Kaia Bamboo Tapioca Beads review, photos | A semi-DIY cleanser/exfoliator/mask

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Kaia Bamboo Tapioca Beads cleanser review

The product: Kaia Naturals Bamboo Tapioca Beads Daily Powdered Face Cleanser

How it works: DIY meets green beauty, baby! Instead of releasing a ready-made exfoliator, Kaia offers a cleansing kit comprised of an exfoliating powder, a mini vial of moringa oil, and instructions.

Now, I’m all about customizing products, and this kit is perfect for it. All you do is tap out some of the powder into your hand, then blend with a liquid to make a cleanser/mask/exfoliator that’s customized to meet your needs exactly.

Exfoliating powder review - Kaia

Kaia Naturals Bamboo Tapioca Beads kit

What to blend it with: Kaia recommends moringa oil, a makeup-removing dry oil that’s rich in vitamin C, but the sample they provided goes cloudy and thick in my (cold, cold, cold) bathroom. They also suggest water, yogurt (for a mask), other oils, and green tea.

I liked it best paired with my go-to cleanser, though — a dollop of Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Milk, a tap of powder, and you’re off to the races.

Kaia Bamboo Tapioca Beads review

Kaia Naturals Bamboo Tapioca Beads

Kaia Naturals review

The caveat: While I like the idea of this cleansing powder a lot, I still prefer an enzyme powder cleanser (like Tatcha’s) over a gritty one like this. But, as a physical exfoliator, this powder definitely isn’t too harsh for my sensitive skin, and is far less abrasive than all of the regular-line Clarisonic heads!

Kaia powdered face cleanser review

The verdict?

At $38, this cleansing powder is a little pricy — but it leaves my face feeling super soft. I love that Kaia has taken the usual approach to cleansing and broken it down into its component parts, allowing the consumer to decide how to use the product without needing to buy three separate versions of it.

If you’re really picky about things being just-so (or if you need an exfoliator/cleanser for your carry-on luggage), then definitely give this one a look. My recommendation? Go with the refill, not the kit — you’ll save $8 and all you miss out on is a spoon and a tiny-baby vial of oil.

Availability: $38 USD/CAD at Kaia Naturals and select Holt Renfrew locations.

Keep reading! »

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser – Foaming Wash review, photos | Currently hooked on…

Friday, March 13, 2015

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser Foaming Wash review

Okay, so you know how I took that trip to Toronto a couple of weeks ago? Well, like an idiot, I totally forgot to bring soap with me — I guess I figured my crazy-dry skin could handle bar soap for a couple of days or something. (WHY, Rae.)

Luckily for me, my welcome basket from Neutrogena just so happened to contain this little gem, which I’ve always passed over for its non-foaming creamy counterpart!

Neutrogena face body wash review

Turns out, Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser is ultra gentle — and the foaming version is AMAZING as a bodywash. It feels and smells super luxurious in the shower, but because it’s an enormous face wash from a drugstore brand, it’s not going to run you $20-30 like a lot of department-store body washes will.

Plus, it comes in totally cute, sensible packaging, and it foams up really easily. (I’ve always found that shower gels are too thick to really enjoy using unless you put them on a shower puff.) So the next time you’re at the drugstore and you feel like treating yourself to something: give this a go! 

I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Odylique Timeless Rose Moisturizer & Organic Repair Lotion reviews, photos

Monday, March 9, 2015

Odylique Timeless Rose Repair Lotion moisturizer review

The products: Odylique by Essential Care Timeless Rose Moisturizer, Organic Repair Lotion, and Ultra Rich Balm

I have got to stop forming love-hate relationships with products.

Today, we’re covering a few products that I tried recently from a brand called Odylique, a relative unknown in the beauty blogging world. An all-natural and largely organic brand, Odylique is vegan-friendly and was created by its founder to help alleviate her own sensitive, eczema-prone skin.

» Odylique recommends that those with eczema moisturize sparingly but often, which is definitely life advice to take to heart!

Odylique natural skincare review

Odylique Timeless Rose Moisturizer ($21 USD/0.51 fl oz)

Based around aloe, rose, coconut, and jojoba and enriched with rosehip and sea buckthorn extracts, the Odylique Timeless Rose moisturizer is quite thin but packs a serious moisturizing punch. I need to apply a lot for my dry skin and re-apply often (the avocado-based moisturizer would be better for dry skin), but once it’s on, it does a great job of making my dry patches disappear.

Best for slightly dry to combination-dehydrated skin types, I would recommend this cream as an affordable, all-natural alternative to those who are used to using fluid moisturizers — anything from the Olay or Neutrogena lines, for instance.

Odylique Timeless Rose Moisturizer review

However (and this is a BIG however), this moisturizer started getting pretty funky after 2-3 weeks of use. My contact at Odylique said the batch should still be okay, though, so perhaps it has to do with contamination (air, bacteria, etc.) or the product freezing on its way over here, but I’m not sure. I plan on trying a different bottle of this soon, though, so I’ll let you know how it goes!

