Saffire Blue: What are your worst online shopping “horror stories”?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

As you all know, I’m not one to complain… very much. When I run into problems behind the scenes at theNotice, 95% of the time, you never hear about it — whether that’s a PR firm who’s upset over a product getting a bad review, or a rep for the company who could stand to learn a few things from Emily Post.

Over the past few months, though, I’ve been going through one of the most upsetting interactions I’ve ever had with a company. I don’t have any other form of recourse for their behaviour (you can’t Yelp an online store, after all — can you?), so here’s a warning for any of you in Canada who are thinking about buying cosmetic ingredients and packaging.

saffire blue - fraud vs bad business

I made an order at Saffire Blue this January (just shy of $100), and it arrived in early February. When I opened up the box, however, I found that a number of the items I bought were missing — seven of them, to be precise.

I contacted the company immediately, and contacted them again a week later when I hadn’t heard back from them. We exchanged a handful of emails, and then, after about a week, they suddenly stopped responding.

saffireblueinc

I called them out on it on Twitter to help speed things up (PayPal’s insurance is time-limited) because the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? But instead of saying “oops, sorry, we’ll get right on that,”, they instead made public claims saying I had never contacted them, even though their customer service rep had replied to many of my emails, and I have a record of all of them.

I had paid for the order through PayPal, so I opened up a dispute about the items. Throughout the course of this interaction, their CEO repeatedly stated that they had offered to send me the missing items – a request which I had been making for weeks, and which they had repeatedly denied. Each time I offered to take them up on it, they immediately backtracked and said that they would only reimburse me for the cost of the missing items, and refused to send them out or refund me the cost of shipping for the missing items — a cost which was worth 4x the value of the items, which made up over half of what they charged me for shipping, and which they never had to pass forward to the shipping carrier.

saffire blue false claims - mission statement

Sure, I’m raving — but probably not in the way you wanted, guys.

PayPal has now said that my only form of recourse is to file against them for fraud. I don’t intend to do this–because I don’t think it was fraud, I think it was just spectacularly bad business–but I did want to get a post on their company out there in the open.

If you need to buy raw ingredients or packaging materials in Canada, I encourage you to avoid Saffire Blue at all costs. They have a wonderful selection and website, but their customer service is unhelpful, humiliating, and quite frankly, full of lies. I’m not saying you should avoid all small retailers (this is the only time I’ve had anything but gold-star service from any online store, big or small!), but remember: even in the business world, you can’t count on everyone to be honest or professional.

What have your worst experiences with online shopping been? Is there anyone that you’d like to warn us about?

Coming to terms with Tom Ford (maybe).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I’m partway through writing a Tom Ford Black Orchid review, and I wanted to take a moment (okay, a whole bunch of moments) to talk about the brand, first — and why I’m okay with writing about it, even though Tom Ford ads still totally give me bad-touch vibes.

(As a warning: this isn’t going to go any more in depth than your typical ninth-grade gender studies class, I’m afraid. You can’t cover much more than that in a sourceless 700 words.)

Despite the rave reviews that Tom Ford now gets from beauty bloggers, both in fragrance and in makeup, I’ve always held myself back from the line. After years of crude advertising to over-sexualized and dehumanize faceless women, we’re just supposed to — what, forget about it? Because they stopped running those ads so that they could appeal to a female consumer base, too?

tom ford for men ad 2008

Faceless Mariana Braga for Tom Ford for Men, 2007 – via 1

I’m still torn on this subject, but I do find myself more comfortable with the brand as time passes. I’d still never want to meet Mr. Ford or his marketing department in person, but, well, baby steps.

While Tom Ford’s male models are typically clothed and looking directly into the camera, and their female counterparts are frequently not–a common practice in displaying a strong patriarchal power dynamic, and just one of many issues people have with Tom Ford adverts–the brand is beginning to even out its advertising practices, with less-sexualized female models and more-sexualized male models. 

(Uh, is that even a good thing? That now we’re stripping down our male models and covering them in oil, too? Shouldn’t we maybe be aiming to not do that to anyone, instead?) There are older examples of this as well, as seen below — turns out that while Ford gets flack for sexualizing his female models, and he strips down and lays bare his male models, too.

But, of course, social context is incredibly relevant when it comes to things like the portrayal of the human body, and just because there are naked men and naked women does not mean that both are being represented the same way, nor are they sending the same messages.

