The Body Shop Lip & Cheek Velvet Stick swatches, review, photos (& a little Smoky Poppy preview)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Body Shop Lip Cheek Velvet Stick reviews swatches

The products: The Body Shop Lip & Cheek Velvet Sticks in Universal Shade and 40 Red

↳ Photographed with the limited-edition Smoky Poppy Body Butter ($20), which smells amazing but contains silicones, so I can’t touch it! (But seriously: amazing. It’s super sultry for a Body Shop fragrance.)

My love affair with jumbo lip pencils is a long and almost frighteningly well-documented one, but when I tried these for the first time, I actually stopped and went, “oh, cool,” for a moment.

TBS lip velvet jumbo pencil review swatches

The texture: Unlike your standard jumbo lip pencil (sheer-glossy or opaque-matte), these Lip & Cheek Velvet Sticks are exactly that: velvety. They apply with an incredibly natural finish, softly matte but not at all drying.

Unlike most mattes, though, they’re sheer — or, rather, they’ll sheer out if you blend them. Red (and I’m assuming the rest of the regular line) applies with a very medium opacity, but blends out to create the most seamless, perfect flush; the Universal Shade applies more sheerly, but in a way that’s suited well to the shade.

The Body Shop black universal Lip Cheek Stick review

The Body Shop Universal Shade Lip & Cheek Velvet Stick

The Body Shop Lip Cheek Stick swatches review universal, red

The Body Shop Lip & Cheek Velvet Sticks, swatched – Universal Shade (heavily/blended) and 40 Red (heavily/blended)

The shades: Red is a bright strawberry red, but the pH-adapting Universal Shade is the Lip & Cheek Velvet Stick that really steals the show. Purple-black in the tube, it applies as a very sheer dark purple. It’s less glossy and more plummy than Clinique’s Voluptuous Violet Chubby Stick (the closest dupe that I’ve seen), and you NEED it.

When sheered out, the Universal shade reads as a muted flush of colour, and on the lips, it’s nothing short of perfect. My natural lip colour leans a bit orange (bleh), which makes most medium/dark lip colours look punchy and ostentatious as they wear off, but this weird, pH-adjusting pencil is perfect. It darkens my natural lip colour considerably without making my lips look bright!, which–believe me–is a pretty substantial feat.

Bare lips - Korres Cherry Picked reference

Bare lips

The Body Shop Universal Lip & Cheek Stick swatches review

The Body Shop Universal Shade Lip & Cheek Velvet Stick lip swatch

The Body Shop Smoky Poppy Body Butter review

The Body Shop Smoky Poppy Body Butter

The verdict?

These sheer-matte Lip & Cheek Velvet Sticks are great both for the lips and cheeks, but it’s the black Universal Shade pencil that you really need to own. If you’ve ever been intrigued by a sheer purple lipstick, or if you’ve ever been tempted to try Clinique’s classic Black Honey, get this one instead — you won’t be disappointed. 

Availability: $15 USD/CAD at The Body Shop. Permanent.

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BPAL x Pretty Indulgent review: Hochelaga, Black Silk, Une Folle Entreprise, Ville-Marie, and Halloween in Montreal

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Black Pheonix Alchemy Lab Pretty Indulgent review collection

If you haven’t heard of them before, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is one of those alt/hippie companies with a crazy-wonderful following (think Fyrinnae and LUSH) — and I mean this in the most amazing way possible. They’re a small company with an enormous library of super-concentrated fragrance oils that seems to produce one cult hit after another, and after seven years of beauty blogging, I have finally had the chance to try a few of their scents.

Today, I’m covering five fragrances exclusive to Pretty Indulgent, an online store run by Maggie of Maggie’s Makeup (who I have the biggest girlcrush on, but shhh.) These tiny–but potent, seriously–little bottles retail for a mere $23 each, and each scent in this limited run celebrates the rich culture and history of Quebec and Montreal. 

BPAL Black Silk Hochelaga review Pretty Indulgent

The first scent I tried on was Hochelaga, which features dry, warm woods and musk alongside elegant threads of buttery old herbs, spices and wildflowers. It smells like walking into an antiques/thrift store in the winter, surrounded by knitted blankets and knick-knacks in old wooden cabinets that once held metal pots for stew.

