Sunshine Tonic: My Demeter Blending Trio review | Gin & Tonic, Clean Skin, and Sunshine

Friday, August 19, 2016

Demeter Custom Blending Kit review photos

The products: Demeter Fragrance Library Gin & Tonic, Clean Skin, and Sunshine Cologne Sprays

You know when there’s something that’s so exciting that you want to share it with all of your friends right away? For me, this Demeter post is just that. (You guys are the friends, in case that part wasn’t clear.)

I very recently received a personalized Demeter Foolproof Blending Trio from their Classic Catalogue thanks to a collaboration that I’m doing with the CBB, and I’m feeling pretty ready to review the trio. Demeter’s single-note fragrances are all pretty comprehensible, so it wasn’t too big of a task to get to know these three in depth.

Did you know that… Demeter is a family owned business? It’s true! All of their products are also cruelty-free, and 95% of them are derived from natural or renewable resources.

Demeter custom blending trio review classic kit

The scents on their own 

My kit included three bright, clean fragrances that were all a little sharp to my nose. They’re not austere like the CB I Hate Perfume line is (fun fact, Christopher Brosius’ first perfume line was actually Demeter), but they’re fun. They’re good for the price, and they’re nice if you want a scent to briefly amuse your nose and then leave you alone.

(But for real: is this a thing that other people want? Because it’s a thing that I want sometimes.)

Demeter clean skin review

Clean Skin ($18 USD/1 oz), one of Demeter’s most popular scents, smells remarkably different on the skin than it does on paper. I’m not a fan of the “floral candy” scent itself, but this is exactly how I love to wear my fragrances: in many spots, but very, very sparsely. It would be a lovely fragrance for someone just finding their olfactory footing.

After the first fifteen minutes, Clean Skin smells like a nice fabric softener. No complaints or judgement–a great fabric softener scent is super tough to find–but take from that what you may.

Demeter Gin and Tonic cologne review

I was incredibly excited to try Gin & Tonic ($18 USD), and I liked it well enough – but it can be a bit obnoxious. It smells a bit like a drugstore shower product, sweet and tangy with plenty of citrus, but it’s just not boozy at all on my skin.

Like most of the Demeter line, Gin & Tonic is fun to throw on but lacks any real longevity. It too plays much better on my skin than it does on paper (where it smells kind of like sticky booze), though, so your mileage may vary. On a hot day or with the right skin chemistry, this is a real treat!

Demeter sunshine review

Finally, I spent some quality time with Sunshine ($18 USD), which had the most lasting power by far. It smells like the summer, not sunshine: warm and sweet and a little chemical-y.

I am loathe to say this about anything, but I hated it. I hated it all around. I’d rather smell like a chic robot than a human being with an urge to go to the exhibition, but if that’s your thing… hey, maybe you could love this as much as I don’t. Balance the scales for me.

Demeter custom blend

My custom-blended Sunshine Tonic

Is a Sunshine Tonic a drink, a cure for the blues, or a 9 AM shot of gin on the morning after?

I honestly have no idea, so I’ll tell you what a Sunshine Tonic feels like instead. It’s mostly Gin & Tonic with just a tenth of Sunshine, and it feels like summer afternoons. It feels like running in a grassy field slathered in mosquito repellant, water in the distance, cold feet and a chilly wind cutting the summer day. It’s simple and heavy-handed, but just made of pure joy.

The sweetness of Sunshine is overpowering, and just a touch turns Gin & Tonic into a family-friendly affair. It’s a weekend at the lake as kids, you know? Not something that you’d want to do every day, but something that makes you smile when you think of it. 

Demeter custom blending trio review

The verdict?

If you’re going to love the Demeter line, you totally already know that you will. It contains an astoundingly wide range of very simple scents, and it gets you because they’re just so easy to mix together.

I didn’t love any of these scents on their own, but you know what? This fragrance blending kit is FUN. It’s some of the most fun that I’ve had all month, and I would do it again at the drop of a hat.

