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 thebodyshop.ca and The Body Shop stores. Limited edition.

Keep reading! »

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!! »

Juicy Couture giveaway (& behind the scenes at the I AM JUICY COUTURE launch party)

Friday, July 31, 2015

I AM JUICY COUTURE launch party

I had a pretty wide variety of adventures while I was in Toronto this month (I got home late Tuesday night), from factory tours to coffee dates. Today, though, I get to share with you something special: a launch party for the new Juicy Couture fragrance, plus a little giveaway with a memento for one of you.

I am Juicy Couture review notes

The I AM JUICY COUTURE party was a really weird experience for me: it was a lot of pink, a lot of people out to “be seen,” and a lot of fragrance notes that I’m not the biggest fan of, personally. (What? I like my fragrances vaguely snobby, kind of dirty, and aggressively unisex.)

THE NOTES: TOP – raspberry, pomelo, passion fruit / HEART – gardenia, heliotrope, Rose de Mai, sweet pea / BASE – musk, woods, amber

I AM JUICY COUTURE ($89 CAD/50 ml; available soon) was created for the house by Dora Baghriche for Firmenich Paris, and was inspired by candied pralines and the idea of the ultimate Juicy Couture girl. It’s described as a “rebellious gourmand” for the “prestige rebel,” and smells kind of like something that would happen in all caps. The press release says it’s for the girl who “daringly proclaims exactly who she is not in order to declare who she is“… but what kind of life is that?

Juicy Couture

This guy is Juicy Couture

Yes you are, dude. Yes you are.

So here’s what I think. I think you should take the great parts of I AM JUICY COUTURE, and leave the rest. Feel free to tell people that you’re not apologetic, because no one should have to be. Tell them that you’re not conventional, because you’re not obligated to be.

But don’t operate under the assumption that these are traits of the “cool girl.” Girls, in case you haven’t noticed, are awesome. I’d be pretty damn proud if someone told me that I was just as cool as a conventional girl.

Megan Joy Nicole About Town Diary of a Trendaholic

The lovely Nicole (Beauty, Brains +), Megan (Megan Joy), and Erica (Diary of a Trendaholic)!

Elaine Atkins

Elaine (Elaine Loves)

Megan Joy

Megan is THRILLED TO BE HERE; TO BE ALIVE (seriously though, how cute is she??)

The ultimate Juicy Couture girl sounds kind of like a bully. So aim higher than that; be better than that. Wear the I AM JUICY COUTURE fragrance, but wear it to say:

» I AM NOT going to be held down by the conventions of your misogynistic society

…not “It girls are not ordinary, shy, predictable, reserved, or average.” Because there is nothing, nothing wrong with being shy or predictable or reserved if you choose to be. 

Define yourself by what you are, not what you hate.

Juicy Couture giveaway Gold Bracelet

Win it!

I’m not much of a memento type (well, except for scent memories, but more on that soon), so I’m sharing this little piece of my travels with one lucky reader! Enter below to win one (1) Juicy Couture “Juicy Bangle” in Gold. This giveaway is open to anyone over the age of 18 who is currently residing in Canada, and will close on August 8th at 11:59 PM MST.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep reading! »

The Decant Index scent sampler review | Frédéric Malle En Passant, Maître Parfumeur Cuir Fétiche, Ineke Field Notes from Paris

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Detox Index perfume sample review

Getting into perfumes is hard. I mean, I’ve been doing it for the past five years, and even still think it’s hard. And scent sampling makes it easier, but generic sampling sets just aren’t an option if you want something a little more unique than a mass-market perfume.

That’s where The Decant Index comes in.

Perfume sample review - The Decant Index

The service

I was contacted by Shana at The Decant Index (@decantindex) to try the service, and… on my god. It was amazing. Shana personally matches people to perfumes based on what they like and what they’re looking for, and there’s none of that generic “if you like woody florientals, you’ll like…” stuff.

