Milestones, Makeovers, and the Matrix Color Lounge app | WIN a $250 gift basket from Matrix Canada!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Matrix Color Lounge app 3VR

*sponsored post

Happy Wednesday, folks! I’m writing this at one in the morning, and I just noticed the coolest thing while moderating a few late-night comments: theNotice passed 20 000 comments this week!

(Yes, really, twenty THOUSAND. For all of you wondering why it’s been three years and I still haven’t managed to switch over to Disqus successfully… well, that’s why. The importer keeps panicking and crying and breaking.)

So, to everyone who’s ever left a comment, thank you. Thank you so, so much. You guys are the bread and butter of theNotice, and I’m so happy to be able to share each and every day with you!

Matrix Color Lounge app UL-A+

image

But back to the topic at hand: the new Matrix Color Lounge. You know those makeover websites that you used to be able to go to to put fake blush and blonde wigs on your picture? Well, the Color Lounge is like that, but it’s the next generation of makeover apps.

It uses colour filters to let you try on a new colour on your actual hair, and gives you the option of adding things like highlights, ombré, and colour blocking to your new look, too. I gave the Color Lounge a go to try on grey, violet, and red hair, and I was really happy with my results — it lets you highlight what is and isn’t your hair, and even works on dark hair.

Matrix Color Lounge app 6RV+

Matrix giveaway

To celebrate the launch of this app, I’m giving away a big prize package from Matrix Canada (worth $250 — see above!!) The giveaway will run until 11:59 MST on Sunday, February 28th, and is open to all Canadian residents.

You can use the widget below to enter, or (for all of you guys who aren’t in Canada), you can download the Matrix Color Lounge app for free through the App Store or Google Play. Happy colouring!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep reading! »

Ivory Avenue Art | Small Business Saturdays

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ivory Avenue Valentine's Day

One of the things that I get excited about, like most beauty writers, is when beauty bloggers branch out. Sometimes they branch out by starting their own beauty brand (hello, MIYU), but sometimes it’s not quite as beauty-related, as is the case with Natalie of Ivory Avenue.

I’ve been a fan of Ivory Avenue for a while, and there’s no question as to why: Natalie is kind and funny, with a great eye for design and a frankly adorable obsession with her puppy. So when Natalie announced that she was planning on opening her own Etsy shop full of original watercolour paintings… well, I knew it was going to be something pretty special.

Small Business Saturdays Ivory Avenue Art

Rosie and painting No. 1 from the Valentine’s Day collection

Ivory Avenue Art

Natalie started painting to express her feelings and stay positive, and she decided to open her Etsy shop in order to share that happiness with others — something that I find to be particularly beautiful. There are a lot of us in the beauty community who struggle with mental illness and physical limitations, and I like to think that each of us feels a little less alone knowing how many of our friends and favourite bloggers experience similar struggles.

Ivory Avenue Art showcases one collection of six paintings every month, and a different charity is chosen for each collection to receive 10% of the sale price of each order. Available right now are the Winter’s Morn and Valentine’s Day collections (in green & grey and coral-pink, respectively,) and the current Ivory Avenue charity is the Samaritan’s Purse!

Natalie Heather Ivory Avenue Art Etsy

I’m particularly fond of Natalie’s Valentine’s Day Collection Painting No. 1, with its beautiful gold detailing and coral-pink ombré (directly above), but honestly, her entire shop is just gorgeous.

If you want to support a small business (and a local Canadian blogger!) this Valentine’s Day, make sure to check out Ivory Avenue Art — and use code LOVEYOU until February 29th for a whopping $30 off your order! 

All images are from Natalie’s Etsy shop and Instagram

Palmer’s Moisturizing Body Oil review & giveaway

Friday, February 5, 2016

Palmer's giveaway trio

The products: Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Moisturizing Body Oil, Soothing Oil for Dry, Itchy Skin, and… like, maybe the Daily Skin Therapy?