Odylique Timeless Rose Moisturizer ingredients:

Aqua, Rose Flower Water, Jojoba Seed Oil, Coconut Oil, Raw Fairtrade Shea Butter, Cold-Pressed Sunflower Seed Oil, Glycerin (non-plant palm origins), Cetearyl Alcohol, Seabuckthorn Extract, Cetearyl Glucoside, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Briar Rose Fruit Extract, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Rose Geranium Oil, Lactic Acid, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Xanthan Gum, Geraniol, Eugenol (naturally occurring) (94% organic)

Odylique Repair Lotion review

Odylique Organic Repair Lotion ($23 USD/60 ml) and Ultra Rich Balm

The Odylique Organic Repair Lotion held up better than the Timeless Rose, but still separated quite badly — and it oxidizes around the opening, which (while not harmful) can look icky! I find that it doesn’t sink in quite as well as the Rose, but if you’re on a tight budget, it’s still very good for the price.

I also tried the brand’s Superfruit Concentrate, which I wasn’t crazy about (I don’t like oils, remember?), and their Ultra Rich Balm, which really surprised me — it looks like it’s going to be really hard and waxy, but it actually melts quickly at skin temperature and turns into a thick, balmy oil. (This one would make a fantastic, all-natural cuticle balm!)

Odylique Organic Repair Lotion ingredients: 

Aqua, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Chickweed Extract, Raw Fairtrade Shea Butter, Chamomile Flower Extract, Calendula Flower Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol (naturally occurring), Rosemary Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, St. John’s Wort Flower Extract, Cetearyl Glucoside, Glyceryl Caprylate, Phenethyl Alcohol, Xanthan Gum (95% organic)

Odylique Ultra Rich Balm review

(Just a tiny-baby Ultra Rich Balm sample — this definitely isn’t the size you purchase!w)

The verdict?

While I did really love Odylique’s Timeless Rose Moisturizer (and I definitely want to try more from the brand), I’m not confident in the stability of Odylique’s fluid products. I like the idea of all-natural, but I’d rather use something I know is safe than use something all-natural that might be growing bacteria.

My recommendation? If you want a great fluid moisturizer but the L’Occitane Shea Light Comforting Cream is too scented for you, try the Odylique Timeless Rose Moisturizer in the full-size form – it comes in a much more hygienic (and cost-effective) pump-style bottle.

Pass on anything by Odylique that comes in a squeeze-tube, and sample the Ultra Rich Balm if you love balms — this one is good (it’s way more hydrating than the Burt’s Bees one that everyone loves), but it definitely smells like a “natural” product!

Availability: $21-$48 USD at Odylique.com

Here’s what I mean by flecks and separation »

Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie review: Hammam, Gommage, and Deep Tissue Massage | theNotice goes to Toronto!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Toronto spa review hammam Caudalie

The Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie is located on the fifth floor of the Shangri-La Hotel, but you’d never know it by the decor. This spa is a cozy, Middle Eastern-inspired haven from city life decorated with low lights, exquisite dark wood cutouts, and gently curving furniture that warms and welcomes you in from the busy city streets.

Note: I lost all of my photos of this gorgeous location, so unfortunately, you’re going to have to re-live my experience through photos provided by the spa! (And, okay, edited rather extensively by me because when do I not.)

Miraj Hammam Caudalie Alahambra Lounge review

The relaxation lounge within the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie

The Hammam & Gommage (30 min/$130 CAD)

What makes the Miraj Hammam Spa unique is their private hammam (Turkish bath) rooms, which contain a high intensity steam chamber inside of a warm, low mist chamber.

The spa’s Hammam & Gommage treatment begins with 10 minutes in the steam room, which is a really intense experience — it’s literally so heavy and dense with steam in there that I had a bit of a claustrophobic panic going in (and I’m not even claustrophobic). It opens your pores right up, and I was left warm, tingling, fresh-faced, and dripping with condensation! Facials have nothing on this.

Miraj Hammam steam room spa review Caudalie

One of the two steam rooms, sans steam

I wasn’t crazy about the gommage, though I know a lot of other reviewers have loved it. For this part of the treatment, you lie (preferably naked) on Jerusalem gold marble in the low-intensity steam chamber, and a spa attendant scrubs you down using tingly, eucalyptus-infused black Moroccan soap on exfoliating gloves — no grit-paste involved.

My gommage treatment left me feeling wonderfully raw and smooth, but… also kind of like a horse. I mean, the woman who preformed my treatment was fantastic, and my back feels suuuuuper smooth, but I’m thinking that getting literally hosed down by a stranger might just be too clinical for me.

Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie services menu

The Deep Tissue Massage (30 min/$90 CAD)

My second treatment of the day was the spa’s 30 minute Deep Tissue Massage, which uses pressure techniques to target stressed muscles and increase circulation. It left me feeling limber but not sore, and my (registered) massage therapist used mostly pushing and pulling movements, not kneading ones.

