Rodial Instaglam Contouring Powder 03, South Beach Blusher swatches, review, photos

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rodial makeup review 2016 new launches

The products: Rodial Instaglam Contouring Powder in 03 and Blusher in South Beach

I’ve been using a ton of Rodial in my everyday makeup recently (mostly the new Rodial Airbrush Make-Up and Airbrush Concealer, which I LOVE), so I have one more little review for you guys! And, of course, a makeup look with a nice, bright lip – it’ll be up on Friday.

Actual Friday, not “oops sorry today is Tuesday.” Seriously. I already have it drafted and everything.

Rodial instaglam contouring powder 03 review swatches photos

Rodial Instaglam Compact Deluxe Contouring Powder ($57 USD)

I began my testing, of course, with the much-lauded Rodial Contouring Powder ($57 USD). The shade is great for light skintones (very balanced, and definitely not too warm), and Rodial released a new contouring shade this year to fit a wider range of faces.

However: Rodial’s Contouring Powder Dark is a solid medium at best, and saying that it “works well for dark skin tones” feels like an act of exclusion to me. The formula of Rodial powders is very sheer and the line’s contour shades are very light, and they are simply not designed with ethnic skin in mind.

» If you’re a POC or you want to support a brand who designs makeup for ALL makeup wearers, check out the contour powders offered by NYX, Anastasia, Black Up, or Kat Von D instead.

Rodial packaging contouring face sculptor and definer swatches review photos

Rodial Deluxe Contouring Powder review, swatches

Rodial contour, south beach, instaglam highlighter swatches review photos

Rodial 03 Contouring Powder (lightly/heavily), South Beach Blusher, 01 Illuminating Powder swatches – lightly primed skin, indirect sunlight

Rodial blush south beach review photos swatches

Rodial South Beach Blusher review, swatches

Rodial South Beach Blusher ($35 USD)

I didn’t personally have problems with the opacity of the fresh, springy South Beach Blusher ($35 USD), but again, I didn’t love the formula. Like the contour powder, this blush is very sheer. Both of these pressed powders contain a lot of talc and a fair amount of silica (as well as cornstarch in the contour powder), so they kick up some dust and have that slippery-smooth silica feel.

In other words, they blend well, but you can’t build them up. Which means that they’ll never have the ability to make you look awful (even if applied in the dark!), but it doesn’t give them any versatility at all. Even with my fair skin I have to apply two layers of this blush whenever I wear it, and I’ve never been able to get my Rodial contour as dark or sharp as I like it – it just blends itself away.


Rodial makeup new items

The verdict?

I enjoy using these powder products from Rodial, but if I’m being honest… they’re just not as good as the brand’s Airbrush base products. I’d recommend them only in a strictly luxury capacity, and not at all if you have medium to dark skin.

For the price, I am disappointed in the quality of these products. The packaging and luxury “feel” are spot on, but they’re very sheer, and (in my opinion) their ingredients and formula just don’t justify the price tags.

Availability: Rodial, select Shopper’s Drug Mart Boutiques, and Murale.

Keep reading! »

Smashbox Inspiration lipstick, Insta-Matte, & Mulholland Mauve review, swatches, photos

Monday, June 6, 2016

Smashbox Be Legendary lipstick Inspiration review

The products: Smashbox Cosmetics Be Legendary Cream Lipstick in Inspiration, Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer, and L.A. Lights Blendable Lip & Cheek Color in Mulholland Mauve

Smashbox Spring 2016 review

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick ($21 USD/$36 CAD)

The Be Legendary lipsticks are a staple of the current Smashbox lineup, and with Inspiration, it’s not hard to see why. This new shade is a super-flattering bright fuchsia pink with subtle shimmer (which I think makes it NOT a “true” cream!!) and it’s a total dreamboat.

Smashbox Inspiration review photos Be Legendary Creamm Lipstick

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Inspiration review

Smashbox Inspiration swatch Be Legendary Lipstick review

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Inspiration swatches in indirect sunlight. (Can you tell that I took these photos with my old Canon? Just not as good, man.)

