L’Occitane Mer & Mitstral review, photos: the perfect gift for him (or her!)

Friday, December 5, 2014

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral Eau de Toilette review photos

The product: L’Occitane Mer & Mistral Eau de Toilette (La Collection de Grasse)

So, it’s a pretty well-known fact that I’m obsessed with the L’Occitane La Collection de Grasse – but did you know that there’s a unisex scent in the line, too? And, as a cologne lover, I am all over it.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral review

Behind the scent: I usually like my unisex scents a little more masculine (you know: woods, amber, pepper), and this one certainly isn’t — but it’s still a complete stunner. More department store than, say, Vanille & Narcisse, Mer et Mistral is a proper sparkling aquatic: it smells shimmery and extremely fresh, with bright citrus notes paired with pine and sea salt. 

The name “Mer et Mistral” means sea and wind — specifically, the extremely fast, turbulent winds in southern France blowing north into the Mediterranean Gulf of Lion. The mistral wind controls the climate of Grasse and plays a huge part in Provençal culture, dictating everything from how bell towers are built (open iron frameworks, so the wind can pass through) to the direction that homes face (south, with their backs to the wind).

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral photos review EdT

The notes & wear: A little [too] sharp at first spritz, Mer & Mistral features top notes of lemon and mandarin, heart notes of pine, cypress, and rosemary, and base notes of cedar, white amber, and musk.

The top notes fade pretty quickly, and 20 minutes later, the scent really settles in — it gets a lot more pine-y and less sparkling close to the skin, but retains its aquatic nature in the sillage. The herby accords really come out to play not long after, and the scent just transformsOnce you get past the run-of-the-mill opening, the rosemary makes this scent almost… aquatic-foody. Which sounds super gross, I know, but think of it more like this: lemon balm and pine, herbs in a mortar and pestle, and a cabin next to a rough sea.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral unisex fragrance review photos

The bottle: While the scent of Mer & Mistral is wonderfully bright and complex, the bottle is even better. With a blue lacquered base, this glass bottle takes on a mesmerizing, watery look — the blue comes and goes depending on what angle you look at it from, like the sea as it’s pushed and pulled by the wind.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral packaging review bottle

The verdict?

I like things that match. I just… do. I like the visual coherency, and I like rotating between fragrances that have a similar thread that weaves through all of them.

If you’re a lover of La Collection de Grasse, do yourself a favour this season and get your guy (or girl) a bottle of Mer & Mistral. Not only will it look beautiful on the dresser next to your collection, but L’Occitane’s in-house perfumer Karine Dubreuil will make sure the two of you smell great next to each other, too.

Availability: $75 CAD at L’Occitane boutiques and online.

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L’Occitane Divine Youth Oil review, photos | The kind of oil that… isn’t

Thursday, November 20, 2014

L'Occitane Divine Youth Oil review photos

The product: L’Occitane Divine Youth Oil (from the Immortelle range)

L’Occitane’s Divine Youth Oil reminds me a lot of the Argentum Apothicary moisturizer that I reviewed last month — but with a few important differences. First, the similarities: it’s a high-end anti-ageing moisturizer that smells amazing, with plenty of natural ingredients and a beautiful, velvety finish.

But now, the differences: at less than half the price, L’Occitane’s oil is twice as moisturizing, far more comfortable to use, and may smell even better.

L'Occitane Divine Youth Oil

Don’t cut my content

My biggest pet peeve with high-end oils and serums is when companies dilute their product with fillers to cut down on production costs — things like mineral oil, ‘cones, and plain old water. When you buy an oil (and this one’s $100/30 ml), there’s an unspoken agreement that what you’re getting is more concentrated, and that you’re paying for a product that hasn’t been stretched out already.

But though this oil is very obviously cut with caprylic/capric triglyceride… I find it hard to care. Caprylic/capric triglycerides (which you may know as liquid coconut oil) are one of my favourite skincare ingredients out there, and in the case of this oil — I think they do wonders for the formula.

L'Occitane Immortelle oil review Divine Youth

What makes this one special

Unlike other oils that you may have tried, the triglyceride content of this one means that it both feels dry to the touch and sinks in instantly. A blend of seven oils–including borage, evening primrose, sea buckthorn, and rosehip–with Corsican immortelle essential oil and caprylic/capric triglycerides, this oil is incredibly lightweight and leaves my skin with the most gorgeous velvety finish, even when I mix it with my super-heavy, super-oily German Nivea.

It smells amazing; mouthwatering and fruity (a scent that I’m told is unique to the L’Occitane Divine Immortelle range), and a little goes a long way: for my terrifyingly-dry skin, I use 5-7 drops, but for normal to oily skin, a single drop will do.

L'Occitane Immortelle Oil review

The verdict?

