Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio review, swatches, photos | A quick, easy, last-minute gift idea

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fresh Sugar lip balm review

The product: Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio

   ↳ Sugar Petal, Sugar Honey, and Sugar Cherry Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15

Okay, so: it’s the week before Christmas and you:

a) Get a last-minute invite to a holiday girl’s-night-slash-secret-santa gift exchange,

b) Find out that your distant cousin, twice removed, is going to be at your parents’ this year (and you need a gift for her),

c) Realize that your sister’s gift, while pretty cool, could use an extra dose of awesome.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment review

In any of these scenarios, I’m going to go right ahead and recommend that you snag a Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio from Sephora on your way to… wherever it is you’re headed. I’m a sucker for a Fresh lip balm, so this trio of three minis (which comes in a super-easy-to-wrap box) is a pretty no-fail gift idea, as far as I’m concerned.

The shades: The Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio contains Sugar Petal, a neutral-pink with a touch of brown, Sugar Honey, a medium-nude with a hint of red (for warmth), and Sugar Cherry, an absolutely gorgeous sheer red. The first two are nice, but Sugar Cherry gives the lips a really lovely, natural-looking, “just bitten” effect — perfect for the winter.

Fresh Sugar Petal lip balm review swatches

Fresh Sugar Petal Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15

Fresh Sugar Honey lip balm review swatches

Fresh Sugar Honey Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15

Fresh Sugar Cherry lip balm review swatches

Fresh Sugar Cherry Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15

The Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 formula: The first thing to note about the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments is that, while they have a fairly moisturizing formula, they’re very soft and slippery. It makes the balms comfortable, but also prone to sliding around on your lips & smooshing during application.

Despite being formulated with hydrating oils like meadowfoam seed oil, avocado oil, and jojoba, these aren’t the best choice for an actual “lip treatment” (as opposed to a tinted balm). They’re hydrating while worn, but need to be reapplied every two hours or sooner, making them a good choice for daytime wear but not a great one for overnight. The Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment formula has a nice, lemony-sweet scent — sugary without being overpowering and just citrusy enough.

Fresh Sugar Cherry review photos swatches

The tint: Because of the slippery formula, these balms need a minute to sink in. Once they do, however, the colour stops sliding around on my lips, and acts more like a balm with a very light stain. I’ve tried four shades of this balm (Honey, Cherry, and Petal, all featured here, as well as Rose), and all of them deliver exactly the amount of pigment I’d want from a tinted lip balm — more than a Clinique Chubby Stick, less than a lipstick, and definitely enough to give my lips some really natural-looking colour. 

The packaging: Mini sizes of products usually lose out when it comes to packaging, but the great thing about Fresh lip balms is that they don’t. Just as solid, luxe, and well-made as the full-sized versions, mini Fresh Sugar lip balms feature the same coated-metal tube & twist-closure bottom as their full-sized counterparts.

Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio review swatches

The verdict?

I have a no-longer-secret soft spot for Fresh Sugar lip balms, and I think that this set is a worthwhile indulgence. No one needs a 20-something dollar lip balm, but the Sugar lip balms are a really nice treat. The scent is close to lemony biscuits and far from lemon cleaner, and the light tints really do do a great job of adding colour without making it obvious that you’re wearing makeup.

To note, these mini lip balms are 0.08 oz, the same size as last year’s BI birthday gifts. Buying just one full-sized tube is a little cheaper (in listed price, not cost per ounce), but I actually prefer these small(ish) tubes – they’re perfect for throwing into your handbag, and three shades is always more fun than one!

Availability: $28 USD/$32 CAD for the Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio (3 x 0.08 oz), or $22.50 USD/$26 CAD for a full-sized tube (0.15 oz).

Additional photos & ingredients »

LUSH Snowman Invasion (Cinders & Snowman/Butterball Bath Bombs) | The Gift Guide: under $15

Monday, December 2, 2013

LUSH Snowman Invasion review Christmas Holiday 2013

The product: LUSH Snowman Invasion gift set

   ↳ Cinders & Snowman Bath Bombs

When you live in a city that gets as cold as Edmonton in the winter, the promise of an almost-too-warm, wonderfully holiday-scented soak is pretty enticing. So, this year, I’m giving baths a chance. It’s something I haven’t done in years, but the boy is a bath addict, and he’s pretty good at making things sound wonderful.

