating Palette swatches (no primer; indirect sunlight)

The shades: All seven of the Strobe of Genius shades wear well throughout the day, but most importantly, they’re all visibly different. If I apply more than one shade on my cheek (even if it’s two similar shades!), I can spot where one ends and the other begins from a good foot away.

The sheer, frosty “gold” in the top left corner of the palette is definitely the most unique shade; it’s a pure yellow highlighter, and it’s quite pretty in person! (For everyday use, you could totally use it as a spot highlighter.) The palette also contains a rose gold shade, which you don’t see all the time — I think a lot of warm-toned beauties will really like this one!

The lavender highlighter, however, was by far the best performer. It’s without a doubt the prettiest thing I have ever put on my cheeks, and it made my face G-L-O-W as soon as the brush touched my skin. It’s really high-impact, but it melts right into the skin.

NYX Pro Fan Brush ($17 USD/$17 CAD)

NYX Highlighting brush strobing review

Unlike your prototypical fan brush, NYX’s Pro Fan Brush is dense, velvety, and thick. It is not what you want to use for a light application of powder, which is what fan brushes are usually for. Instead, it makes getting an intense highlight super quick and easy, and it fits perfectly onto the top of my cheekbone to apply the product and blend it in a single stroke (three, at max.)

I can confidently say that there is nothing else in my brush collection that even slightly resembles this synthetic brush, and it’s well worth the $17 it’ll run you!

NYX highlighting fan brush review

The verdict?

I can’t believe how fast I fell for the NYX Strobe of Genius palette or the NYX Pro Fan Brush, but it really was love at first stroke. The second I popped that lavender highlight onto my cheekbone (using the fan brush, which–can I just say–is super luxurious), I was smitten. Later, I found out that the highlighter had held on throughout the entire day, and I had to have a little cry.

(Okay, for real, I didn’t cry. But I did immediately apply all of the other six shades to various parts of my face just so I could get to experience them all at once, and it was a weirdly gratifying experience.)

If you love a good spring/summer glow, then you need this palette. It’s hella expensive for a drugstore product, but seeing as all 7 shades really are different… I think it’s worth it. That’s like, $3.86 per shade, and it’ll take you from spring (lavender) to summer (rose gold) to winter (champagne).*

Availability: $19 USD/$27 CAD at NYX Cosmetics, or at drugstores throughout Canada and the US. (Also available at Ulta and Urban Outfitters.)

The brush is $17 USD/$17 CAD through NYX Cosmetics.

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Elizabeth Arden Prismatic Lip Gloss review, swatches, photos | Sunset Bronze SS16

Monday, April 25, 2016

Elizabeth Arden Prismatic Bronze Lip Gloss review swatches photos

The products: Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze Prismatic Lip Gloss in 01 Moonlight Kiss, 02 Midnight Kiss, and 03 Sunset Kiss

Instead of your standard light pink/sheer coral spring lipstick, this year’s Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze collection (you know, the one that contains this glorious highlighter) features three glorious tubes of glitter. They’re packaged in gold-capped tubes, boxed in a print pretty enough that I’d hang it on my wall, and are totally, completely awesome. 

Elizabeth Arden Moonlight Kiss Prismatic Lip Gloss swatch review photos

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze review

Elizabeth Arden Moonlight Kiss lip gloss review

LIKE A STICK OF UNICORN TEARS

The shades: There are three shades of Prismatic Lip Gloss from the Sunset Bronze collection. All three are super, super sheer, and look great on their own or layered over top of other lipsticks. They’re described as having “subtle sparks of glittery color,” which is a total lie — for a trio of basically clear glosses, they have quite a bit of visual impact.

01 Moonlight Kiss is an opalescent gloss with cool pink-violet and white-blue reflects. 02 Midnight Kiss is a fuchsia gloss; a little more pigmented than the other two shades and with slightly larger glitter particles (pink and bronze reflects, this time.) 03 Sunset Kiss is probably the most subtle of all three, and features gold reflects with pink and white microshimmer suspended in a sheer, bronze gloss.