Next, I tried Black Silkwhich seems to have been the big hit of the collection — it sold out in less than a day! Unfortunately, I don’t think there will be a second run (one of its ingredients is very difficult to source), but it smells absolutely incredible. While sharp in the bottle, it rounds itself out beautifully on the skin and the tobacco absolute/bourbon vanilla cream notes blend together to create a boozy, almost nutty animalic sweetness unlike anything I’ve ever smelled before. Think smokey, smooooth benzoin-tobacco overtones with just a whisper of patchouli for this one.

BPAL Ville-Marie Une Folle Entreprise review Pretty Indulgent

Then came Une Folle Entreprise, which I wasn’t crazy about — but WOW does it ever last. I got a drop (and I mean a literal drop) of this on my sweater, and the base notes stuck around for a week. Thanks to the violet note, it’s sweet like a chocolate martini; sharp but cloying with patchouli, licorice root, and tonka bean.

Next is Ville-Mariewhich was just a treat to experience. It’s bright and sugary (there are so many different kinds of sweetness in this post!), and yet again, I’ve smelled nothing like it before. The cream soda opening lifts within minutes, and the scent blooms on the skin to reveal a lemony bouquet of orchids, lilies, and a whopping five different varieties of lilac, ending in a creamy vanilla-musk.

And, finally, we end with Halloween in Montreal, which covers the final corner of the sweetness spectrum. This one really does smell like Halloween, as promised — it’s bottled-up leaves, snowflakes, chimney smoke, and candy, and you can smell it all by simply closing your eyes. (Weirdly, it also smells like walking into a Pier 1 Imports or something, open-top candles everywhere).

BPAL Halloween in Montreal review Pretty Indulgent

Buying guide

This is a lot to take in, so here’s your SparkNotes version!

If you love smelling things but you’ve never tried a BPAL creation before… you owe it to yourself to experience these beauties. Heck, it doesn’t even matter if you like any of them; they’re an olfactory experience like no other, and that makes them fascinating. Unlike mainstream scents, which tend to be identifiably “perfumey”, these fragrances smell like Things – places, times, memories. Order yourself a few Imps (samples) to get started, and go from there.

And to pick your perfect Pretty Indulgent exclusive ($23 CAD each, and yes, the site takes Paypal), here they are in order of must-haveability!

  1. Try Ville-Marie if you like happy summer days and evenings on the pier. It’s a complete chameleon, starting out so bright and uplifting that it makes me want to giggle, and transforming completely into a musk so soft and vanilla-tinged that I can’t help but go “mmmm.”
  2. Try Black Silk if there is any way you could possibly get your hands on it, because it’s amazing.
  3. Try Hochelaga if you’re secretly a super-cool hippie/alt girl/vegan, but you daylight as the Regular Girl at the office.
  4. Try Halloween in Montreal if you like the way home-store candle aisles smell, because I swear to god, this smells EXACTLY like that. I feel like I’m picking out throw pillows in my office right now; it’s uncanny.
  5. Try Une Folle Entreprise to pair with your flavoured martini and slit-back dress. I both envy and fear your ability to wear four-inch heels.

Happy sniffing, scoundrels!

BPAL fragrance review intro for beginners

Six (super sexy) scents to consider for the season | The Gift Guide

Monday, December 15, 2014

I know, I know: perfume is a hard thing to gift. It’s hard to select one from the hundreds, it’s hard to choose the right scent family and bottle size, and it’s hard to get it right. 

That said, here are six scents that I absolutely love for the winter. (Confession: I actually started this post last year and forgot about it, but I’m still loving all six of these this year!) Whether you’re indulging in a little holiday gift for yourself or you’re choosing something for the androgynous-leaning femme in your life… I hope you love these as much as I do.

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-Serge Lutens Chergui ($135) – If I had to pick an all-time favourite perfume, this would be it. It’s the perfect blend of dry, warm, smokey, and sweet, and wears just beautifully in the winter chill. (Plus, it’s like catnip for M — but don’t tell him I told you; I’m not sure he knows yet.)