While I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone with dehydrated or extremely dry skin, for anyone else: you neeeeed this. This oil not only feels and smells amazing, but it leaves my skin looking velvety and clear (without any fancy primers or powders). It’s kind of like an oil that isn’t, which I think will appeal to both facial oil users and heathens everyone else.

Availability: $96 USD/$100 CAD at L’Occitane boutiques & online. Buy it!!

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The multitaskers: Five skincare picks that do it all

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Multitasking products??? MULTITASKING PRODUCTS! I love multitasking products, dude — give me something that’ll preform more than one function for me and I am there.

(You have no idea how crushed I was to find out that there aren’t any 2-in-1 ‘cone-free shampoo-conditioners. There may have been tears.)

Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel HTML Map

The multitaskers

Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel ($1.99-$12.95 CAD) – a silicone, fragrance, paraben, and sulfate-free makeup remover and cleanser. This one is great for removing makeup (it even took off that new Hourglass 1.5mm liner I’ve been testing!), but I still definitely think Marcelle’s Cleansing Milk is better for extra-dry skin.

L’Occitane Immortelle Brightening Eyecare & Mask Duo ($42 CAD) – also silicone-free, this one’s not your usual kind of 2-in-1: used sparingly, it’s an eye cream; slathered on more heavily, it functions as a 10-minute mask to moisturize, luminize, and de-puff. Also worth noting is that it has a metal tip similar to that of the Clinique Lid Smoothies (but larger and more round), so application is mess-free and very cooling.

Marcelle Ideal Skin Perfector ($24.95 CAD) – this one’s not silicone-free, but it does do a whole bunch of things — and it’s brand spankin’ new. If you’ve had your eye on the Clinique Smart Custom Repair Serum, this might be a good option instead if you’re on a budget!

Neutrogena Healthy Skin CC Fair Light swatch review

Neutrogena Healthy Skin CC Cream SPF 30 in Fair to Light swatches

Neutrogena Healthy Skin CC Cream SPF 30 ($16.99 CAD) - you guys, this CC cream breaks my freakin’ heart. It doesn’t just do everything well, it does everything perfectly – except for one big, glaring thing. Lightweight and insanely comfortable, it minimizes redness and smoothes over dry, flaky patches like a champ, but leaves the skin looking and feeling totally natural… until you walk into the sunlight.

See, the thing is, this CC Cream is actually packed with disco-ball levels of completely unnecessary microshimmer, which is a total deal-breaker for me (and probably some of you, too!) Skip it if you’re one of the shimmer-free camp, but definitely, definitely give it a go if you’re not adverse to shimmer. Lovers of Annabelle’s BB Pressed Powder, Guerlain Meteorites, etc., this means you! 

Clinique Smart Custom Repair Serum ($59.50 USD/$69 CAD) – our last product today is the ultimate do-it-all: a serum that claims to target skin concerns based on the distress signals being sent out by your own skin. I don’t buy that for a second (despite the 37 patents backing this product), but I do believe in the six zillion actives crammed into this serum (including soothing caffeine, plumping hyaluronic acid, and brightening Vitamin C, to name just a few.)

L’Occitane Frisson de Verveine review, photos: Ice Gel & Shower Gel

Saturday, August 9, 2014

L'Occitane Frisson de Verveine review

The products: L’Occitane Frisson de Verveine Shower Gel & Cooling Foot Gel

It’s hard to find a good summer scent. Trust me; I know. The ones that are good never last, and the ones that last are always so heavy. And, ugh, don’t even get me started on how sticky-sweet and floral the summer heat can make feminine fragrances.

This summer, though, L’Occitane has solved the summer scent problem — in part. No one can make citrus and aquatic-family molecules linger for any longer, but this bright, genderless summer collection might be just what you need to get you through August. (I think it makes an especially appealing androgynous scent for women.)

L'Occitane shower gel review Frisson de Verveine

The scent: This stuff smells good. Like, so good that when my shower is over, I have a tendency to wander back into the bathroom (hot and humid as it is), just to stand by the shower and inhale for a moment. It smells like bright summer days, and like verbena, but it doesn’t have any of the hard edges that the original L’Occitane Verveine scent has — instead, it has soft edges with just the right amount of zest.

Frisson de Verveine reminds me of D&G Light Blue and Fresh Citron de Vigne, in feeling if not in its notes. An aptly-categorized unisex “aqueous citrus,” it’s light and very fresh, almost masculine and not at all “perfumey”. But, unlike Light Blue, it’s very unique — no one is going to sniff this on you and go, “oh yeah, I used to wear that in high school.”

L'Occitane Frisson de Verveine review Fresh Shower Gel

L'Occitane Frisson de Verveine Ice Gel review

The Ice Gel: I found the collection’s Fresh Shower Gel ($32 CAD) to be a little drying, despite its gorgeous scent (use with a shower puff for maximum fragrance release!), but the cool-cred in this collection totally goes to the Ice Gel for Legs & Feet ($24 CAD). It’s actually a liquid, and has the coolest method of application — you roll the ball onto your skin while gently squeezing the tube to get just the right amount of product.