The Smashbox Be Legendary Cream Lipstick formula is comforting, heavy, and smooth – I wouldn’t mind owning another couple (dozen) of these. They remind me of the Clinique Pop Lipsticks, actually, but with a lighter texture.

The Be Legendary “cream” finish (they’re also available in a matte finish) is luscious and looks almost glossy thanks to the shimmer, and Inspiration is well-pigmented with colour that goes exactly where it ought to, no lip brush necessary.

Smashbox Be Legendary Inspiration review photos swatches

(See the glitter?)

Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer ($24 USD/$26 CAD)

Smashbox also introduced their Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer this spring, which I think is a pretty nifty product. It’s a silicone-y gel that’s similar to their Photo Finish primer, but thicker, and it’s designed to turn any cream (!!) lipstick into a matte.

 Smashbox Insta-Matte transformer review

I liked the idea behind the Insta-Matte, and it worked well to mattify Inspiration when I tried it on. However, it doesn’t do anything that a sprinkling of loose powder could do (a trick that makeup artists have been using for decades), and the effect is subtle.

Granted, it’s a lot more comfortable to wear than loose powder is, but it can’t be used overtop of glosses, lacquers, or balms, which I think kind of minimizes its appeal. Cream lipsticks are halfway to today’s mattes anyways, you know? Just pat with tissue and you’re 90% of the way there.

Smashbox Inspiration, Mulholland Mauve swatches, Insta-matte

Smashbox swatches L-R: Insta-Matte over Be Legendary Lipstick in Inspiration; Inspiration on its own; L.A. Lights in Mulholland Mauve lightly, then heavily. Swatched in artificial light. 

Smashbox L.A. Lights Blendable Lip & Cheek Color ($29 USD/$36 CAD)

I love a good stick/pencil product, but the Smashbox L.A. Lights formula just didn’t grab me. It’s workable, but it feels tacky and heavy to me. The formula drags on the skin as you blend it out, so while the finish looks lovely and dewy, I find that I rarely reach for these.

As a lip product, though, I found Mulholland Mauve to be extremely disappointing. A darker colour would fare better, but it looks pasty and thin on my lips–almost like a $2 bargain bin lipstick or an early-2000s party girl lipgloss.

Smashbox L.A. Lights cheek lip review

However, the L.A Lights sticks are one of the few silicone-free stick blushes that I’ve found, and Mulholland Mauve is a rather unique colour. It looks passable on my fair olive skin (the shade choice was my mistake!), but would be gorgeous on a warmer complexion.

As a note, the availability on the L.A. Lights is a little weird. If you’re looking for Mulholland Mauve or Fairfax Fuchsia in Canada, they’re only available at Shopper’s/Murale – you won’t be able to buy them at Sephora. Make sure you shop accordingly!

Smashbox Mulholland Mauve review swatches

The verdict?

Sadly, none of Smashbox’s spring launches were total must-haves for me–but I do really like their Be Legendary lipsticks, so it was nice to see that shade range expanded.

On the whole, I’d say that the Be Legendaries are a nice-to-have, the Insta-Matte is a cool-to-have, and the L.A. Lights are a skip. I’ve heard excellent things about the L.A. Lights from other bloggers, though, so if you love ’em, hit me up in the comments. I want to know what I’m missing here!

Availability: New permanent products (as of January 2016) at Shopper’s Drug Mart Beauty Boutiques, Murale, Nordstrom, and Sephora.

 

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze “Warm Bronze” review, swatches, photos

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze bronzer

The product: Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze Prismatic Bronzing Powder in Warm Bronze

I am sooo not feeling the blogging bug this week, so I’m gonna take a breather on the words and share, instead, a mostly-photos post featuring the new, limited edition Elizabeth Arden bronzer. 

It’s a product that I’ve gotten lots and lots of questions about this season, so even though bronzers aren’t really my thing, I figured I’d share some swatches and a quick review!