-Prada L’Eau Ambrée ($56) – L’Eau Ambrée has been discontinued and is getting harder and harder to find, but it’s one of the cornerstones of my fragrance collection — so snap it up now, if you can. It’s simple a wisp of silvery smoke in the night, simple but not boring, and it is my longest-standing perfume love. Full review here.

-Tom Ford Black Orchid ($75) – This is definitely the most feminine of the bunch, but it’s far more outrageous and brash than it is girly. Expect a loud perfume, but a well-blended one — it carries none of the astringent or sticky-sweet notes most “loud” mainstream perfumes. Read my full review here.

-Osmia Organics Cedar Smoke ($75) – I really wanted to include an all-natural perfume in these picks, and Osmia’s Cedar Smoke had to be it. Not quite as sharp or as strong as Juniper Fire, it smells wonderfully natural and woody.

-Illume Woodfire ($10 and up) - This one’s not a perfume, but it’s definitely a scentWoodfire may be my favourite candle scent ever (so far), and is an amazing steal for $10. It smells like wood burning in an outdoor fire pit, and even my mini sized tin has enough throw to fill my whole room within minutes. (Also, Illume makes matching matches!)

-Bottega Veneta ($103, on sale at Nordstrom) – Read my full review here! This one has lots of bergamot and patchouli, and it leaves behind the most divine tendril of leather

What scents are on your wishlist this year?

L’Occitane Mer & Mitstral review, photos: the perfect gift for him (or her!)

Friday, December 5, 2014

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral Eau de Toilette review photos

The product: L’Occitane Mer & Mistral Eau de Toilette (La Collection de Grasse)

So, it’s a pretty well-known fact that I’m obsessed with the L’Occitane La Collection de Grasse — but did you know that there’s a unisex scent in the line, too? And, as a cologne lover, I am all over it.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral review

Behind the scent: I usually like my unisex scents a little more masculine (you know: woods, amber, pepper), and this one certainly isn’t — but it’s still a complete stunner. More department store than, say, Vanille & Narcisse, Mer et Mistral is a proper sparkling aquatic: it smells shimmery and extremely fresh, with bright citrus notes paired with pine and sea salt. 

The name “Mer et Mistral” means sea and wind — specifically, the extremely fast, turbulent winds in southern France blowing north into the Mediterranean Gulf of Lion. The mistral wind controls the climate of Grasse and plays a huge part in Provençal culture, dictating everything from how bell towers are built (open iron frameworks, so the wind can pass through) to the direction that homes face (south, with their backs to the wind).

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral photos review EdT

The notes & wear: A little [too] sharp at first spritz, Mer & Mistral features top notes of lemon and mandarin, heart notes of pine, cypress, and rosemary, and base notes of cedar, white amber, and musk.

The top notes fade pretty quickly, and 20 minutes later, the scent really settles in — it gets a lot more pine-y and less sparkling close to the skin, but retains its aquatic nature in the sillage. The herby accords really come out to play not long after, and the scent just transformsOnce you get past the run-of-the-mill opening, the rosemary makes this scent almost… aquatic-foody. Which sounds super gross, I know, but think of it more like this: lemon balm and pine, herbs in a mortar and pestle, and a cabin next to a rough sea.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral unisex fragrance review photos

The bottle: While the scent of Mer & Mistral is wonderfully bright and complex, the bottle is even better. With a blue lacquered base, this glass bottle takes on a mesmerizing, watery look — the blue comes and goes depending on what angle you look at it from, like the sea as it’s pushed and pulled by the wind.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral packaging review bottle

The verdict?

I like things that match. I just… do. I like the visual coherency, and I like rotating between fragrances that have a similar thread that weaves through all of them.

If you’re a lover of La Collection de Grasse, do yourself a favour this season and get your guy (or girl) a bottle of Mer & Mistral. Not only will it look beautiful on the dresser next to your collection, but L’Occitane’s in-house perfumer Karine Dubreuil will make sure the two of you smell great next to each other, too.

Availability: $75 CAD at L’Occitane boutiques and online.