(Case in point: Animal Crossing. I can’t even, you guys.)

Available at just $12.95 CAD (the same price in the US!), LUSH’s Snowman Invasion gift set is a super-easy, grab-and-go gift for the bath addict in your life. This vegan gift set includes LUSH’s limited-edition Cinders and Snowman Bath Bombs, both of which are returning customer favourites from previous LUSH Holiday collections!

LUSH Cinders bath bomb review 2013

Cinders Bath Bomb ($4.95 CAD/90g)

Scented with cinnamon leaf and sweet orange oil, Cinders is a bath addict’s winter dream. Not only is it made to smell like the holidays, but it’s made to sound like them, too: the popping candies will literally pop while they dissolve, mimicking the pops and crackles of a wood fire.

Kind of kitschy, yes, but so cool. 

Unlike a lot of LUSH’s Holiday range, Cinders isn’t part of their permanent range. Instead, it’s a fan favourite from previous years, hydrating with almond oil and fizzing away with a simple blend of sodium bicarbonate, citric acid, and water. I’d kind of have preferred that it didn’t tint the bath water yellow, but for a bit of fun, it makes a great gift.

Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Coarse Sea Salt, Popping Candy (Isomalt, Lycasin, Carbon Dioxide), Fragrance, Gardenia Extract, Almond Essential Oil, Sweet Orange Oil, Cinnamon Leaf Oil, Cinnamal, Eugenol, Limonene, FD&C Red No. 4

Note: Cinnamon oil can be an irritant for some. If you’re gifting to someone with very sensitive skin or lots of allergies, you might want to pick a different gift set.

LUSH Snowman bath bomb review 2013

Snowman Bath Bomb ($5.95 CAD/100g alone)

A holiday-shaped version of LUSH’s much-lauded Butterball Bath Bomb, I’m saving Snowman for a day when I can relax for an hour and really enjoy a bath. I have terrifyingly dry skin in the winter, and Snowman/Butterball sounds like the perfect way to combat it: formulated with cocoa butter and scented with vanilla, it promises both relaxation and hydration (two things I think we could all use each December).

Butterball’s vanilla/musk/ylang ylang fragrance was one of LUSH’s first, and I’m looking forward to dropping this low-scent, no-tint bath bomb into my tub this winter.

Also: can we just stop for a second and talk about how absolutely adorable it is?

Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Cocoa Butter, Synthetic Musk , Ylang Ylang Oil, Glycerine, Sodium Carbonate, Cream of Tartar, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Lauryl Betaine, Fragrance, FD&C Red No. 4, D&C Red No. 33, D&C Orange No. 4

LUSH bath bomb review Snowman Invasion

Wrapped & ready to go!

Keep reading! »

Lise Watier Sun Bronzing Powder & Sensationnelle Dry Oil review, swatches, photos | Sun Destination

Friday, August 9, 2013

Lise Watier Sun Destination collection

The products: Lise Watier Sun Destination collection (part two)

This year’s Lise Watier Sun Destination collection (limited edition for Summer 2013) contains four gorgeous products, but I didn’t want to review them all at once — I’m terrible at the entire concept of succinct, as I’m sure you all know by now.

Here’s what I think of as “the pretty half of the collection”: the Sun Bronzing Powder & Sensationnelle Dry Oil. The Illuminating Bronzing Gel is possibly actually prettier once applied than both of these combined, but, well — it’s not not as eye-catching in its packaging as these two are!

Lise Watier Sun Bronzing Powder review swatches

Sun Bronzing Powder, $39

Okay. You guys. You guys.

This is so pretty.