Finding an afforadable body moisturizer that’s silicone-free can be a really hard task, so when Palmer’s offered to send me a few of their products to try, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t end up being able to use the spray-oil or lotion (both contain ‘cones), but it was nice to see such a cohesive line of products!

The oil for expectant mothers, which is made with cocoa butter, Vitamin E, Collagen, and Lecithin, is designed to soothe dry, itchy skin. It comes in a spray format, which I think is great — if you’re carrying around an entire little human being in your body, companies SHOULD be making easy-application products for you!

Palmer's Soothing Body Oil pregnancy review

Palmer's cocoa butter lotion review

The thing about Palmer’s names: The lotion was the other product that I couldn’t use, but what really cracks me up about it is how HARD it is to figure out what this product actually is.

The packaging has ten million descriptors on it (24 hour moisture, for softening and smoothing, contains vitamin E…), but I tried my best to find a concrete product name on it, and I couldn’t find one for the life of me!

Palmer's Moisturizing Body Oil review

Palmer’s Moisturizing Body Oil: Finally, the product that I did get to fall in love with was the brand’s Moisturizing Body Oil. It’s scented of cocoa butter, but it’s the Palmer’s cocoa butter scent, so it’s a little bit powdery and very recognizable (in a gold way!)

This oil is great because it’s so lightweight and fast-absorbing. I need to alternate with something a little heavier in the winter, but it’s wonderfully easy to apply and doesn’t leave your hands or clothes greasy at all! And I mean, okay, so it’s not the only lightweight body oil out there — but it’s definitely the only super fast absorbing one under $20 that I’ve ever tried.

Which, well. ‘Cone-free stuff can be seriously expensive, you guys, and bodies are so big. You’ve gotta pinch pennies where you can!

Palmer's cocoa butter review giveaway

The giveaway

I absolutely love my bottle of Moisturizing Body Oil (it’s the most economical “finished” oil that I own, and definitely the least greasy), so I’m super excited to be giving away a Palmer’s trio to one lucky reader!

To enter, just click on the widget below. This giveaway is open to all Canadian residents (yes, even if you live in Quebec!) and will close on February 14th at 11:59 PM MST. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Salcura DermaSpray, Hand Therapy, Shampoo/Conditioner reviews & GIVEAWAY!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Salcura Bioskin DermaSpray review

The products: Salcura Bioskin DermaSpray, Autumn Skin Awakening Hand Therapy, Winter Skin Warming Hand Therapy, and Sensitive & Dry Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner

Do you ever feel like Europe gets all of the best eczema/dry skin/pharmacy brands? I always have — I mean, just look at things like E45, Embryolisse, and Oilatum.

I have another brand for you guys to add to that list today: Salcura. They’re a (mostly, like 98%) natural brand that uses no SLS, parabens, silicones, mineral oil, etc., and they focus on providing gentle, hydrating care for people with dry skin conditions.

Salcura shampoo conditioner review photos

Salcura Sensitive & Dry Scalp Conditioner & Shampoo (£8.99 each)

What I thought was really cool about the Salcura line is that not only do they aim to treat dry skin on the body, but they have a couple products for people with dermatitis of the scalp, too. Their Sensitive & Dry Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner duo is rich in omega oils and super gentle on the hair, and my dry scalp has been loving them.

With regular use of this duo, I’ve seen a dramatic decrease in how peel-y and dry my scalp is — so much so that if I use a different shampoo (even a different one made for dry hair) for a day, I’ll notice more dry flakes and flyaway hair immediately.

I find that I have to use a little more product than usual with this shampoo, but I can good a good foam going if I do. Both products smell a little oily (think grapeseed, not canola), but they leave my hair and scalp looking and feeling super hydrated.

Salcura DermaSpray review photos

Salcura Bioskin DermaSpray (£16.99)

Another super cool product from Salcura is their DermaSpray, which is made for daily use on itchy skin. Made with labender, rosemary, and eucalyptus essential oils, this spray is milky and watery — it provides instant soothing with no oiliness (I can even spray it onto my scalp and my hair looks fine).