Elizabeth ARden Sunset Bronze powder review

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze Prismatic Bronzing Powder swatches

Elizabeth Arden Warm Bronze swatch review

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze “Warm Bronze” swatches

Warm Bronze is the only bronzer in the Arden summer colour collection, and it’s lovely. It features strips of bronzey tones (mostly shimmer, a couple matte) with a beautiful gold overspray that disappears in a few uses.

I personally find it to have a nice depth of tone for my skin (it’s definitely best for light/fair complexions), but like most bronzers, it’s a little yellowy-orange for me. Too much and I look really sallow; too little and I can’t see it at all.

But, well… it’s quite a thing to look at. The packaging is absolutely beautiful and the pan is just gorgeous, but at the end of the day, I think you’re better off spending your hard-earned cash on the Sunset Bronze Prismatic Highlighter!

Bench SS16 colour pairings

Keep reading! »

NYX Strobe of Genius Illuminating Palette review, swatches, photos (& NYX Pro Fan Brush review)

Friday, April 29, 2016

NYX Strobe of Genius palette review

The products: NYX Cosmetics Strobe of Genius Illuminating Palette, NYX Cosmetics Pro Fan Brush

2016, as I’ve said before, is having great spring for illuminators and highlighters. The contouring trend is holding steady with an additional strobing aspect, and the market has been absolutely overpopulated with highlighters.

And hey, I’m no fool. If the beauty industry suddenly gives you 10x the amount of choices for a product category that you love, you snap up that opportunity like nobody’s business.

NYX illuminating palette review

What is strobing? I will say one thing before I get started today: “strobing” is bullshit. It’s not “THE beauty tend that everyone is obsessing about,” and it’s not “fresh” or “new!” (All direct quotes from the NYX website.)

Strobing is highlighting pumped up to the max, plain and simple. Things can be great without being new, oh Great and Powerful Beauty Industry — case in point.

NYX Strobe of Genius illuminating strobing palette review

NYX Strobe of Genius Illuminating Palette

NYX Strobe of Genius palette swatches

NYX Strobe of Genius Illuminating Palette swatches (no primer; indirect sunlight)

The formula: The NYX Strobe of Genius Illuminating Palette features 7 highlighters in two formulas. The lavender, golden pink, bronze, and champagne all feature one formula; the yellow/gold, light pink, and peachy gold all feature a very slightly different one.

In practice, I find that six of the highlighters are all very similar. They’re smooth and blendable but a little bit dry, and are ideal for normal to oily skin. (They emphasize my fine lines slightly.) The exception is the lavender shade; it’s more buttery than the rest, and it has an intense satin-sheen finish rather than a frosty, metallic one.

I totally get that formulas are going to vary based on how their pigments influence them, but man. That lavender highlight is really something else — from a high-end brand, I’d pay $27 CAD (the palette’s SRP) for it alone.

NYX Strobe of Genius palette labels

NYX Strobe of Genius strobing palette review

NYX Strobe of Genius illuminating palette swatches

NYX Strobe of Genius Illuminating Palette swatches (no primer; indirect sunlight)

The shades: All seven of the Strobe of Genius shades wear well throughout the day, but most importantly, they’re all visibly different. If I apply more than one shade on my cheek (even if it’s two similar shades!), I can spot where one ends and the other begins from a good foot away.

The sheer, frosty “gold” in the top left corner of the palette is definitely the most unique shade; it’s a pure yellow highlighter, and it’s quite pretty in person! (For everyday use, you could totally use it as a spot highlighter.) The palette also contains a rose gold shade, which you don’t see all the time — I think a lot of warm-toned beauties will really like this one!

The lavender highlighter, however, was by far the best performer. It’s without a doubt the prettiest thing I have ever put on my cheeks, and it made my face G-L-O-W as soon as the brush touched my skin. It’s really high-impact, but it melts right into the skin.

NYX Pro Fan Brush ($17 USD/$17 CAD)

NYX Highlighting brush strobing review

Unlike your prototypical fan brush, NYX’s Pro Fan Brush is dense, velvety, and thick. It is not what you want to use for a light application of powder, which is what fan brushes are usually for. Instead, it makes getting an intense highlight super quick and easy, and it fits perfectly onto the top of my cheekbone to apply the product and blend it in a single stroke (three, at max.)

