Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Toner & Foam Face Cleanser review, photos

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fresh Peony collection review

The product: Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Face Cleanser, Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner, and Peony Brightening Moisture Face Cream

Fresh recently added three new products to their Peony Brightening range, and even though I’m not always into brightening products, I love these.

I don’t really believe in the brightening powers of peony (it’s only ever been “proven” to work in petri dishes), and I highly doubt that peony/mushroom/etc-based products truly brighten. That being said, a great brightening range will also make your skin seem brighter by leaving it clean, fresh, and well-hydrated–and the Fresh Peony Brightening range definitely delivers on that kind of brightening.

Fresh Brightening Peony collection review

The ingredients: The range is formulated with Chinese tree peony extract, Madonna lilly root extract, and vitamin C glucoside, and each product has an additional star ingredient: shea seedcake extract (an antioxidant) in the cleanser and moisturizer, and sodium hyaluronate (to act as an to help the skin retain moisture) in the toner and moisturizer.

Unfortunately, the Fresh Peony Brightening Moisture Face Cream ($72 USDcontains silicones, but the new cleanser and toner are ‘cone-free!

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisture face cream review

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisture Face Cream

Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Face Cleanser ($42 USD/$49 CAD)

I tried out the Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Face Cleanser ($42 USD/$49 CADexpecting to enjoy it, and it totally exceeded my expectations.

It’s a super-thick foam formula that’s honestly kind of hard to squeeze out of the tube, but it’s really luxurious — the packaging is gorgeous, and the foam applies kind of like a traditional shaving cream, or a face mask. (Or like fancy glue.) It feels like a ritual sort of product, and the sweet, soft, floral scent of the Peony Brightening range only compounds on this luxe kind of feeling.

Fresh Peony Brightening Foam Cleanser review

I don’t think I love this one enough that I’ll be rebuying it (my skin’s too dry to use something that foams on a daily basis), but I definitely love it enough that I’m not sharing. A’s gonna have to earn this level of pampering if he wants to touch my Peony cleanser!

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner ($60 USD/$70 CAD)

Conversely, I tried out the Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner ($60 USD/$70 CAD) expecting it to be a flop — but I actually like it even more than the cleanser.

Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing toner review

The Fresh Peony toner is, in a word, phenomenal. It’s softly scented and absorbs quickly, and its glycerine-based formula leaves my skin feeling moisturized, velvety, and plush, but never sticky.

I know that this one is a huuuuge stretch for most budgets, but it’s honestly the best-performing toner/lotion-type product that I have ever tried for dry skin. It acts more like a really excellent beauty essence than a toner, and while I’m doubtful that it’ll be brightening in the long term, it’s just beyond lovely.

I can even skip my hydrating serum on days that I use this toner (which is something that I never do), so even though it’s priced at a luxury price point, it’s kind of like spending $70 on a serum, not a toner. Which… seems more reasonable, right?

Fresh skincare picks Peony

The verdict?

If you haven’t checked out the Fresh Peony Brightening range yet, I have two words for you: DO IT. 

I’m not sold on the range’s brightening abilities, but these three products are fantastic nonetheless. The moisturizer has a really lovely texture and scent; the cleanser feels literally like it belongs in a high-end spa; and the toner acts more like a liquid serum that’ll soften and balance your dry skin every morning and night.

There are actually quite a few products in the Fresh Peony range now, and if the rest are anything like these, they would make a fantastic Mother’s Day treat for this time of the year!

Availability: New permanent products as of April 2016. Find them online at Fresh and soon at Sephora.

Keep reading! »

Dry skin must-haves & my April at-home spa essentials!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Silicone-free dry skin favourites

If you don’t follow me on Instagram (you should, because sometimes I meet puppies and take pictures of them), then you’ve probably missed these two product roundups. If you do, then a) thank you, and b) you’ll recognize the images. Don’t click away just yet, though, because there’s a lot more detail here!

Above, I have everything that I’m keeping sink-side right now.* For my dry, dehydrated skin, these have proven to be the best of the best so far. 