I didn’t see strong results with this one on my problem areas, but this spray would be awesome for someone with normal skin who wants totally weightless, easy moisture OR for someone with dry skin (like me!) who is planning on layering it with another moisturizer.

Salcura Winter Skin therapy review hand cream

Salcura Autumn & Winter Hand Therapy Creams (£12.99 each)

Even more exciting than Salcura’s spray and haircare range, though, are their hand creams. I tried the Winter Skin Warming Hand Therapy, which doesn’t actually warm your hands and smells very strongly of ginger oil (one of my least favourite smell so, I’ve since discovered), and the Autumn Skin Awakening Hand a Therapy, which on the other hand was the BEST thing that I’ve ever smelled. 

Salcura says that their autumn scent comes from freesia and pear, and while I can’t pull any distinct notes from it, I can tell you that it smells great. It’s floral, juicy, and fruity, with a scent that lingers and gives me serious heart-eyes all throughout the day.

The formula of Autumn Skin is awesome, too — it’s almost airy, but it’s very creamy, too. It’s quite hydrating (more hydrating than L’Occitane, Neutrogena, or Lush), with a silky, non-greasy finish. 

Salcura Autumn Skin therapy review hand cream

I told the kind folks at Salcura about how much I loved the Autumn Skin Awakening Hand Therapy, and they offered to send one reader not just the Autumn hand cream, but all four seasons! So: please use the giveaway widget below to enter to win FOUR awesome hand creams that are silicone, phthalate, and paraben-free. ;)

The giveaway will be open until Sunday, January 31st at 11:59 PM MST. Good luck, you guys — you’re going to LOVE these!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The verdict?

If you have eczema on your scalp, you need to give Salcura a try. I saw the best results when I used all three of their hair-appropriate products together, but if you love your current shampoo and conditioner, even just adding their DermaSpray to your morning routine will help a ton.

I also think their Autumn Skin hand cream is a must, although I’d take a pass on Winter if you’re making an order!

Availability: You can find Salcura at Boots, Whole Foods, and salcuraskincare.com.

Keep reading! »

How to monetize your blog, partner with brands, & more: The do’s and don’t of blogging

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

» How to start a beauty blog

1. The do’s and don’ts of blogging

2. Working with brands

3. Monetizing your blog

4. Branching out from (or into) beauty blogging

The do’s and don’ts of blogging

Burberry Beauty launches Canada Vancouver Nordstrom

For those of you on your coffee break, here’s a snappy list of the do’s and don’ts of blogging!

Edit: DON’T try to monetize every single sample offer from your contacts. I keep seeing newbie bloggers deciding to do this, and it makes me want to shake them and yell, “TWO THOUSAND HITS PER MONTH IS TINY. SIT DOWN.” Start instead by using affiliate links or selling banner ads (read below!), and focus on creating great content and building relationships, not squeezing naïve small businesses for cash.

DO leave lots of comments on other bloggers’ blogs, and DO leave a link back to your blog in the “url” form field, but DON’T leave a link to your blog in your comment text — I can’t think of a single person I know who doesn’t find that to be incredibly rude!

DON’T get into spats on social media. Someone is always watching, in the creepiest of creepy Big Brother ways.

DO be funny! 

DON’T send your new followers automated messages.

DO use a blogging calendar to keep you on track. I’ve recently started using a sticky-notes-and-tape eyesore, and I love that I can touch it and move stuff around.

new camera 2014 copy

DO learn the difference between HTML, CSS, and PHP. My favourite resource for all three is w3schools.com, which is easy to reference for simple fixes & arranged like a textbook for those who want a crash course.

DO buy a good camera — and editing software. If you’re serious about blogging, I recommend a camera body that gives you room to grow, like the Canon T5 or Nikon D3200. I shoot with a Sony A6000 (the A5100 cheaper option with a 180˚ screen) and an old Zeiss lens, and then edit in Photoshop.

DO proofread. Accidents happen, but if you mix up your there, their, and they’res, I won’t be the only one quietly mocking you in my head.