I can confidently say that there is nothing else in my brush collection that even slightly resembles this synthetic brush, and it’s well worth the $17 it’ll run you!

NYX highlighting fan brush review

The verdict?

I can’t believe how fast I fell for the NYX Strobe of Genius palette or the NYX Pro Fan Brush, but it really was love at first stroke. The second I popped that lavender highlight onto my cheekbone (using the fan brush, which–can I just say–is super luxurious), I was smitten. Later, I found out that the highlighter had held on throughout the entire day, and I had to have a little cry.

(Okay, for real, I didn’t cry. But I did immediately apply all of the other six shades to various parts of my face just so I could get to experience them all at once, and it was a weirdly gratifying experience.)

If you love a good spring/summer glow, then you need this palette. It’s hella expensive for a drugstore product, but seeing as all 7 shades really are different… I think it’s worth it. That’s like, $3.86 per shade, and it’ll take you from spring (lavender) to summer (rose gold) to winter (champagne).*

Availability: $19 USD/$27 CAD at NYX Cosmetics, or at drugstores throughout Canada and the US. (Also available at Ulta and Urban Outfitters.)

The brush is $17 USD/$17 CAD through NYX Cosmetics.

Keep reading! »

Elizabeth Arden Eclipse Sunset Bronze Highlighter review, swatches, photos | The prettiest spring launch! THE PRETTIEST!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze highlighter review

The product: Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze Prismatic Highlighter in Eclipse 01

I’ve really been feeling the whole “glistening golden glow” thing this season, but somehow, I didn’t have a single product in my collection that really fit the bill — until Eclipse came along.

It’s part of the Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze Summer 2016 collection, which is all about sunset hues and the bronzey look that the golden hour gives you.

Elizabeth Arden sunset bronze review prismatic highighter

Elizabeth Arden sunset bronze highlighter swatch review

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze Prismatic Highlighter swatch (blended / heavy)

The shade: You guys. This is gorgeous.

The Sunset Bronze Prismatic Highlighter only comes in one shade, Eclipse, but it’s a stunning golden bronze colour. Ultra-fine mica and titanium dioxide shimmer gives a sparkly gold finish to a light copper base colour, and the stick texture blends out easily to a translucent shimmer finish that makes my cheekbones GLOW in natural sunlight. 

Patting it into the skin offers a more intense sheen, and it reminds me of the Becca x Jaclyn Hill Champagne Pop Shimmering Skin Perfector ($38 USD/$46 CAD) when patted — but with more controllable shimmer placement. (Am I the only one who didn’t really like Champagne Pop? Becca highlighters are so pretty, but kind of get everywhere on me.)

Estee Lauder sunset bronze highlighter stick swatch review

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze Prismatic Highlighter in Eclipse, swatched (blended / heavy)

The formula & packaging: Elizabeth Arden’s Prismatic Highlighter formula contains silicones, but it is gorgeously creamy — and doesn’t seem to breaking me out in this concentration (yet). The texture is melty-smooth without being slippery, and it comes amped up with vitamin E, zinc PCA, and aloe vera leaf extract to nourish your skin.

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze Prismatic Highlighter review stick

Elizabeth Arden Eclipse Sunset Glow highlighter vs Clinique Chubby highlighter

Elizabeth Arden Sunset Bronze Prismatic Highlighter swatch (top), Clinique Chubby Stick in Hefty Highlight (bottom)

The only other highlighting stick that I use regularly is the Clinque Chubby Stick highlighter ($21 USD/$24 CAD), but the two are like night and day. The Elizabeth Arden stick is softer, creamier, stouter, and easier to blend, while the Clinique stick is firmer and disappears into the skin.

Both are stunning in their own way, but one is a cool-toned illuminator while the other is warm, intense highlighter. (In other words, you totally need both!)