  • For super dry skin, I can’t speak highly enough about the DHC Extra Nighttime Moisture and Paula’s Choice Resist Moisture Renewal Oil Booster. The DHC is so creamy and hydrating, and the Paula’s Choice will get rid of any dry spots you have! I’m also really loving Le Sérum de Jacynthe (review soon), which I think is a bit pricy but is an excellent “green” option.
  • For sensitive skin, Bioderma Hydrabio H20 Micellar Solution is just fantastic. It’s scented, but I was surprised to find that it’s also incredibly gentle — noticeably more gentle than the Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Solution or the Marcelle 3-in-1 Micellar Water.
  • For dehydrated skin, the Paula’s Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser makes a huge difference for my skin. It doesn’t look very glamorous, but it’s creamy and luxurious, and leaves my skin feeling divine. My MIYU Beauty Essences are something that I can’t live without, too — I’ve now gone through four bottles, if you include the minis!

I’m also a big fan of the Aveeno Fresh Essentials Daily Nourishing Moisturizer SPF 30, which is relatively heavy, but my skin really likes. It’s not breathtakingly creamy or smooth or anything in particular, but it is affordable, comfortable, and silicone-free, and I think those are three pretty important things.

(Plus, it feels way better than a physical sunscreen, so there’s that.)

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 preset

I also posted about a little at-home spa day that I had on Sunday, which I wanted to update you guys on! It was my first time using a peel-off mask (so, so weird and cool) and the first time in a little while that I had taken the time to pamper myself with my Ahava goodies.

My skin has been so out of whack recently, and the half-hour it took me to mask and exfoliate before my shower really balanced things out. The Boscia Luminizing Black Mask tightened up my t-zone, and the Kérastase hair mask/exfoliator left my hair feeling super soft. (I could have still used more scalp exfoliation, though.)

But what I loooooved using again was this Ahava trio. I received them for a post & giveaway last year, but they’ve become some of my carefully-rationed favourites. My legs haven’t been this smooth in years (thank you, Liquid Dead Sea Salt), skin feels so soft, and my sheets now smell amazing.

But yeah; that’s what I’ve been up to! I also petted a dozen dogs on Sunday (VERY IMPORTANT) and took the rest of the weekend to let my body rest, and it’s been great.

What’s been keeping you busy (or not so busy) recently?

*Note: I’ve drifted away from the Jurlique and Tatcha since taking this photo. They’re both still great, but I’m just really into the Paula’s Choice cleanser right now!

Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus serum, Antioxidant Cleansing Mousse reviews, photos

Monday, March 14, 2016

Jurlique Foaming Cleanser, Rose Moisture Plus Serum review

The products: Jurlique Herbal Recovery Antioxidant Cleansing Mousse & Rose Moisture Plus Daily Moisture Balancing Serum

I like to think that I can admit my mistakes gracefully. I have no idea if this is true or not, but if it is, then the Jurlique skincare range is a great example of it.

I thought that Jurlique was just another well-marketed beauty brand, but I was definitely off-base in my assumptions. The two Jurlique products that I’ve been testing came in recycled, sustainably sourced paper cartons, feature natural and organic ingredients, and are stamped with expiry dates — March 2017 for the mousse and August 2016 for the serum, instead of that vague “6 months” crap that most brands will feed you.

There are plenty of natural and sustainable brands nowadays, but Jurlique has been doing the eco-conscious thing since way before it was cool. The brand celebrates its 30th anniversary this year (Happy Birthday, Jurlique!)

Jurlique Foaming Cleanser dry skin review

Jurlique Herbal Recovery Antioxidant Cleansing Mousse review

Jurlique Antioxidant Cleansing Mousse ($34 USD)

The Jurlique Antioxidant Cleansing Mousse is described as a “lightly whipped foaming mousse,” and I have to agree! Jurlique’s mousse cleanser isn’t like any other that I’ve tried — it’s enriched with jojoba, grape seed, safflower, and rose hip oils, and it actually feels whipped and lush rather than just foamy.

It’s the most hydrating mousse/foaming cleanser that I’ve tried, but it’s not perfect. Even though I like the formula, it’s still more stripping than a cleansing milk, so it’ll work better for oily and normal skin types than dry or sensitive ones. I think it would be awesome in helping to balance out a combination complexion, though, or a dehydrated/oily skin type!

Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus Serum review

Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus Daily Moisture Balancing Serum review

Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus Serum ($50 USD)

I’ve also been using the Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus Serum over the past few months, but while it helps maintain my skin’s moisture levels, it doesn’t get rid of my persistent dryness the way that a few of my other serums do.

I really like its silky texture and natural rose scent, but at $50, I just couldn’t recommend it to someone with chronically dry skin. If you have mild dry skin, then yes, this is a gorgeous silicone-free serum, but be warned: I found it to be only about as hydrating as Hylamide SubQ, SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, and the super-popular Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Serum.

(Which, granted, a lot of people describe as super hydrating, so it really depends where you’re measuring from!)

Jurlique packaging review skincare

The verdict?

Jurlique products are definitely a splurge, but I think you get what you pay for with the line. The packaging, delivery, and formulas are exquisite, and I was actually surprised that these products didn’t cost more — $50 for a luxury serum is arguably pretty well-priced.

I didn’t find the Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus Serum hydrating enough for my skin type, but I loved the Jurlique Herbal Recovery Antioxidant Cleansing Mousse. It’s gentler on the skin than most foaming cleansers, and though it gets used up pretty quickly, it feels whipped (not foamy), which is quite the treat!

Availability: Jurlique.com. Jurlique is actually running a really cool new promo right now, where they will give you a $15 USD credit toward ANY purchase before March 15th if you sign up for their newsletter!

Keep reading! »

Bioderma Atoderm reviews: Gentle Shower Gel, Moisturizing Stick, PP Baume

Monday, March 7, 2016

Bioderma Atoderm shower gel review

The products: Bioderma Atoderm Gentle Shower Gel, Atoderm Moisturizing Stick, and Atoderm PP Ultra-Nourishing Balm

The Bioderma Atoderm shower gel is the biggest shower gel that you are ever going to use. Period. It’s a massive 1 litre (or bloody 2 lbs and 6.86 oz) of paraben-free, soap-free, hypoallergenic gentleness, and it’s totally dry skin friendly.

Hell, you could use this everywhere from your kids to your face to your junk (that’s one way to prevent the Junkface bar soap conundrum), and you’d still have 990 ml left to soap up… I don’t know; maybe a whole herd of cows?

Bioderma Atoderm review vs Bliss Soapy Suds The Body Shop Virgin Mojito

This is what 1L of bodywash looks like in comparison. (CAD proce per litre: $61, $19.95, $40).

The Atoderm line: Bioderma focuses on making gentle, pharmacy-style products that are targeted to specific skin types, and the Atoderm range is aimed at very dry to atopic sensitive skin. (That’s me!) (Although to be fair, Sensibio and Hydrabio, for sensitive skin and dehydrated sensitive skin, respectively, are also arguably me.)

But my point is — Atoderm products are designed to be gentle, non-stripping, and hydrating, so they’re the Bioderma line to turn to if you have eczema, psoriasis, or just generally fragile skin. 

Bioderma Atoderm shower gel

Bioderma Atoderm Gentle Shower Gel ($19.95 CAD)

The Atoderm line has four options for shower gels, all available in 500 ml or 1L bottles. This is actually their least gentle of all four (there’s also a gel-mousse, a cream, and an oil, which I really want to try) and it’s really nice.

A litre is a lot of shower gel to go through, but this stuff is awesome. It’s very lightly scented and is actually quite thin, which is something I’ve never encountered before but am very much enjoying 4111111111111111111111111111111 (Tuna says hi.)

You know how, when you walk into an Asian household, the soap is always a little thinner than it’s supposed to be? This is a like that, except minus the scolding grandma! The Atoderm Gentle Shower Gel is slick and easy to apply, and it’s easy to rinse off without having to scrub at your damaged skin.

Bioderma lip balm review Atoderm

Bioderma Atoderm Moisturizing Stick ($6.95 CAD)

There are two lip balms in the Bioderma Atoderm line, because Bioderma loves going overboard with their product ranges. (I joke, but I actually love this kind of precisely curated neuroses.)