DO nerd out over your non-beauty interests. This is the easiest way to find other people like you in the herd, whether your special interest is ramen noodles or alpacas!

cats cats cats

My special interest is cats. My special interest has always been cats.

Working with brands 

Okay, so once people start blogging, the big question always becomes, “How can I start collaborating with brands?” Which is a valid question, but like — you have no idea how gross it makes me feel to hear it. It’s like someone asking how to get into your ex-girlfriend’s pants: it’s not that you definitely don’t deserve to, it’s that you really seem like you’re only in this for the sex and you should really be proving that you’re good enough on your own.

I don’t make a lot off of theNotice, and if I had to buy every single product that I tested for the blog & featured here, I would barely break even. But while it’s awesome to have a brand validate your work by working with you, it’s important that you view press samples as a way to help you do your job better, not the reason for doing your job at all.

stop being greedy

So: I’d recommend waiting for at least a year (yes, really) before reaching out to brands. If someone contacts you before then, awesome; if not, it’s worth the wait! That way, you can show brands your archive, stats, and social media following when you do contact them, and your reader base will know that they can trust you — and so will other bloggers.

Highlight whatever YOUR BLOG really excels at. You don’t have to be the biggest fish in the pond to show people that you’re doing great work!

Next, create a media kit in the style of your blog that includes your stats, your blog’s message, and a little bit about you, the person they’ll be working with! It’ll help give you a leg up in the PR department’s inbox, and it’ll work kind of like an online business card for your blog.

One of the best tips I’ve ever heard about creating a media kit is to highlight whatever your blog really excels at (I think maybe it was Natalie?), whether that’s the number of comments you get or the number of page hits. Your blog doesn’t have to be the biggest or the most polished to stand out.

Moody pastels - YSL Spring makeup look

I recommend starting on a brand’s website to look for contact info, or pitching in person if you can. I know bloggers who recommend contacting brands via their social channels or employees’ LinkedIn accounts, but I’ve always found that if a brand really loves your blog, a general email to the company will be enough. Let your work speak for itself! 

The hard part about PR relationships, though is keeping that relationship going. If you want to stay in the loop, you’re going to need to review new launches quickly (most brands prefer to see features within 30 days, which is whiplash-and-a-concussion fast), forward links back to the brand after a review goes up, and always be reachable by email.

Once you’re in, remember that blog-brand relationships are a two-way street, and you do not work for the brand — no matter how well or poorly they treat you. Accepting product for a review is a fair (and industry-standard) practice, but make sure you don’t let your to-review pile overwhelm you. It is a real, breathing thing, and it will suffocate you in the middle of the night and hide the evidence. 

Graphic sunset eye look

Monetizing your blog 

Unfortunately for all of you up and coming beauty bloggers, ambassadorships and sponsorships are a rare thing in this industry. Sure, they exist, but it’s not exactly “cool” for a beauty blogger to post their Amazon Wishlist or have a Patreon.

Instead, beauty blogs tend to survive on the Golden Trio of advertising: sidebar ads, affiliate commissions, and sponsored posts.

Keep reading! »

How to start a beauty blog (and what to expect once you do!)

Monday, January 18, 2016

theNotice layout screenshot

The #1 question that I get asked is how to start a beauty blog. Sure, there are variations, like “How do I transition my current blog into a beauty blog,” or “How can I start making money off of my beauty blog,” but what seems to be on everyone’s minds is how you do the whole, y’know, blogging thing. 

My answer is always the same: don’t. 

Behind the blog - Nov 2015

1. Make the commitment

Now, it’s not that I don’t love beauty blogging, and it’s not that I don’t want to see the community grow — I very, very much do. But I don’t think that anyone should start a beauty blog on a whim. It’s more like adopting a pet than eating a sandwich: you have to be ready to make a huge time commitment, and if you want to blog seriously, you need to be ready to keep it up for years.

We’re talking anywhere from 15 hours a week (for a casual blogger) to 40-60 hours (if you want to make a living off of it) for the next 10 years of your life, with no “paid vacation time” or sick day coverage.

