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.

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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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Le Sérum de Jacynthe oil review, photos | Les Soins de Jacynthe serum & trio

Friday, April 15, 2016

Le Serum de Jacynthe Soins du Visage review

The product: Les Soins de Jacynthe Le Sérum de Jacynthe (“Jacynthe’s Serum”)

I have been trying a lot of skincare products recently. Like… a lot. Enough that it’s honestly kind of frightening to see it all on my bathroom countertop.

More than half of what I test doesn’t even go up on theNotice, so when you guys do see skincare on the blog, it’s because I’ve found the products to be either something that I think people will be interested in, or something that I personally am really enjoying. This one is the latter.

Les Soins de Jacynthe review facial oil serum

The serum: Le Sérum de Jacynthe is a facial oil from a Canadian skincare brand founded by French-Canadian actress Jacynthe René. It’s all-natural and silicone-free, and features evening primrose, borage, sea buckthorn, and rose hip oils, along with vitamin E and essential oils of sandalwood, rose, and rosemary.

The Les Soins de Jacynthe site lists this serum as good for all skintypes except acne-prone. I’m not so sure about that, but my super-dry skin absolutely loves this stuff. It smells beautiful and rich, and its dark orange tone speaks volumes about the quality of rose hip seed oil that’s going into this stuff — it’s immensely hydrating. (Less hydrating than my PO+R and Paula’s Choice Resist oils, but more hydrating than all of my other serums).

 

Les Soins de Jacynthe review

Le Soins de Jacynthe floral water, cleansing oil, and serum

The Les Soins de Jacynthe range: I was sent Jacynthe’s Trio to test, which also includes the brand’s floral water and cleansing oil.

As much as I love this serum (and I really, really do), I think this range is overpriced for what it is. The labels are plain sticky paper and get dirty very easily, and a $21 bottle of floral water… I mean, the mister is lovely, but the rosewater itself smells vinegar-sour at first spray. It settles into something I can stomach only after the first few minutes, and honestly, I prefer the $2 rose water that I pick up from the “ethnic” aisle at the grocery store.

The cleansing oil, I think, has the best packaging of these three products, but I never really got behind the whole “soap-free natural oil cleansing” thing. I know it’s good for my face, but AT WHAT COST. I’m just not a fan of the heavy, oily feeling!

Le Serum de Jacynthe review

Le Sérum de Jacynthe Soins du Visage review

The verdict?

First and foremost, I would love to see the Les Soins de Jacynthe range switch over to non-absorbent labels. Their products are full of natural oils, and my serum bottle barely made it two weeks before it started to look super grotty.

That being said, the serum itself is fantastic. I think Jacynthe’s Trio can be passed on (that sour rosewater!), but Le Sérum de Jacynthe is full of high-quality ingredients and is great for super dry skin!

Availability: $49.35 CAD for 15 ml (pictured); $80.85 for the full size.

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Annabelle Big Show Lacquer review, swatches, photos

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Annabelle Big Show Lacquer lipgloss review

The product: Annabelle Cosmetics Big Show Lacquer in Adore Simply, Caress Tenderly, Kiss Swiftly, Enchant Romantically, Love Fiercely, and Hypnotize Deeply

As I’m sure most of you know already, I am a huge fan of Annabelle Cosmetics. They’re Canadian, affordable, and cruelty-free, and all of their products pack an awesome punch of pigments–especially when you consider that most items are $10 or less.

One of the lines that I just haven’t been able to really get behind, however, is their Big Show range. I liked but didn’t love their Big Show Mascara (which is a HUGE fan favourite) and, later, their Big Show Lip Glosses. Similarly, it pains me to say that I liked these Big Show Lacquers, but… I didn’t love them.

Annabelle Big Show lacquer review

The formula: The Big Show Lacquer formula follows on a trend similar to that of the YSL Glossy Stains and Shu Uemura Laque Supremes: high-impact liquid lip colours that have the saturation of a lipstick, the finish of a lipgloss, and the lasting power of a lip stain. 

If I’m being honest, the Big Show Lacquers hit all three of these out of the park. They’re glossy and highly pigmented, and unlike the YSL and Shu Uemura gloss-stains, they’re opaque in just one swipe.

But, while other bloggers seem to just adore these, I’m on the fence about them. There aren’t any MLBB/”no makeup” shades in the range, and I find that once these start to wear away (within 1-2 hours), they become quite tacky and drying. And then there’s the smell: chemically fruity. They’re not any more drying than a Glossy Stain, but I’ve definitely noticed how actual-lacquer-y these can feel.

Annabelle Big Show lipgloss review photos swatches

Annabelle Big Show Lacquer applicator

Annabelle Adore Simply Caress Tenderly Kiss Sweetly swatches review

Annabelle Big Show Lacquers swatched L-R: Adore Simply, Caress Tenderly, Kiss Swiftly, Enchant Romantically, Love Fiercely, and Hypnotize Deeply

The shades: As I mentioned above, there aren’t any natural-looking shades in the Big Show Lacquer range. (I really want to try the Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquers for this very reason; they look to have the exact same formula as these, but they’re unscented and come in only pink/peach/nude shades.)

That being said, if you love colour, then this is a great range to check out. The Big Show Lacquers currently come in six super-shimmery shades, including the particularly-shimmery nude Adore Simply, the orange Caress Tenderly, and two pinks. Kiss Swiftly is more of a milky fuchsia, while Enchant Romantically is a darker, warmer pink with blue reflects.

I’d love to see a purple in this range (it’s the perfect formula for it!) but for now, lovers of darker lip colours can opt for Love Fiercely, a metallic, warm brick red, and Hypnotize Deeply, a purplish berry.

Annabelle cosmetics Big Show Lacquer lipgloss review

The verdict?

The Big Show Lacquers are huge in the blogosphere right now, but I’m just… not a fan. The synthetic fruity scent gives me a headache, and ALL of these shades are punchy and shimmery, which just isn’t my thing.

I also noted a distinct “lacquer” feeling when I wore these (almost like there was a film over my lips), but I have to admit: they definitely make good on their promises of gloss, pigment, and endurance, and they apply with glorious opacity and evenness. When my lips are in better condition, I might pick up a Marcelle Lux Colour Rush Lip Lacquer to see if I’ll like the formula any more without the shimmer and scent, but I think this is about it for the Big Show Lacquers and I!

Availability: $9.95 CAD at Annabelle.com (US & Canadian shipping) and in-store at drugstores and mass retailers across Canada. Permanent as of January 2016.

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