theNotice’s favourite products of 2013 | New Year, New Loves… but here are my favourites from the last one

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Laura Mercier Artist Palette for Eyes 2013

Laura Mercier Artist Palette

First off: sorry again for the radio silence. I had hoped to get a few more posts up before the end of the year (Laura Mercier Artist Palette, Osmia Organics Honey-Myrrh Lip Repair, and Marc Jacobs Showstopper Lip Gel), but, well — you know how it is. I was hardly the only person who got sick this winter, so for all of you who are still battling colds and the flu: I hope you feel better soon! 

(And for all of you who haven’t gotten sick yet: you are the worst. Yes, you. I can’t even believe your gall, coming over here, all — sturdy. And vertical. And lucid; how terribly unfair!)

theNotice’s must-have products of 2013

These are the ones that I reached for again and again in 2013. They weren’t just the ones that I tried, tested, and loved — they were the ones that I used on a regular basis, even when I had other things (prettier, shinier, newer things) that I really should have been testing instead. They’re the apple of my eye, not the cream of the crop — I’ve chosen them based on both quality and how well they fit into my life.

Senna Cosmetics Ultra Last Eyeliner - Ultra Black, Brown

Senna Cosmetics Ultra Last Eyeliners

To start off, the Senna Cosmetics Ultra Last Eyeliner in Ultra Black. I’ve tried a lot of black eyeliners in my time (I think at last count I had over twenty in my stash), but this one really is the best. I push black liner into my upper lashline every morning–it really wakes my face up–and this one has wear time like nobody’s business. It’s not totally bulletproof, but it’s very pigmented, very black, and wears better than any other black pencil eyeliner I’ve ever tried, whether it’s on my waterline, in my lashline, or on the lid.

The other eye product that I can’t live without is the Dejavu Fiberwig Extra Long Mascara — a long-time favourite of mine. It never drops a curl, flakes, or smudges, and removes so easily with warm water. That said, it gives a very natural, lengthening lash, with great separation: if I want more volume, I need to layer it overtop another mascara. (See honourable mentions).

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush

Next up is the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, which makes blending out cream products both fast and easy. At a crazy-cheap $9 USD, it’s dense and soft, and has completely ousted the Sephora/Shiseido flat-top brush as my favourite brush for foundation or concealer. This is my only “best of 2013″ tool or face product — there isn’t anything else that both I use every single day and adore. (Canucks can order online at Farleyco, with free expedited shipping over $50.)

I don’t have anywhere better in this review to put a fragrance, so: Serge Lutens Chergui, I still adore you. Chergui is such a beauty – amazing for the winter, and sexy in a very cozy way, without using vanilla as a shortcut-to-sexiness crutch. (Ugh, vanilla). loves this; it’s the only scent that he tells me smells “really good,” eyes dilated, every single time I wear it. I’m actually cheating on Serge with Etsy dupes (there’s just something about the warmth and depth of Chergui that makes it seem more appropriate as an oil), but must-have status is applied to both the dupes & the original!

Bobbi Brown Lip Balm SPF 15 review

Bobbi Brown Lip Balm SPF 15 from this very old post, plus buckets of Photoshop. I am equal parts proud and horrified at myself.

Finally, a bit of skincare. I discovered the Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion this year during the worst breakout of my life (I tried sunflower oil and my skin lost it), and haven’t looked back since. It’s amazing at treating cystic acne in particular, and still incredible at treating everything else — whether that means preventing them from coming to a head altogether or encouraging my skin to clean up shop without ever needing to “purge”.

I’m still loving the Bobbi Brown Lip Balm SPF 15, which hydrates my lips like no other, and the Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Milk, which removes makeup & pollutants without drying. They were holy grail products for me last year, and continue to be — with skin as dry as mine, I can’t imagine life without them.

(Okay, that’s a lie. I can imagine it, and it’s horrible. If you have dry skin, you need these.)

The honourable mentions (& best ad) »

Five gift ideas for the woman who has it all | The Gift Guide

Friday, December 20, 2013

For the luxury skincare lover: MIYU Beauty Hydrate Mi Beauty Essence

Founded just this past year by fellow blogger Connie Tai, MIYU Beauty is a new Canadian brand that’s stealing hearts across the blogosphere. I’m having difficulties putting together a review of the line (I live in fear of the glycerine ratios in facial sprays, which do wonders for a few days but always seem to break me out after a week), but I can’t find a single bad thing to say about the aesthetic — or the people behind the brand.