This one’s the stick, and I LOVE it. It’s my absolute favourite lip balm right now, and I keep making everyone try it — it’s so good. The formula smells lightly of raspberry candy and is perfectly stiff, but it applies smoothly and keeps my lips nicely hydrated for a good couple of hours. It really is the ideal texture for a daytime lip balm!

Bioderma Atoderm moisturizing stick review

I’d say that this is more hydrating than Nuxe Reve de Miel, eos balms, and Burt’s Bees lip balms, but less hydrating than my potted Bobbi Brown Lip Balm SPF 15 (yes, that post is SEVEN YEARS OLD now) or the Osmia Organics Lip Balm that I love.

It’s about as hydrating as a Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, but it’s way cheaper and much easier to work with… and it won’t slide onto the floor in the summer.

Bioderma PP Ultra-nourishing balm review ish

Bioderma Atoderm PP Ultra-Nourishing Balm ($29.95 CAD)

The Bioderma PP Baume contains silicones, so I couldn’t test it myself. However, it’s an extra-nourishing formula that joins a whole bunch of other Atoderm products, like the protective PO Zinc and everyday Creme (which comes in unscented & scented versions — so cool!)

If you’ve tried the PP Baume, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Here’s what other bloggers thought of it, though:

  • Natalie Loves Beauty notes that it absorbs almost instantly,
  • Writing Whimsy loves how hydrating its formula is, unlike the scented Atoderm PP Creme formula,
  • Lipstick and Lullabies tried it with her husband and found that it’s great for dryness, redness, and facial skin, and
  • Ruqaiya Kahn finds the formula a bit sticky BUT notes that it totally got rid of her itchy, dry leg skin.

LUSH Valentine’s Day 2016 reviews, photos: The Kiss, Prince Charming, Unicorn Horn

Monday, February 8, 2016

LUSH Valentine's Day 2016 review

The products: LUSH The Kiss Lip Gloss and Lip Scrub, Prince Charming Shower Cream, and Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar

Lush has six pretty-in-pink, limited edition launches out for Valentine’s Day this year, and like they did with their fruity holiday releases, they’ve subverted expectations juuust a little bit with pomegranate and mandarin scented products. (Don’t worry, there are a few rose-scented ones as well, for all of us traditionalists.)

I tried out three of them and photographed one more, but I have to admit: my heart’s just not in it this year.

LUSH The Kiss Lipgloss swatch review

The Kiss Lip Gloss ($8.95 CAD) and Lip Scrub ($9.95 CAD)

Lush’s product page for The Kiss Lip Gloss leads you to believe that it’ll leave your lips shiny and pink, but while I do actually like this balm, it’s just that: a balm. It’s relatively hydrating and completely transparent, with a sheer, frosty shimmer finish and a scent that reminds me (and the others that I’ve asked) more of bubblegum than citrus. It’s not shiny, and it’s not pigmented, much less glossy and opaque (as it’s swatched on the Lush site.)

LUSH The Kiss Lip Scrub review

The Kiss comes in Lip Scrub format as well, and its twinkling pink sugar bits and edible red hearts had my hopes up high. But, like the last Lush scrub I tried, this one left my skin over-scrubbed and raw, and even though it’s described clearly as a “caster sugar scrub,” it’s half salt sea salt — so when you take Lush’s advice and lick up the excess, you end up with a very literal bitter, salty mouthful of disappointment. 

I have loved Lush’s lip products in the past, but these ones just aren’t working for me at all.

LUSH Prince Charming, The Kiss review swatches

The Kiss Lip Gloss swatch (yes, really), The Kiss Lip Scrub, and Prince Charming Shower Cream x2

LUSH Prince Charming Shower Cream review stain

Prince Charming Shower Cream ($9.95 CAD)

You’re killin’ me, Lush. You guys make some seriously awesome products (I’ve got, like, two measly uses of Gorgeous left and it makes me want to cry), and then there’s… this business.

For a company that prides itself on its natural, eco-friendly image, it’s weird to me that Lush keeps making all of these practically fluorescent Shower Creams. Like Lord of Misrule, Prince Charming can and will stain you and your shower, so watch out.

I get synthetic pomegranate & vanilla notes from this one, and while it does leave my skin feeling lovely and soft, that’s no excuse for staining. It performs more ore less okay under the spray of the shower, but if you apply this to dry skin, it WILL stain you pink with a vengeance.

