eos Sweet Mint, Summer Fruit, and Blueberry Acai lip balm reviews, photos | The best lip balm under $5

Thursday, November 6, 2014

eos-smooth-sphere-lip-balm-review

The product: eos Smooth Sphere Lip Balm in Sweet Mint, Summer Fruit, and Blueberry Açai

I don’t typically re-review products, but in the case of eos’ Smooth Sphere Lip Balms, I think I have to change my tune.

When I reviewed these the first time around, I focused on Honeydew Melon — which, as it turns out, is kind of the runt of the litter, scent-wise. But I’ve been leaning on these since my Beautycounter review in June, and they’ve really stepped up to the plate: the 95% organic, 100% natural formula doesn’t make me feel so bad about how much lip balm I probably ingest, and they do their job when it comes to keeping my lips hydrated from day to day.

I have a whole friggin’ bunch of these, but here: these are my three favourites of the moment.

eos sweet mint smooth sphere review

eos smooth sphere lip balm in sweet mint

Sweet Mint

What really started off my current Smooth Sphere obsession is the line’s Sweet Mint variation. No less hydrating than its fruity counterparts, Sweet Mint is, well, both extremely minty and (like all eos lip balms!) sweetened with all-natural stevia. It’s thinner and more slippery than a Burt’s Bees lip balm, with a different peppermint scent — it’s sweeter, and smells less like peppermint patties.

The thing about Sweet Mint, however, is that it goes bad really fast. I’ve gone through two of these so far, and I find that they can only make it through one summer before starting to smell “off” — despite the fact that I’ve had other eos balms for twice as long (or longer). At this price, I’ll keep re-buying anyways, but it’s worth noting.

(Also available in stick form!)

eos Sweet Mint lip balm ingredients:

Olive Oil, Beeswax, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Peppermint Oil, Shea Butter, Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract, Tocopherol, Limonene, Linalool.

eos summer fruit lip balm review

eos smooth sphere lip balm in summer fruit

Summer Fruit

As much as I love Sweet Mint, I have to admit: it’s not an ideal choice for irritated lips. So, on days when my lips are really raw, or when I’m just hankering for something sweet, I’ve been turning to Summer Fruit. Its scent is hard to describe (it’s a blend), but “summer fruit” is a pretty good way to put it.

This lip balm smells bright and fruity, in a delicious way that never strays from juicy into saccharine-synthetic. And, uh, have I mentioned that it smells super, super tasty?

eos Summer Fruit lip balm ingredients:

Olive Oil, Beeswax, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Natural Flavor, Shea Butter, Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract, Tocopherol, Sunflower Seed Oil, Blueberry Fruit Extract, Strawberry Fruit Extract, Peach Fruit Extract, Linalool. 

eos blueberry acai smooth sphere review lip balm

eos smooth sphere lip balm in blueberry açai

Blueberry Açai 

Blueberry Açai isn’t the fruitiest Smooth Sphere, but to me, it’s the most believable. Unlike Honeysuckle Honeydew or Summer Fruit, it’s identifiably blueberryish and sweet-smelling, like a blueberry pie or compote. For those who love berries but not that zing! pop! of most fruity scents (which, admittedly, I totally adore), this one is one to own.

eos Blueberry Acai lip balm ingredients:

Olive Oil, Beeswax, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Natural Flavor, Shea Butter, Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract, Sunflower Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Blueberry Fruit Extract, Acai Fruit Extract, Limonene, Linalool. 

IMG_0657

The verdict?

While I still think these fall short of a superhero lip balm, I’m loving them a lot more than I used to. With regular, generous application, they’re doing a pretty good job of keeping my lips in shape, and the domed shape make them easy to use.

At the same price as a crappy Chapstick, these are the best affordable, all-natural lip balm out there — and they’re a great buy even if all-natural isn’t important to you. They’re not going to fix super-chapped lips, but for day-to-day maintenance care, these are hands-down my top lip balm recommendation.

Availability: $3.99 at most drugstores in Canada & the US or online at drugstore.com and Beauty Bridge.

In other news, I have got to get my hands on the SPF 15 Lemon Drop version of this lip balm! Lemon, you guys. Sun protection and also lemon.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Sugar Fix, Top Coat review, swatches | A look at lampless gel polishes

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel no lamp nail polish review

The product: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish in Sugar Fix and Top Coat

The promise: This summer, Sally Hansen announced that they had solved the Big Question — of the nail world, that is. How do you get the wear time and look of gel nails, but without a trip to the salon?

The new Miracle Gel system promises to be the answer, delivering up to 14 days of wear and a gel that cures using natural light (there’s a photoinitiator in the top coat), no lamp necessary. It’s a two-step polish-and-top-coat process, but the polishes are available in a whopping 45 shades, and the system promises soak-free removal with acetone-based or even acetone-free nail polish remover.