Edited to add: To read more on context and male objectification, this post on Jezebel is great. A big thank you to one of our readers to emailing me about it — the viewpoints in the comments are so much more varied than I could have managed to fit in this post, and worth a look if you’d like to read more on the topic.

tom ford Jon Kortajarena 2009

Jon Kortajarena for Tom Ford Eyewear, 2009 - 2, 3

That said, Tom Ford is hardly the only brand that blatantly uses sex to sell its products, or reinforces this power dynamic. Gucci is another repeat offender who comes to mind; D&G, on the other hand, does a good job of using nudity in a sensual–rather than sexual–way, in my eyes.

I really respect that D&G have chosen older, well-established, publicly outspoken models, and photographed them in a way that seems more, “these iconic women and not-so-iconic men are doing a job that they chose to do, and were captured as professionals,” rather than, “cover  your eyes, we’re about to have a non-consensual orgy.”

D&G fragrance anthology

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You should probably never ever leave candles burning unattended. | theNotice’s liveliest lessons of 2012

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I don’t read reflective posts, but to hell with it, you don’t have to read them to write them. (I mean, proof-reading and editing? Who needs editing?)

To start off, a tiny bit of beauty (to keep this at least vaguely on-topic), and then a few life-like lessons. I find myself vastly under-qualified for giving actual-life lessons, so assume they’re lessons of some other kind of l-adjective.

Tools make a difference.

Whether it’s a foundation brush with bristles so fantastically dense and soft that you cannot live without it (or, rather, you can, but it drives you crazy and you wish like crazy that you had a backup), or a gorgeous old sewing machine that you found inside of your grandmother’s old desk, or even a dozen refills of your favourite 0.28mm Uni-Ball Signo Bit pen, tools count.

Sephora Collection Luxe Brush Set(face)

I find our culture tends to want everything fast, shiny, easy, but no matter what you’re dealing with: a fancy tool can’t magically transform you into an expert at anything. What we sometimes forget, though, is that terrible tools can take away from great work, too.

So, get set up with some semi-decent tools, whatever it is that they may be, and then–

Be just as ready to put in hours (and hours, and hours) of hard work to actually perfect your technique, because the instruments you’re using can’t be expected to do it for you.

(And if they are in fact doing all the hard work for you, alert the authorities that the singularity has finally occurred and commence freaking out.)

Tools

There is no upper limit.

You will never be as good as you could possibly be. If you are, you’re probably in the wrong field, or possibly just completely sheltered from reality.

Embrace failure: engage in experiments instead of setting goals, do things just for the enjoyment of the process (rather than the end result), and build on whatever you already have, no matter how developed that initial skill set may be. You may be good, but you can always be better.

Most guidance councillors will probably disagree with me, but I honestly don’t see the point in aiming for a goal unless you’re going to enjoy the grunt work it takes to get there, too. Sometimes that imaginary upper limit lets you down, and if you don’t create something to lose along the way, the endpoint can only disappoint.

Shadows

Everyone’s lives could use a little more percussion in them. 

Take a chance. Don’t go throwing yourself off any tall buildings though maybe a relatively small one would be okay, but don’t get stuck in a rut, either. Go out with the cute guy who works at your favourite coffee shop (bring your taser), take the long way to work (also bring your taser), start eating everything with sprinkles on top just for the hell of it (you will not need your taser for this one.)

It takes a certain kind of person to honestly believe that we deserve happiness simply by merit of existing, so if you’re not capable of that sort of boundless hope, make sure you at least have one person in your life who is. Be it your mum, your therapist, or the wise old man who lives around the corner and spends a lot of time in the woods with his dog, they’re worth listening to every now and again.

And, hey: if nothing else, I hear the suppressed cortisol levels of not constantly freaking out are great for your health.

Hold on tight, because we’re going to have an amazing 2013 together.

New things are not always the best, but these best things are new to me. | theNotice’s favourite finds of 2012

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I wrote a year-end retrospective, but then it was a thousand words, so I’m breaking it up. Here’s the good stuff (the other post is boring) –

High-end mascaras really are better.

Armani Eyes To Kill Mascara, Lancome Hypnose Doll Lashes, YSL Shocking

They just… are. They’re more likely to smell like roses than turpentine (thank you, Lancôme, that was actually really cool), and while the brushes look like they’re going to perform the same way, they just — I find that they do actually tend to perform better.

(Tend to.)

Not in all cases, but the Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill formula makes one hell of an argument for department-store brands.

Fresh Sugar lip balm, Fresh Sugar Rose lip balm

The world’s cats were right. Living inside a box can be cool, too. 

The hugely popular Fresh Sugar Lip Balms? Yeah, I don’t hate them. I mean, I don’t adore them–in the lip balm category, that’s probably reserved for my fanatical love of Clinique Chubby Sticks and Bobbi Brown Lip Balm SPF 15,–but I’m really enjoying the minis I picked up over the summer through the Sephora Beauty Insider program.