So stop it, Lush. Seriously. No one else ever even has this problem.

LUSH Unicorn Horn Bath Bomb review photos

Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar ($7.95 CAD)

It turns out I still hate baths, so I can’t really tell you anything about the Lush Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar except LOOK, YOU GUYS. IT IS A RAINBOW UNICORN HORN AND IT IS COVERED IN GLITTER.

You need. Hell, I need, and I already have one. I wonder if I could tolerate a bath if I could convince boyfriend to sterilize the tub for me beforehand…

(Good for foaming up two baths, or for a single evening of super-plush lavender, ylang ylang, and neroli dreams.)

LUSH Unicorn Horn review photos

The verdict?

I loved that LUSH gave us something a little different this year, with pink products that don’t smell like roses, cocoa, or vanilla, but honestly… I’m a fan of the classics.

None of these products really “spoke” to me (well, aside from the unicorn horn, but who doesn’t that speak to), and love the idea of gifting your darling a bar of Roses All the Way Soap, or surprising them with a massage with of Lush’s classic massage bars. (I have Tender is the Night, which by some miracle still hasn’t gone bad, and I LOVE it.) I say skip the Lush Valentine’s Day launches this year, folks, and go with a tried-and-true from the brand instead.

Available: Limited edition at Lush stores and Lush.ca while supplies last!

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean cleanser review, photos

Monday, February 1, 2016

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Cleanser

The product: SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Pore-Refining Gel Cleanser

The thing about SkinCeuticals’ Simply Clean cleanser is that it shouldn’t work for me… but it does. It’s everything that my skin usually hates, from the texture (gel instead of milk) to the target audience (oily instead of dry and sensitive).

But despite all that stuff, Simply Clean works wonders on my skin. I’m not sure how, but if I had to guess, I’d say probably magic. Maybe a crossroads deal; maybe a regular, ritualistic sacrifice. There are probably goats involved or something.

SkinCuticals square

The formula: SkinCeuticals’ products are all formulated with the philosophy of “prevention, protection, and correction,” (AKA science! Science! Science!) and their cleansers are no exception. Simply Clean is formulated with a hydroxy acid blend to gently exfoliate dead skin cells, smoothing out rough texture and removing excess oils.

It’s made for people with oily/combination skin and great for those with acne, but it was recommended as part of my skincare regimen because some of my pores can get a little clogged. My skin specialist told me that it (unlike the brand’s Purifying Cleanser) would help gently lift the dead skin cells from my skin without requiring more treatment products or physical exfoliation, which my super-dry skin often needs help with.

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Cleanser review oily skin

The results: My skin burns in response to a good 70% of the non-milk cleansers that I try, but this one caused no reaction, even after weeks of testing. It still delivers a totally makeup-free, squeaky-clean result, and I’ve been really happy with it so far.

I feel like I’ve seen less surprise breakouts and milia since I started using Simply Clean every night, and even though it isn’t the line’s gentlest cleanser, it’s really non-reactive. It’s my only squeaky-clean cleanser that I can comfortably use, and that’s honestly such a novelty for me that I look forward to using this stuff every night!

(Yeah, the Friday nights around here are really wild.)

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Cleanser combination gel skin review

The verdict?

Simply Clean is a simple, no-nonsense cleanser that will gently exfoliate while cleansing and removing makeup. It’s best for oilier skin types, but it works well for anyone with clogged pores — yes, even us dry-skinned folk.

I’d skip it if you want conditioning agents in your cleanser, or if you have sensitive skin that isn’t clogged (in which case, the SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser would probably suit your skin better.) Overall, however, I am very, very impressed with this little dude! I know that cleansers are kind of boring, but this one performs so well that it’s my favourite product from the line — and the SkinCeuticals range is far from underwhelming.

(Reviews of SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, Emollience Moisturizer, and Serum 10 upcoming.)

Availability: $34 USD/$39.50 CAD though dermatologist’s offices (see the SkinCeuticals site to find the one closest to you). Available online at SkinCeuticals, DermStore, SkinStore, and SkinCareRX!

Keep reading! »

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