So now the question is… does it work?

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Sugar Fix

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish – Sugar Fix review

The polish: I tested Sugar Fix for this review, a milky, vibrant light blue. It’s a cream finish shade (and unfortunately I haven’t tried any metallics or shimmers from the line), but even considering this, it was pretty underwhelming. The formula is extremely thin, needing four coats to even come close to opacity, and even then I find that it goes a bit streaky unless you’re careful.

The top coat: Despite this, though, I actually really enjoyed using the Miracle Gel Top Coat! It applies smoothly and quite thickly, immediately giving a very “gel” look to the nail. I find that it goes on without disturbing the polish at all, but like any good top coat, it also makes your colour look instantly smoother — which is perfect for someone who gives as shoddy a manicure as I do.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Sugar Fix review swatches

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish in Sugar Fix swatch (four coats)

Sally Hansen OMGel nail polish review

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel polish in Sugar Fix: 1, 2, 3, and 4 coats (L-R)

The wear: I actually tested these twice: first, I had a friend try out the system for me, and then I repeated it on my own. She saw barely 24 hours of wear before her polish began to form little cracks throughout, but I’m told that this could be because she used a base coat — so, if you give this system a try, NO BASE COAT! None!

When I used this set, however, I saw about 2 1/2 weeks of wear on my pedicure with no chipping, wearing, or cracking… in either the Miracle Gel polish or my control group nails. Once they did wear, I noticed the following things:

(1) There was no difference in wear between Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel polish and their Complete Salon Manicure polish,

(2) The Miracle Gel Top Coat presented no chipping over three weeks (dude) but did develop tip wear near the end,

(3) The Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Top Coat nails lasted the longer than the Miracle Gel Top Coat nails by a day, but then showed major chipping.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat review

The verdict?

This is the most rigorously I have ever tested a product (what? I really wanted it to work), so it is with reasonable confidence that I can say: don’t buy into marketing hype. The Miracle Gel system is, in my opinion, not worth investing in at $20/duo… but that includes the polishes.

The Miracle Gel Top Coat, however, is a different story. It delivered on its promise of durability and a gel-like look, and though I did see tip wear, it came with zero chipping and super easy removal. If you do like the look of gel nails and want a top coat that will wear well (caveat: but not as well as a true gel manicure), I’d say get the Miracle Gel Top Coat, but skip the polishes. 

Availability: $8.95 USD/$10.95 CAD each, for both the polishes and top coat.

Keep reading! »

Sephora Bulls Eye Lash Applicator review, photos | Finally, innovation!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sephora Bulls Eye Lash Applicator review

The product: Sephora Collection Bulls Eye Lash applicator

Today I have a cool little tool to share with you — Sephora’s Bulls Eye Lash Applicator. I’ve had it for ages but have only just gotten around to trying it this month (I very rarely wear false lashes!), but I’m kind of bummed that it took me this long to give it a go…

Because it’s a little bit awesome.

How to apply false lashes trick

The lash applicator is pretty simple: it has a set of soft, silicone-covered grips on one end to grab and place your lashes without pinching them into a new shape, and a flexible point-tip at the other end to allow you to easily re-glue a lash that’s beginning to come off at the corner.

The instruction manual that comes with the applicator (“tweezers”) has directions on how to use the clamps to set and remove your false lashes, as well as how to use the tip (“spatula”) to apply glue. And it promises something that I think hits the nail right on the head: not that these will help you apply lashes more safely or precisely than normal tweezers, but that you’ll feel safer using them.

False Lash glue applicator review

And you know what? I do feel a lot safer with these near my eyeball than my super-sharp Tweezermans. I think it’s easier for me to use traditional tweezers to apply my false lashes, but these hit the great middle ground of “easier than fingers” and “less permanently scarring than tweezers” — which makes them a hit in my books.

False lash applicator review

The verdict?

If you’re new to false lashes, or you’re just scared of stabbing yourself with your tweezers and ending up as That Girl with the Eyepatch, then this is an awesome tool to have on hand — honestly, I don’t know why no one thought of it before now!

Availability: $12 USD/$14 CAD at Sephora.

Keep reading! »

Shu Uemura Brave Beauty Pink, Green, & Orange Palette Swatches, Reviews, Photos | Perfectly curated eyeshadows for Turkey Day and beyond

Monday, October 13, 2014

shu uemura green brave beauty palette

The products: shu uemura Brave Beauty PinkGreen, and Orange Pressed Eyeshadow Palettes

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving, and what better a time than turkey day to talk about shades of orange? (And, you know, also green and purple.)