It kind of makes me feel like I have an anti-individualistic robot-brain, but they’re pretty tasty, you guys. It’s kind of worth it.

Clinique Chubby Stick + Intense

…but it’s awesome outside of it, too. 

Like when it comes to media consumption. Better Off Ted was my cancelled-programming find of the year — think two seasons of absolutely hilarious weirdos with the added bonus of fake science.

In the beauty department: unscented shampoo makes my day on an actually-daily basis. I’m crazy about Curelle Hydra and Riche (a shampoo and a conditioner, respectively), which does an amazing job of cleansing without stripping, and without interfering with any of the other scents you’re wearing. They’re completely lacking in the website department, though.

(Literally: they do not have one. It’s mind-boggling.)

Best fragrance-free shampoo and conditioner find

And two new radio play loves: Cabin Pressure (hello, Benedict Cumberbatch as Martin Crieff), and Undone – I cannot even begin to tell you how smitten I am with the alternate-reality London of Undone. Absolute perfection.

Though nothing competes with alternate realities (oh my god Fringe is going to be over, hold me), Ghost Cousin was a pretty substantial find of the year for me, too.

Mentioned first here, Landscape of Animals still makes me think of winter light just as it begins to turn buttery around the edges; a wonderfully unexpected afternoon without any responsibilities and absolutely no need to keep track of time as it passes.

With playful, weightless lyrics and just enough percussion and piano to ground each track, I still feel (even months later) as if I’ve found exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for.

Ghost Cousin - Landscape of Animals

And, last but not at all least…

Colour is not necessarily a terrible thing.

Admittedly, I don’t wear a lot of it, but I had a lot of fun with some very unexpected products this year. The bold-but-desaturated vibe of most vampy lip looks really gets me, as do most oxblood products and subtle stains.

! Korres Raspberry Liquid Lipstick

When you’re going a little brighter or bolder than usual, though, it’s good to have a few colours on hand that absolutely are not going to budge. I have a huge (recent) soft spot for the Korres Raspberry Liquid Lipstick line — they don’t have nearly enough subdued shades (think darker tones and mauvey bases), but the product itself is fantastic. No bleeding or patchiness, and most importantly–as long as you remove any and all excess product--zero kiss transfer.

For a shade as bright as this one (I’ve been testing out 28 Berry), that’s a pretty impressive feat.

What were your favourite finds of 2012?

Thursday rambles: folders that shouldn’t exist, lilac eyeshadows (revisited), and human potatoes

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A quick catch-up post for today — everything I’ve had kicking around that falls just short of a post on their own. Each of the subject headings were taken from folder names on my desktop (or from folders which sit on the desktop rather than in my documents), and there are… rather a lot of urgent-looking exclamation points. File this one away in “behind the non-pro beauty blogging scenes.”

Somehow, despite the aforementioned exclamation points, theNotice’s backlog is still thousands of photographs deep. The system appears to be irreparably broken, which is probably why I found a folder labelled “!! look at your life look at your choices,” a few weeks back.

November is totally an acceptable month for hot chocolate.

Because hot chocolate is delicious.

The recipe for the perfect hot chocolate: warm (but don’t boil) 2% milk on the medium heat. Add in a heaping spoonful of cocoa, 2-3 large marshmallows, and 1-2 drops peppermint oil. Squish the marshmallows with a spoon if they’re not melting down fast enough (because who needs patience when you could have hot chocolate), and whisk until smooth and steaming.

Alternately, add a heaping spoonful of cocoa into a cup of eggnogg and whisk thoroughly. Easy & almost impossible to mess up!

(Lucerne does the best eggnogg that I’ve found, at least in Canada — nothing else is really worth drinking.)

Lavender/lilac/violet eyeshadow swatches

Swatched from left to right, dry over primer: Rimmel Royal Violet, Senna Fantasy, MAC Lovely Lily, Marcelle Dimensional Mauve (x2), Lancome Angora, Annabelle Hawaïan Hues.

Who needs breaks when you could have insomnia instead

In the past few days, I’ve photographed and swatched twenty-ish different products. It’s kind of exhausting, and always a race against the clock.

Just some of what’s to come in the next few weeks…

Fun fact: the sun in Edmonton sets around 4:30 pm at this time of year, but is rather on the weak side until one or two. The golden hour starts around four, which gives you… I’d say two hours of good sunlight a day, if the sky’s completely clear. (Gorgeous sunlight while it lasts, though — much brighter & more diffuse than what we get in the summer!)

Red/vampy lip product swatches

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