Elizabeth Arden Spring 2016 highlighter review

The verdict?

Elizabeth Arden is one of those brands that can sometimes feel dated, but they absolutely killed it with their Sunset Bronze 2016 collection. The entire launch is tightly edited and beautifully packaged, and the Sunset Bronze Prismatic Highlighter is honestly the crown jewel of the whole production.

My only reservation about this highlighter is that it won’t be going into the permanent Elizabeth Arden line, so snap it up while you can!

Availability: $28.50 USD/$34.50 CAD. Limited edition at select Hudson’s Bay, London Drugs, and Shopper’s Drug Mart locations as of February 2016.

More pictures! »

2015 favourites: My makeup & fragrance must-haves

Monday, January 11, 2016

2015 makeup favourites

2015 was, for some reason, a major skincare year for me. I didn’t fall in love with any new makeup products until December, and while I do love those with a passion–well, it makes for a favourites list that is much the same as 2014’s.

Which was the same as 2013’s.

You can see where I’m going with this, right?

My favourite everyday products

2015 must-have makeup products

For me, “the basics” begin with a black eyeliner that never smudges (I rely on Annabelle SmudgePaints and Marcelle Double Extension eyeliners for that — I think I’m on my third Marcelle pen) and an eyeshadow base that can keep you totally crease-free (the cheap-as-dirt Wet ‘n Wild Fergie primer or Pür Mineral’s awesome new Eye Polishes, both of which perform, for me, leaps and bounds better than Urban Decay Primer Potion or NARS Pro Prime.)

You’re only as good as the number of people who fear you, after all, and raccoon eyes don’t usually make for terrified weeping.

Best products of 2015

I also couldn’t live without my Revlon Lip Butter in Sugar Plum (the perfect medium-coverage MLBB shade), a few matte eyeshadows to contour with, and a basic lip balm.

I’m currently fixated on Burt’s Bees’ Refreshing lip balm, which is only moderately hydrating. It smells like pink grapefruit, though, so I mean… Really.

Add in a ‘cone-free face powder (no one does a satin finish like Marcelle) and a flawless foundation (thank you again, Pür Minerals, you radiant, beautiful unicorn) and I’m all set.

My favourite colour products of 2015

Makeup colour product favourites

I discovered a lot of absolutely stellar brow products last year, but only a few made the cut for my favourites: Stila’s, which is glorious but outrageously overpriced, and Annabelle’s, which is as wonderful as it is budget-friendly.

My eyeshadow favourites haven’t changed at all–always Clarins, and always their flaky-shimmer quads–and neither have my lip and everyday mascara favourites: Imju Fiberwig (all hail the glow cloud magic of tubing technology), Burt’s Bees, and Clinique Chubby Sticks.

Cheek and eye favourites 2015

Brow and lip favourites 2015

I did add two totally new favourites to my repertoire last year, though, and I couldn’t be happier to have found them!

Annabelle’s Blush On range is awesome (for some reason, I always reach for them before my Clinique Cheek Pops), and the new blue and purple Clinique Chubby Lash mascaras wear like a champ. I don’t think the black shade is a must, but the blue? Totally.

My favourite tools of 2015

Makeup Brush favourites

My do-everything powder brush, Senna’s Powder Point Brush #33, is my only new favourite this year — but it lives at my partner’s house, so I’m afraid I couldn’t include it in this photo! I feel like that speaks for itself, though: it’s my only powder brush at his place, and it does a good job of applying foundation, powder, contour, blush, and highlighter. It doesn’t do an amazing job of any of them, but for that kind of versatility, I’ll live.

My favourite fragrances of 2015

2015 fragrance favourites

And last but not least… The perfumes that I couldn’t get enough of last year. I looooove Aerin Waterlily Sun (I’m wearing it right now, actually!) and Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur, as I’ve talked about at length on theNotice, but I’ve been using Leila Lou by Rosie Jane a lot, too — it’s great for smelling really, really clean in an instant.

(And–ahem–it’s excellent for directing attention to certain areas at close range.)

What were your favourite products of 2015?

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