I may not be crazy about yellows and oranges on a day-to-day basis, but even I was pulled toward the Orange Brave Beauty palette, and that’s where we start off today. My favourite thing about the Brave Beauty collection is that the eye palettes are so perfectly composed; coherent, but not at all dupeable, and the Orange palette is no exception to this rule.

Fall colours, all grown up

shu uemura brave beauty orange eyeshadow palette review

shu uemura brave beauty – orange palette review

All of the eyeshadows in the Brave Beauty Eye Palette Orange ($90 CAD) are cohesively warm and a little bit red, but I found that the formulas were quite varied. While the matte orange is beautifully smooth, layerable, and intense, not all of the shimmery shades are formulated as well – and at $90, you really shouldn’t have any letdowns. (The darker beige is chunky and a little dry, and the salmon pink applies very sheerly).

The rest of the shimmery shades, however, have a smooth texture with intense colour payoff, and each has a slightly different frost finish — the light beige is particularly metallic. I found that the dark brown applies a shade more bronze than you’d expect, and the purple-red appears as a cranberry-red with almost no purple tones on the skin.

shu uemura orange eyeshadow palette swatches brave beauty

shu uemura brave beauty – orange palette swatches

Forest-free greens and golds

For those looking for a unique palette that isn’t quite so bold, Shu’s Brave Beauty Eye Palette Green ($90 CAD) is the one you want to be looking toward. Described as “a tribe of forest inspired hues,” this is anything but your typical forest palette.

For starters, there’s only one brown eyeshadow in here, and it’s more of a deep yellow gold, not a… tree-moss brown. But beyond that, there’s a pearly light gold with subtle green undertones, a glowing pale green, and an unexpected lime-chartreuse that’s so unique that even I can’t help but stare. The final dark green shadow in the palette looks like a less-glowy MAC Humid, but does its job of adding depth despite its more boring characteristics.

shu uemura green eyeshadow palette swatches brave beauty

shu uemura brave beauty – green palette swatches

What really takes the Green palette to the next level, however, is that amazing matte green. I don’t even know how to describe it — it’s too saturated and bright to just be called “teal,” but it’s not really blue and not really green, either.

Check out the Brave Beauty Eye Palette Green in this { green-and-gold makeup look } !

imaginary shu palette

I think a proper forest palette would look a little bit like… this. (This is not a real palette.)

Keep reading! »

Brave visions of shu uemura greens: a makeup look

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

shu uemura brave beauty pre-review fall 2014

shu uemura brave beauty, fall 2014

What’s that, you say? What’s that?

Yup. After many long months (I think this Marc Jacobs makeup look was the last proper one I posted, with photos from two summers ago), here’s a new makeup look for you to feast your eyes on. It’s just an eye look–I’m easing myself back into the swing of things–but I hope you like it.

PS: Tracy, this one’s for you! I’m wearing greeeeens!

shu uemura brave beauty green eyeshadow makeup look

shu uemura brave beauty green eye palette makeup look

I’ll be reviewing shu’s Brave Beauty collection soon, but for now, this look features the collection’s shu uemura Brave Beauty Eye Palette Green ($90 CAD) — and no other shadows. I used the light green from the palette in the inner corners (shade GR4), the silver-green through the centre of the lid (GR3), and that beautiful matte green (GR1) on the outer corner, both on the lid and below the lower lashline. For this amount of intensity, I did need apply the matte shadow with a damp brush, but the fall-down was very minimal.

Finally, I blended out the look using the yellow-green second from the right (GR5), added a bit of black gel liner along the upper lashline, and applied both mascara (below) and shu’s Mini Yellow Quartz accent lashes (above). The lashes were actually from shu’s summer collection last year, but I thought they fit in perfectly with this look — after all, the little gems are yellow and green, just like these shadows!

green makeup eyeshadow look

the look, sans lashes

The Brave Beauty collection does include an array of gold and silver face studs, but they’re a little big for just an eye look. It’s doable, but I think they fit in far better along the cheekbone or as faux microdermal implants — maybe through the collarbone area, even, if you’re feeling particularly… brave.

Jokes! I’m making jokes! Do you like them.

shu uemura green brave beauty palette

shu uemura brave beauty green eyeshadow palette

Shop this look

Shu Uemura Brave Beauty – Green Palette ($90 CAD)

Shu Uemura False Eyelashes – Mini Yellow Quartz Accent Lashes ($23 CAD) from shu’s Summer 2013 Eye-Conic collection

Essence Cosmetics Gel Eyeliner – 01 Midnight in Paris

theBalm timeBalm – Lighter Than Light ($18 USD)

Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Mascara ($30 USD)

So… do you do greens?

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