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5 scents under $50 | Product closet excavation

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Five scents under $50

Let’s start this review off with a truth: I’m not a fan of celebrity fragrances. I’m like, really, really not. So, a lot of the time, I’ll receive one to review and it’ll just waste away in my product closet, waiting for its moment…

Today, that moment has finally come for these scents. Will I love them? Will I hate them? Only time (or simply skimming this review) will tell.

ck one shock for her him review

The couple’s duo: Calvin Klein CK One Shock EdT

Calvin Klein’s CK One Shock for Her is described as a “sensual floriental,” with notes like passion flower and poppy giving way to chocolate, blackberry, jasmine, and musk. It comes bottled in the iconic CK One flacon — but with an opaque white coating & the word “SHOCK” scribbled on in bright pink. (It’s meant to look like lipstick, which I think is silly — the guys get dripping spray paint!)

This design is echoed in the “bold oriental” for him version as well, which lists notes including clementine, cucumber, osmanthus, black pepper, tobacco, and patchouli. Both scents were created by Ann Gottleib and IFF, and retail for $45 CAD/50ml (100 ml bottles pictured here) at Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix locations across Canada.

These come with both caps and atomizers, which I love — I always get too much perfume with a single spritz, and caps store better, too. CK One Shock for Her is sweeter than I had expected, and kind of makes me think of a clothing store – soft, powdery kind of sweet. But CK One Shock for Him is the one to watch: it’s peppery and masculine with modern-oriental undertones, and gives an interesting “suggestion” of fruitiness despite not containing any fruity notes (probably due to the osmanthus).

Vera Wang Lovestruck review EdP

The big, big box: Vera Wang Lovestruck Floral Rush

My bottle of Floral Rush contains a mere 50 ml, but you’d never know it from the size of the box it came in. Lovestruck Floral Rush has a large plastic “bouquet” lid, and its box could easily contain four boxes of Heidi Klum Shine within its depths.

Created by Pascal Gaurin, Lovestruck Floral Rush is comprised of notes like champagne, apricot blossom, white freesia, and cashmere wood. It comes wrapped with a floral-print bow, which, well — it’s not a purple and green camouflage bandana, as I had originally thought.

A bright and shimmery “fizzy floral” (my words, not theirs), Floral Rush is a little sharp, but I think it’s more interesting than a lot of celebrity fragrances out there. It smells a bit too clean, which is really too bad, but I think it’s a good scent for its target demographic — there’s nothing aggressively sexy about this perfume, in its notes or in its advertising.

Vera Wang Lovestruck perfume review

The model moment: Heidi Klum Shine

Lauded by bloggers and perfume fanatics as one of the best budget scents at the drugstore, Shine lists fruity top notes of pear, mandarin, and pink peppercorn set against a floral heart and a sweet dry down. This is easily the one I was the most excited about, and it’s not bad — it’s not terribly unique, but it’s clean and very fruity, and I think it’s well-done for the small price tag.

Shine was created by Aurelien Guichard, Jean Guichard and Olivier Pescheux (Pescheux is the nose behind many of Diptyque’s scents, and Guichard is the man behind Issey Miyake’s Pleats fragrances and the Robert Piguet line), and is available for $35 CAD/30 ml.

Heidi Klum Shine perfume review

The Beyoncé effect: Beyoncé Pulse

I’m not a big Beyoncé fan, but I do love the way she’s created her image — while she’s far from perfect, you could do so much worse than telling young girls (and young minority girls in particular) that they can be both popular and powerful.

Her fragrances, though, are one area where I think she could do better. Pulse is described as a “citrus, floral gourmand” (which is cause for alarm on its own), with make-believe notes such as pear blossom, blue curaco, bluebird orchid, and midnight blooming jasmine. Created by Loc Dong, it’s available at Shopper’s and Sears for a rather alarming $59 CAD/50ml. (You didn’t hear it from me, but you can snap this one up easily for under $20 online.)

I think this is one of the better Beyoncé scents out there, but it’s still much too sweet for me. I’d recommend spritzing in-store if you’re a big fan of Queen B, and waiting to smell the drydown before buying — while I can definitely see why someone could fall in love with this, I think many will find it to be too pushy!

Beyonce Pulse review

Do you wear celebrity fragrances? And if so, what are your favourites? (Inquiring minds need to know!) 

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