The first step in starting a beauty blog is putting in the time. After that, everything else is easy.

Wordpress Dashboard

2. Pick the right blogging platform

Choose WordPress. 

No, but seriously — it’s not up for discussion. WordPress is a little more intimidating right out of the gates, but it’ll give you the room to grow that Blogger simply doesn’t. With a WordPress blog, each little bit of styling is made to adapt with your layout; with Blogger, each bit of styling is made to be particular to that post only.

I made the mistake of starting out with Blogger back in 2007, so please, for the love of god, learn from my mistakes. 

(The only time you’re not required to choose WordPress is if you go with Squarespace, but that’s a whole other can of worms.)

BlueHost - host recommendation

3. Get your own hosting plan & domain name

Your HOST is where your site lives; your DOMAIN NAME is the url that readers will use to access it.

My other “must” for new bloggers is starting out with your OWN domain name and hosting plan. Paying for your own little space on the web is surprisingly affordable (my current web host offers plans that start at $3.95/month, which is the price of a single freaking coffee), and it offers you a level of credibility and flexibility that “.blogger.com” and “.wordpress.com” just can’t give you.

With a free site on Blogger or WordPress, you’re limited in the kind of ads you can run, the kinds of plugins you can use, and sometimes even the types of content you can publish (Blogger haaates sex bloggers, and WordPress.com doesn’t like it when bloggers make money, too.)

BlueHost control panel

I currently host with BlueHost, who I absolutely love. They make hosting your site super easy, with a control panel that’s basically designed for dummies and excellent (free!) 24/7 tech support online and by phone. I’ve found that Bluehost’s rates are equal to GoDaddy’s and lower than HostGator’s, and since switching over from GoDaddy, I’ve noticed a lot less downtime and faster loading times on theNotice.

» If you’re thinking of signing up with BlueHost, I would love if you could use my affiliate link to show them that I sent you!

You can also buy your domain name through BlueHost (use the widget above to see if your dream domain name is available right now!), but Namecheap also comes highly recommended by bloggers, too. (Namecheap is–you guessed it–a little cheaper, but sometimes having an integrated web host & domain registrar can be handy!)

WordPress org vs com

wpbeginner has a great infographic on WordPress.org (self-hosted) vs WordPress.com (free) here.

4. Make some contacts

In the beauty blogging world, your #1 asset is your friends. If you really want your blog to take off, don’t focus on making money or hooking up with brands — focus on finding bloggers who you respect and admire, and build actual relationships with them.

My favourite thing about the beauty blogging world is the people, and those people are going to be the exact same ones who will help you grow your own blog. Comment on others’ blogs, start chatting with strangers on Twitter, and make sure you send good vibes back out into the blogosphere.

There is no limit to how many blogs one reader can or will read, which makes blogging one of those rare, wonderful industries where supporting your peers wholeheartedly will only ever help you reach your own goals. Take advantage of it: form blogger crushes, collaborate with them, and most importantly, don’t be afraid of learning from others & telling them when you think their work is awesome!

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

5. Get writing!

Okay, so I know that I said making the commitment was going to be the hardest thing, but–um. It’s not. What makes that commitment hard is following through on it, not just wishing with all your might.

The beauty blogging world looooves a heavy poster, and while it’s not make-or-break, it’s definitely important. I always chuckle when I see a tweet from my sex blogging friends being all, “oooh, I posted twice this week, kneel before me!” because while that’s an awesome posting frequency for the adult industry, it’s really low for the beauty industry.

If you wanted to blog occasionally, you should have gotten into electronics or types of ash instead. The beauty world lives off of bloggers who post 3-7 times/week, and those making a living off of their blog usually need to post at least twice a day (if not more.) So grab your camera, give up all of your future Saturdays to photo-taking, and start by reviewing the products that you already know and love!

theNotice logo

Still think you’re cut out for beauty blogging? Awesome! Come back on Wednesday for tips on how to partner with brands & more.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to leave ’em below and I’ll answer as many as I can in my next post. 

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