Elizabeth Arden Moonlight Kiss, Prismatic Lip Gloss swatches

Elizabeth Arden Prismatic Bronze Lip Gloss swatches: 01 Moonlight Kiss (white), 02 Midnight Kiss (pink), 03 Sunset Kiss (bronzey)

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze Prismatic Lip Gloss swatches review

Elizabeth Arden Prismatic Bronze Lip Gloss swatches: 01 Moonlight Kiss, 02 Midnight Kiss, 03 Sunset Kiss

The product: The Sunset Bronze Prismatic Lip Glosses are formulated with aloe vera and vitamins A, C, and E to nourish the lips while you wear them. I find the formula to be only very slightly tacky and a little thick, but I like it — these aren’t drying, and you can’t feel the glitter when you wear them. They’re about as moisturizing as a light lip balm, and they’re not too scented, either. (They smell a little bit sweet and vanilla-ish, but the scent doesn’t hang around.)

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Kiss swatch photos review Prismatic Gloss

The verdict?

I know that none of us really need another translucent lipgloss, but as far as extraneous glosses go, these are some great ones. They’re comfortable and not too scented, and in the tubes, they look the way a chorus of angels sounds. The lovely colour selection is really just the cherry on top!

10/10 would recommend, if only so you can pull Moonlight Kiss out of your purse when you’re feeling down and pretend that you’re a unicorn. Or that you’ve killed a unicorn and bottled its tears, if that’s your jam.

Availability: $19 USD/$25 CAD at Elizabeth Arden counters and online. Limited edition.

Additional photos & more »

The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Boosting Moisturizer review, photos

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Boosting Moisturizer review

The product: The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Boosting Moisturizer for Dull, Tired, Grumpy Skin

Five years ago, finding a silicone-free moisturizer was tough. And, while it’s certainly not impossible anymore (thanks to the natural beauty movement, there are a whole ton more options nowadays), I find that a lot of the newer ‘cone-free brands are a little out of my budget.

Widely-available natural companies like Odacité or Pai make some awesome products (aside: I have a review of some Pai coming up!), but not everyone has $50+ to drop on a single bottle of moisturizer — or have the inclination to do so. So, here’s a silicone-free moisturizer from The Body Shop that clocks in at a nice $25 CAD.

TBS Vitamin C Moisturizer review

The formula: The texture and scent of the Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Boosting Moisturizer are honestly just divine. It smells as bright, cheery, and citrusy as it looks, and it has a bouncy gel texture. The formula absorbs very quickly, and it feels almost watery when it touches the skin.

Despite the fact that this moisturizer didn’t have quite enough “oomph” for my skin, I tested it with my Hydraforce Hydration Detector and got more than decent results. Ten minutes after applying, my skin had gone up from 31% hydrated to 50% hydrated, and it outperformed all of the other moisturizers that I’ve tested so far. (Including, ironically, the Hydraforce ones!)

The Body Shop silicone free moisturizer review

Best for: Where the Vitamin C Glow Boosting Moisturizer really excels, I find (other than in reminding you to eat your daily dose of vitamin C), is in acting as a little transporter vessel. It’s nice on its own, but it pairs really well with serums, whether it’s layered overtop of them or mixed in before applying.

I think it would be best for normal, dull, or dehydrated skin, but it’s a little heavy, and it’s definitely better for dehydration than dryness.

TBS Glow Vitamin C moisturizer review

The verdict?

From the friendly-luxe packaging (you know; really nice and well-made but not breakable) to the citrusy scent, this “glow boosting” moisturizer is a total winner. It’s a great product for dehydrated skin, and really easy to find, too!

It doesn’t make me super glowy, but unlike my favourite DHC and Marcelle silicone-free moisturizers, the Vitamin C Glow Boosting Moisturizer is available outside of Canada/online. It’s also full of antioxidants, nice to use, and affordable, so if you want a ‘cone-free moisturizer that isn’t a hassle or an “investment piece,” definitely give this one a look.

Availability: $30 USD/$25 CAD. Permanent as of Summer 2015.

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