Lise Watier Sun Bronzing Powder review

Lise Watier Sun Bronzing Powder swatches

Lise Watier Sun Bronzing Powder swatches — center, surround, mixed

On a slightly more coherent (and hopefully more eloquent) note, the Sun Bronzing Powder is an enormous bronzer with a really lovely, ethereal glow. It’s large enough to easily grab the two shades–a softly glowing bronze & a luminous gold–separately, as well as to use on your shoulders, chest, arms, and legs.

While you could grab these intricately-pressed shades separately, though, they really do work best paired together. The soft, buttery texture of this bronzer means that they blend beautifully (both with each other and the skin) and deliver a sheer, warm bronze with gold microshimmer.

(If you bought last year’s Havana All Over Baked Bronzer: this one’s more buttery, less orange-red, more sheer, and packaged with a much slimmer profile.)

Talc, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Zinc Stearate, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Cetyl Dimethicone, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Mica, CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499 (Iron Oxides), CI 77288 (Chromium Oxide Greens), CI 77289 (Chromium Hydroxide Green), CI 77742 (Manganese Violet), CI 77007 (Ultramarines), CI 77510 (Ferric Ferrocyanide), CI 75470 (Carmine), CI 42090 (Blue 1 Lake), CI 19140 (Yellow 5 Lake), CI 15850 (Red 6, Red 7 Lake), CI 73360 (Red 30 Lake).

Lise Watier Sun Bronzing Powder

Lise Watier Sun Bronzing Powder swatches — center, surround, mixed

Sensationnelle Dry Oil, $42

As a clear, scented oil, the teardrop-shaped Sensationnelle Dry Oil is perhaps the least exciting Sun Destination product to swatch — but it’s the most universal of the collection, too.

Scented with top notes of orange blossom extract, a heart of tangerine and fleurs solaires, and a base of vanilla and coconut (think big white florals paired with beachy base notes), the Sensationnelle oil is made for use on face, body, and hair. Multi-use and silicone-free, the formula is made in part from six different oils, from sweet almond to cottonseed.

Lise Watier Sensationnelle Dry Oil review

Keep reading! »

Lise Watier Bronzing Gel & Tinted UV Shield review, swatches, photos | Sun Destination

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lise Watier Sun Destination 2013 reviews

The products: Lise Watier Sun Destination collection (part one)

Every summer, Lise Watier releases a summer bronzing collection, available only for a few months. I’m a little late with this one (the products are technically only supposed to be around until the end of July), but as far as I know you can still get all of these products — and some of them, on sale!

Here are two of this summer’s Lise Watier bronzing products, on shelves and online now. (Their summer Sensationnelle Dry Oil & Sun Bronzing Powder will be on theNotice shortly!)

Lise Watier Illuminating Bronzing Gel review

Lise Watier Illuminating Bronzing Gel

Illuminating Bronzing Gel, $30 $18

Described as a ”lightweight, sheer illuminating gel that delivers a youthful, radiant finish,” the Illuminating Bronzing Gel is — well, kind of a stunner, really. Neither too orange nor too brown, it gives a great neutral-brown glow to the skin, sheer and sparsely shimmery.

I’d recommend this one to people with fair to medium skin who want to create a natural, softly bronzed glow. It can be worn with or without makeup, and I think (at $18 CAD) that it would be gorgeous on the décolleté, shoulders, and arms & legs, too.

Aqua, Cyclopentasiloxane, Zinc Oxide, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Squalane, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Sorbitol, Octyldodecanol, Isononyl Isononanoate, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Steareth-21, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Sodium Chloride, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Talc, Phenoxyethanol, Erythritol, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Xanthan Gum, Tocopheryl Acetate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Disodium Edta, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Nymphaea Coerulea Flower Extrat, Homarine HCL, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sorbic Acid, Fragrance, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, CI 77491, CI 77492, Iron Oxides.

Lise Watier Illuminating Bronzing Gel swatches

Lise Watier Illuminating Bronzing Gel, swatched heavily/sheerly

Lise Watier Illuminating Bronzing Gel

Lise Watier Illuminating Bronzing Gel, swatched heavily/sheerly

Sun Smart Tinted Universal UV Shield SPF  30, $30 $23

I’m a lot less smitten with the colour of the SunSmart Tinted Universal UV Shield, but it does tout a shimmer-free matte finish and an SPF of 30, which may appeal to some.