Shana looks at feelings, places, and past perfume loves, and despite the fact that I only gave her a quick paragraph of information to go off of, her picks for me were spot on. I literally could not believe how much I liked all three of these — I have NEVER had anyone match me to perfumes this well. 

Maitre Parfumeur Gantier Cuir Fetiche review

The scents

Maître Parfumeur Et Gantier Cuir Fétiche ($117 USD/100 ml)

↳ The Decant Index 3 ml sample: $17.50 USD. Notes listed: mandarin, bergamot, lemon / leather accord, ylang-ylang, rose / musk, ambergris, patchouli, cedar wood, sandalwood.

Cuir Fétiche was the first of this trio that I sprayed, and oh my god is it ever gorgeous. It’s one of the sexiest scents I’ve ever smelled, but sexy in a sort of… literary way, you know? It’s all high collars and first editions without a whiff of “date night perfume” in sight.

I get a lot of bergamot and leather from this one, with a bit of patchouli and lots of sandalwood and ylang-ylang in the delicious, creamy drydown. For a mass market perfume comparison, this one reminds me very much of the Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum — but if Chanel (under Jacques Polge, not Olivier) had created it.

Maitre Parfumeur Gantier Cuir Fetiche perfume review

Cuir Fétiche was formulated to reference the history of the perfume industry in Grasse, which originated to cover up the scent of the tanning process in fine leathers. (Thank you, Lucky Scent, for this little history lesson!) Until the French Revolution, the master perfumers in Grasse were the glove-makers, hence the brand’s name.

If you only sample one of the scents in this post, let it be this one. Cuir Fétiche is absolutely exquisite, and bookishly edgy in a way that would be heart-stopping on both a man or a woman. I hear that the brand’s Santal Noble and Ambre Precieux are also a dream.

Ineke Field Notes from Paris review

Ineke Field Notes from Paris ($95 USD/75 ml)

↳ The Decant Index 3 ml sample: $9.50 USD. Notes listed: coriander seed, orange flower, bergamot / tobacco flower and leaf, patchouli, cedar / tonka bean, leather, beeswax, vanilla

Field Notes from Paris is one of the most interesting scents I have ever encountered, and I couldn’t be happier that I got to experience it. It is immediately delicious, strange, and manly, and transforms completely over the course of 2-3 hours.

Ineke Field Notes from Paris review perfume

This Ineke creation opens with a wall of coriander seed, which I didn’t think I would like but was, for some reason, completely enraptured by. The initial shock fades, but the coriander note remains distinct and astringent for hours. (It smells, to me, almost like tasting a little bit of tea tree and lavender oil simultaneously.)

Field Notes from Paris is bizarre and unisex in a quizzically appealing way, with fresh, interwoven notes of orange flower, tobacco, bergamot, and cedar. It’s not something that I would buy a full bottle of, but if you love perfume, I think you need to sniff this one — it’s very, very engaging and definitely an experience worth having.

Frederic Malle En Passante review

Frederic Malle En Passant ($165 USD/50 ml)

↳ The Decant Index 3 ml sample: $18.50 USD. Notes listed: white lilac, cucumber, wheat, orange tree leaves.

My last scent from the Decant Index was Frédéric Malle’s En Passant by Olivia Giacobetti, a fresh, springy perfume full of fruity lilac and fresh cut flowers. I just have to share my notes on this one with you, because nothing says it better: “Fruity, flowers — but littles ones. Like little lilacs or something. Fresh. Green.”

I don’t know why it’s important to note that this one smells like little flowers, but you know what? It is. And it does.

If $165 USD sounds like way too much to pay for a fragrance, though (because erk!), you can try En Passant in a 10ml refill for $46 USD (Barney’s) or get the 3ml sample from the Decant Index for $18.50. I also love Musc Ravageur from Frédéric Malle (it’s the sexiest scent I have ever smelled in my life).

Frederic Malle En Passant review perfume

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