The finishing touches for this massage were great, too: the table that you lie on is heated (perfect for the winter), you’re covered by a warm, heavy blanket where you’re not being massaged, and a Caudalie candle burns quietly on the side table. You can also choose from unscented, orange blossom, or clove-enriched grapeseed oil for your massage (I chose the clove, of course!), which is great for those with scent sensitivities.

Miraj Hammam by Caudalie spa review gommage massage

The Alahambra Lounge

The Alhambra Lounge

Finally, every visit to the Miraj Hammam Spa ends in their Alhambra Lounge, which is a gorgeous, dimly-lit room walled with what can only be described as relaxation cubicles. The room has a very soothing, intimate feel to it, and you’re served a perfectly-spiced shot of sweet chai tea along with (a hilarious) three grapes and a piece of baklava.

» Can we talk about that baklava for a moment, though? Because I swear, it was the most delicious piece of baklava that I have ever had in my life — it was small, light, and syrupy, and reminded me a lot of jalebi (aka the best thing ever).

Once you’re ready to leave the Alhambra Lounge (if you’re ever ready, that is), it’s back to the change rooms, where the showers are equipped with rain-style and handheld shower heads and the shelves come stocked with Caudalie products.

Caudalie spa review Toronto

The verdict?

I can’t believe I’m saying this about a spa, but: yes, I would absolutely go back. The hammam is a must-experience (you can add it onto any service for $25), and the atmosphere at the Miraj Hammam Spa is just so welcoming and relaxing – even for an awkward twenty-something.

For a luxurious treatment that really will leave you feeling fantastic, I recommend the Hammam & 60 Minute Personalized Massage ($195) as a serious indulgence, or the 30 minute Deep Tissue Massage with a 15 minute Hammam booked separately ($115) if you’re just feeling a little under the weather and want to come out glowing. 

Keep reading! »

Avène Xeracalm A.D Lipid Replenishing Balm, Cleansing Oil review & giveaway

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Avene Xeracalm review

The products: Avène Xeracalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil, Xeracalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Balm, and Eau Thermale/Thermal Spring Water

The technology behind Xeracalm

Avène (a.k.a. Eau thermale Avène, or “the itchy horse brand”!) has been making products for intolerant skin for years, but this month, they’re launching something just for those with dry skin. The Xeracalm A.D range, which is suitable for infants and adults with moderate to intensely dry skin (my entire life can be summed up in that statement, by the way) was created around “I-modulia®,” a new technology that took a whopping twelve years of research to create.

Avene Xeracalm A.D Cleansing Oil review

The Xeracalm A.D range, which is formulated with Avène’s classic thermal water as a key component, aims to reduce itching while soothing irritations and redness, offering both comfort and softening to the skin — something that those with very dry skin will recognize as a pretty rare find.

The Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil

Unlike other cleansing oils, the Avène Xeracalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil is thick and almost “sticky,” and I was surprised to find out that it is NOT made to be a makeup removing oil (though it does that, too). Rather, it’s generously-sized and is designed to be used on wet skin at the sink, in the shower, or as a bath oil.

Avene Xeracalm Lipid Replenishing Cleansing Oil review

It feels most like a shower/bath gel, with a gentle lather and squeaky-clean (but not too stripping) finish. It cleanses well, but I found that this one really excelled as a bath/baby product. Think of it as a lipid-replenishing bath gel, not a cleansing oil, and definitely give it a try if you have generalized eczema, psoriasis, or atopic dermatitis.

The Lipid-Replenishing Balm

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Xeracalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Balm is thin and non-sticky, for a balm! It’s manufactured in a completely sterile environment and is packaged in patent-protected packaging with a perfect hermetic seal, meaning that there are ZERO preservatives (not even trace amounts) in this product.

Avene Xeracalm A.D Lipid Replenishing Balm review

The Xeracalm Balm reminds me of a zinc cream, but with a texture more like body lotion: it’s very plain, very soothing, and perfect for skin prone to atopic dermatitis. This one is hard to squeeze out of the tube (so avoid it if you have arthritis in your hands or wrists) and not optimal for dehydration, but it will be perfect for you if you have reactive skin.

Or if you’re a baby. The literal kind — this is very well-suited to itchy babies’ skin.

Avene Xeracalm A.D review balm

The classic: Eau Thermale

I also had a chance to try the cult-favourite Avène Thermal Spring Water (proper name “Eau Thermale Avène Eau Thermale,” which I find to be endlessly hilarious) for this review, and I have to say: I really liked it! The full-sized bottle is enormous, and it dispenses a dense, light mist of calming spring water.

I don’t have an itchy-skinned horse to test this product on, but I do find it to be very soothing on my skin when it’s feeling particularly parched. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go — you might just find (like I did) that this one really does live up to the hype.

Avene Thermal Spring Water review

The giveaway

And now, the best part! One lucky Canadian reader of theNotice will win the ENTIRE Xeracalm A.d range by Avène – just enter using the givewaway widget below. Good luck (and good skin) to all of you!!

Keep reading! »

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