Designed to give both chemical-free (physical) sun protection and a velvety, bronzed finish, this is a bronze version of Lise Watier’s Universal UV Shield (available year-round). It’s too orange, in my opinion, when you consider how much sunscreen you really need to be using to get proper coverage — about a teaspoon, for your face.

Lise Watier SunSmart Tinted Universal UV Shield review

Keep reading! »

Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase review, photos | A weightless summer skin saviour?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase

The product: Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase

The formula

Designed to nourish the skin at multiple levels, Clarins’ approach to the HydraQuench serum is one that encompasses the best of both worlds, relying on both plant extracts and synthetics to achieve the best results possible.

Clarins bi-phase hydraquench review serum

With a focus on hyaluronic acid and fair trade, ethically sourced Katafray bark extract from Madagascar, this bi-phase blue liquid works to lock in water at the surface & restore hydration deeper in the dermis. It’s made to be suitable for all skintypes, from dry to oily, and has a very lightweight lipid phase — honestly, with the matte finish and weightless texture, I wouldn’t have thought there were any oils in the formula at all. It can be a little tacky, but isn’t greasy in the least.

To top it all off, the HydraQuench Intensive Serum is fragranced with a fresh, summery scent: not ever a company to do fragrance by halves, Clarins lists a green apple top note, a rose heart, and a woody base.

Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum review

My experience with the HydraQuench Serum 

In my own personal experience (the italics are totally necessary, because you have to remember that my skin is weird), I didn’t find the Clarins HydraQuench serum to be, well, intensive enough. However, I happen to have extremely dry skin that isn’t caused by systemic dehydration or over-stripping — it’s the kind of skin that takes well to night moisturizers being used during the day, and doesn’t even blink in the face of a Vaseline or Aquaphor “sealant” on dry winter days.

That said, though, I honestly believe I’m in the minority with this product. Wherever I go (on the internet; I don’t go places in real life), I hear nothing but raves for this serum. It’s a far cry from my personal experience (which is that I like this, and do use it, but it won’t make my dry patches disappear), but I think it’s much closer to the norm.

Clarins Hydra Quench review serum dual-phase

Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase – separated

Where the HydraQuench serum really excels is on combination oily/dehydrated skin. From what I’ve read, the people who really love it (and I mean who really, fanatically, all-out love it) tend to be the ones who find most serums too heavy or greasy, but still really need that boost of hydration.

It makes sense, with the incredibly lightweight formula and non-greasy finish, at least in my head! If you’ve loved (or hated) this one, tell me about it in the comments — I’d love to hear more about your skin type and results.

Clarins Hydra Quench serum mixed

Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase – shaken/mixed

Don’t believe me? Believe Lisa Eldridge. 

Like a lot of the makeup world, I take Lisa Eldridge’s word as gospel. With over two decades of experience, Lisa’s career is something out of a [makeup artistry] fairy tale: not only has she done countless celebrities, covers, and fashion shows, but she’s currently working as the Creative Director of No. 7, creates makeup tutorials for Chanel’s Make-Up Confidential, and writes ELLE UK’s monthly The Beauty Guru column.

When someone with that much experience calls a serum “the best product for hydrating the skin I’ve used in a long time,” well. You kind of have to give it its dues, you know?

(Sources: 1 / 2 / 3)

Clarins HydraQuench Serum dry skin review

The verdict?

I’m very hesitant to give a “verdict” for this one, but in the spirit of review-based beauty blogging: you’ll just have to take it with a grain of salt.

If you have normal to oily skin with dehydrated patches, I honestly think that this will work quite well for you. For extremely dry skin, however, it may not be enough! With its light, non-greasy finish and functional-luxurious packaging, I think the Clarins HydraQuench serum is a pretty darn good bet for anyone who needs an extra boost of weightless moisture in the hot summer months — but not if your skin is stubbornly dry.

Availability: $58 USD/$58 CAD for 1 oz; $70 USD for 1.6 oz.

Keep reading! »

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