Beautifully housed in luxe-but-lightweight packaging with Ladurée-inspired details, the MIYU facial spray serums (!) are innovation at its best. { buy }

For the green girl: Osmia Organics Sunset Body Oil

Osmia Organics is a company that I was introduced to pretty recently, but I’m completely smitten with their range. Run by a former emergency room doctor who found her calling in all-natural skincare, the entire Osmia line up is exquisitely packaged, all-natural, and beautifully formulated.

While perfumes and skincare can be hard to pick for someone else, though, Osmia’s body oils & soaps are a great way to gift a little luxury without the worry. Sunset, one of Dr. Sarah Villafranco’s newest creations, is a super-sexy (but not at all overpowering) jojoba-based blend that hydrates immediately with absolutely no oiliness left on the skin. { buy }

Osmia Organics Sunset body oil review

Osmia Organics Sunset Body Oil (2 oz)

For the best friend: Je Joue MiMi Soft

Here’s your not-so-fun science fact of the day: did you know that only 25% of women report frequently experiencing orgasms during intercourse? We live in a culture that’s so fixated on sex, and yet — from magazines (five surprising tips on how to please your man!) to porn, sex is all about male pleasure, not female.

In the sprit of the season, consider giving someone the gift of self-love. Let them know that, like leaving the house without your makeup, sex isn’t anything to be ashamed of. And if we get to indulge in a bit of high-end tech while on the road to sexual equality? All the better.

The Je Joue MiMi Soft is small, classy, and discreet, with a soft, comfortable silicone finish (the safest material a vibrator could possibly be made from), a fully waterproof body, and a rechargeable battery. And the charger, you guys. The charger is so cool. It magnetizes onto the up/down buttons and supplies the vibrator with power through science magic, and I won’t be told otherwise. { buy }

If you’d like to see a review for the Je Joue Mimi Soft, click here to count your vote anonymously!

PS: This vibe was sent in by SheVibe.com.

Unlike everything else in this post, the Mimi was sent in by a storefront, not a brand. SheVibe.com is an online store that’s a far cry from the stereotypical blacked-out-windows sex shop in the bad part of town — I chose to work with them specifically because their site features reviews, articles, message boards, and tons of original artwork.

Whether or not you’re looking to purchase a new toy this season, their comics and articles are definitely worth a look!

Annabelle Cherry swatch TwistUp Retractable Lipstick

Annabelle TwistUp in Cherry — from this post

For the lip lover: Annabelle Cosmetics TwistUp Retractable Lip Crayon in Naked or Cherry

These lip crayons may not feel super-luxe when you hold them, but oh my – do they ever pack a punch. With a lush, comfortable formula and way more pigment than any drugstore product has any right to have, Annabelle TwistUps are the perfect choice for a bit of luxury on a budget.

Naked is a stunning satin-matte nude that suits my skintone (and a surprising many others) just perfectly, while Cherry is a drop-dead-gorgeous opulent red. Neither have shimmer, and (excuse my French) are classy as hell on the lips. { buy | review | swatches | win one! }

For the luxury makeup lover: Make Up For Ever Artisan Brushes 

I know I usually put my beloved Cozzette brushes in gift guides, and don’t get me wrong — I still love them. But while the Artisan brush range is just as soft, cruelty-free, and well-made as Cozzette’s S range, Make Up For Ever’s new brushes come with sleek, wood-finish handles and dark metal ferrules that Cozzette’s range just doesn’t have.

I can’t speak for all of Make Up For Ever’s brushes, but the #150 Angled Cheek Brush, #174 Small Concealer Brush, and #304 Lip Brush all get my seal of approval. And, I mean, really — who couldn’t use just one more brush? { buy }

What’s on your wishlist this season?

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 »

‘Tis the season… to give away two tubes of Annabelle TwistUp Lipstick in Cherry!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Annabelle Cherry swatch TwistUp Retractable Lipstick

Annabelle Cosmetics TwistUp Retractable Lipstick in Cherry, swatched

For all of our wonderful, supportive readers who didn’t hit the jackpot and win a set of Annabelle Cosmetics TwistUp Retractable Lipsticks this past October, I have a surprise for you: with the help of the beautiful folks over at Annabelle, I have another two TwistUps in Cherry to give away!