So the scents smell a little cheap and don’t have a lot of lasting power – it’s not about starting a niche perfume business. It’s about having fun; it’s a Paint Nite for your nose, except it’s easier to hide any botched projects and you don’t have to desecrate the word “night” to do it.

Availability: $45 USD for the trio and blending kit. ($59.40 USD if bought separately).

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Libertine Fragrance Soft Woods EdT review, photos

Monday, August 8, 2016

Libertine soft woods roll on review photos

The product: Libertine Fragrance Soft Woods Eau de Toilette Roll-On

One of my favourite fragrances got a bit of a facelift recently, so I thought I’d take a moment to share it with all of you while it was fresh in my mind. Soft Woods (like the rest of the Libertine line) now comes in clear glass and a beautiful white box, but the scent and formula remain the same.

Libertine fragrance Soft Woods review photos

A little bit about Libertine: I’ve been trying my best to support local and indie businesses over the past couple of years, and Libertine Fragrance is basically the pinnacle of that–especially for me, because they’re based right here in Edmonton. Josh, the brand’s founder, is a forester turned designer who got hooked on perfume, and he now blends unisex fragrances right from the cozy comfort of his home.

(And yes, he still has a very forest-y beard. Hipster boys would weep in its wake.)

All of Libertine’s products are made by hand in small batches, and Josh uses a mix of high-quality synthetic and natural ingredients diluted in fractionated coconut oil or perfumers alcohol. Their blends are 60%-80% natural and are vegan and cruelty free, and all of the brand’s printing is done locally by a family-owned Edmonton business!

Edmonton indie Libertine Fragrance review, photos

The scent itself: I sniffed my way through the entire Libertine range at last year’s winter Royal Bison, but Soft Woods was the one scent that really stuck with me. It has this really guttural, sexy vibe to it, and it just envelops you in scent with the slightest touch of the roll-on.

Key notes and origins: Natural balsam fir (Canada), juniper (Hungary), black pepper (India), rose de mai (Egypt), frankincense (Oman), and bourbon vanilla (India). Synthetic, cruelty-free musk.

Indie soft woods fragrance review

What makes Soft Woods so special is that it’s sultry in a really natural kind of way – like hi, hello, I sleep in a pile of moss and everything I own is encrusted in gold and rubies. Small birds help me get dressed in the morning and my best friend is a cheetah. It’s woody, sweet, and floral, with an almost acrid edge that makes it alluring and risqué instead of headache-inducing or overpowering.

Basically, Soft Woods smells like what Tom Ford Black Orchid would have smelled like if it had been made for hipsters instead of ladies of the night. Both are gorgeous; one has far more veneer.

Soft woods review - Libertine Fragrance, edmonton

The verdict?

Soft Woods is a beautiful blend of woods, rose, and vanilla, and it smells like crisp winter evenings in utter silence. It’s one of those rare fragrances that hits it out of the park in every category, with a really genuine founder, excellently sourced ingredients, and the sillage of the roll-on is perfect for catching one’s nose and encouraging them to lean in for the full effect (nudge nudge).

Availability: $48 CAD at Libertine Fragrance and through these Canadian stockists. Ships internationally.

PS: If you’re addicted to Rahua products and Palo Santo wood (and really, who wouldn’t be), you NEED to try Libertine’s Leche De Palo Santo Linen & Body Spray ($32) as well!

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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?

Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur & Dries Van Noten review, photos | The Gift Guide

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur review

Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur ($52 USD & up)

Have you ever owned a perfume that was just so gorgeously, inexplicably sexy that it made your eyes roll back a little?

For me, this scent has always been Frederic Malle’s Musc Ravageur, by Maurice Roucel. It’s an “amber oriental,” and ravageur is just the perfect way to describe it — it’s a visceral, punk kind of sexy, with clove and sandalwood on a cedar base shot through with vanilla. The original formulation, if you can find a bottle, opens on the skin with vanilla and gives way to the briefest window of just absolutely filthy musk before settling down.

Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur

I picked up a new travel spray of Musc Ravageur this past summer from the Holt’s on Bloor–the two men working the counter were just a joy to talk perfume with–and, as much as my love for this scent still endures, I am sad to report that even the pre-reformulation 2015 bottles of this scent are far less “dirty” than my bottle from 2008. It’s a change that perfumistas will hate, I think, but that most fragrance wearers will very much appreciate.

Even with the reformulation, Musc Ravageur is an absolute treat. I’ve been wearing it probably 4 days out of 7 this winter (which, for me, is like a love declaration written in blood), and it’s still quite a sexy scent. It feels a little more masculine without the animalic notes, but the tenacity is no less breathtaking — I can spray a scarf with this on Monday and still smell faintly like I rule the world on Friday.

Availability: $52 to $270 USD at Neiman MarcusBarneys, and Holt Renfrew ($245 CAD and up; travel sprays available only in-store).

Dries van Noten par Frederic Malle Eau de Toilette ($56 USD & up)

Frederic Malle Dries Van Noten review

While I was picking up my new bottle of Musc Ravageur, I was introduced to Dries van Noten by Frederic Malle, an “olfactory portrait” by Bruno Jovanovic that tells the story of Dries’ life in a bottle. (Pictured here is a rather gorgeous sample vial.)

It, too, is described as an oriental by the brand, but Dries is an entirely different beast than Musc Ravageur. It has much more throw than Musc Ravageur, and yet feels more organic: sweet and comforting, like a heavy sweater in a musty old library.

This one takes me back to Toronto in the summer, but I think the opening is a little too sweet for me to buy a full bottle. It develops nicely on the skin, though; soft and sugary with an Indian sandalwood base, and it makes me think of powdered lemon biscuits with tea at midday. Somewhere hot, perhaps — a leafy green rainforest that wraps you up in humid air and puts you softly to bed.

Availability: $56 to $290 USD at Barneys New York and Holt Renfrew ($265 CAD & up).

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito collection review, photos

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito collection review

The products: The Body Shop Virgin Mojito collection ($9 CAD-$22 CAD)

When I was fifteen, surgery was a cakewalk. Sleep it off in the hospital, grab a burger on the way home, ready for a road trip by Friday. But at 23, and when you find out after the operation that you might not be able to eat normally for up to six weeks? I’m going nuts over here. Telling a Chen she can’t eat is like telling a dog it can’t pee on things. Eating is where I get all of my joy. 

So, I mean, I’ve been hitting the mojitos pretty hard to help cope. Virgin skincare mojitos, that is. (I don’t want to find out what happens when you mix rum with open wounds and morphine.)

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Shower Gel review photos

The scent: I was told that you either love or hate The Body Shop’s new Virgin Mojito scent, but I mean… I love it; my boyfriend loves it; Julie from Swatch and Review and her boyfriend love it; Zoë from Writing Whimsy and Steph from Fun Size Beauty both totally love it.

It’s summery and fresh, and smells like taking a sip of a delicious wall of lime with just a hint of mint and that tart bite of citrus peel. (It’s totally 100% deserving of the cheeky little “NOT FOOD!” labelling.)

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Body Scrub review photos

In the shower

The Body Shop has offered up two ways for you to get your mojito on in the shower this summer: the Virgin Mojito Shower Gel ($9 CAD) and the Virgin Mojito Body Scrub ($22 CAD).

I’m still trying to figure out if the beads in the mojito body scrub are regular beads or micro beads (the latter of which end up in lakes and rivers, basically just hangin’ out and killin’ fishes), but I have to admit defeat, here: I’m not eco-knowledgeable enough to tell the difference, and I need some help to figure out if I can indulge or if I need to pitch this! 

I’m hoping for the former–didn’t The Body Shop swear off micro beads a few years ago?–because that jelly-like texture looks like waaaay too much fun not to use. 

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Shower Gel review

On the other hand, I’ve been guiltlessly indulging in the Virgin Mojito Shower Gel pretty heavily. The Body Shop’s Shower Gels are possibly my favourite product from the brand — they just always smell so good, and at $9 CAD (or less; a bunch of them are on for $5 right now), they’re so cheap.