This is the only product I’ve ever owned with this type of packaging, and I love it. It’s easy to use, weirdly fun, and amounts to zero drips or drops. And the product inside is really good, too — while it doesn’t feel cooling on my feet (it does on my hands; I think my feet just aren’t sensitive enough), it’s surprisingly hydrating, and dries down quickly.

And yes, okay? Yes, I will admit to dabbing some of this onto my wrists as well. It just smells so good, you guys. I couldn’t help myself.

L'Occitane Ice Gel verveine review

The verdict?

L’Occitane’s fragrances outside of La Collection de Grasse don’t always wow me, but wow – this one did. The perfect aquatic-citrus for both men and women, Frisson de Verveine is as bright and watery as you could wish for on a hot summer day. 

But I’m going to recommend you don’t buy these two products, because I love the scent so much. Instead, I’m going to point you toward the line’s gorgeously bottled Frisson de Verveine Eau de Toilette ($56 CAD) and aerosolized Verbena Refreshing Mist ($12 CAD). This is a scent that deserves to be enjoyed both in and out of the shower.

Availability: The Frisson de Verveine range is available for a limited time at L’Occitane boutiques & online beginning this month.

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Three to try: Body oils from L’Occitane, Clarins, and Osmia Organics

Friday, August 1, 2014

Body oil reviews

For something that sprays: L’Occitane Amande Supple Skin Oil ($ /3.4 oz)

With a formula containing over 50% sweet almond oil (and following up with fractionated coconut oil), the makeup of L’Occitane’s Amande Supple Skin Oil is pretty great. It hydrates well despite its lightweight texture, and comes in a gorgeous glass bottle with a spray dispenser — and while I don’t think it’ll make well-hydrated skin any more firm or supple (as it claims), any good body oil will do that for chronically dry skin!

L'Occitane Almond Supple Skin Oil

However, despite the fact that I love the feel and presentation of this oil, I personally hate the scent. It opens with just a second of beautiful, nutty synthetic almond, but turns into something sharp and cloying once misted and rubbed in; something that sits in the back of my throat with painful honey-sweetness.

But, to each her own: I adore the idea of honey scents, but for some reason, I just can’t stand them in practice. If you love scents like Lise Watier’s Something Sweet or Marc Jacobs Dot (or anything with honey in it!), I bet the L’Occitane Amande body oil would work beautifully for you.

L’Occitane Supple Skin Oil ingredients:

Sweet Almond Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Fragrance, Oleyl Alcohol, Camelina Sativa Seed Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Bergamot Fruit Oil, Carrot Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Dioleyl Tocopheryl Methylsilanol, Limonene, Coumarin, Linalool, Citral.

Clarins Shimmer Oil

For shine and shimmer: Clarins Shimmer Oil for Face & Body ($ /3.3 oz)

Of these three oils, Clarins’ is the only one I haven’t tested — and for good reason. This beautiful bi-phase oil (the shimmer separates out) has wonderful, chunky-chic packaging and a captivating amount of warm shimmer particles, but it’s actually a silicone-oil: the formula contains plenty of glittering minerals, but its liquid phase is based mainly on coconut oil fractions and cyclopentasiloxane.

For those of you who missed out last year, this is an exact copy of Clarins’ Splendours Body Oil, from the packaging to the ingredients; the packaging simply lost the “Splendours” label and picked up a “face & body” descriptor.

Clarins Shimmer Oil ingredients: 

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cyclopentasiloxane, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Isononyl Isononate, Hazel Seed Oil, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Bisabolol, Fragrance, Silica, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocopherol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Tin Oxide, Sunflower Seed Oil, Coumarin, Linalool, Farnesol.

Osmia Organics body oil review

For a sexy scent: Osmia Organics Sunset Body Oil ($30 USD/2 oz)

I seriously need to try out some new Osmia oils, because Sunset still has me smitten – months after the first time I tried it. Their oils are all-natural and beautifully scented, with a luxurious fractionated coconut oil & jojoba base that delivers wonderful, completely lightweight moisture.

I’ve tested quite a few body oils since falling in love with this one, but Sunset is still my favourite by far. The delicate, feminine scent lasts all day long (it’s a super-sexy rendition of vanilla; slightly spicy and just barely floral), and though the price tag is a little high, it’s an easy compromise to make – it may be sold as a body oil, but it can definitely double as your perfume.

Osmia Organics Body Oil ingredients:

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Fractionated Coconut Oil), Jojoba Oil, Kukui Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Rosehip Seed Oil, Cannabis Sativa Hemp Seed Oil, Avocado Oil, Borage Seed Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Sea Buckthorn Berry Co2 Extract, Rosemary Co2 Extract, And A Proprietary Blend Of Organic And Wild-Harvested Essential Oils And Co2 Extracts.

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