If you weren’t following the TwistUp craze that took the Canadian blogosphere by storm earlier in the year, Cherry is the one shade that completely took my breath away. The creamy, high-pigment TwistUp formula, paired with the ridiculously vibrant berry-red tones of Cherry, made for one of the most opulent red lipsticks I will likely ever own. Scentless and undeniably gorgeous, it radiates sex appeal — and it’s a shade that I think every bold lipstick lover should have in their stash.

» Don’t miss theNotice’s Annabelle TwistUp review & swatches of all 24 shades!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Like our last Annabelle giveaway, one of these TwistUps will go to a reader in the US/Canada, and one to an international reader. (This is to make sure at least one winner will be from a country where you can’t get Annabelle products!) The giveaway will open today, December 12th, and will close at 11:59 PM (MST) on Christmas Eve. Winners will be announced on the 25th of December, and will have three days to get back to me before I will re-draw for their prize.

Good luck, dear readers! I hope you’re having a warm, festive holiday season so far.

eos Smooth Sphere Lip Balm 3-Pack review, photos: Sweet Mint, Vanilla Bean, and Pomegranate Raspberry | The Gift Guide

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

eos Smooth Sphere Lip Balm Limited Edition 3-Pack review

The product: eos evolution of smooth Smooth Sphere Lip Balm Limited Edition 3-Pack

   ↳ Sweet Mint, Pomegranate Raspberry, and spherical-only-in-this-set Vanilla Bean

Ahhh! Another holiday season, another Gift Guide series. This year, we’re starting off with eos’ limited-edition lip balm trio: a great drugstore pick-me up that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.

I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love the Smooth Spheres, from my boyfriend to my best friend (read: sister). They’re surprising, sweet-smelling, and unbearably cute — plus, with the subdued rainbow of colours you can find them in, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find one that’ll suit you.

eos smooth sphere trio winter 2013

eos pomegranate mint vanilla smooth sphere review

The formula: As I’ve said in the past, the Smooth Sphere formula is a good one – but it’s not the best. It’s 100% natural (95% organic) and gluten-free, with a well-balanced sweetness (sweet-but-not-too-sweet), both in fragrance and flavour. Er, not that I’ve intentionally tasted these because they smelled delicious, or anything.

What keeps the Smooth Spheres from reaching holy grail status is their level of hydration: some find their shea butter, vitamin E, and jojoba base to be deeply hydrating, but my lips need something with a little (a lot) more oomph. To be on the safe side, I’d say that they’re mildly hydrating: somewhere around Maybelline Baby Lips, but below Aquaphor and far below my beloved Bobbi Brown & Osmia Organics lip balms.

The flavours (I can say “flavours” for these, right?) 

eos sweet mint smooth sphere review

eos smo0th sphere in sweet mint

Sweet Mint is my #1 favourite Smooth Sphere, and for good reason. It’s sweet and minty, in that oh god eat me now kind of way, and tingles just a touch. If you love minty balms but you don’t want anything to aggressively (read: irritatingly) minty, this is a fun one to have in your stash.

eos vanilla bean smooth sphere review

eos smooth sphere in vanilla bean

Vanilla Bean isn’t a must-have for me, but it’s a surprisingly nice vanilla. I’m not usually a fan of the scent in general, but eos does it softly and… smoothly. (Sorry, I had to go there). If this was sold in a duo with Sweet Mint, I think it would sell out in no time! Vanilla fans, be aware: the Vanilla Bean Smooth Sphere is exclusive to this set.

eos pomegranate raspberry smooth sphere review

eos smooth sphere in pomegranate raspberry

I’ve left Pomegranate Raspberry, my least favourite, for last. It’s not a bad scent by far, but it’s not my favourite Smooth Sphere — it smells good, but not salivation-levels of good, you know? (Points to eos for getting this to smell like both pomegranate and raspberry, though, no matter how subtle. I’m sure it wasn’t the easiest feat!)

eos lip balm 3-pack review photos smooth sphere

The verdict?

If you love eos’ Smooth Spheres, or you know someone who would (spoiler: everyone on your gift-giving list would, even your grumpy great-aunt), this set would make a pretty cute Christmas tree gift-ornament. That said, these three aren’t my absolute must have spheres, as far as scent goes — though they do look very Holiday-appropriate!

If I had to pick my three favourite Smooth Spheres, in order, they would be Sweet MintBlueberry Açai, and Summer Fruit. 

Availability:$9.99 USD, limited edition. Or, get them separately: Sweet Mint, Pomegranate Raspberry, and Vanilla Bean (the Smooth Sphere is exclusive to this set, but you can still get the flavour in stick form).

Keep reading! »

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...