I love being able to get a Body Shop scent fix at a price tag that I don’t have to think about (I mean, it’s not exactly Byredo, but is far from drugstore stuff). This tall glass of deliciousness is no exception!

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Body Butter review photos

After the shower

Coming out of the shower, you have three options: The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Body Butter ($20 CAD), a classic that has too many ‘cones for me to touch (I used to adore these), the Virgin Mojito Body Splash ($20 CAD), which is delightfully splishy-splashy but honestly kind of a pain to apply (splashes, man. We should have left them behind in the ’90s), and the Virgin Mojito Body Sorbet ($15 CAD).

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Body Splash review photos

The Body Sorbets are a product that I’m split on. On one hand, they’re $15 (sometimes even less!), and they all, without a doubt, smell awesome. But on the other, they’re just not hydrating — like, even when I get other people to use them, they don’t find them to do a thing. And they pill up like a bad primer if you try to make them hydrate more by applying extra.

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito review

Buuut (and there’s always a but) they’re $15. And silicone-free. And I guarantee you, they are the only tasty-smelling ‘cone-free body lotions that you’re going to be able to find for that price — believe me, I’ve looked.

So, you know. I hate them… and also, I own three. (This was, for interest’s sake, the only one of the three that was a press sample. I bought the other two with my own money and darn it, I was happy to.)

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Body Sorbet review photos

The verdict?

Out of all of the limited edition collections that The Body Shop has come out with recently, the Virgin Mojito one has been, by far, my favourite. I love the delicious, limey fragrance (it’s so summery!) and I’m quite happy with the product offerings.

My recommendation? Get the shower gel for sure. Then, if you can use silicones, buy the Body Butter. But for those who can’t… get the Body Sorbet instead. You’ll probably hate me for it, but at the same time, you’re totally not going to regret it in the least.

Availability: $9 CAD & up at and The Body Shop stores. Limited edition.

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Guerlain Boutique & Institute Toronto photos, Complete Facial review | BEAUTY DESTINATIONS

Monday, August 10, 2015

Guerlain Yorkville Toronto Boutique and Institute review

The most unexpected adventure I’ve taken so far this year was a trek into the gorgeous, glossy depths into Toronto’s Guerlain Boutique & Institute at 110 Bloor Street West.

I wandered in one fine Tuesday, expecting to just take a quick sniff of Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille–could it really be as gorgeous as I remembered? (Spoiler: it is, and then some.)–and walked out with some seriously sharp bronzer and a facial appointment for that Friday.

Guerlain Boutique Toronto tour review

The Boutique 

As a fragrance junkie, the only thing you need to know about Guerlain boutiques is this: there is only one in Canada, and it contains all of the brand’s current fragrances…

Les Exclusifs and all.

Guerlain les exclusifs perfumes

From bee bottles to tailor-made fragrances (you know, if you have a year, time for a trip to Paris, and a spare $75 000 lying around), this is the place to be. The staff here know everything there is to know about Guerlain’s recent launches as well as their classics, and can tell you about everything from Guerlinade to Theirry Wasser (Guerlain’s in-house perfumer).

Scents you must try while you’re there:

Guerlain Boutique Toronto Yorkville review

Guerlain exclusifs perfumes boutique

The Institute

Tucked discreetly in the back of the boutique is a small treatment room and all the necessarily amenities — a gorgeous glass shower, a mirrored change room, and the boutique’s secret weapon: a petite esthetician named Sakien Teymouri who, I swear, has magic hands.

Guerlain Institute Spa facial review Toronto Bloor

Guerlain facial review Toronto Yorkville

I was lucky enough to experience a complimentary Complete Facial ($170 CAD), which is a 1h30 treatment that can be customized to match your skin’s needs.

As someone with extremely touchy skin, facials aren’t usually something I can indulge in, but the boutique’s manager took the time to double-check ingredients lists and customize a gentle, silicone-free regimen just for me. (Thank you so much, Jamielee — your kindness and attention to detail really made my day!)

Continue the adventure!! »

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